In a joint raid by the Election Commission surveillance squad and Income-Tax department late on Tuesday night, Rs 1.48 crore was seized from a store allegedly run by a supporter of the TTV Dhinakaran-led Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam (AMMK) in the Theni Lok Sabha constituency in Tamil Nadu, according to news agency PTI. During the raid, authorities had to fire warning shots in the air to disperse supporters of the AMMK who objected to the raid.
The search was conducted following a tip-off about cash stored in the building. The store owner reportedly fled from the spot after the team arrived. PTI reported that an argument broke out between AMMK workers and the officials which resulted in a commotion and police fired four rounds in the air.
No one was injured in the firing, a senior official said. Four AMMK volunteers were detained in connection with the incident.
The officials said they seized a number cash packets with the names of voters and ward number written on them. “The packets have ward numbers and number of voters written on them and Rs 300 is written on each of the packets. The raid is continuing,” the senior official said.
The raids happened hours after I-T officials searched the house of DMK Lok Sabha candidate Kanimozhi in Thoothukudi and found nothing. The search triggered a political row with Kanimozhi saying she was being targeted because she represents the Opposition alliance.
Tamil Nadu goes to polls on April 18. Earlier, the Election Commission countermanded election to the Vellore parliamentary constituency on charges of illegal cash being used to lure voters there.
The Indian Express reported last week that in the last six months, at least 15 searches by the Income-Tax department have been carried out against Opposition leaders and their associates — five in Karnataka, three in Tamil Nadu, two in Andhra Pradesh, two in Delhi and one each in MP, J&K and UP. During the same period, information available in the public domain shows, searches were conducted at premises linked to one BJP functionary in Uttarakhand — the party later distanced itself from the individual.