Income Tax Department carried out raids across 33 locations in Tamil Nadu on Tuesday, with 21 premises in Chennai coming under the scanner. The searches targeted Marg Group, Patel Group, Milan Group and Ganga Foundations Group.
Spectrum Mall located at Perambur in north Chennai was also searched by I-T sleuths. Spectrum Mall belongs to Ganga Foundations Group, property developers based in Chennai.
While the I-T searches are part of the continued crackdown on shell companies, it is unclear if the searches are related to the raids that targeted properties and businesses belonging to ousted AIADMK leader VK Sasikalaâ€™s family members and associates.
On November 9, Income Tax Department officials carried out search operations for five days on 187 premises belonging to Sasikalaâ€™s kin and associates. The establishments that came under the scanner included Jazz Cinemas, which is run by Sasikalaâ€™s nephew Vivek Jayaraman, and party mouthpieces Jaya TV and Namadhu MGR.
Sasikalaâ€™s nephew Vivek Jayarman, his sisters and Jayalalithaaâ€™s personal secretary Poongundran were also called for inquiry by the Income Tax department. Reports suggest that I-T officials have found documents that show unaccounted investments of Rs 1430 crore.
However, days after the raids ended, I-T officials took many in the ruling AIADMK by surprise, when they searched late Chief Minister Jayalalithaaâ€™s Poes Garden residence in Chennai. The late-night searches on November 17 angered several party persons, with many hitting out at the BJP-led Centre for orchestrating the raids.
While sidelined AIADMK Deputy General Secretary TTV Dhinakaran had accused the BJP of using the I-T raids to remove his aunt Sasikala and him from politics, he called the searches at Jayalalithaaâ€™s residence as a betrayal to her.
"Whatever the reason behind the I-T raids at Poes Gardens, this is a betrayal to Amma's atma. Edappadi and Panneerselvam are behind this betrayal," Dhinakaran had tweeted following the raids on November 17.
However, the ruling AIADMK distanced itself from the I-T raids targeting Jayalalithaaâ€™s residence then and chose to attack Sasikala and her family. Tamil Nadu Fisheries Minister Jayakumar said, â€śThe raids that happened at Ammaâ€™s residence have caused us great pain. But after Ammaâ€™s death, Sasikala and her relatives including Dhinakaran, lived in that house so that is the problem. So, people of Tamil Nadu need to understand because of whom this problem has happened. Sasikala and her family are the reason. The person whom we honour as our god, raids at Ammaâ€™s house has caused great pain.â€ť