The Income Tax department raids on the premises of top government and private officials in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, that led to the suspension of an IAS couple on Friday, seems to have let the cat among the pigeons.

While there seems to be a general environment of panic and paranoia among the bureaucratic and business circles here, there have been reports of senior bureaucrats not answering their calls, according to unofficial sources.

This newspaper's office also received calls from a PR agency managing ICICI Prudential not to include the name of the insurance company in further reports. The departmental search continued even on Saturday. Residential premises of Seema Jaiswal, the Branch Manager of ICICI Prudential were also raided and irregularities were unearthed by the I-T department.

“Concealed income worth Rs.7 crore has been admitted by those involved in Bhopal and that of Rs.50 lakh has been admitted in Raipur,” Brajesh Gupta, Director General of investigations (IT) for Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh told The Hindu.

On being asked whether the offenders could land up behind bars, he said: “that possibility cannot be ruled out but anything conclusive can be said only after assessment and since we are only investigating the fraud at the moment, I can't say more on the issue”.

Mr. Gupta also said that the IAS couple in question, Principal Secretaries Arvind Joshi and Tinu Joshi, had not admitted any concealed income although over Rs.3 crore in cash were recovered from their residence.

“Naturally, they have not admitted any concealed income. If they do, they will be put behind bars by the State government not only for tax evasion but also for corruption,” said Mr.Gupta.

Reports about lower officials of the I-T department being intimidated and threatened by those involved in the tax fraud were also doing the rounds here. Mr. Gupta, however, expressed ignorance about these, saying “not to my knowledge”.

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