Tracking the probe on Sekhar Reddy's illegal money trail — Gold, cash and murky deals

A ‘Search Strike’ launched with precision

CHENNAI : 21/12/2016 : CRPF people seen during Income Tax officials raids Chief Secretary's residence at Anna. Nagar. Photo : K_Pichumani   | Photo Credit: K. Pichumani

The simultaneous raids on the premises of Tamil Nadu Chief Secretary P. Rama Mohana Rao in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh was a closely guarded secret even within the Income Tax Department though the preliminary investigation and other groundwork for operation ‘Search Strike’ began days ahead.

Sources in the intelligence agencies said only a handful of top income-tax officials was aware of the operation that stemmed out of the huge seizure of cash and gold from the premises of city-based industrialist J. Sekhar Reddy and his associates.

Several teams of income-tax officials were asked to report at a pre-determined location around 3 a.m. on Wednesday and given a briefing about ‘Search Strike’.

Precisely at the designated time, the teams landed at the respective target locations. But, they had no idea where they were heading to. Team leaders were given a sealed cover containing the address and location map of the destination.

“It was only on reaching the target places did the team members know whose premises they had come to search. This is the usual style of income-tax searches…but in this case, extra caution was taken considering the nature of the case and persons involved,” a police officer quoting official sources said.

State unaware

As the news of the searches were flashed in the media and journalists started thronging the house of Mr. Rao in Anna Nagar here, the Income Tax Department decided to rope in Central para military forces around noon.

However, the Tamil Nadu government was not aware of central forces being deployed at the residence of the Chief Secretary.

Neither the Public Secretary nor the Director General of Police was aware of any requisition for deployment of central police forces in the city.

“Deployment of central forces is normally done at the request of the State government as ‘law and order’ is a State subject. In this case, it seems that the State made no such request,” a senior police officer, who preferred not to be quoted, said.

However, under provisions of Section 132 of the Income Tax Act and various sub-sections, the authorised officer “may requisition the services of any police officer or of any officer of the Central Government or State Government or both, to assist him for all or any of the purposes specified” including entry and search “of any building, place, vessel, vehicle or aircraft where he has reason to suspect that such books of account, other documents, money, bullion, jewellery or other valuable article or thing are kept...and it shall be the duty of every such officer to comply with such requisition.”

While top bureaucrats remained tight-lipped on the developments, police sources said the roping in of central forces would have been necessitated either in anticipation of ‘law and order’ issues or shortage of local police at the scene of searches.

Central police forces were previously deployed in Tamil Nadu after the death of former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa.

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Printable version | Jan 18, 2021 4:23:11 PM |

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