Chennai: In an early morning operation on Thursday, a team of income tax officials began raids at Jaya TV office in Chennai, former Tamil Nadu chief minister J. Jayalalithaa's Kodand estate and several premises belonging to the family members of jailed AIADMK leader VK Sasikala and her supporters.
I-T officials were searching the residence of Sasikala's husband M. Natarajan in Thanjavur and her niece Krishnaprati’s house in T. Nagar in city.
The residence of sidelined AIADMK leader TTV Dhinakaran at Mannai Nagar in Mannargudi, Sasikala's brother Dhivakaran's house at Sundara Kottai and the premises of their supporters were also being searched. A total of 80 places were being searched, I-T officials said.
Around 10 officials of the income tax investigation department entered the office of Jaya TV at Ekkatthuthangal in Chennai around 6am. They also searched the office of AIADMK mouthpiece "Dr Namadhu MGR" situated on the same building.
I-T officials were searching the residence of Sasikala's nephew Vivek Jayaraman, who controls Jaya TV, and Jazz Cinemas owned by her family members.
Income tax officials told media channels that the searches were being conducted based on information of concealment of income and evasion of tax. "We have confirmed information about concealment of income and tax evasion. We have been monitoring the activities of the TV channel as well as its senior officials and others," said a senior I-T official.
Though started by former Tamil Nadu chief minister J. Jayalalithaa, Jaya TV, has been controlled by Sasikala's family members, led by her nephew Vivek. The channel has been highly critical of the functioning of the AIADMK government after the unification of the factions led by chief minister Edappadi K Palaniswami and former chief minister O. Panneerselvam in August.
The searches come at a time when the AIADMK symbol case is pending with the Election Commission. The Sasikala camp is a stumbling block for the EC to de-freeze the symbol.