Karnataka Minor Irrigation Minister CS Puttaraju on Thursday claimed Income Tax officials and Central Reserve Police Force personnel carried out raids at his and his nephew’s homes early in the day, PTI reported.
The Income Tax department, however, issued a statement denying the claim, reports said. “No MP, MLA or minister has so far been covered in the searches,” Hindustan Times quoted from a statement issued on Wednesday. “We also request that the activities of the income tax department should not be politicised, personalised or trivialised. In particular, statements which sound like an incitement to physical violence issued by persons holding very responsible posts are deeply deplorable.”
The department, however, said searches were being conducted on people from a wide range of professions and businesses, Deccan Herald reported. “All these searches have resulted in collecting credible evidence on tax evasion,” the statement said. “The searches on politically exposed persons have covered the entire range of political spectrum.”
Earlier in the day, Puttaraju had said, “Three teams of I-T officials and CRPF soldiers comprising eight soldiers carried out raids at my Chinnakurli residence in Mandya and my nephew’s residence in Mysuru.”
Searches are also reportedly going on in the homes of associates of Public Works Department Minister HD Revanna, who is the brother of Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy and the son of former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda, reported NDTV.
On Thursday, Kumaraswamy and other government leaders staged a protest outside the department’s office in Bengaluru. “The Income Tax department has to work independently but it is working on the instructions of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bharatiya Janata Party President Amit Shah,” ANI quoted Kumaraswamy as saying. “After the BJP came to power, it has become like a dictatorship. Do you think the Income Tax director in Bengaluru is innocent? I also have lot of records.”
The alleged searches came a day after Kumaraswamy said that he feared possible raids on Congress and Janata Dal (Secular) functionaries. The chief minister said CRPF personnel were brought to carry out the search operations. On Wednesday, Kumaraswamy had said, “This is nothing but revenge politics.We will not be cowed down by this.”
“The CM already spoke about this, because he got inputs from intelligence department,” JD(S) leader Madhu Bangarappa told PTI. “Why were there no raids at BJP leaders’ houses? I-T raids are common, but I am questioning their timing.”
Puttaraju, however, said the raids have instilled confidence in him. “I’m not deterred by the raids, which are election related,” he said. “I would like to know which BJP leader’s house in Karnataka has been raided.” Puttaraju.
“PM Narendra Modi’s real surgical strike is out in the open through IT dept raids,” Kumaraswamy said in a tweet on Thursday, hours after the alleged searches began. “The constitutional post offer for IT officer Balakrishna helped the PM in his revenge game. Highly deplorable to use govt machinery, corrupt officials to harass opponents during election time.”
Kumaraswamy said they were contemplating protest against the “misuse of central forces”. Puttaraju said a meeting will be held soon where the mode of protest will be decided.