The Income Tax Department on Wednesday searched the properties of filmmaker Anurag Kashyap and actor Taapsee Pannu, ANI reported.
Unidentified officials told NDTV that the searches were related to alleged tax evasion. IT officials also raided the premises of production house Phantom Films, which was co-promoted by Kashyap and producers Vikas Bahl and Madhu Mantena.
More than 30 locations were searched in Mumbai and Pune, including talent agencies Exceed Entertainment and KWAN, according to the news channel.
Phantom Films was dissolved in 2018 after sexual misconduct allegations against Bahl came to light.
“There have been instances of tax evasion,” an unidentified official told The Indian Express. “The movies produced by the production house have been superhit, but the profits and account statements of the company are showing disproportionately low income.”
The official added that the searches were not against the individuals but “against the entities where they hold a share or are directors”.
Tax raids are also underway at the properties of Reliance Entertainment Chief Executive Officer Shibhashish Sarkar and the top executives of two celebrity-management agencies in Mumbai, the Hindustan Times reported. One of those agencies is Kwaan, which is co-founded by producer Madhu Mantena.”
Union minister Prakash Javadekar commented on the raids, saying the investigative agencies only go after those against whom they have credible information, the Hindustan Times reported. “The matter later goes to court,” the minister added.
Kashyap and Pannu have been strongly critical of the government’s policies. Most recently, Pannu had hit out at the Centre for its attempts to counter the international attention towards the farmers’ months-long protest against the agricultural laws. There was an outpouring of global support for the farmers after Pop star Rihanna’s tweet about internet cuts at protest sites near Delhi.
“If one tweet rattles your unity, one joke rattles your faith or one show rattles your religious belief then it’s you who has to work on strengthening your value system not become ‘propaganda teacher’ for others,” Pannu had tweeted after the Centre roped in celebrities to counter the criticism on social media.
Politicians criticise raids
Maharashtra Cabinet Minister and Nationalist Congress Party leader Nawab Malik said the IT raids on Kashyap and Pannu were attempts to suppress their voice, NDTV reported.
“The way in which raids were conducted in the homes and offices of Anurag Kashyap and Tapsee Pannu, this is definitely the usage of Enforcement Directorate or the Income Tax against those who take a stand against the government or its policies,” Malik was quoted as saying by the news channel. “Anurag Kashyap and Tapsee Pannu have raised their voice against the Modi government’s policies.”
Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Tejashwi Yadav also lashed out the Centre for allegedly targeting Kashyap and Pannu. “They [the Centre] first employed IT, CBI [Central Bureau of Investigation], ED [Enforcement Directorate] to conduct raids on vocal and upright political rivals for their character assassination,” he tweeted. “Now Nazi government is chasing social activists, journalists and artists to threaten them against calling spade a spade. Condemnable Act!”
Shiv Sena leader Priyanka Chaturvedi tweeted: “Hope the Income Tax department of our country is saved from bonded slavery status soon. Same wishes for ED and CBI too.”