Actor Taapsee Pannu on Monday said she was not a criminal, and was willing to face the consequences if the allegations of tax evasion against her were proven, The Quint reported. Her remarks came days after Income Tax officials raided properties linked to her and filmmaker Anurag Kashyap in Mumbai and Pune.
“If there has been a human error, I will pay up for it as a punishment or whatever it is I am supposed to do,” the actor told the news portal in an interview. “But I am not a criminal, I haven’t done anything illegal criminally, so I am not scared of any of those consequences.”
The Bollywood actor accused the media of singling her out for punishment, and said she felt that the discussion around the raids was pitted against her. “It’s a one sided media narrative,” the actor also told NDTV, where “all the focus seemed to be on me”.
She pointed out that as many as 22 locations were raided by the Income Tax officials, yet the outrage was only against her. “How do you know some other actor’s properties were not also raided?” she asked. “Are you sure there was no other leading actor in the list?”
Pannu said that when the Income Tax department put out a statement about the raids, they did not name anyone “because that is their protocol”. But, just because they mentioned that “a leading actress” was also involved, “only my name came out”, the actor said.
“So, it is the media who put the dots together,” she told NDTV. “It’s the media thrashing my name.”
The Income Tax department began searching the homes and offices of Pannu and Kashyap on March 3. Properties linked to Kashyap’s partners, who launched the now shuttered production house Phantom Films, were also raided for more than two days.
The searches also covered Reliance Entertainment group Chief Executive Officer Shibasish Sarkar and some executives of celebrity and talent management companies KWAN and Exceed.
Pannu said that she was in Goa when she found out about the searches. In the beginning, Pannu said that the searches felt intimidating as “it is something you were not expecting to happen”, and it “came out of nowhere”. “If there is anything wrong, it will come out, and if there is something they found is wrong then I will be more than happy to receive the punishment,” the actor told NDTV.
The actor, however, admitted that the whole procedure had been a perturbing experience for her family, reported The Quint. Pannu said she thought the raids were a “cost you have to pay for being a public figure”.
“I know I am in the public eye... So you need to be ready for any kind of scrutiny at any point,” she told The Quint. “It can be IT, it can be NCB [Narcotics Control Bureau], it can be anything. I think last couple of years, or last couple of months, has already made me aware that anything can happen.”
Pannu vociferously denied allegations of cash receipts amounting to Rs 5 crore and other evidence of suppression of income, calling it a figment of “some crazy logic floating around”. She joked that even the income tax officials would not be able to explain her what any of this meant if she asked them “because they are under a protocol”.
“So, I am sitting and thinking, where are those Rs 5 crore, I also want to know,” she told The Quint. “I have not been offered Rs 5 crore for anything in my life right now. I would want to keep that receipt framed for myself and for others so that I can say: ‘Listen, I need to be paid this much!’.” However, the actor said she was not bothered about the allegations.
Central Board of Direct Taxes spokesperson Surabhi Ahluwalia had said earlier this week that the agency recovered evidence of Pannu’s cash receipts worth Rs 5 crore. The agency also claimed to have found bogus expenditure of Kashyap with tax implication of about Rs 20 crore.