Searches to ferret out jailed AIADMK leader Sasikala's clan stash continues for the second day in a row
CHENNAI/PUDUCHERRY: For the second day on Friday as Income Tax department continued its searches across the State on premises tied to jailed AIADMK leader V K Sasikala, the 11 screens of Jazz cinemas at Phoenix Market City at Velachery stayed blank.
On Friday, moviegoers looking to book tickets at the Jazz cinema’s website www.jazzcinemas.com, were met with a ‘site temporarily down’ notification. It is not clear if shows will open at the multiplex for the weekend.
Jazz cinemas had acquired Luxe multiplex in 2015 from Sathyam Cinemas or SPI. The Jazz cinema business is controlled by Sasikala’s nephew Vivek Jayakumar, son of Ilavarasi who is also in jail. He also manages Jaya TV.
A senior Income Tax department official termed it one of the shell companies whose premises was being raided under Operation Clean Money Drive. Jazz Cinemas, which was earlier know as Hot Wheels Engineering came into being in 2013-14. It got into a controversy over the acquisition of the 11 threatres in Phoenix Mall, which was earlier bought by Satyam Group.
Searches are still continuing in Jazz cinemas as well as the television channel. Vivek’s residence at Nungambakkam is being searched for the second day along with his sister Krishna Priya’s home on Habibullah Road, T Nagar.
During the second day of IT operations, the department preferred to maintain silence. It is not clear as to how many premises were searched on the second day with a manpower of 1,800.
An Income Tax source maintained that more than 200 premises belonging to close aides and relatives of ousted leader T T V Dhinakaran and Sasikala have been searched.
Even the office of Namadhu MGR continues to be combed for the second day. It also learnt that searches are continuing in Midas Distilleries, which is also linked to Illavarasi and her daughter Krishna Priya.
A senior official said they were assessing the seized documents. He also refused to give any time-frame on when the searches will end.
Jewellery raids in Puducherry on
For the second day on Friday, Income Tax (I-T) sleuths raided Sri Lakshmi Jewellery at Ambalathadayar Madam Street here. Both gold and silver sections, as well as the tours and travels and money exchange business — Bonjour Bonheur Forex Spot Private Limited — on the same street, were raided.
The shops are owned by Navin Balaji, a Puducherry native whose family has been running the business for over three generations.
Sources said a six-member I-T team came to the jewellery here early in the morning. They also raided the houses, offices and Ocean Spray, a star hotel in which the family holds a stake, on the East Coast Road. Further, raids were conducted in offices of the jewellery at Karaikal, Chidambaram and Cuddalore. It is believed that a few documents were seized.
CPM sees political motive
Questioning the outcome of the Income Tax department’s raids on the premises of many top guns in TN, the Communist Party of India-Marxist described the searches as politically motivated.