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The Income Tax Department, on Friday (November 17) raided Vela Nileyam, the Poes Garden residence of former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, J Jayalalithaa. The Friday’s raid comes days after the IT officials had conducted a multi-day search at over 150 locations of jailed AIADMK leader VK Sasikala and close aides of Jayalalithaa. The IT department, in its raids, seized a laptop, a desktop and few pen-drives from two rooms used by Sasikala. This is for the first time after 1996 that Jayalalithaa’s residence is being searched.

The sidelined AIADMK leader TTV Dhinakaran called the raids a political move. “The IT searches at Poes Garden is a betrayal of Amma’s soul,” tweeted Dhinakaran. He also lashed out at the present Tamil Nadu Chief Minister E Palanisami and his deputy O Panneerselvam accusing them of going to any extent so as to safeguard their positions.

With the spread of the news of the IT searches at Amma’s residence, the AIADMK workers started gathering at the late leader’s residence. Apart from the detention of over a dozen AIADMK workers, the police also had to deploy additional force to maintain peace. One of the workers also threatened to self-immolate himself.

The search was limited to two rooms used by Sasikala and S Poongundran, the secretary of J Jayalalithaa. The officials said that they did not search the room of the late Tamil Nadu CM. Sasikala’s nephew TTV Dhinakaran and Vivek Jayaraman, the managing editor of Jaya TV (AIADMK mouthpiece) were also present at the venue while the search was conducted. “We are hurt because of these I-T raids… We did not allow I-T officials to search Amma’s room,” said Vivek Jayaraman.

The raids which began at late in the night were carried out by four Income Tax Department officials, accompanied by 20 other officials. The IT raids were conducted on inputs received of some electronic storage devices being secretly removed out of the place. Sasikala, before being convicted by the apex court in corruption case, stayed at the Poes Garden residence.

—India Legal Bureau

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