The Income Tax Department has deployed over 650 of its officials to monitor the movement of cash and other assets ahead the Assembly election in Tamil Nadu.
A 20-member team, headed by an officer of the rank of Assistant Commissioner or Deputy Commissioner, will be assigned to each district. Special rapid action teams have been deployed to monitor sensitive constituencies where largescale cash distribution is suspected.
Rapid action teams
“Going by the previous election, we have identified 20 sensitive constituencies, where additional manpower will be deployed,” said P.S. Sivasankaran, Additional Director of Income Tax (Investigation), Chennai. He told The Hindu on Wednesday: “The special rapid action teams will also be used for action against specific groups. For instance, if we receive information about a specific group and we need to search multiple locations simultaneously, this team will be used.”
A sea intelligence unit has been formed, for the first time, at the Kamarajar Port. “This is for monitoring goods and other items that are coming in through the port,” he said.
Temporary air intelligence units have also been established in Coimbatore, Madurai, Salem and Tiruchi. The Chennai airport has an air intelligence unit that functions regularly, and “we have scaled up our resources there,” Mr. Sivasankaran said. “We have also requested for details of private jets and helicopters coming into the State. This information needs to be given before landing [for surprise checks].”
During the 2016 Assembly election, the Income Tax Department seized ₹31.74 crore in cash. In the 2019 Lok Sabha election, it seized ₹80.5 crore in cash and valuables worth ₹1.09 crore.
A control room has been established at the Investigation Wing of the Income Tax Department, which is functioning round the clock in four shifts. Teams working there are disseminating the information shared by the public and others.
Mr. Sivasankaran said the biggest challenge was ambiguous calls.
“At times, the information is not specific; it is based on political or business rivalry. In the previous elections, there were instances of people having called us up to divert our attention. Around 20% of the calls and the information given are genuine,” he said.