The Income Tax (IT) Department raided properties of filmmaker Anurag Kashyap and actor Taapsee Pannu on Wednesday (March 3) following charges of tax evasion.
The IT sleuths carried out searches at various locations in Mumbai and Pune. Officials also raided the offices of a talent agency and the now defunct Phantom Films, which was co-promoted by Anurag Kashyap and producers Vikas Bahl and Madhu Mantena.
“The Income Tax department probes someone based on whatever information they get. The issue goes to court later,” Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar said during a BJP briefing.
Both Anurag Kashyap and Tapsi Pannu have been vocally critical of the government. Recently, they tweeted supporting the farmers’ agitation. Pannu was critical of celebrities who spoke in favour of the government in response to international pop star Rihanna’s post drawing attention to the farmers’ stir. Pannu had tweeted: “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 teachers for others.”
Anurag Kashyap was particularly active in opposing the Citizenship Amendment Act in 2019. In 2020, he stood with actor Rhea Chakraborty in the Sushant Singh Rajput case and criticized Bollywood celebs for not supporting one of them.
Opposition parties criticised the Income Tax searches at over 30 premises in Mumbai and Pune of production and event companies linked to actor Taapsee Pannu and film directors Anurag Kashyap, Vikramaditya Motwane, Vikas Bahl, and Madhu Mantena, over alleged tax evasion.
Maharashtra minister Nawab Malik criticised the raids, saying: “The way in which raids were conducted in the homes and offices of Anurag Kashyap and Taapsee 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. Anurag Kashyap and Tapasee Pannu have raised their voice against the Modi government’s policies. This action is an attempt to suppress their voices.”
Lawyer and activist, Prashant Bhushan, took to Twitter to ciriticise the raids: “Filmmaker Anurag Kashyap, Actor Taapsee Pannu Face Income Tax Raids. BJP’S A team at work to harass, intimidate & silence those who don’t fall in line. India has never seen such malafide use of IT dept, ED, NIA, police etc.”
Maharashtra Cabinet Minister, Ashok Chavan, also said: “Such raids have become very common nowadays as the BJP uses the central agencies to target people speaking up against their governments.” This happened to them as they are celebrities who voice their opinions regarding what is happening around the country.”
Rajya Sabha MP and deputy leader of the Shiv Sena, 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.”
Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader, Tejashwi Yadav, too, criticised the government for targeting those who have spoken out against the government. “BJP government has employed IT, CBI and ED to conduct raids on vocal and upright political rivals for their character assassination”. He added, “Now, the Nazi govt is chasing social activists, journalists and artists to threaten them against calling spade a spade. Condemnable Act!” Yadav tweeted.
Journalist Vir Sanghvi tweeted the news about the raids and wrote : “At some point this strategy will stop working.People will not be scared. They will still speak the truth.”
Taapsee had criticised the backlash American pop star Rihanna faced after the latter tweeted in support of protesting farmers while Kashyap was vocal in his protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in 2019.