The Income Tax Department said on Thursday that irregularities valued crores of rupees have been discovered in current raids on filmmaker Anurag Kashyap, actress Taapsee Pannu, and others, defying claims of a crackdown on some of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s most outspoken opponents in Bollywood. As per the tax officials, their investigations have turned up issues with Ms. Pannu’s cash receipts of 5 crores and Mr. Kashyap’s former production house’s profits of 300 crores, among other issues. Neither of them has yet responded to the allegations.
On Wednesday, the Income Tax Department started searching Ms. Pannu’s and Mr. Kashyap’s homes and offices, as well as those of his associates, who formed the now-defunct production company Phantom Films.
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The searches, which were carried out over 28 locations in Mumbai and Pune as part of a tax avoidance investigation into Phantom Films. It also included Reliance Entertainment group CEO Shibhasish Sarkar and some executives from star and talent management firms KWAN and Exceed.
Some Phantom staff, as well as its other promoters, director-producer Vikramaditya Motwane, producer Vikas Bahl, and producer-distributor Madhu Mantena, were also searched thoroughly.
“During the search, evidence of huge suppression of income by the leading film production house compared to the actual box office collections has been unearthed. The company officials have not been able to explain a discrepancy of around ₹ 300 crores,” the Income Tax Department said in a news release.
“Evidence related to manipulation and under-valuation of share transactions of the production house amongst the film directors and shareholders, having tax implication of about ₹ 350 crores has been found and is being further investigated”. It further said.
“Evidence of cash receipts by the leading actress amounting to ₹ 5 crores has been recovered. Further investigation is going on,” the income tax department said, without naming Ms. Pannu.
“Apart from this, non-genuine/bogus expenditure to related concerns by the leading producers/director having tax implication of about ₹ 20 crores has been detected. Similar findings have been made in the case of the leading actress also,” it also added.
Both stars Anurag Kashyap and Taapsee Pannu have been outspoken opponents of the government, lending their support to a variety of causes. This includes the ongoing farmer protests and last year’s mass demonstrations against the controversial citizenship law that posed an obstacle to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Since Wednesday, a number of opposition figures have denounced the raids. On Thursday, Rahul Gandhi used three common Hindi idioms and the hashtag “ModiRaidsProFarmers” to criticize the government.