Actor Sonu Sood’s premises in Mumbai and a Lucknow-based real estate company, which was involved in a deal with him, were raided by Income Tax Department officials on Wednesday, reported NDTV.
“The survey operation has been initiated on allegations of tax evasion on this deal,” officials told NDTV.
The IT department was looking into a land deal between Sood’s firm and the real estate company, according to PTI. At least six locations linked to Sood were raided, reports said.
The raids came days after Sood met Aam Aadmi Party National Convenor Arvind Kejriwal. The actor had later dismissed speculations that he was joining the Aam Aadmi Party.
During an event in August, Kejriwal had named Sood as a brand ambassador of his government’s mentorship programme for school students.
However, Bharatiya Janata Party spokesperson Asif Bhamla denied that the raids were linked to Sood’s meeting with the Delhi chief minister. “There is no relation to that,” he said. “Any personality can meet anyone. It is just a search, not a raid. It’s on a tipoff.”
Meanwhile, the Aam Aadmi Party expressed support for the actor.
“There are millions of difficulties on the path of truth, but the truth always wins,” Kejriwal tweeted. “With Sonu Sood ji, there are prayers of lakhs of families of India who got Sonu ji’’s support in difficult times.”
Sood was praised for his charity work during the coronavirus pandemic. He had organised special flights and buses for migrants stranded due to the countrywide lockdown in April-May last year. He had also arranged for oxygen for patients suffering during the second wave of the pandemic in May this year.
Aam Aadmi Party MLA Atishi said that the raids, which the Centre calls a “survey”, at Sood’s premises were meant to intimidate him. “The Centre is giving a clear message that it does not want anyone to do good work for the citizens of the country,” she said in a video.
The MLA asked if it was a crime that the actor helped citizens of the country during the pandemic.
Party leader Raghav Chadha described the raids as a “witch hunt” done by an “insecure government”. “His only crime is that he worked for the welfare of downtrodden when they were orphaned by the state,” he tweeted.
Shiv Sena leader Anand Dubey said he was shocked to hear about the raids. “The way Sonu Sood has helped lakhs of people, for tax people to search his properties… I don’t think he can do anything illegal,” Dubey said.