National

TMC Claims I-T Officials Raided Abhishek's Helicopter In Kolkata; Tax Dept Sources Deny

In order to fulfil its mandate of coordinating with law enforcement agencies to ensure free and fair elections, a team of income tax department was sent in "a routine manner" to collect information of the arrival of a helicopter at Behala Flying Club from Malda in West Bengal around 1pm on Sunday, the sources in the department said.

| Photo: PTI
Abhishek Banerjee | Photo: PTI
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As a storm brewed over the TMC’s claim of an income tax department "raid" on a helicopter used by party general secretary Abhishek Banerjee, department sources claimed there was no enforcement action such as a search or survey and the Trinamool leader wasn't even present in the chopper.

In order to fulfil its mandate of coordinating with law enforcement agencies to ensure free and fair elections, a team of income tax department was sent in "a routine manner" to collect information of the arrival of a helicopter at Behala Flying Club from Malda in West Bengal around 1pm on Sunday, the sources in the department said.

Stating that the information of arrival of helicopter was received from the Air Traffic Control, they said after collection of the required information, the officials of the department left the place.

The helicopter, they said, was carrying two security personnel only.

Banerjee was not even there, they claimed, adding no enforcement action like search or survey was intended nor did it happen.

In Kolkata, the Trinamool Congress in a post on X said Banerjee's helicopter was raided by IT officials in Behala flying club and alleged this was part of a deliberate ploy by the BJP to harass and intimidate opposition candidates whom they cannot engage with politically.

In a post on X, the party said the chopper was undergoing a trial run at Behala Flying Club for Banerjee's visit to Haldia in Purba Medinipur when a team of IT officials arrived and extensively searched it

"Instead of removing the @NIA_India DG and SP, @ECISVEEP and @BJP4India chose to deploy minions from IT to search and raid my chopper and security personnel today, resulting in no findings," Banerjee said on X.

"When the Income Tax officials couldn't find anything, a frustrated team of Mr. Modi's men didn't let the chopper fly. When Banerjee's security personnel asked the reason, they (IT officials) engaged in a verbal spat and threatened to detain the chopper illegally. They opened each and every bag, searched every nook and corner of the chopper," the party said.

These actions, according to Banerjee, are evidence that "the BJP is trembling when it comes to Bengal. They want to wipe out the opposition in a bid to come to power again. But TMC will take the Bangla-Birodhi BJP head-on and we won't budge an inch because of these intimidating tactics carried out by central agencies on the instructions of their Delhi bosses."

The Diamond Harbour MP claimed when his security personnel videographed the raid, IT officials forcefully had it deleted.

Labeling the BJP as "zamindars," the TMC remarked, "they can exert all their might, but Bengal's spirit of resistance will never waver."

TMC Rajya Sabha MP and party national spokesperson Derek O'Brien asked, "Did the desperados find some fruits and fish sandwiches on board?"

The party asked the Election Commission to issue "appropriate direction to the IT department to stop them from taking any steps against the TMC and its functionaries during polls which would hinder the electioneering process."

The party also called upon the EC to transfer the two inspector-rank officers and debar them from carrying out any election-related duties.

Leader of the Opposition in the West Bengal assembly, Suvendu Adhikari, told reporters that the IT raid was part of the drive to eliminate black money from election campaigns.

Adhikari said the TMC's outcry over the raid indicates that the party's leaders are apprehensive about their ill-gotten wealth.

"Instead of creating a fuss over the IT raid, which was aimed at ensuring a clean poll campaign, Banerjee should have quietly cooperated with the officials. Is he above the law of the country?," Adhikari said while campaigning for the BJP in Basirhat Lok Sabha constituency.

The Election Commission, income tax department sources said, mandates coordination between the law enforcement agencies in order to ensure free and fair elections in the country.

It is as per this mandate that the Income Tax Department collects/shares information from/with various law enforcement agencies like RBI, customs, air traffic control and other authorities/persons in order to help in conducting free and fair elections in the country.

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