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Taxman thrill

Upcoming film to showcase heroics of IRS officers and the tax raids of the ’80s

‘The way we conducted ourselves, they wouldn’t dare to (offer a bribe). It’s a coveted and powerful job’ 
— Ex-IRS officer
 

Ajay Devgn’s upcoming film Raid is a story revolving around officers from the Indian Revenue Service (IRS). Also starring Ileana D’Cruz and Saurabh Shukla, the thriller is set in Uttar Pradesh and is inspired by real-life incidents of the 1980s. 

A former income-tax officer, who is one of the inspirations behind the film, shared light on the planning which goes behind the raids. 

“We would pick teams of honest officers, who would do thorough research and not depend on information based on hearsay. After a careful analysis, we would decide on whether to conduct the raid or not and accordingly get our senior’s approval,” the former officer revealed.

Often, political pressure came in the way. The way out? A surprise attack.  

“Since the idea was to catch them by surprise, we would strike by 7 or 8 in the morning. Initially, they would get aggressive, but we’d tell them that we’re doing our duty and that the department had nothing personal against them,” he said.

Cellphones were still a distant dream then and any sort of communication would be cut off from the premises. 

“We had to keep one phone line working to update the control room about what we had found in our searches or if there was any risk to us. For example, during the raids at some houses, people would say they needed to send their children to school. So, we would have to update the control room. Our officers would check the children’s books, especially those on mathematics, to check for any coded information,” he said. 

The former tax sleuth disclosed how people with dishonorable intentions would hide their assets. “They would keep things inside mattresses, walls, false ceilings, in the homes of their relatives or even with their drivers. During my service, it was rare that we conducted a raid and didn’t find anything.”

Considering that PAN and Aadhaar cards did not exist back then, he said: “Every little piece of information mattered.

Every detail — whether the person had applied for an arms licence or had got a pet dog, car or property — came handy. Disgruntled employees or former colleagues had to be tapped and cultivated as sources. In case of gold, they would say that it’s ‘streedhan’ (property women get at time of marriage) and we couldn’t do anything about it. To some extent, even cash could be explained, but wrong entries in ledgers cannot be erased. So mostly, we would look for such diaries and entries. Cash, gold, property papers and wrong entries would range from Rs 10 crore to Rs 100 crore. That would be the criteria for us to consider the raid successful.”

The Raj Kumar Gupta-directed film releases on March 16.

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