The Department of Income Tax issued a statement clarifying the basis of the searches that began across Tamil Nadu on Friday. The I-T department sleuths conducted searches in various locations in properties belonging to Stalin’s son in law Sabareesan, DMK’s Karur candidate and former minister Senthil Balaji, offices of SNJ distilleries etc on Friday. The searches that began on Friday morning are in progress. As the searches come just less than a week before Tamil Nadu goes to polls, several political leaders and observers raised questions on the motive behind the searches. Leaders of the opposition in Tamil Nadu Stalin and Thirumavalavan have called these searches intimidation tactics by the BJP-led centre, since the DMK-led alliance is taking on the AIADMK-BJP combine in the state. The Income Tax department, late on Friday, issued a statement in an attempt to explain the rationale behind the searches. “Today, the Chennai Directorate of Income Tax has conducted searches on three different groups and a few individuals in Tamil Nadu. These groups and individuals are involved in businesses ranging from running distilleries and breweries, real estate, local financing, solar power EPC to handling cash of politically exposed persons for the ongoing elections. Part of these groups and individuals are alleged to have been actively assisting in political cash distribution,” the department said, adding that the searches are aimed at unearthing such activities. The department also stated that the searches were conducted in 28 premises in Chennai, Coimbatore and Karur and that ‘several incriminating materials on tax evasion have been found so far.’ However, no information on cash or jewellery seized so far was provided by the Income Tax department. Earlier on Friday, a team of Income Tax officials reached the home of DMK Chief MK Stalin’s Stalin’s son-in-law Sabareesan and daughter Senthamarai to carry out searches. Though he keeps a low profile, Sabareesan has been a close advisor of Stalin and is known to be a key strategist for the DMK. Sabareesan’s residence at Neelankarai on East Coast Road in Chennai and three more properties were searched by over 25 officers from the Income Tax Department. I-T officials also carried out searches at DMK’s Karur candidate Senthil Balaji’s residence in Karur. Raids were also carried out at DMK Anna Nagar candidate MK Mohan’s house. As the raids were being carried out, DMK MP and Organisation Secretary RS Bharathi wrote a letter to the Election Commission against the searches. "The Income Tax department has been used as a sword and as a pawn in the hands of the ruling BJP party and there are no reasons as to why these searches are being conducted few days before the election date,” the DMK MP wrote to the ECI. The letter argued that the raids were against the Model Code of Conduct and a violation of the Representation of People's Act 1951. "Unable to bear the huge reception of our party leaders' campaign among the public in Tamil Nadu, ruling BJP misuses and induces the Income Tax Department to threaten our DMK party in one way or another, result of which present raids are being conducted," the letter stated. Reacting to the raids conducted on his party leaders, DMK Working President MK Stalin hit out at the BJP and the AIADMK, saying he and his party would not be cowed down by the raids. “I am telling Modi, this is DMK. Don’t forget it. I am Karunanidhi’s son. I won’t get scared about such things,” Stalin said. The raids on the DMK functionaries came just days before the state of Tamil Nadu goes to elections. Tamil Nadu will vote in a single phase on April 2 and the results will be announced on May 2.