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‘Not all heroes are men in uniform’

Ajay Devgn and (left) the former Income Tax Officer, whose raids the actor's film

'Raid' is based on and who did't want his identity to be revealed.

Even though several Hindi films have narrated interesting stories of policemen and defence personnel, the upcoming Ajay Devgn-starrer,'Raid', is perhaps one-of-its-kind as it revolves around officers from the Indian Revenue Service (IRS). Set in Uttar Pradesh, the thriller, which will release on March 16, is inspired by the real-life raids that grabbed headlines in the 1980s. Over the weekend, while director Raj Kumar Gupta was giving finishing touches to the film's trailer that launches today, we met a former senior officer from the IT department, whose raids have inspired the film. Talking about how they planned their raids, the ex-officer revealed, "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 for it."

When asked about how they dealt with pressure from politicians who wanted to safeguard their friends, he said, "Since the idea was to catch them by surprise, we would strike by 7 or 8 in the morning. Initially, they would get agitated and aggressive, but we'd talk to them and tell them that we're doing our duty and that the department had nothing personal against them. By afternoon, both sides would warm up to each other a bit, which would ease the proceedings."

All communication from the premises that were raided would be cut off, except one telephone line. He explained, "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 that they needed to send their children to school. So, we would have to update the control room about it. Our officers would check the children's books, especially Maths books, to check for any coded information."

Talking about the places where people would hide their assets, he shared, "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."

We asked him how difficult it was to gather information in the absence of PAN and Aadhaar cards 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' 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 `10 crore to `100 crore. That would be the criteria for us to consider the raid successful," he said.

When quizzed if he was ever offered a bribe, the ex-officer said, "The way we conducted ourselves, they wouldn't dare to offer us bribes. Our department pays us well so that we're not lured by such monetary offers. It's a coveted, prestigious and powerful job and we can't compromise on that."

He went on to say that he is glad that a movie is being made on IT raids and hoped that it would inspire the youth. "In a way, we are the economic police and our job also serves a social purpose. We're a part of nation building because we collect revenue for the country. If a youngster wants to do something for the country, he can join the IT department. There are three pillars in this field — investigation, knowledge of accounts and social purpose. For me, investigate is 'invest' and 'get'. You 'invest' energy, skill and purpose, and then 'get' the result," he signed off.

Ajay Devgn, who plays an IT officer in 'Raid', sums it up saying, "I was convinced that such a dramatic story of an unsung hero should be told. Not only because it is great entertainment, but also because we owe it to them."


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