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Ajay Devgn’s Raid draws from at least two separate incidents in the 1980s

The film has Devgn playing an income-tax officer who raids the premises of a powerful Lucknow goon turned politician.

Mayur Lookhar

Films based on real people and events seem to be the flavour of the season in Hindi cinema. Ajay Devgn’s Raid, the trailer of which has received great response online, appears to be in the same category.

The film is said to be based on the country’s 'longest income-tax raid', which, some reports have claimed, took place in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, in 1981.

A quick search online reveals little information about any such 'longest' raid, but we did come up with information on three different raids in Kanpur, Muzaffarnagar and Bijnor, all in the northern state, details of which bear some resemblance to scenes in the trailer.

Raid trailer: Ajay Devgn set to cast his tax net wide and deep

Quoting a report in India Today magazine, the website said the raid in Kanpur was conducted on 16 July 1981. I-T sleuths raided the premises of businessman and former Congress legislator Sardar Inder Singh. As many as 90 officers were assigned to the task with 200 policemen deployed for their security. The action is said to have lasted close to a month.

Officers from the Reserve Bank of India, the country's central bank, were also reportedly called in to aid the taxmen. The tax department simultaneously raided other properties belonging to the businessman and his family members and sealed his bank accounts. However, the raid was conducted peacefully. 

The film has Ajay Devgn playing an I-T officer who raids the premises of a powerful Lucknow goon turned politician, Rameshwar Singh (Saurabh Shukla). The trailer has Rameshwar Singh warning Amit (Devgn) that he and his team will not be able to go out. When Amit asks who will stop them, he replies, "Rajaji ki fauj [The king's army]." And we see hundreds of men marching towards the politician's house.

It is the threat by Rameshwar Singh’s supporters that makes Raid interesting. While such ugly scenes were not witnessed during the raid on Sardar Inder Singh, the taxmen indeed came under attack in two other raids in 1989.

A mob marching to Rameshwar Singh's house in Raid

On 14 September 1989, 88 income-tax officers were called to the Meerut office and handed envelopes containing details of where raids were to be conducted. The list contained the names of two businessmen, steel and paper mill owner Harish Chhabra and jeweller Chittaranjan Swarup. The officers were divided into nine teams that was to raid various locations and they went into action in Bijnor and Muzaffarnagar.

When one team reached Chhabra's residence in Muzaffarnagar, it was greeted with verbal abuse. Chhabra apparently bragged about his connections. When that did not deter the officers, he allegedly stepped out and told his people what was about to happen. Soon a large crowd gathered and assaulted the officers.

Another team, which had gone to raid Chhabra's factory, was also reportedly beaten up and stripped. The men had to borrow pyjamas to go back to office.

Similar scenes were reportedly witnessed at the Swarup household, where the officers were accompanied by four policemen who performed the vanishing act on seeing the huge crowd.

The Raid trailer suggests the film has used elements from these three reported incidents in its plot. But screenwriter Ritesh Shah denied the film had any connection with the action on Inder Singh. He, however, refused to disclose which real-life incident forms the basis on his story.

“I am not at liberty to talk about the film," Shah told, "but what I can tell you is that our film is not based on the raid on Inder Singh. About 70% of our film is based on a particular raid. There were quite a few raids in the 1980s. There are events in the film where you can draw parallels from the different raids that took place in the country around that time.”

A source in the film's unit said the income-tax officer concerned did not want to reveal his name and so, to keep his anonymity, director Raj Kumar Gupta and the team switched the place of the raid to Lucknow.

“In the course of their research, the team met more than one officer," the source said. "Most wanted to remain anonymous. The film is based on at least two real stories, one that took place in Kanpur while the other happened in Hyderabad. Some 20% of the film is based on the Kanpur incident.”

The source said that was a time when, in the absence of wall-to-wall media coverage, income-tax officers often faced the threat of physical violence.

Perhaps director Raj Kumar Gupta does not want his film to land in trouble by naming anyone. But you can certainly have fun watching the trailer again and trying to figure out which incident(s) the film is based on.

Raid is set to be released on 16 March. Click here to predict the film's box-office performance.