The Directorate of Vigilance and Anti Corruption (DVAC) of the Tamil Nadu Police on Saturday morning concluded the 13-hour long searches at the Enforcement Directorate (ED) zonal office in Madurai and the residence of Enforcement Officer Ankit Tiwari who was arrested for allegedly taking a bribe of Rs. 20 lakhs.
Ankit Tiwari has been remanded and sent to judicial custody till December 15. According to highly placed sources in the Tamil Nadu government, the police department and the political leadership are in no mood to hand over the investigation to any central agency.
“We will not transfer the case to the CBI at any cost. DVAC will take the case to its logical conclusion and the allegations against the ED officer and all those involved in the case will be brought to justice,” a senior police officer told The Week.
According to the official press release from the DVAC on Friday night, the officer demanded Rs.51 lakh as a bribe from Dr Suresh Babu -- a government doctor. Tiwari contacted Suresh Babu on October 29 and said that a disproportionate wealth case which was disposed of by the Dindigul branch of the DVAC is to be reopened by the ED. He asked Suresh Babu to appear before the ED zonal office in Madurai.
Initially Tiwari, according to DVAC allegedly demanded Rs.3 crores to avert legal action. But he reduced the demand to Rs.1.5 crores first and then to Rs.51 lakhs. Suresh Babu, who paid Rs 20 lakhs initially, as first instalment, on November 1. But he struggled to pay the remaining amount and so informed the DVAC.
Following the DVAC's instructions, Suresh Babu asked Tiwari to come to a particular spot to collect the second instalment of Rs. 2o lakhs. The DVAC officers who were with Suresh Babu, chased Tiwari for over 25 kms on the Dindigul-Kodaikanal highway and caught him, said the Tamil Nadu police.
The First Information Report of the DVAC, says that the visuals of the Enforcement officer taking bribe were recorded in the car dashboard camera of the doctor.
According to Tamil Nadu police, several incriminating documents were seized from the ED zonal office in Madurai and also from Tiwari’s house. Sources also say that the DVAC will conduct searches in the ED office at Shastri Bhavan in Chennai. Further investigations are underway, according to the statement released by the state government on Friday.
In a related development, Tamil Nadu Assembly Speaker M Appavu on Saturday alleged that he was also subjected to threats by a person claiming to be either close to or representing the ED. “He has been issuing threats to me for the past three months in the name of a central agency. I warned him not to threaten me as I am straightforward. The middleman even asked me to go hiding or change my mobile number. But I declined to do so,” speaker Appavu said during a press conference.
Tiwari's arrest has come at a time when the political big shots in Tamil Nadu, from the ruling DMK, are facing ED cases, most of them handled by the DVAC earlier. The searches at the ED office and the arrest of Tiwari has damaged the reputation of the central agency, where there is a political undercurrent against the BJP.