The DMK has demanded removal of Tamil Nadu’s health minister and and the state police chief after the CBI raided their residence in connection with a gutkha scam.
DMK President MK Stalin said that the continuation of Health and Family Welfare Minister C. Vijayabaskar and Director General of Police T.K. Rajendran would be a blot on democracy and the police administration.
“If they do not resign, then the Governor (Banwarilal Purohit) should dismiss them without any delay,” he said in a statement.
MK Stalin said the CBI raids had brought shame to Tamil Nadu.
He alleged that the AIADMK government had tried various measures to stall investigation into the scam.
On Wednesday morning, CBI officials searched several nearly 40 places in Tamil Nadu including the houses of the Health Minister and Rajendran. Many other senior police officers, including former police commissioner S George, and food safety department officials were also being raided.
The scam emerged in 2016, during tax raids on gutka manufacturing centres and tobacco barons over tax evasion worth around Rs. 250 crore. A diary seized then listed alleged bribes paid to officials amounting to Rs 39.31 crore.
The Tamil Nadu government has banned the manufacture and storage of gutkha — a tobacco product — since 2013. However, the product was reportedly available in the market with the alleged connivance of police officers and others.
DMK legislator J. Anbazhagan, on whose petition the Madras High Court ordered a CBI probe, also sought their resignation.
“The probe seems to be proceeding on the right track under the CBI. Whether a case will be filed against the scamsters or not will have to be seen,” Anbazhagan told IANS. “If no case is filed, then we may have to approach the Madras High Court again.”
Several political parties had demanded a CBI probe into the issue but the AIADMK government did not agree.
In June, the Enforcement Directorate registered a money laundering case against unnamed government officials in Tamil Nadu based on a first information report (FIR) registered by the CBI in May.
Despite opposition from opposition parties, Rajendran was given a two-year extension in 2018.
(with additional inputs from IANS)