Tamil Nadu Police have arrested an Enforcement Directorate officer in Madurai for allegedly extorting Rs 20 lakh in cash from a state government employee. As part of the ongoing investigation, police are searching the central agency’s offices in the city and the officer’s residence, and have seized several documents. This is the first time Tamil Nadu has arrested an Enforcement Directorate officer.
The officer in question – Ankit Tiwari – has been sent to judicial custody till December 15.
The Enforcement Directorate has not responded so far.
According to the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption, Mr Tiwari originally demanded Rs 3 crore to “avert legal action” in a case that had already been settled. He contacted the employee on October 29, claimed he was acting on instructions from the Prime Minister’s Office, and summoned him to the agency’s Madurai office. When he came, Mr Tiwari accosted him and demanded the Rs 3 crore bribe, which he later brought down to Rs 51 lakh claiming he had “spoken to his superiors”.
The first installment of Rs 20 lakh was paid on November 1. The government employee was subsequently harassed by Mr Tiwari for the remaining Rs 31 lakh. On November 30 he lodged a complaint with the DVAC and, at 10.30 am today Friday, the department arrested Ankit Tiwari.
DVAC sources told NDTV Mr Tiwari was caught “red-handed” following a high-speed car chase.
The DVAC is also investigating if Mr Tiwari received money from threatening or blackmailing others.
State Vs ED In Madras High Court
Mr Tiwari’s arrest comes as the Tamil Nadu government and the central investigative agency are at loggerheads over the latter’s summons to five district collectors; this is in connection with a probe into alleged money laundering linked to illegal sand mining.
In a moment of relief for Chief Minister MK Stalin’s administration, the Madras High Court this week stayed the summons for three weeks. It did not, though, stay the probe.
The summoned collectors – from the Ariyalur, Vellore, Thanjavur, Karur and Tiruchirapalli districts – and the state government have been given three weeks to respond to the ED.
The state, though, had argued the ED does not have the authority to make such demands and that its summons to the five collectors is against the spirit of federalism.
It was also argued the central agency ought to seek such details, if needed, only via the state government, and that it could not conduct an inquiry without the latter’s consent.
Citing a survey by an expert from the Indian Institute of Technology, the ED claimed illegal sand mining worth Rs 4,500 crore had taken place across Tamil Nadu in two years.
DMK Mouthpiece Slams Enforcement Directorate
The ED official’s arrest comes on the day the ruling DMK’s mouthpiece, Murasoli, accused the BJP that is in power at the centre of using the agency to malign its image. The newspaper questioned the ED’s claim of corruption, challenging the basis of the alleged “arbitrary” figure and demanding proof.
“The BJP uses Enforcement Directorate to create a black mark against DMK. ED said some random numbers… that, in two years, Rs 4,730 crore of corruption was uncovered in sand mining. How do they know how much sand was in the river two years ago? They are just making up these numbers… “
With input from agencies
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