Tamil Nadu Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption (DVAC) officials conducted searches at the Enforcement Directorate sub-zonal office in Madurai after arresting ED officer Ankit Tiwari in connection with a bribery case and seized several incriminating documents, officials said.
The arrest has sent shockwaves through the corridors of power, sparking a fierce confrontation between the state government and the central investigative agency.
The arrest unfolded like a scene from a suspenseful thriller, with DVAC sleuths engaging in a dramatic car chase before apprehending Tiwari near a toll gate. Tiwari, purportedly an officer at the ED’s Madurai office, stands accused of orchestrating an elaborate scheme to extort bribes from various individuals under the pretext of closing their cases within the ED. The DVAC alleges that Tiwari, along with his ED team, had amassed crores of rupees through illicit means, further implicating other officials in the Madurai office.
Ankit Tiwari was caught red-handed with a staggering Rs 20 lakh in cash in Dindigul, adding a layer of intensity to the unfolding drama. The DVAC’s swift action didn’t stop at the arrest; it announced plans to raid multiple locations, including the Chennai ED office, mirroring the tactics employed by the ED when it raided offices linked to Minister Senthil Balaji in July.
DVAC officials assert that they have gathered evidence of Tiwari’s involvement in corrupt practices, intending to conduct raids and expose the extent of the alleged bribery network. The move appears to be a calculated response, a tit-for-tat strategy aimed at unsettling the ED, which has been actively pursuing cases against DMK leaders.
The DVAC’s statement claims that Ankit Tiwari had been intimidating and extorting money from individuals, with the proceeds distributed among ED officials in the Madurai office. The allegations paint a grim picture of corruption within the ED’s ranks, raising questions about the integrity of the agency entrusted with investigating financial crimes.
The narrative takes an intriguing turn as the DVAC reveals details of a purported bribe negotiation involving a government employee, Dr Suresh Babu of Dindigul. According to DVAC’s account, Tiwari allegedly contacted Dr. Babu, falsely claiming a pending case against him and invoking instructions from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) for an ED inquiry. What follows is a gripping tale of extortion, with Tiwari allegedly negotiating a hefty Rs 3 crore bribe to avoid legal action.
The climax unfolds on November 1, 2023, when Dr Suresh Babu hands over Rs 20 lakh as the first installment of the bribe. Subsequent communication from Tiwari reportedly continued to pressure the government employee, insisting on the full payment of Rs 51 lakh to avert dire consequences.
The saga began when a government employee, Dr. Suresh Babu of Dindigul, grew suspicious of Tiwari’s activities and the demands for bribes. Unwilling to succumb to the pressure, Dr. Babu lodged a formal complaint with the DVAC on November 30th. Acting swiftly, DVAC officials set up a trap, positioned in plain clothes near a car sporting an MP registration plate.
As Dr. Babu placed a suitcase containing money in the car’s boot, DVAC officials attempted to intercept the vehicle. Despite a high-speed chase, they managed to apprehend Tiwari before a toll plaza, invoking the Prevention of Corruption Act. Tiwari was subsequently taken to the DVAC’s Dindigul office and presented before a magistrate, resulting in a 14-day judicial custody remand.
The drama escalated later in the day as DVAC officials sought to raid the ED’s Madurai office. Initial resistance from ED officials prompted DVAC to demand a search warrant and bring in paramilitary personnel. Eventually, DVAC officials gained access and searched Tiwari’s desk, expressing intent to investigate whether similar blackmail tactics were employed to collect money in the name of the ED. Tiwari, who had been transferred to Madurai in April, now finds himself at the centre of a growing scandal.
Political commentator Jaikrishnan views the DVAC’s actions as a retaliatory move by the DMK, characterising it as a strategic attempt to tarnish the ED’s image in response to recent raids on DMK senior leaders. Jaikrishnan points to the ED’s heightened scrutiny of alleged sand mining irregularities involving substantial sums as a source of contention. The recent ED raids on DMK ministers, including Senthil Balaji, E Velu, Ponmudi, and MPs Gautham Sigamani and Jagathratchakan, have reportedly fueled the DMK’s frustration. Jaikrishnan predicts an intensification of the confrontation, with both sides gearing up for a prolonged and fierce battle.
As the dust settles on this high-stakes confrontation, Tamil Nadu awaits the repercussions of the DMK government’s bold move against the ED. The episode raises serious concerns about corruption within law enforcement agencies and underscores the need for a thorough and impartial investigation to cleanse the system of malfeasance. The unfolding drama serves as a stark reminder of the intricacies and high stakes involved in the fight against corruption at the highest levels of government.