Tamil Nadu’s top police official and Health Minister’s premises were among 40 places raided by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Wednesday in connection with alleged sale of gutka in the state even after it was banned in 2013 by the then J Jayalalithaa government.
This is perhaps for the first time the CBI raided a serving police chief of a state. For Tamil Nadu Health Minister C Vijayabaskar, it was a double whammy, as he is already under the scanner of the income tax department, which raided his premises last year.
It was an early morning knock at the residence of Tamil Nadu Director General of Police (DGP) T K Rajendran, a 1984-batch IPS officer, when the CBI team presented the search warrant issued by the a special court.
The case pertains to illegal sale of gutka, a concoction of tobacco and ‘pan masala’ which was banned in Tamil Nadu in 2013, by Jayam Industries.
“The places searched were residential premises of the promoters/directors of the company and other public servants including officials of sales tax department, Customs and Central Excise, Food Safety and Drug Administration Department and jurisdictional police officials,” the CBI spokesperson said.
Rajendran was made DGP in 2016 after Ashok Kumar opted out for a voluntary retirement scheme. Officials claimed that Kumar, a 1982-batch IPS officer, was forced to seek VRS, as he had recommended for a CBI probe into the gutka scam.
As the news about the raids spread, clamour for the dismissal of the Health Minister and the police chief started doing the rounds. The opposition Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) and the CPI(M) sought their resignations or the state Governor’s intervention to sack them.