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ED official arrested in Tamil Nadu; Congress blames central agency, BJP says unfair to implicate entire department
Madurai: Tamil Nadu Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption (DVAC) officials on Saturday 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.
Tiwari, a 2016-batch officer currently posted in Madurai was allegedly caught "red-handed" while accepting a bribe of Rs 20 lakh from a doctor in Dindigul district of the State on Friday.
The ED officer was arrested after being chased on the Dindigul-Madurai highway for eight kilometres, officials said.
The arrest of the ED officer comes as 'Murasoli' the mouthpiece of the state's ruling party DMK on Friday in a hard-hitting editorial accused the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of using the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to tarnish the DMK government's reputation.
The Congress in Tamil Nadu sought to put the blame on the ED stating that the official arrested on bribery charge should not have run if he was innocent. "Based on the information and complaint received by the Tamil Nadu police they went to check to the enforcement department office. If he was innocent, he could have faced them and why did he run away at the time...," Tamil Nadu Congress President KS Alagiri said.
The BJP, however stated that it was unfair to implicate the entire department for the misconduct of one individual.
Addressing media persons in Thoothukudi, Tamil Nadu State BJP chief K Annamalai said, "Yesterday, DVAC arrested one person from the ED department. He was produced before the court and sent for judiciary custody. This is not the first time and this isn't the last time either. Earlier too, many have been caught and arrested from specialized agencies like CBI and ED in states like Rajasthan, West Bengal and Delhi. Recently, a similar incident happened in Rajasthan...We can't blame the ED for a single individual's mistake..."
DVAC officials conducted searches in connection with the case at the residence of Ankit Tiwari and at the ED sub-zonal office in Madurai. CRPF personnel were also seen outside the central government office where the DVAC officials conducted enquires.
Security personnel at the Madurai ED office locked the office from inside while DVAC conducted their searches today.
According to a statement released by the DIPR Secretariat, Chennai Tiwari had on October 29 contacted a government doctor from Dindigul and mentioned about a case registered against him in the Dindigul Vigilance and Anti Corruption Department, "which was already disposed off."
"Further, Tiwari informed the employee that instructions had been received from the Prime Minister's Office to conduct an enquiry and asked the government doctor to appear before the ED office at Madurai on October 30," the DVAC statement read.
When the doctor went to Madurai, Tiwari got into the doctor's car and asked him to pay Rs 3 crore to avert legal action in the case, the DVAC alleged.
"Later, he said he had spoken to his superiors and as per their directions, he agreed to collect Rs 51 lakh as bribe," the DVAC said.
DVAC further alleged that on November 1, the doctor had given Tiwari Rs 20 lakh as a first instalment of bribe.
Later, he (Tiwari) intimidated the employee on several occasions through WhatsApp calls and text messages that he should pay the full amount of Rs 51 lakh, otherwise he would face dire consequences," the DVAC press release said.
On November 30, the government doctor lodged a complaint at the Dindigul district Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Unit.
Sleuths of DVAC caught Ankit Tiwari after he received Rs 20 lakh as a bribe from the complainant. Subsequently, he was arrested at 10.30 a.m. under the Prevention of Corruption Act. The sleuths also seized several incriminating documents regarding his misconduct, said the release.
"An investigation is being done to elucidate whether he blackmailed or threatened any other officials adopting this modus operandi and collected money in the name of the Enforcement Directorate," the DVAC said.
An inquiry will also be conducted to ascertain the involvement of other ED officials in the plot, if any. Further searches will be conducted at the places associated with Ankit Tiwari, stated the release.
According to DAVC, Tiwari, along with his team of ED officers, had been threatening several people and receiving bribes in the name of closing their case in the Enforcement Directorate.
Tamil Nadu Congress President KS Alagiri said that Tiwari should have faced the ED officials, if he was innocent.
"Based on the information and complaint received by the Tamil Nadu police they went to check to the enforcement department office. If he was innocent, he could have faced them and why did he run away at the time... This investigation is based on the fact that the officer named Ankit Tiwari has made a mistake, he has money in his hand and has already received 20 lakhs and is bothering him by asking for Rs 31 lakhs again, so the enforcement department should keep its doors open," he said.