Police have seized from five persons staying in two hotels here Rs. 41.2 lakh, cash that they suspect to be what was ultimately meant for distribution to voters in the Tiruchendur by-election, and detained them for interrogation. Tirunelveli is the big city nearest to the Tiruchendur constituency area.

Police said the persons were not immediately able to account for the huge sums in their possession. Following a tip-off that a political party which has fielded its candidate in Tiruchendur had kept lakhs of rupees in rooms in a hotel situated right on the Tirunelveli District Collectorate premises, a team of police officials, led by Deputy Commissioner of Police Selson Manicka Rao and Additional Deputy Commissioner Uma, went there around 2.30 p.m. on Tuesday after informing the Judicial Magistrate.

As Rooms 202 and 203 were locked, they enquired with the receptionist about the whereabouts of the occupants. As the occupants had gone out, the police team waited in front of the hotel. A team of advocates known to owe allegiance to either the AIADMK and or the Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam came to the spot and told the officers that they should wait till the occupants opened their rooms and not make a forcible entry. Police personnel entered the rooms after the occupants, K. Subramania Pandian of Kurunthanmozhi near Alangulam and S. Appadurai of Maharaja Nagar in Palayamkottai, returned. On searching the rooms, the police recovered Rs. 33,30,200, mainly in the denomination of Rs. 100, from the rooms.

Introducing themselves as realtors, the occupants told the police that they had withdrawn money from a bank to purchase a property at Nanguneri. “Since the hotel is situated on the Collectorate premises and is close to the City Police Commissioner’s office we stayed in this hotel considering our safety and of the money, which was drawn from a bank,” one of them was stated to have told the police.

Meanwhile, a police team led by Deputy Commissioner of Police Avinash Kumar went to a hotel at Tirunelveli junction and seized Rs. 5,40,580 from a sports utility vehicle parked on the premises, bearing registration number TN 20 Q 9911 and carrying an AIADMK party flag. Rajendran of Thiruvanrangkuntram in Alangudi taluk in Pudukottai district was picked up for interrogation. Based on information reportedly provided by him, the police seized Rs. 2.5 lakh from one of the rooms of the hotel and picked up Karuppiah and O.M.K. Chandran of Madurai, both office-bearers of the AIADMK.y

EC orders inquiry

Meanwhile, an election official said in Chennai that the EC had ordered an inquiry by the Director General of Police into the conduct of S.S. Krishnamurthy, who was on Saturday transferred from his post as IG, South Zone, following certain raids conducted early on Saturday in Tiruchendur without any specific direction from the Commission.

More In: Tamil Nadu | National