City Central Crime Branch (CCB) sleuths sprang a surprise on Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam strongman and former Agriculture Minister Veerapandi S. Arumugam here on Saturday morning by slapping yet another land grab case on him and arresting him at the Office of CCB when he came to sign the register as per the conditions for the bail he was granted in another case.
This is the third land grab case in two weeks in which he has been named Accused No.1. He was remanded to 15 days' judicial custody and lodged at the Coimbatore Central Prison.
As the news of his arrest spread, his supporters and party cadre indulged in violence in which the window panes of six government transport corporation buses were damaged. However, police deployed adequate strength to prevent the situation from going out of hand.
A visibly shocked Mr. Arumugam was told by police that he was arrested in a fresh land grab case when he came to sign the register at the CCB Office at 8 a.m. as per Madras High Court orders, which had enlarged him on conditional bail in connection with two earlier cases of land grab. After three days of custodial interrogation, he had been signing at the CCB office daily.
He was forced into a waiting police van that took him to the house of Judicial Magistrate No.4 Sri Vidya, who remanded him to custody till August 12. He was straight away taken to Coimbatore where he was lodged at Central Prison. Salem City Police Commissioner K. Sokkalingam led the security convoy from Salem.
Bala Mohan Raj (56) met the Commissioner on Friday and preferred a complaint saying that four acres owned by Mr. Arumugam's wife and his sons were located adjacent to his land of 20,460 sq.ft. at Nilavarapatti, near here. Mr. Arumugam, he alleged, had summoned him and his wife to his house in 2007 and threatened them to sell their land for a sum well below the prevailing market price.
Based on the complaint, police registered cases against Mr. Arumugam, his nephew K. Sureshkumar, Koushika Boopathy, DMK functionary Narayanan, document writer Sundaram and a few others under the Indian Penal Code.
Police are on the lookout for Sureshkumar and Boopathy who are absconding since they have also been named accused in the earlier two cases of land grab.
Staff Reporter adds from Coimbatore:
Central Prison officials said that a team of doctors examined Mr. Arumugam before he was lodged in the prison and found him to be in good health.
Earlier, around 50 DMK cadres, led by former Minister Pongalur N. Palanisamy, raised slogans outside the prison in support of Mr. Arumugam. They alleged that cases were being foisted on DMK members.
They accused the State Government of repressive measures and raised slogans condemning Chief Minister Jayalalithaa.