DMK strongman and former State Minister Veerapandi S. Arumugam on Monday surrendered before the City Crime Branch police here for an inquiry in connection with two cases of land grabbing. His surrender was in compliance with a Madras High Court order, which said he should present himself before the police for interrogation until July 27.

A senior police officer told The Hindu that he would be detained at the CCB office for ‘custodial interrogation' for three days starting from Monday. Mr. Arumugam has been named Accused No.1 in both these land grab cases – one pertaining to Angammal Colony and the other to Premier Roller Flour Mills.

The High Court has directed that he should be produced before the Salem Judicial Magistrate-V on Wednesday at 5 pm, when he could obtain bail after executing a bond for Rs. 25,000 and two sureties.

Accompanied by a team of lawyers, doctors and his son and former MLA A. Rajendiran, the senior DMK functionary walked into the Town Police station campus, from where the Special Cell on Land Grabbing of CCB is functioning, at 10 am.

He told the policemen to keep away from him while entering the station premises and was led into the CCB office, where a team, including Assistant Commissioner K. Pitchai and Inspectors M. Sankareshwaran and M. Srinivasan, were waiting to question him.

As the court has said he could be given medical assistance if needed, three doctors from the Salem Government Medical College Hospital and his personal physician were allowed to be present near the CCB office. They examined his condition once in two hours. “His vital health parameters, including blood pressure, are found to be normal at present,” said a doctor.

The Government Hospital has formed five special teams to monitor his health every six hours on all three days of his custody. One of his lawyers, P. Moorthy, said the DMK leader had sought permission from investigation officers to stay in his house during the night for health reasons.

The police, however, turned down the request, but allowed to bring a cot from his house.

The entire interrogation, being held in two sessions, was being video-recorded. When asked whether the DMK leader was cooperating, City Deputy Commissioner of Police (Law and Order) S. Baskaran said, “Absolutely, no problem.”

Cadre raise slogans

Earlier, tension prevailed near the Town Police Station when party functionaries and cadre raised slogans against the police for ‘foisting' cases. As tension mounted in the Bazaar area, shops and business establishments downed shutters. Heavy police pickets have been posted in the city to prevent any untoward incident.

Meanwhile, the CPI (M)'s Salem unit, while welcoming Mr. Arumugam's surrender, urged the State to restore the land to the affected people of Angammal colony without any further delay.

Seeks modification

Special Correspondent from Chennai writes:

Mr. Arumugam has filed a petition in the Madras High Court seeking modification of its order on his anticipatory bail application.

In its order on July 22, the High Court had said the petitioner should surrender before the Central Crime Branch, Salem, which had registered the case, on July 25 whereupon he would be taken into custody.

The police could have him in its custody till July 27 and conduct interrogation. On July 27, he should be produced before the Judicial Magistrate V, Salem, where he should execute the bail bond and sureties.

Mr.Arumugam said he was seeking modification of the order as allowing the prosecution to have him in its custody for three days was contrary to principles set out in Cr.P.C.