Tamil Nadu

Crime Branch searches premises of Senthil Balaji

V. Senthil Balaji  

Officers of the Central Crime Branch, Chennai City Police, on Friday conducted simultaneous searches at the houses and other premises belonging to DMK Aravakurichi MLA and former Transport Minister V. Senthil Balaji and his associates in Chennai, Karur, Tiruvannamalai and Kumbakonam in connection with an alleged job scam.

A senior police officer said 14 teams conducted the searches as part of investigation into a major job scam in transport corporations when he was Transport Minister in the AIADMK government when Jayalalithaa was Chief Minister. The searches were conducted at 17 locations — nine places in Chennai, five in Karur, two in Tiruvannamalai and one in Kumbakonam — after obtaining warrants for search from jurisdictional courts.

An officer said the police seized documents of properties which were bought when the alleged offence took place. Receipts of gold jewellery, documents of four-wheelers, biodata of job aspirants and interview cards, details about crores of rupees allegedly received from job aspirants and list of names of candidates who paid the money, bank passbooks, cheques and locker keys were confiscated, the police claimed.

Last November, the Madras High Court had directed the CCB to conduct the probe afresh in the job racket. Based on this, special teams under Assistant Commissioner of Police (Job Racket) began investigations.

A team led by a senior officer reached Mr. Balaji’s flat on Thiruvengadam Street in Mandaveli. Since no one was available at the time, the officers called him over phone.

“As no one turned up for the search, we had no other option but to seal the house to ensure that evidence is not tampered. The key was handed over to a court,” an officer said. The charge against Mr. Balaji was that when he was Transport Minister (dropped in July 2015), money was allegedly obtained from aspirants through his associates for appointment as drivers, conductors and technicians in State transport corporations. Mr. Balaji was among the 18 disqualified AIADMK MLAs who had thrown their lot with rebel leader T.T.V. Dhinakaran. He joined the DMK and got elected in the bypoll last year.

In Karur, the police used force to evict a group of DMK members from the entrance of a business establishment at Ramakrishnapuram owned by Mr. Balaji to facilitate checks by the CCB team.

By the time the Chennai police team had reached Ramakrishnapuram after completing a checking operation at the residence of Mr. Balaji at Rameswarapatti, the party members, mostly women, had assembled in large numbers and blocked the entrance of the business establishment.

Seeks bail

Mr. Balaji and his brother V. Ashok Kumar rushed to the Madras High Court on Friday seeking anticipatory bail. The duo apprehended arrest by the Central Crime Branch police. Pointing out that the High Court had recently ordered further investigation in the case, in which the police had already laid its charge sheet against other individuals, the petitioners said the investigators had suddenly conducted raids.

(With inputs from Krishnamoorthy

in Tiruchi)

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Printable version | Jan 16, 2022 4:21:43 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/crime-branch-searches-premises-of-senthil-balaji/article30707080.ece

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