TAMIL NADU

`Q' branch looking for evidence against Vaiko

MADURAI OCT. 5. The `Q' branch police, probing Prevention of Terrorism Act charges against the MDMK general secretary, Vaiko, and eight other cadres, appear to be intensely searching for evidence to strengthen the case.

With the completion of 90 days of arrest, the `Q' Branch, it is said, has sought one month's time to file the charge sheets.

The police are banking on the June 29 Tirumangalam speech by Mr. Vaiko reaffirming his support to the banned Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. The searches conducted on the residences of the Sivakasi MP and others, however, did not yield any incriminating evidence, except some old audiocassettes and photographs. The focus of investigation has now shifted to financial transactions of the accused in the last few years, police sources told The Hindu.

The police are gathering information on free orthopaedic and Hepatitis B camps organised by Mr. Vaiko at various places in Virudhunagar district during 2000-2002 and the source of funds, though he claimed to have used the proceeds from the sale of his books and speech cassettes for the purpose.

Mr. Vaiko reiterated at the public meeting at Tirumangalam that ``he was, is and will continue to be a supporter of the LTTE.'' In a specific complaint, the Tirumangalam inspector, N. Thangavelu, said the ``speeches are likely to endanger the nation's security and integrity''. Thereafter a case was registered under the POTA, which came into effect during March.

Even as the MDMK leaders say Mr. Vaiko's remarks were only an expression of opinion made in the larger context of Tamil Eelam, the police are frantically consolidating evidence to pin down the accused under the POTA provisions, say the sources.

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