CBI could arrest more police officers in Gutkha Scam of Tamil Nadu

Chennai, Tamil Nadu: Casting its net wider, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has begun to probe the role of senior police officers, other than the DGP and former Chennai Police Commissioner, in facilitating the storage, transportation and sale of gutkha by either aborting raids or preventing action.

According to sources, at least two IPS officers are under the scanner.

Investigations have revealed that on one occasion a special Chennai police team comprising more than a dozen police officers had raided the MDM gutkha premises at Red Hills, from where a large quantity of the banned substance was seized.

Although the seized items were moved to the Madhavaram Milk Colony police station in the middle of the night, the operation was aborted and unidentified persons were allowed to take back the seized materials.

The raid was not brought on record and no case registered, sources said.

While police personnel present at the scene were told that instructions had come from “above” to hand over the seized gutkha to officials of the Food Safety Department, enquiries revealed that the persons who came to take away the gutkha were not government officials, the sources added.

Investigators suspect that senior police officers could have played a role in these incidents that were never brought on record. However, during the course of investigation by another agency, the police personnel, including some of the rank of Inspector of Police, Sub-Inspector of Police and Head Constable, made written submissions that they were part of the operation in which loads of gutkha were seized and moved to the Madhavaram Milk Colony police station.

Parrying questions on when the operations were conducted and who the officers involved were, a police officer said that details of mobile phone calls and tower location of some suspects gathered by another agency were being analysed to corroborate a suspicion on the involvement of some persons.

Though the ‘Book of Accounts’ referred to payment of bribes to some senior police officials who held key positions in Chennai between April 1, 2015 and March 31, 2016, there could be more whose names or designations were not part of the list of beneficiaries, the officer said.

The CBI has, so far, arrested six persons, including three government officials, in the scam.

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