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Raid on DMK treasurer

Chennai, July 23: Sleuths belonging to the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-corruption today swooped on the residence of a former DMK minister as well as the houses of his relatives across Tamil Nadu.

The raid is part of a wider probe into charges that former DMK ministers have amassed assets disproportionate to their income.

The move recalls the recent vigilance bureau raids ordered by Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh on properties owned by his predecessor Parkash Singh Badal and his family members.

The searches on the residence of former electricity minister and DMK treasurer, Arcot . Veeraswami, his relatives’ houses (mostly in Chennai) and some of his offices spread across the state began early this morning.

Twelve such places were raided, including the house of Veeraswami’s daughter in Hyderabad’s posh Banjara Hills area.

The former minister, who has not recovered fully from a thigh injury he suffered two years ago and walks with the aid of a stick, found vigilance directorate sleuths knocking at his Anna Nagar residence here at about 7am today.

As word spread, DMK workers flocked to Veeraswami’s house along with senior leaders, including general secretary K. Anbazhagan and deputy general secretary M.K. Stalin.

The former minister’s ancestral home in Vellore district, his son’s True Value Homes office in Alwarpet here and three paper mills in neighbouring districts owned by family members, including his brother, Devaraj, were raided. Devaraj has a large stake in the hoarding business here.

The Coimbatore house of Veeraswamy’s son-in-law was also raided, official sources said.

Late this evening, the directorate said the raids had revealed that Veeraswami and his kin had acquired assets totalling over Rs 20 crore. They had also evaded stamp duties amounting to Rs 1 crore while buying several immovable properties.

Incriminating documents relating to the acquisition of assets, expenditure incurred on foreign trips made by Veeraswamy and his family members and investments made in many companies had been seized, the directorate said.

A dozen former DMK ministers have come under the directorate’s scanner since Jayalalithaa became chief minister once again in May 2001. Veeraswami is the latest ex-minister to be probed.

Veeraswami appeared before the directorate some time ago in connection with charges made by former Karnataka director-general of police, C. Dhinakar, that a ransom had been paid to forest brigand Veerapan to free Kannada actor Rajkumar.

Anbazhagan said today: “This (the raids) is a clear case of political vendetta and we will respond legally.”

Just last evening, DMK president M. Karunanidhi had said whenever his party had appealed to the Centre to put an end to the “lawless acts” of the Tamil Nadu government, its response “had not been satisfactory”. He was referring to the recent government employees’ strike that led Jayalalithaa to sack lakhs of striking workers.

The DMK chief pointed out that L.K. Advani had condemned the “vindictive politics” being pursued by Amarinder against Badal and his kin. But he said the deputy Prime Minister had not come to his party’s rescue.

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