Tamil Nadu Minister for Electricity, Prohibition, & Excise V Senthil Balaji has been taken into custody by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in a money laundering case. After 18 hours of raids conducted by the ED in connection with a job-for-cash scam, Senthil Balaji was interrogated by the probe agency. During the questioning, he complained of discomfort and chest pain, leading to his transfer to the Tamil Nadu Government Multi Super Specialty Hospital. However, he encountered a dramatic incident on the way to the hospital. The hospital has confirmed that the minister underwent a coronary angiogram and has been advised to undergo bypass surgery as soon as possible.
Turn Of Events
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) initiated searches against Tamil Nadu Electricity Minister V Senthil Balaji and other individuals as part of a money laundering investigation on Tuesday. ED officials conducted raids at Senthil Balaji’s office in the Secretariat in Chennai and his official residence at Greenways in Chennai.
After an exhaustive 18-hour search, the ED took Senthil Balaji into custody at 1.30 am on Wednesday. The agency then began questioning him. However, during the interrogation, Senthil Balaji reportedly experienced discomfort, prompting the ED officials to take him to the Tamil Nadu Government Multi Super Specialty Hospital at Omandurar for a medical examination. Unfortunately, an incident occurred while en route to the hospital.
Opposition Condemns Treatment, DMK Vows Legal Action
Several ministers, including Sekar Babu, Udhayanidhi Stalin, Ma Subramanian, Anbil Mahesh, and Ponmudi, visited the Electricity Minister. They alleged that Senthil Balaji was subjected to torture while in the custody of the ED. Tamil Nadu Law Minister S Raghupathy stated that Senthil Balaji was targeted and mistreated, claiming that the ED questioned him continuously for 24 hours, which he deemed a violation of human rights. The ministers and opposition leaders assert that the ED must be held accountable to the people and the court for its actions.
The searches on Senthil Balaji’s residence drew condemnation from various national leaders. Congress President Kharge described them as political harassment and vendetta by the Modi government against its opponents. Opposition parties vow not to be intimidated by such actions and criticize the gross misuse of investigative agencies by the central government.
Tamil Nadu CM Stalin Slams ED
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Stalin visited Senthil Balaji at the hospital to inquire about his health. He characterized the ED’s raid at Balaji’s office as a direct assault on the federal principle and warned the BJP that they will face consequences for their actions. Stalin expressed gratitude to Congress President Kharge, West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee, Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, and other opposition leaders for condemning the ED raid. He sees this incident as a prelude to the upcoming 2024 national polls and believes it will lead to the BJP’s downfall.
Background of the Case
The money laundering case revolves around a job scam that took place during the AIADMK rule. Senthil Balaji, who was the Transport Minister of Tamil Nadu between 2011 and 2015, has been implicated in the scam. It is alleged that large sums of money were taken from candidates in exchange for promised jobs that were never fulfilled. After the death of former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa in 2016, Balaji resigned from the AIADMK and joined the ruling Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) in December 2018.
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