Following the Madras High Court’s refusal to grant anticipatory bail to former AIADMK minister KT Rajenthra Bhalaji, he has now become a fugitive. The Tamil Nadu police has formed six special quads to nab him.
The former dairy minister is facing two cases related to job rackets. He is alleged to have promised some youngsters government jobs at Aavin, the state-owned dairy organisation, and swindled them of ₹3 crore. So far, 23 of the cheated government job aspirants have given statements against Bhalaji.
Dismissing Bhalaji’s anticipatory bail petitions moved on December 17, judge M Nirmal Kumar gave the TN police the go-ahead to probe into the cases filed against him. When he had filed the bail petitions in November, the court had orally instructed the police not to arrest him till further notice.
Immediately after the court’s dismissal of his petitions, Bhalaji went into hiding. Some reports claim that when the court was dismissing his petition, he was attending a public meeting against the DMK government in Virudhunagar district, where his constituency Sivakasi is located. Once he learnt of the denial of a bail, he absconded, and is said to be hiding in Bengaluru.
AIADMK sources suggest that Bhalaji is being chased more for his criticism of the current dispensation than for his cases.
Talking to The Federal, advocate IS Inbadurai, a former AIADMK MLA and a member of the party’s legal wing, said the State government is acting on vengeance. “I don’t want to go into the merits of the cases filed against him. But our question is, the same kind of allegations have been levelled against current DMK minister V Senthil Balaji. However, till now, the police has not initiated any probe. The same party, when it was in the Opposition, had met the Governor and made a representation against the then AIADMK leaders. Why then is it turning a blind eye towards the allegations against Senthil Balaji?” he said.
Meanwhile, K Lakshmi, Bhalaji’s sister, filed a plea in the Madurai bench of the Madras High Court, alleging that the police, at midnight, picked up her sons Vasanthakumar and Ramana, and her driver Rajkumar, for questioning. Hearing the plea, judge GR Swaminathan ordered the police not to disturb Lakshmi’s family. He also directed the police to formally send summons to Bhalaji.
Little trust in police
Asked about Bhalaji’s whereabouts, and why he had absconded, Inbadurai said he must have chosen a safe haven to save himself from the clutches of the police.
“These days a common man cannot trust the police. No one knows what happens in police custody. To avoid the politically motivated arrest, Bhalaji is on the run. He is trying to make an appeal in the Supreme Court and until the appeal process gets over, he will be a fugitive. The party will support him in whatever way possible,” he added.
Earlier, senior AIADMK leader D Jayakumar had told reporters that Bhalaji is not absconding, but is in consultation with his legal team to decide on the next course of action.
It is to be noted that the State government has been expediting the proceedings in the cases filed against AIADMK leaders. As a part of it, officials from the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption are carrying out raids at the premises linked to former ministers, and it is claimed that Bhalaji is also under the radar.