Tamil Nadu Law Minister S Raghupathi said that his colleague Senthil Balaji was “targeted” and “tortured” by the Enforcement Directorate, which took into custody the State’s Power and Excise Minister in the early hours of Wednesday after questioning him in case linked with money laundering.
He said the probe agency’s action was “totally against human rights.”
“Senthil Balaji was targeted and tortured. ED kept questioning him continuously for 24 hours. This is totally against human rights,” the state Law Minister said adding that the probe agency has to answer to the people and in court.
The investigating agency took the DMK leader for questioning, after conducting raids at his residence on Tuesday in the presence of the minister. After Balaji complained of chest pain, the ED brought Balaji to the Omandurar government hospital in Chennai for a medical examination amid tight security in the early hours today.
At the hospital, the Tamil Nadu electricity, prohibition and excise minister was seen crying while lying in a car as his supporters gathered there to protest against the ED action.
Reacting to the incident, DMK MP and lawyer NR Elango said, “I saw him (Senthil Balaji) when he was shifted to ICU. Doctors are evaluating his health condition. It is a procedure when a person says he has been assaulted the doctor needs to note down all the injuries and will know after seeing the report. Officially we have not been informed (by ED) that he has been arrested.”
Minister for Youth Welfare and Sports Development Udhayanidhi Stalin Udhayanidhi Stalin said, “Senthil Balaji is undergoing treatment. We will deal with it legally. We are not afraid of the threatening politics of the BJP-led central government.”
DMK leaders alleged that Balaji complained of chest pain while being taken into custody by the ED officials. They also alleged that Balaji did not seem conscious when he was taken to the hospital by ED.
Apart from Udhayanidhi Stalin ministers M. Subramanian and EV Velu visited the hospital,
Heavy security deployment has been near Karur bus stand after the ED took Senthil Balaji into custody.
Meanwhile, Rapid Action Force has been deployed at Omandurar government.
Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge has condemned the “late-night arrest” of Senthil Balaji.
“Mallikarjun Kharge, Congress President condemns the late-night arrest of Tamil Nadu Electricity Minister V Senthil Balaji by the ED. This is nothing but political harassment and vendetta by the Modi Govt. against those opposed to it. None of us in the Opposition will be intimidated by such brazen moves.”
The Supreme Court on September 8, 2022 set aside an order of the Madras High Court and restored the criminal complaint filed against V Senthil Balaji. The apex court allowed an appeal challenging the High Court order quashing the proceedings against Balaji and others in connection with the allegations of a recruitment scam while he was the transport minister in the AIADMK-led government between 2011 and 2015.
The case before the Madras High Court was regarding a complaint case filed in 2018 by a person working as a technical staff in the Metro Transport Corporation accusing Balaji, the then transport minister and other persons of taking bribes from job aspirants on the false promise of appointment to the Metro Transport Corporation (MTC) in various posts.
In May this year, the Supreme Court allowed the ED to continue proceedings against Balaji in the alleged cash-for-job scam.
This report is filed by ANI news service.