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CBI officer of Stalin raid fame may be transferred

The agency could not have conducted the raid without government knowledge, say serving and retired officers.

ABHINANDAN MISHRA  New Delhi | 23rd Mar 2013

DMK leader M.K. Stalin

he Central government is thinking of transferring S. Arunachalam, the head of the CBI's anti-corruption branch in Chennai over the fiasco resulting from Thursday morning's raid of DMK leader M.K. Stalin's residence. The government may also suspend some senior CBI officers involved with the raid. Arunachalam, a 1993 Tamil Nadu batch IPS officer, was posted to Chennai in 2010.

Serving and former officials who have worked with the agency say that Arunachalam, or for that matter his boss CBI director Ranjit Sinha could not have decided to raid Stalin's house on their own. "It is difficult to believe that Ranjit Sinha decided to raid the premises of someone like Stalin — and that also when the situation is so volatile — without informing his boss even once, Minister State for Parliamentary Affairs of V. Narayanasamy," an official who is serving with the agency told this newspaper. Narayanasamy heads the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) under which the CBI comes. "Either this was a deliberate attempt to coerce the DMK and send a message to other parties or it was a bona fide raid as part of an investigation that went wrong. In either cases, it's hard to imagine that the agency acted independently," the officer added.

"While the administrative control of the CBI is under the DoPT, the agency is under the overall charge of the Prime Minister. Even though the CBI director is independent to take decisions, however, as a matter of decades-old-practice, a raid that affects a political entity is rarely ordered by the CBI director without taking the PM and the DoPT minister into confidence," a senior Delhi police official who has worked with the agency claimed. The raid met with strong disapproval from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh who made it clear that his government did not play any role in it. The development was also disapproved by Finance Minister P. Chidambaram.

According to a press release issued by the CBI from Delhi, the raids were conducted to investigate a case regarding the import of 33 vehicles violating laid down provisions.

Sources said that the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), which is handled by Finance Minister P. Chidamabaram, had shared the details of this case with the CBI, after which the agency got involved. "The details of the case were shared a while back. Later, the investigation by the DRI led to Udhayanidhi Stalin, the son of M.K. Stalin. And it was during this trail that the CBI raided Stalin's premises," said an official. However, a CBI official said that the DMK too was a part of what it is claiming to be a "CBI vendetta" when it was with the UPA government. "The DMK is claiming that the raids were an act of political vendetta. However, they never cried political vendetta when Y.S.R. Reddy's son Jagan Mohan Reddy was interrogated by the CBI or when Mayawati faced CBI raids," the Delhi police officer said.

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