Gutkha scam: Chennai ex-police commissioner George pleads innocence

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Gutkha scam: Chennai ex-police commissioner George pleads innocence

Chennai: Former Chennai Police Commissioner S. George on Friday said he has not received any money from any gutkha manufacturer.

The former city police chief told reporters here that at the time when the scam surfaced, it was blown up to prevent him and T.K. Rajendran from becoming the Director General of Police (DGP).

However, Rajendran was appointed as the Tamil Nadu DGP.

George said he has not received any money from any gutkha (a tobacco product banned in Tamil Nadu) manufacturer.

Queried about an entry in the diary of the gutkha manufacturer A.V. Madhava Rao listing out the payment of "Rs 15 lakh for Christmas to a former Commissioner of Police", George said someone might have collected the money from the gutkha manufacturer falsely saying that it is for him (George).

"Entries might have been made in the diary based on someone's statement. Why should an ex-commissioner be paid any money," he asked.

He also said the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is carrying out a probe based on entries made by a gutkha manufacturer.

On September 5, the CBI raided the houses of George, DGP Rajendran, Tamil Nadu Health and Family Welfare Minister C. Vijayabaskar, gutkha manufacturer Rao and several state and central government officials in Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh.

George said his name is not mentioned in the First Information Report (FIR) filed by the CBI.

According to him, there are several layers of hierarchy between the Commissioner of Police and down below. There are about 300 police stations in Chennai.

"Is it possible for a scam to go on just with the blessing of the Commissioner of Police," he asked. There are different levels in the police hierarchy and different periods, he added.

He said Deputy Commissioner Jayakumar did not report the illegal gutkha operations to his superiors despite knowing and happening under his jurisdiction.

According to George, he held a preliminary inquiry about the gutkha scam and had written a letter to the state government to conduct a probe citing the rumours of police officials being involved in the scam.

George said as the allegations were against the Commissioner of Police, it was not possible for him to order a probe but there were several agencies that could have been entrusted with the task.

He said he did not know why the government did not act on that report.

As to the seizures by CBI after raiding his home, the former commissioner said, the CBI took only the sale deed of his plot bought from the state housing board, certain lease documents and insurance policies.

On Thursday, the CBI arrested five persons -- three promoters of gutkha manufacturing company Jayam Industries viz Rao, Uma Shankar Gupta and Srinivas Rao; Food Safety Department official Senthil Murugan and Central Excise Superintendent N.K.Pandyan.

The case is related to an Income Tax Department raid in the offices, residences and godowns of a gutkha manufacturer Madhava Rao in Tamil Nadu in 2016 for evading about Rs 250 crore tax.

A diary was seized from Rao's residence which listed alleged bribes paid to various officials to the tune of about Rs 39.31 crore.

The IT Department had sent a report to the Tamil Nadu government about the alleged payoffs to various officials.

The state government claimed it did not receive any report from the IT Department. But a copy of the letter sent to the state government by the IT Department was seized from the room occupied by V.K. Sasikala in the late Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa's residence in November 2017.

The Tamil Nadu government has banned the manufacture and storage of gutkha. However, the product was reportedly available in the market with the alleged connivance of police officers and others.

Despite objections from the opposition parties, Rajendran was given a two-year extension in 2018 by the AIADMK government.

George avoided some media questions and ended the press meet abruptly with his assistants asking him to conclude the meet.