The Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption that conducted searches on the premises of ten Police, Excise and Tamil Nadu State Marketing Corporation (Tasmac) officials in Chennai, Kancheepuram and other places on Saturday seized incriminating documents that not only pointed to the quantum of bribes paid by illegal bar owners in and around the tourist town of Mamallapuram but the share given to some senior officials, sources in the agency said on Sunday.
Besides fixed deposit receipts, property documents and gold jewellery, special teams that conducted the simultaneous searches early on Saturday seized computerised data on the details of illegal bars, names of owners, their contact numbers and the quantum of bribe. Some storage devices taken from the premises of the suspects are being analysed with the help of cyber forensic experts, the sources said.
The searches followed the suicide of A. Nellaiyappan (35) of Tirunelveli district, who resorted to self-immolation in front of the Mamallapuram police station in Kancheepuram districts in May.
“We have seized hard discs of computers used to make entry of these payments. Dozens of bars were operating without licence and even sold liquor to customers, which was in violation of rules. While some of these illegal bars paid ₹17,000 per month, others located in remote locations paid ₹12,000 per month. The problem started when the officials doubled the quantum of this money and forced the bar owners to pay,” a DVAC official told The Hindu on Sunday.
He said preliminary enquiries with some accused revealed that a portion of the bribe was paid to senior officials in the Police, Excise and TASMAC departments for facilitating the illegal business.
The DVAC’s First Information Report named ten officials, including seven police officers, and said that the accused abused their official position to obtain huge money as ‘mamool’ (bribe) from owners of illegal bars. They failed to take action on the illegal Tasmac for pecuniary gains, causing a huge revenue loss to the government.
Of the 106 TASMAC owner liquor shops in Kancheepuram district, licence was issued to run only five bars in Chengalpet Taluk. However dozens of bars were operating illegally in collusion with the accused officials.
Nellaiyappan who was the owner of illegal bars in Tiruporur and Kelambakkam eventually committed suicide after recording his statement in social media, the FIR said.
“It is possible that a similar modus operandi was be in vogue in other tourist destinations in the State. The process of closing the illegal bars has commenced in Kancheepuram district. A detailed report would be sent to the government soon,” said the official, who preferred not to be quoted.