M A I N   N E W S

Karunanidhi feels the 2G heat
CBI, ED raid NGO, auditors, traders linked to Kanimozhi, Radia and Raja
N Ravikumar & Kumar Rakesh
Tribune News Service

Suspects and their role

Chennai/New Delhi, Dec 15
The CBI investigation into the Rs 1.76 lakh crore spectrum scam today moved a step closer to Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi's family with raids in the office of an NGO patronised by his daughter Kanimozhi and the residence of the auditor of the DMK chief's wife Rajathi Ammal.

The raids at 34 places, seven in Delhi and the rest in Tamil Nadu, targeted people ranging from a pastor to a journalist and an auditor, all of whom known for their proximity to the DMK’s first family.

The premises of some suspected hawala operators, including Mahesh Jain and his brother Daulat Jain were also raided by the agency. Officials of the Enforcement Directorate also joined the raids at the hawala operators’ premises in a bid to unravel evidence, if any, of hawala transactions.

The raids extended to the kin and close associates of the former Telecom minister A Raja, an NGO patronised by the DMK MP Kanimozhi, daughter of DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi and said to be a strong backer of Raja, besides corporate lobbyist Niira Radia and former Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) chairman Pradeep Baijal.

Pradeep Baijal had retired in 2006 after serving as Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), the regulatory body, chairman for nearly three years. He went on to join a firm associated with Radia after his retirement.

A team of CBI officials started the raid at Tamil Maiyam, an NGO in Chennai, in which Rajya Sabha MP Kanimozhi is one of the trustees. Rev. Jegath Gasper Raj, a Catholic priest, who is the managing trustee of the organisation, is considered to be close to her.

Tamil Maiyam seeks to promote Tamil art, literature and culture with special thrust on research, creative productions and publications.

A CBI team of about 150 members descended in the wee hours of today, to conduct raids at 27 different locations in the state. A team of sleuths began raids at the house of Kamaraj, associate editor of a pro-DMK Tamil bi-weekly "Nakkeeran", while separate teams simultaneously searched the house of Raja's sister Saroja and brother Ramachandran at the temple town of Srirangam, in Tiruchi district. This is the second time the CBI conducted raids in their houses, since a similar exercise was carried out last week also. The CBI also conducted raids again at the residence of Raja in his native village of Velur at Perambalur district and the house of his auditor Subramanyam.

CBI officials raided the residence of a Tamil TV channel reporter G L Narasimhan, believed to be close to Raja, at Tiruchirappalli. These raids follow the earlier ones conducted in December 8.

The Chief Minister, M Karunanidhi, who returned to Chennai last night, after his two-day stay at Yelagiri Hills, a hill resort 250 km from Chennai, today issued a statement, on a subject, which has nothing to do with the ongoing raids. The statement which said languages spoken by minorities in the State would be added in the uniform school syllabus, was possibly meant to convey the message that it was business as usual for him and the DMK leader was not worried about the raids.

DMK leaders put up a brave face and said privately that continuing raids meant that the CBI had not recovered enough material to chargesheet Raja, during the previous raids. They also referred to the complaint of Janata Party leader Subramanian Swamy that the CBI had not added Raja's name in the FIR on the spectrum scam.

Senior political analysts too were cynical about the result of the CBI raids. Noted political commentator and journalist Cho Ramasamy said the earlier raids conducted last week in the house of Raja and others would have alerted everyone concerned with the scam. "The raids today have come too late and anyone who thinks that incriminating documents can be found now should be tried for stupidity", he added.





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