The raid saga: SP Velumani flies to offer prayers and the TN Police file a case against ten ADMK MLAs!

Exactly a day after Tamil Nadu's Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption (DVAC) had conducted raids at his residence and the places close to him, former ADMK Minister SP Velumani has flown out of Chennai on Wednesday to offer prayers even as the anti-corruption watchdog grips up the investigation against him in connection to the allegations of corruption and irregularities. The DVAC had conducted raids on Tuesday at 60 places close to Velumani and the searches had lasted for 12 hours. 

SP Velumani had served as the Minister for Municipal Administration in the previous ADMK regime and he was accused of a tender fraud case and allocating tenders of the Chennai and Coimbatore Corporations to the people close to him during serving as the minister. On Tuesday, the sleuths from DVAC had stormed into Velumani's residences in Chennai and Coimbatore and conducted raids, which immensely shocked the ADMK as the party has been facing back-to-back ordeals from all directions after a debacle in the assembly polls. 

The residences of some of the corporation officials had also come under the scanner. Amid conducting the raids, the DVAC had filed an FIR against Velumani and 17 others in connection to the irregularities and graft case. The searches are being conducted at the residences of Velumani's close associates and contractors who had taken projects worth several crores of rupees in Chennai and Coimbatore Corporations. The FIR had named Velumani as Accused No 1 and it has shockingly revealed Velumani's empire. According to the FIR, the Greater Chennai Corporation and the Coimbatore Corporation had allotted tenders worth Rs 811 crore to companies closely associated with Velumani, when he was the minister of the Municipal Administration, from 2014 to 2018.

The authorities had also found that there were several violations that happened in the tenders under the direct watch and influence of SP Velumani. The authorities had also found that the companies close to Velumani had attained a growth at a skyrocketing pace while he was serving as the minister in the ADMK government. The former minister was also questioned by the authorities in the MLA's hostel in Chennai in the midst of conducting the raids and after the raids, the sleuths had recovered documents for further investigation. Armed with ADMK's defence and support from the cadres, Velumani had come out of the MLA hostel and he was greeted by hundreds of thousands of party supporters and the cadres had also protested against the raids in front of his residences.

A day after the raid, Velumani has on Wednesday taken a flight from Chennai to Tuticorin and landed at the southern district on Wednesday morning. He then travelled to a temple in the district and offered prayers and following the prayers, he returned back to Tuticorin airport to board a flight to Chennai. Ahead of boarding the flight, Velumani has given a short address to the reporters at the airport during which he said, "I will give a detailed press meet in two days by inviting all the reporters after acquiring permission from the party leaders. My party leaders (Edappadi Palaniswami and O Panneerselvam) had already issued a detailed statement."

Speaking about his visit to Tuticorin, he said that he was scheduled to offer prayers in a temple on Tuesday afternoon and stay here at night and returning to Chennai on Wednesday. However, in light of yesterday's situation, he couldn't travel as planned earlier. His sudden tour had made headlines across the state and it must be noted that the DVAC authorities have continued searches at KCP Engineers Private Ltd for the second day on Wednesday and the firm is run by Velumani's close associate. On the other hand, the Kuniyamuthur police in Coimbatore had filed a case against ten ADMK MLAs and dozens of leaders for violating the Covid-19 norms and gathering in front of Velumani's residence in the district to protest against the raids. 

The people who were booked include three former MLAs and the police had registered a case under various charges including unlawful assembly and violating Covid-19 safety protocols. They were booked under sections 143 - punishment for unlawful assembly, 269 -negligent act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life, and 341 - punishment for wrongful restraint of the Indian Penal Code. Ten other ADMK leaders were charged under section 353- assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharging his duty for removing the barricades installed by the police in front of Velumani's residence. The ADMK leadership had condemned the raids on the residences and other places. Former Minister and senior ADMK leader D Jayakumar has said that the DMK has a political vendetta against the ADMK.