In an extraordinary development, Tamil Nadu's premier anti-corruption agency Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption (DVAC) had conducted raids at the premises of Enforcement Directorate (ED), the country's economic intelligence agency, hours after apprehending an officer attached to the ED, the country's under the charges of taking bribe of Rs 20 lakh from a doctor for settling a case.
The arrested officer has been identified as Ankit Tiwari and he was arrested on the Dindigul - Madurai highway in Tamil Nadu after the officials seized Rs 20 lakh from his car. The development that an ED officer was arrested by the Tamil Nadu police under bribery charges had drawn sharp attention from across the nation and has prompted a fresh political conflict between the Modi regime and the state-ruling DMK.
The arrest of Ankit Tiwari has come at a crucial time when the ED has been scrutiny for several months for being a lapdog of the Modi regime in targeting the opposition leaders and the dissenters of the government. Tiwari was arrested on Friday - December 1 in Dindigul by the DVAC officials, who intercepted his car on the highway based on a secret tip-off about him and the movement of bribe money.
The police said that Ankit and his men had threatened and received bribes from several people claiming that if they pay the bribe, the cases against them with the ED would be closed. After taking Tiwari into custody, the DVAC officials interrogated him at ED's regional office in Dindigul and later he was taken to ED's sub-zonal office in Madurai for further investigations.
The reports said that the state government officials had confirmed that Tiwari is attached to the ED and when he was brought to Madurai, tensions emerged after the DVAC officials entered the ED office to conduct raids and investigation after its official was caught red-handedly for taking bribe. A team of Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) personnel was brought to the ED office in Madurai from their camp office in Sivagangai district.
The Tamil Nadu police personnel were also stationed at the premises as tensions prevailed. It is pertinent to note that this November, Rajasthan's Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) had arrested two officials on bribery charges. Their arrests have come a day after the central agency issued summons to the sons of Rajasthan's Congress party chief Govind Singh Dotasra.
Who is Ankit Tiwari?
A member of the 2016 batch of officers, Ankit Tiwari is said to have prior service in the states of Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh. According to an official statement released by DVAC, Tiwari currently holds the position of an enforcement officer in ED's sub-zonal office in Madurai. As per his LinkedIn profile, Tiwari had graduted in engineering from Shri Govindram Seksaria Institute of Technology, Indore, Madhya Pradesh and he also holds a law degree.
Tiwari's bio reads, 'Presently working as Law Enforcement Officer in Enforcement Directorate'. He has described that he has been working with ED since May 2018 and before joining ED, Tiwari worked at Deloitte India as a consultant. In its statement after Tiwari's arrest, DVAC said, "On October 29, 2023, he contacted a government employee from Dindigul and mentioned a case registered against him in the Dindigul Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Department, which was already disposed of."
Ankit Tiwari had also conveyed to the government employee that directives had been issued from the Prime Minister's Office to initiate an investigation through the Enforcement Directorate in this matter. He also asked the government employee to appear at the ED's office in Madurai on October 30, 2023. Subsequenty, when the employee visited ED's office in Madurai, Tiwari entered the employee's vehicle and negotiated a deal, suggesting a bribe of Rs 3 crore to stall the legal proceedings against the employee.
The DVAC said, "Later, he (Tiwari) said that he had spoken to his superiors and as per their directions, he agreed to collect Rs 51 lakh as bribe. On 01.11.2023, the said employee had given him Rs 20 lakh as first instalment of bribe." Tiwari went on to intimidate and harass the employee, asking the latter to pay the rest 31 lakh bribe failing which he would face legal consequences from the ED. After receiving a threat, the government employee had lodged a complaint with DVAC on November 30 after which the officials arrested Tiwari on December 1 under the charges of taking Rs 20 lakh as bribe and he has been sent to judicial custody till December 15.