CBI quizzes Kanimozhi in 2G scam
With stunning promptitude, a four-member CBI team, including two women officers, entered “Anna Arivalayam,” DMK headquarters in the city in which the satellite Tamil television’s office is also located, for the interrogation of the two key shareholders in the backdrop of the February 18 raids on the very same premises by the investigating agency.
The CBI has been closely probing a cash transaction of Rs 214 crore through Cineyug Films Pvt Ltd to Kalaignar TV, from a subsidiary of Shahid Balwa’s D B Realty. The latter is linked to Swan Telecom, one of the beneficiaries of the first-cum-first-serve 2G spectrum licence policy under former telecom minister and DMK’s nominee A Raja’s tenure. Raja and Balwa have since been arrested by the CBI in February and lodged in the Tihar jail.
However, Kalaignar TV’s Managing Director Sharad Kumar Reddy had been maintaining that the Rs 214 crore that had come into the channel initially for buying equity was treated as a loan. And the money was returned with interest of Rs 31 crore. The transaction was also reported to the I-T Department.
Just as the team arrived, Kanimozhi also reached “Anna Arivalayam” and went up to the channel’s office for the questioning. A visibly tired Dayalu Ammal, in her late 70s, followed suit with halting steps, and was aided by Amritham, another nephew of Karunanidhi. Amritham is also a director in the company.
The CBI’s separate interrogations of Kanimozhi and Dayalu Ammal in all lasted nearly three hours. Reddy was also present. Ironically, even as the duo went up to the television channel’s office through the rear door, on the ground floor, DMK and Congress leaders, including Home Minister P Chidambaram, were closeted in talks to identify the 63 Assembly seats allotted to the Congress after a two-week political standoff.
The party office was milling with hundreds of DMK cadres and ticket-seekers. It added a third ironic dimension to the turn of events, as in another wing of party headquarters, Karunanidhi himself was presiding over the interviews of DMK ticket aspirants.
“Even during the Emergency, we have not seen CBI entering our party premises,” rued a DMK old-timer, who was otherwise defensive as the CBI had to report to the Supreme Court. The mood sulked among DMK partymen, seated in a sprawling “shamiana” and waiting for their interview, until CBI officials left the premises. The CBI team also avoided the media.
Later, speaking to some television channels, Kanimozhi said they were fully cooperating with the CBI. “We are cooperating unlike many political leaders who don’t; we have not put pressure on anyone; the Supreme Court is looking into the case,” she said.
Underscoring that the CBI did not take any documents this time, Kanimozhi said Kalaignar TV managing director had already clarified the transaction in a statement. She had substantiated it to the CBI.