Third former Tamil Nadu minister arrested in land-grab case

CHENNAI: A day after Tamil Nadu chief minister Jayalalithaa Jayaram warned in the state assembly of strong action on complaints pertaining to land grabbing, DMK leader and former minister KN Nehru was arrested on Thursday in Tiruchirappalli.

A police official in Tiruchirappalli told ET that Nehru had been arrested following a petition by one K Srinivasan, a doctor, and that he was remanded to 15 days in custody. Nehru has refuted the allegation.

Nehru is the fifth DMK leader to be arrested in Tiruchirappalli district alone, and is the third former minister after Veerapandi S Arumugam and NKKP Raja to be charged of land usurping. Arumugam surrendered to police in July, and Raja was arrested earlier this month. Other DMK leaders arrested in connection with land grab allegations include J Anbazhagan MLA, OC Viswanathan and Anbil Periasamy.

For the DMK, the situation is likely to get murky in the coming days, as the state government has announced its intention to deal stringently with petitions alleging grabbing of land. Chief minister Jayalalithaa announced in the state assembly on Wednesday that as many as 8,947 complaints of land grabbing had been received.

She said the pressure on individual police stations was high owing to the sheer number of complaints of land usurping, and therefore exclusive cells were set up at the police headquarter level and district levels to deal with such petitions. For the same cause, 25 special and fast track courts have also been set up.

In all, about 420 persons have been arrested in cases pertaining to land grabbing, and three of them have been charge-sheeted. The chief minister said land worth more than Rs 415 crore had so far been restored to their original owners.

DMK president Muthuvel Karunanidhi has criticised the government’s action, alleging political vendetta, and his party had boycotted the early days of the assembly session to protest the arrests of party members. For the chief minister, the action on land grab complaints is part of her party’s election promise.

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