ED to drop case against two Dalit farmers after outrage | Latest News India - Hindustan Times

ED to drop case against two Dalit farmers after outrage

ByNeeraj Chauhan, New Delhi
Jan 04, 2024 06:46 AM IST

ED has decided to close a money laundering case against two Dalit farmers from Tamil Nadu, people familiar with the development said on Wednesday.

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has decided to close a money laundering case against two Dalit farmers from Tamil Nadu, people familiar with the development said on Wednesday, after summons issued to the 72-year-old cultivator and his 67-year-old brother and mentioning their caste names sparked a controversy.

Representational image
Representational image

The people cited above said that the case against S Kannaiyan and S Krishnan was closed, as the predicate offence based on which the probe began was already over, adding that the agency had no intentions of harassing the farmers.

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The development came after the six-month-old summons – it was issued on July 5, 2023 – resurfaced on social media this week, triggering a row. Political parties in Tamil Nadu and activists took particular offence to ED mentioning the caste of the two farmers – Hindu Pallars – both in the summons and ECIR (Enforcement Case Information Report), which is equivalent to a first information report (FIR).

“The matter has been blown out of proportion as the summons are almost six months old,” said a senior ED officer, requesting anonymity.

“We had registered a Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) case in March 2022 against Kannaiyan and Krishnan based on a letter forwarded by Tamil Nadu forest department on July 12, 2021. The forest department’s case was related to the killing of two wild buffaloes under section 51 and 9 of Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, which are scheduled offences. We have been taking up several wildlife cases lately in line with court orders and Financial Action Task Force’s mandate to track wildlife cases,” said the officer quoted above.

Asserting that the summons were issued to Kannaiyan and Krishan as a “regular procedure” followed in PMLA cases, a second ED officer said: “They (the farmers) were not questioned that day (on July 5, 2023) and since then, no further summons have been issued to them... Rather, an advocate who appeared with the farmers on July 5 created ruckus at the ED office in Chennai.”

On mentioning their caste in the case, this officer said: “ED takes up cases from police or agencies that investigate scheduled offences and usually re-registers it verbatim. It was a clerical error.”

Nonetheless, the first officer said: “The PMLA case against the siblings is being closed as we have learnt that a court in Attur (Salem) recently acquitted them in the wildlife case of forest department, the main predicate offence”.

A third ED officer admitted that “it was a very petty case” and “ideally shouldn’t have been filed in the first place”.

“We’re not bothered now whether ED closes its case or not. We want Tamil Nadu police to act against ED officials and arrest them. We have already filed a complaint with the police,” said the farmers’ lawyer, G Pravina.

Pravina also said that Kannaiyan and Krishnan are engaged in a legal battle with a local BJP leader and Salem east district secretary G Gunashekar, as the latter is allegedly trying to grab their land in Attur. “That civil case is currently going on and is pending in court. ED is only trying to pressure the farmers by summoning them in another case,” she added.

ED officials, however, denied any political link in their case.

HT tried to reach out to BJP Tamil Nadu office bearers for a comment but did not get one immediately.

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