Former city top cop S George laid the blame on current Villupuram SP Vijayakumar, stating that he was in the clear himself.

Former Chennai top cop admits gutkha scam was real but passes buck to others
news Gutkha Scam Friday, September 07, 2018 - 18:27

Over a year after the first raids were conducted in the multi-crore Gutkha scam that rocked Tamil Nadu, former Chennai Police Commissioner and an accused in the probe, S George has confirmed that there was, in fact, a scam among the ranks of the Tamil Nadu police department in connection with the unchecked sale of gutkha.

However, proclaiming himself as innocent, George went on to blame many other officers – seniors and subordinates – including sitting DGP TK Rajendran.

In an unprecedented press conference at his residence, the visibly exasperated former city top cop said that the scam erupted in June 2017 to scuttle the chances of him and TK Rajendran who were in the running to be the state’s next Director General of Police.

“Decision was to be taken about the posting of a new DGP. It was June 27, 2017. The whole thing was blown out of proportion and put in the papers to prevent me and TK Rajendran from becoming the DGP.  Something has happened. Why should it come on June 27? Who leaked official records? Where were the official documents given to previous DGP? Why was no report submitted to the Chief Secy? Why was not a report forwarded to Vigilance Commissioner?,” he slammed.

In July 2016, raids were conducted at the godown, offices and residences of a pan masala and gutka manufacturer in Tamil Nadu, who was facing charges of evading tax to the tune of Rs 250 crore. Seized during the raid was a diary containing names of those who were believed to have been paid off by the gutkha manufacturers– including the Tamil Nadu Health Minister S Vijayabaskar, current Director General of Police TK Rajendran and other top police officials. 

George too has been named in a petition moved by DMK MLA J Anbazhagan, seeking a CBI probe into the scam. Citing this, George denied that he had been the Commissioner of Police at the time the payments had allegedly been made. According to the petition, the payouts were done in three instalments between April and June 2016 while S George was the Chennai Police Commissioner between 2012 and 2014 and from March to July 2017.

Not guilty

In an attempt to exonerate himself, George further said that following the death of Chief Minister Jayalalithaa in 2016, he wrote to the government in an attempt to quell rumours on social media.

"As the allegations were against the Commissioner of Police, that is me, it would be inappropriate for me to order an inquiry or conduct an investigation. Therefore I decided that some enquiry has to be ordered by an appropriate agency. So I wrote a letter to the government," he said.

Stating that such a massive illegal activity could not have taken place with the ‘blessing of the Commissioner’ alone, he implicated current Villupuram SP Jayakumar and other officers.

“I want to ask a fundamental question. There are 300 police stations in Chennai city. Is it possible or probable that such a massive illegal activity can go only with the blessing of the Commissioner?” he asked.

When a reporter pointed out that one of the ledgers claimed that Rs 15 lakh had been paid to George during Christmas in 2015, an angry George shot back, asking the reporter to disclose his faith.

“Why should an ex CoP be paid? When you are no longer to be paid. I'm a Christian. So if you say Christmas, it becomes credible. I'm a Christian. I'm an ex CoP. Somebody is misusing my name,” he asked.

He claimed that he came to know of the allegations after he took over and hence wrote a letter to the Government of Tamil Nadu to inquire into the matter.

Preliminary inquiry

“When I became Commissioner, rumours were going around about the Gutkha scam and the involvement of senior officials. I was aware that discussions took place at highest levels of government and decisions taken. This can be verified. However no inquiry was ordered then. Subsequently CM Jayalalithaa passed away. At that point of time I felt it was appropriate for me that some inquiry or investigation has to be ordered to quell the rumours on social media. As the allegations were against the CoP it would be inappropriate for me to order an inquiry. So I wrote a letter to the government asking for a probe,” he said.

He also stated that before he wrote the letter, he conducted preliminary inquiries with the then Deputy Commissioner (Intelligence) Vimala who had assumed charge in December 2015.

He said that Vimala told him about her visit to a paan masala godown in Red Hills after CB-CID had seized goods from there along with Jayakumar, who was the Deputy Commissioner (CCB) then and that she did not find any tobacco products there. He said that she also informed him of visits made by officers from the Food Safety Department and other higher officials.

Further stating that even officers at the inspector level knew of the scam, George placed the blame squarely on Jayakumar (currently the and said that he had asked other police officers to leave the gutkha case and instead focus on red sandalwood.

Emphasising that higher officials ignored Vimala’s report which also named a list of officers, George blamed DC Jayakumar for not having reported about this to his higher officials.

The former top cop also said that he had ‘punished’ Jayakumar by giving him below average rating in his performance appraisal.

“The officer was taken for duty in CCB and was working as Additional Commissioner of Police and was in charge of anti gangster operation. It was felt that he would be sensitive and reliable. He was directed to concentrate on major illegal activities in the city. Intelligence reports indicate that he was aware of a major organised crime activity and did not bring to the notice of the officers. His actions lack discipline and was aimed to.sabotage the aims of well intentioned senior officers who wanted to curb crime in the city,” said George reading out an excerpt from the appraisal.

CBI raids

Rubbishing the claims that he was away when the CBI team came knocking at his doors, he said that the CBI officers have taken the sale deed of his TNHB house allotted to him in 1994, his lease documents and insurance policy.

The CBI, on Thursday, arrested five persons in connection with the Gutkha scam in Tamil Nadu. The promoters of the Gutkha godown, an SP from the Central Excise and Customs department and an officer from the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI). The arrests came a day after around 40 locations were raided by the CBI sleuths in connection with the scam. Among the locations raided were the houses of TN Health Minister C Vijayabaskar, S George, and DGP TK Rajendran.

Become a TNM Member for just Rs 999!
You can also support us with a one-time payment.