Former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami cries foul as Tamil Nadu government reopens the Kodanad murder case

Published : August 19, 2021 16:41 IST

Leader of the Opposition Edappadi K. Palaniswami (second from left) addressing the media along with Deputy Leader of Opposition O. Panneerselvam (second from right) and AIADMK MLAs after they staged a walkout during the Assembly session on August 18. Photo: JOTHI RAMALINGAM B.

A flustered former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami and his former Cabinet colleague O. Pannerselvam rushed to complain against the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) government to the Tamil Nadu Governor Banwarilal Purohit, alleging that the ruling party was politicising the Kodanad murder case probe with “ulterior motive”. Kodanad, one of the smaller towns in the Nilgiris, gained prominence after former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa purchased an estate there and was spending considerable time there.

“They are trying to include me and a few others [in the murder case],” Palaniswami alleged after meeting the Governor on August 19. “No court has ordered a reinvestigation,” Edappadi Palaniswami said and accused the DMK government of acting in favour of criminals.

In 2017, three persons entered the premises of the Kodanad estate owned by former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa and tried to enter the palatial house. The watchman at the estate put up a resistance. In what looked like a plan gone horribly wrong, the watchman was killed. The three persons left after taking some documents, which, the police said, appeared to be the reason for the break-in. As many as 10 persons were later arrested by the police in this connection.

The All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) government, which was in power until the DMK took over reins on May 7, 2021, had managed to keep the progress in the case under the radar. The DMK is keen to get to the bottom of the case because DMK leaders believe that the documents were stolen at the behest of some powerful people and that the documents would throw light on various nefarious transactions of these people.

Last week, the government informed the local Udhagamandalam court, where the case relating to the murder of the watchman is in progress, that the police wanted to investigate the killing again. One of the accused has already been given armed police protection, possibly in return for his cooperation. The AIADMK insists that reopening the case is an act of vendetta.

In the five-page memorandum submitted to the Governor, the AIADMK said: “The handling of the Kodanad murder case is a classic example for the failure on the part of the DMK government… The investigation was completed and the charge-sheet was also filed in the matter and the case was progressing with directions of speedy trial by the High Court…The present drama of further investigation which has been sought for collusively by the prosecution and the accused, is only to make allegations against the Leader of the Opposition [Palaniswami]. The fate of a common citizen in the hands of the present government is completely jeopardised if a Leader of Opposition is being targeted in such a manner.”

The AIADMK staged a walkout from the Legislative Assembly on August 18 and said that it would boycott proceedings if the DMK government indulged in selective targeting of opposition leaders.

Chief Minister M.K. Stalin has made it clear that there was no political motive in reopening the investigation. “The probe is being conducted only after getting the permission of the trial court…. The culprits will not be spared. There is no need for others to panic,” he told the Assembly on August 18.

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