Politics

Elderly Dalit Farmers Summoned by ED Amid Land Dispute with TN BJP Leader

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) finds itself mired in controversy following the issuance of summons to two elderly farmers, Kannaiyan and Krishnan, in Attur, Salem district, Tamil Nadu. The summons, sent in July 2023, has raised eyebrows as it mentioned the caste of the farmers as ‘Hindu Pallars.’ While the reason for summoning the brothers remains unclear, allegations suggest the ED’s involvement in a land dispute case where the farmers accuse a local BJP leader of attempting an illegal land grab.

The summons, accessed by TNM, was issued by Ritesh Kumar, Assistant Director of ED, under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002. The farmers were asked to appear before the agency on July 5, 2023, and provide various documents, including PAN card, Aadhaar card, voter ID, passport copies, tax returns, bank details, and agricultural land particulars.

The farmers, who subsist on a meager Rs 1,000 monthly pension, were bewildered as no information about the case was mentioned in the summons. Their only legal battle involves a land dispute with Gunashekar, BJP’s Salem east district secretary. Gunashekar faced a criminal case in 2020 based on Krishnan’s complaint, leading to his arrest. The civil case regarding the land dispute is pending in the Attur court.

The ED’s involvement in summoning the farmers without specifying the nature of the case has sparked outrage and allegations of intimidation, especially considering the farmers’ vulnerable financial situation. Questions are being raised about whether the ED is inadvertently aiding the local BJP functionary by targeting the farmers.

The farmers, accompanied by their lawyer Dalit Parvina, visited the ED office in July 2023, where they filled a proforma for interrogation in English. The proforma sought information on any past summoning, arrests, detentions, or convictions under financial violation acts. The farmers, whose only income is the Old Age Pension and free ration from the Tamil Nadu government, highlighted their financial struggles due to the land issues preventing agricultural activities.

The farmers, faced with the financial burden of attending the ED office, borrowed money against their land to cover expenses. This move has intensified concerns about the potential misuse of power and the impact on the farmers’ already precarious situation.

In response, BJP functionary Gunashekar has released a video accusing the Tamil Nadu police of attempting to defame the ED and the BJP. The Salem East District BJP president has defended Gunashekar, stating they are investigating how the complaint was lodged and the ED issued summons to the farmers.

Despite attempts to reach ED officials for comment, there has been no response at the time of writing. The controversy surrounding the summons highlights the delicate balance between legal proceedings and potential misuse of investigative agencies, especially when vulnerable individuals are involved. The story will be updated if there are further developments or responses from ED officials.

 

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