By Sandhya Ravishankar
Tamil Nadu’s Minister for Electricity and Prohibition & Excise, V Senthil Balaji faces serious allegations of murder and kidnapping and not just of corruption or cheating.
In a dramatic early morning arrest by Enforcement Directorate officials, Senthil Balaji was taken to the Omandurar Government Hospital where he collapsed and was rushed to the ICU. The hospital stated thereafter that Balaji had three blocks in his heart and needed an immediate bypass surgery.
Furious, Chief Minister MK Stalin, visited Balaji in hospital and later took on the BJP leadership, calling the arrest motivated and political.
But the fact remains that the 48-year-old Senthil Balaji is in the eye of many storms of his own making.
Murder Most Foul?
Senapathy Kulandaivelu hails from Karur district’s Aruvankattanur, adjacent to Senthil Balaji’s birthplace Rameswarampatti. Since 2019, Senapathy has been knocking every possible door in a quest for justice for his father, the late Kulandaivelu.
Senapathy alleges that Senthil Balaji and his brother RV Ashok Kumar planned and abetted to murder his father in order to grab their ancestral land.
“My father P Kulandaivelu was the owner of around 25 acres of land worth Rs 24 crore in our village,” said Senapathy. “Since 2009, Senthil Balaji used his aides to keep up a prolonged harassment campaign against us using our neighbours. Till date, no one is helping us get justice, neither the police, nor the lower judiciary,” he said.
Senapathy alleged that there had been an attempt to abduct him and his father Kulandaivelu on 17 February 2018. “But that failed. My father was kidnapped on 17 February 2019 and
hospitalised with grievous injuries – spinal injuries and multiple fractures. When my father woke up from the coma, my sister and I asked him who had done this. He told us that it was Senthil Balaji’s men along with police personnel from the local Vangal Police Station who had faked an accident, taken him in a local ambulance, moved him to a waiting tempo van in a secluded spot and then beaten him viciously,” added Senapathy.
Barely two months later, his father Kulandaivelu passed away.
“The ambulance driver Anandan too is missing,” said Senapathy.
Following his father’s death, his own family turned against him, said Senapathy. His sister Arunadevi went over to Senthil Balaji’s side and subsequently she began filing cases against Senapathy over the property.
As per Kulandaivelu’s will, 12 acres would go to Senapathy and 3 acres to Arunadevi. Arunadevi is said to have built a new house in Salem district with the blessings of Senthil Balaji. Her husband too is allegedly in awe of the minister.
“In August 2020, there was a murder attempt on my mother Savithri Kulandaivelu by poisoning,” alleges Senapathy. Senapathy alleges that their mother Savithri is allegedly a “hostage” of Arunadevi.
Senapathy insists that the lower judiciary, local police personnel and advocates were all working to actively dismantle his case. With ex-parte proceedings to non-recording of crucial facts and announcing different dates of hearing, the case has not managed to move much.
“Senthil Balaji and his brother Ashok Kumar also run MSL Infotech India,” said Senapathy. “This is a cybercrime unit with which phones are tapped illegally and emails are hacked into. MSL had offices in Coimbatore and Karur but now the Coimbatore office is closed.” Senapathy alleges that his phone had been monitored in order to track his movements.
The “Gokul” Case
In 2016, as Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam chief MK Stalin toured Tamil Nadu ahead of the Assembly election, he made a crucial speech in Karur.
“An engineering student named Gokul was abducted, threatened with murder and his properties were grabbed,” said Stalin. “His family went to the court and the case is being heard. But Gokul’s whereabouts are not known.”
Gokul had disappeared in 2011. An adopted child, working in a software firm in Coimbatore, his family owned land in Karur worth Rs 25 crore.
Gokul’s mother Deivanai alleged that Senthil Balaji and his brother Ashok Kumar created fake
documents to grab their land and sell it, a move objected to by Gokul.
She also alleged that the duo’s gang kidnapped Gokul, force-fed him drugs, forced him to sign and got the land written in the names of their benamis.
Deivanai also hired a lawyer who filed a Habeas Corpus case before the magistrate’s court in Karur. She alleged that the lawyer then took money from Senthil Balaji’s gang and withdrew the case. The Habeas Corpus case is currently before the Madurai Bench of the High Court.
Senapathy alleges that there are a total of 14 murders committed at the behest of Senthil Balaji and Ashok Kumar in Karur, including the case of his father Kulandaivelu and Gokul.
Kulandaivelu’s case is with the Tamil Nadu CBCID since 2019. Only a preliminary investigation has been done so far by them and the actual investigation is yet to begin four years later.
“I do not believe I will get justice from the CBCID since the main accused is a powerful Minister with the ruling party in power,” said Senapathy. “This case and all other cases against Senthil Balaji need to be handed over to the CBI,” he said.
Land Grabbing Allegations
Locals in Karur say that large parcels of land have been grabbed by Senthil Balaji and his brother. While the lands themselves are in the names of their benamis, a probe will bring the truth out, they say.
Here is a tentative list of land allegedly grabbed by the brothers.
● Veerarakkiyam: 50 acres in benami’s name
● Vangal South
● K Paramathi
● Rayanur: 135 out of 150 acres grabbed and in the name of a benami
● One Manoharan of Manmangalam has been forced to part with his land
● One Marappan (a relative of Senapathy) was forced to sell his land in Manmangalam
Will the authorities at least now look into these serious allegations? Will the people of Karur get their land back?