Tamil Nadu BJP demands probe by central agency in fake passport scam; seeks suspension of state intelligence chief

State government is looking into the case seriously and action will soon be initiated against those found guilty, a senior official told South First.

ByShilpa Nair

Published Jul 23, 2022 | 12:13 PMUpdatedJul 28, 2022 | 3:58 PM

Tamil Nadu fake passport scam

Tamil Nadu BJP chief K Annamalai has trained his guns on state Additional Director General of Police (ADGP), Intelligence, S Davidson Devasirvatham, and other government officials, alleging that they are involved in a fake passport scam in which dozens of Indian passports were fraudulently issued to Sri Lankan nationals in Madurai.

The scam is alleged to have taken place in 2019, when the AIADMK was in power

Devasirvatham, an IPS officer, was the commissioner of police in Madurai when the fake passports were allegedly issued.

While demanding the immediate suspension of the officials involved, Annamalai also sought the transfer of the case to the CBI or the National Investigation Agency (NIA), citing its national security implications.

After writing a letter to Tamil Nadu Governor RN Ravi on 12 July giving details of the scam and the alleged involvement of top state police officials, Annamalai also called on the Governor at the Raj Bhawan on 21 July to lodge a formal complaint and seek his intervention in the matter.

‘All passports verified by one police station’

In his letter, Annamalai referred to the arrest of two individuals with fake passports, and also the content of the FIR registered in a case which said Sri Lankan refugees had obtained Indian passports by producing fake identity and address proof.

“All the 53 passports have been obtained under one jurisdictional police station, namely Avaniyapuram police station, Madurai city,” read Annamalai’s letter.

He went on to claim that when the fake passports were issued, Illavarasu was the inspector, Dharmalingam was the inspector of police (intelligence), Sivakumar the assistant commissioner of police (intelligence), and Devasirvatham the Madurai city commissioner.

According to Annamalai’s letter, the Q Branch-CID of Tamil Nadu police, which carried out an investigation in the case, not only implicated the police personnel, but also passport authorities and employees in the postal department.

He alleged that Inspector General of Police (Intelligence-Internal Security) Eswaramurthy, who led the investigation following the directions of the Madras High Court in 2019, added the name of Devasirvatham as one of officials who needs to be examined in the case.

Annamalai charged that the case hit a roadblock after documents were sought from Devasirvatham after the sanction letter from the home secretary was forwarded to him, which led to “hampering of the case trial and proceedings”.

‘Investigation lacks transparency’

“It is evident that the probe lacks transparency due to the involvement of those implicated in the case,” Annamalai said.

Pointing out the example of 67 passports that were approved when Devasirvatham was Madurai police commissioner, Annamalai claimed that most of the passports had addresses in “Sempoorani road/ Samboorani road or Prasanna Colony which falls under the Avaniyapuram police station limit”.

These passports were allegedly address verified by Head Constable Kanthasamy, approved by Inspector Elavarasu and later approved by Assistant Commissioner Siva Kumar, the state BJP chief claimed in his letter.

“It is evident that the police willfully approved these passports knowing that it is logically impossible for so many passports to come from one street,” he further stated.

Noting that an issue related to national security was being “investigated haphazardly”, Annamalai also alleged that material evidence would have been destroyed due to the “exorbitant delay” by Devasirvatham.

‘Commissioner not the signing authority’

Asked for the Tamil Nadu government’s reaction to the allegations levelled by Annamalai against Devasirvatham, a top government official pointed out that the it is the assistant commissioner who has the authority to sign off on the passport verification process.

“Who does the final sign off? It is the assistant commissioner. Not the commissioner. This has been the practice throughout the state,” the senior official told South First.

He added that the state government is looking into the case very seriously and action would soon be initiated against those found guilty.

Allegations are political, says DMK

Sources within the DMK told South First that they believe the state intelligence chief’s name is being dragged into controversy by the BJP only for “political reasons”.

A leader in the DMK asked why the BJP “never uttered a word” about the scam when the AIADMK government was in power.

“The duplicity of BJP is there for all to see. The scam took place in 2019 when the AIADMK, an alliance partner of the BJP, was in power in the state. Former Chief Minister Edappadi K Palanisamy held the home portfolio then. Will Annamalai dare to point his fingers at EPS? he asked.

“The fact that the BJP has named Devasirvatham now shows that he is doing a great job as intelligence chief, which is hurting them,” the leader added.