MADURAI/CHENNAI: A daring attack by a gang of rowdies in Madurai on officials from the CBI’s anti-corruption bureau to free a senior Central Excise Department official, who was allegedly collecting bribe, has left officials of the agency seething with anger, blaming members of the Central Excise Officers’ Association for the incident.
Sources in the Central agencies told Express that the official, who was secured for collecting bribe from a middleman, was rescued by the criminals, who also tried to destroy the evidence. According to CBI personnel, the attack seems to have been orchestrated by a former Central Excise official, now correspondent of a private school in Madurai, for whom the bribe was being paid.
The incident happened around 7.30 pm on Friday when the ACB received information that Central Excise superintendent Ashok Raja was collecting bribe at the office of Commissioner of Customs Central Excise Department in Madurai. A five-member team of officials who reached there reportedly caught him red-handed while accepting a bribe of `75,000 from a Cable TV operator, Muruganantham from Nagamalaipudukottai, around 7.30 pm on Friday.
According to local police in Madurai, the CBI team was recording the statement of Raja and his aide when a gang of about 10 rowdies came to the office premises in four and two-wheelers and attacked them.
“They also tried to destroy the evidence collected against the official, but we were able to secure some of it. We believe that the attackers could have links with ‘Climax’ Raja, a retired Central Excise officer who is associated with the Central Excise Officers Association,” alleged a CBI official.
The local police, which are looking into the incident, believe that a private school is linked to the case as CBI officials have apprehended one of the school management-level officials. A total of 15 members have been picked up for interrogation, said police sources.
Inspector general S Murugan and Deputy Commissioner of Police (law and order) Bandi Gangadhar visited the spot to conduct inquiry. A special team has been formed to investigate the incident.
“This is one of the rare cases where CBI officials were attacked at a Central government office itself. This shows how deep rooted is corruption,” said a CBI official, unable to contain seething anger.
The CBI officials were unarmed as arms are usually not required during the trap proceedings. One of the injured CBI officials is recovering in the hospital, while the condition of other is stated to be stable.