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Andhra Pradesh officer transferred for acting against liquor mafia

Author: Reported by Uma Sudhir
Publication: NDTV.com
Date: April 7, 2012
URL: http://www.ndtv.com/article/india/andhra-pradesh-officer-transferred-for-acting-against-liquor-mafia-194849?pfrom=home-india

The liquor lobby seems to have won the latest round in Andhra Pradesh, with the state government firm on transferring out investigating officer Srinivas Reddy despite public outcry and political protests. Apprehensions are now being expressed that this is an attempt to scuttle the probe that had named several political heavyweights.

An all-party delegation went and met the chief minister yesterday to appeal against the transfer of Srinivas Reddy who over the last two months had been supervising a Special Investigating Team of the Anti-Corruption Bureau to probe into the activities of the liquor syndicate business in Andhra Pradesh. With the investigation revealing links and dealings of the liquor syndicate with some 20 ministers and many more MLAs, besides excise officials, police, commercial tax officials and even journalists and corporators, the probe was causing many to squirm.

The immediate reason for the sudden transfer was alleged to be an attempt to bring about a rapprochement between Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy and APPCC chief Botsa Satyanarayana, whose family's reportedly involvement with the liquor business was becoming a public embarrassment.

After the midnight transfer orders on Tuesday, the Anti-Corruption Bureau Director General Bhoopathi Babu had reportedly written to the Chief Secretary stating that he does not want the investigating officer, in this case Srinivas Reddy, to be transferred. That request was not entertained. The political establishment saw it as an unnecessary embarrassment but even that did not influence the government to change its mind.

CPI leader Narayana says the fact that the government has gone ahead and transferred the officers shows the liquor mafia has considerable influence over the government. And that it also shows that the underhand dealings are being either owned, maintained and protected by the political powers within the government.

To the credit of the officer who has been named as Srinivas Reddy's successor, Shivdhar Reddy is his batchmate and also enjoys a very good reputation as an upright officer. But those in the know say the problem is with the kind of signals the government is trying to send. Former Andhra Pradesh Director General of Police MV Bhaskar Rao says this is a clear indication to the officer taking over and for the department to stop the investigation at this level. He says for the first time in the state such a big scam has come up where political leaders and establishment, journalists, excise, police, commercial corporators, anyone who is anything is involed and it is a shame the government is trying to scuttle it.

Despite it being Good Friday, there was a lot of activity at the Hyderabad office of the Anti-Corruption Bureau. Speaking to mediapersons, Srinivas Reddy said there was no question of not abiding by the government's transfer orders. He had tried to finish the documentation and other work needed to be done in preparation to filing an affidavit in court when the case comes up on April 16.
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