The raid that began at 7 a.m. is continuing at the residences and offices of the five persons about 70 km away from Kochi. Babu was present when the sleuths arrived at his home here.
He is the second minister from the former Oommen Chandy cabinet to face vigilance investigation. The first one being former Finance Minister K.M. Mani.
In the first 100 days of his government Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan along with the Director General of Police (DGP) Jacob Thomas, who also heads the Vigilance and Anti Corruption Bureau, have made their intention clear to weed out corruption from the state.
Babu had come under severe pressure when he was the Excise Minister in the Chandy cabinet after Biju Ramesh, a bar owner, had alleged that he himself had bribed Babu at his office.
Today’s raid at Babu’s house, his two daughters and two of his close friends’ was a simultaneous operation by a group of vigilance officials at 10 different locations.
The raid was based on a First Information Report (FIR) filed in a vigilance court in Muvattupuzha in Ernakulam district alleging Babu had accumulated wealth disproportionate to his known sources of income.
Reiterating his claims, bar owner Ramesh said: “The truth will come out as everyone knows what has happened. A lot had happened during Babu’s term as minister.”
Both Babu and Mani have been under spotlight following the bar scandal that broke in October 2014.
Mani had gone public after vigilance officers questioned him last week. He had accused DGP Thomas of carrying out a personal vendetta against him for ordering financial inspection into Thomas’s department, when Mani was minister.
Thomas was shunted out of Vigilance under Chandy’s regime.
Chandy, meanwhile, said he was willing to face any probe, but if nothing came out of the witch hunt then the state government should take action against “such” officials.
Former Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala, who handled Vigilance earlier, admitted that such actions could not happen without the concurrence of the ruling political leadership.
With Mani and Babu now under the Vigilance scanner, sources in the know of things pointed out that a few more colleagues of Chandy could soon be subjected to similar probes.