After an intensive manhunt spanning nearly six months, film producer S Madhan, allegedly involved in a multi-crore scam in SRM University medical admission in which 123 persons were reportedly cheated, was arrested on Monday, police said.
He was arrested in the textile city of Tirupur where he had arrived on Sunday night to meet a woman associate after trying to escape from the law by hiding in several states, including Uttarakhand, Karnataka and Manipur, they said.
The managing partner of Vendhar Movies, his arrest brings the curtains down on police's hot pursuit for him that criss-crossed several states and multiple cities.
Special police teams on the lookout for him in many cities found he had purchased properties at Roorkee in Uttarkhand and that some of his associates had helped him in his endeavour.
It was found a woman was in touch with Madhan and she was questioned. When Madhan came to Tirupur to visit the woman associate, he was arrested, police said.
The lid was blown off the medical admission scandal in May 2016 when Madhan disappeared mysteriously, dragging SRM University into the picture.
He went into hiding on 28 May after writing an emotional note allegedly claiming that he was going to end his life in Varanasi, "where if a person dies, will have no rebirth".
Madhan had also allegedly acknowledged having collected several crore of rupees from parents for their wards aspiring for MBBS seats in SRM varsity.
On 1 June this year, soon after Madhan's disappearance, one Dr Jayachandran lodged a complaint with police that he had paid Rs 53 lakh to him for an MBBS seat for his son in SRM varsity. His son didn't get the seat; neither did the complainant receive his money back.
The police probe found that Madhan and his associates were allegedly involved in cheating 123 aspirants for under-graduate and post graduate courses in medicine in SRM group of institutions to the tune of Rs 84.27 crore.
Even as police began its search for Madan, six of his associates, including Dr TR Pachamuthu, medical wing secretary of IJK, were arrested in connection with the case.
Finally, days after Madras High Court questioned police as to why SRM group founder-chairman Pachamuthu had not been interrogated in the case, he was arrested.
The SRM chief Pachamuthu-led Indiya Jananayaga Katchi (IJK) is an ally of NDA at the Centre.
He was booked under various IPC sections, including Section 420 (cheating).
In June this year, Firstpost columnist Sreedhar Pillai had traced the controversies surrounding Madhan in light of his disappearance:
"Madhan’s is a typical rags-to-riches story, the kind that abounds in Kollywood," wrote Pillai, adding:
"He started his career as a college admission agent or middleman, working with students to get them admissions into private education institutes under the SRM University umbrella. Madhan initially was very close to the SRM group’s chancellor, Dr Pachamuthu (who calls himself Paarivendhar) and also runs a little-known political party — Indiya Jananayaga Katchi (IJK), an ally of the BJP in Tamil Nadu.
At any event organised by Vendhar Movies, Paarivendhar would be present as the chief guest. In the last five years, Vendhar had produced three films — Thillu Mullu, Pulipaarvai, Paayum Puli — and distributed in certain Tamil Nadu territories, at least 25 Tamil films including biggies like Rajinikanth’s Lingaa and Ajith’s Aarambam. Madhan himself played hero as the late LTTE leader Prabhakaran in Pulipaarvai.
The buzz was that Madhan — smitten with the glitz and glamour of Tamil cinema — waded into production and distribution, without understanding the trade. He also had borrowed huge sums from financiers, who lent him money thinking that he was being backed by SRM and Pachamuthu."
Madhan's disappearance was brought to the police's notice by his wives (reports claim he was wedded to two women, Sindhu and Sumalatha).
Pillai also wrote: There is also an opinion that Madhan's “samadhi in Kasi” “suicide” letter was merely released to gain public sympathy...there are many cheating cases against Madhan, regarding college admissions, and with him losing heavily in film business, the best course of action was to “disappear”. In the eyes of the law, he is absconding.
With the cops tracing Madhan to Tirupur, has his strange story come to an end? Or are more chapters yet to emerge?
— Inputs from PTI