ED being used to harass, threaten me, family and associates: Sena MP Sanjay Raut
“ED and other central agencies are being used with oblique motive of toppling democratically elected governments which is certainly not a healthy sign for any country where democracy prevails,” Raut wrote
Mumbai: Member of Parliament and Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut released a letter addressed to the Rajya Sabha chairperson M Venkaiah Naidu late Tuesday night, alleging harassment from the Enforcement Directorate (ED) after his refusal to “assist” in “toppling” the Maharashtra government.
“ED and other central agencies are being used with oblique motive of toppling democratically elected governments which is certainly not a healthy sign for any country where democracy prevails,” Raut wrote.
ED director SK Mishra did not respond to phone calls and text messages.
In the four-page letter that Raut posted on his Twitter handle, he claimed that officials of ED and other investigating agencies “are reduced to puppets of their political masters” and said that officials “confessed” that they have been “asked by their ‘bosses’ to ‘fix’ me.”
“I am not scared, nor am I going to bow down and will continue to speak the truth,” Raut wrote.
“About a month ago, I was approached by certain people and was told to assist them in toppling the state government in Maharashtra. They wanted me to be instrumental in such endeavour so that the state could be forced into a midterm election. I refused to be a party to any such clandestine agenda which was being pursued, upon which I was warned that my refusal could lead to my paying a very heavy price,” he wrote.
The Shiv Sena MP said that many people connected to him were being “threatened and harassed”.
He wrote that his family owns an acre of land in Alibaug, which was purchased nearly 17 years ago. He alleged that those who sold the land, and their family members, were harassed by the ED. “Persons who sold the land nearly two decades ago, their heirs and family members are being threatened by ED and other agencies personnel to give statement against me to the effect that they received some cash from me over and above the agreement value,” he wrote. This was also happening to other people who sold him and his family land in 2012-13, he said.
“Day after day, ED and other agencies personnel call these people and threaten them with jail and attachment of their personal properties unless they give their statements against me,” he said.
He also claimed that the probe agencies are summoning, intimidating and threatening the decorators and other vendors who worked for his daughter’s wedding function held last year.
“The ED and other agencies personnel are summoning, intimidating and threatening the decorators and other vendors of the wedding event so as to extract statements from them that they received ₹50 lakh from me in cash. On refusal of these people to partake in such endeavour, the ED and other agencies are continuously harassing them,” Raut said.
“The ED and other agencies have unlawfully picked up 28 people so far. They have made them attend the ED office and sit in a cabin where the threats are administered…The ED and other agencies personnel who are tasked with the duty to protect revenue and secure proceeds of crime are now reduced to puppets of their political masters,” he wrote.
Raut’s relative Pravin Raut was arrested by ED in a money-laundering case. A company linked to Raut’s daughters is also under the scanner of ED. Last week the Rajya Sabha MP had said that the action was political vendetta and that the ruling party at the Centre was after the families of political opponents.
Pointing out that the Prevention of Money Laundering Act that was enacted in 2003, Raut alleged that the ED and other Central agencies were threatening and harassing the Bharatiya Janata Party’s political rivals by using the Act retrospectively with ulterior motive “in the garb of investigation” for decades-old transactions “that have nothing to do with any money laundering” even when the Act can only be applied to transactions after 2003.
“I perceive these attempts by the Enforcement Directorate and other agencies as a direct attack on my right to speak freely in the House and outside the House. I perceive it to be an attack on our democracy I perceive the recent attacks on people known and unknown to me to have been occasioned due to my refusal to partake in conspiring to topple the State Government in Maharashtra,” Raut added.
The Sena and BJP were allies for over two decades in Maharashtra before they parted ways in 2019 when Sena formed a coalition government with the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) in the state.
BJP leader and former finance minister Sudhir Mungantiwar said that Sanjay Raut’s statement was out of frustration and to threaten the investigating agencies. “Raut has been disturbed because of action being taken against his relatives as claimed by him. No agency takes any action without having any concrete evidence. If he (Raut) thinks the action by the agencies is arbitrary, he has every right to move for the legal remedies. His threat of action against our leaders in Maharashtra by the state police is nothing but the vendetta politics,” he said.
NCP openly blamed former chief minister and leader of opposition Devendra Fadnavis for action by the central agencies against Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) leaders in Maharashtra. Party chief spokesperson and cabinet minister Nawab Malik said that Fadnavis dictates the enforcement directorate (ED) officers about who need to be targeted as BJP wants to topple the MVA government, which is not going to happen.
“The former chief minister is behind the conspiracy against the MVA government. He directs and dictates ED officers on who needs to be targeted. I demand to appoint Devendra (Fadnavis) ji as OSD (officer on special duty) of ED,” Malik said, targeting the former chief minister.
BJP wants to topple this government by scaring ruling allies with the help of ED and other central agencies, he said adding, “They (BJP) are forcing the ruling allies to snap the alliance with MVA and join them so that BJP can come to power once again. This is the reason Shiv Sena and NCP leaders are being targeted (by the central agencies). But this is their (BJP’s) misunderstanding,” the NCP minister said.
The Sena leader said Bharatiya Janata Party leaders are running a “criminal syndicate” by using the central agencies to target key opposition leaders and topple the state government. The Sena MP, in a veiled attack on the leader of opposition Devendra Fadnavis, warned to expose what happens in Mumbai’s ED office, adding that if the Sena enters his home, he won’t be able to go to Nagpur even.
“I can understand their pain since they are out of power [in Maharashtra]. They must fight politically, but they are running a criminal syndicate by using central agencies, which is unconstitutional. Currently, ED and other agencies are a part of a criminal syndicate of the BJP. The letter was a trailer, which was written for information,” Raut told reporters in New Delhi, adding that he will hold two press conferences in Mumbai, including one outside the ED office.
Raut, who is one of the architects of the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi government in Maharashtra, said he’ll “expose” what goes on in the ED office and at whose direct. “I will expose what is happening in ED offices and who is the mastermind... There are two-three people who sit in the ED office and direct them to target opposition leaders. I appeal to Devendra Fadnavis (Raut pauses)... he understands what I want to tell him.” He further added, “I have said this earlier as well, if we enter your house, you won’t be able to go to Nagpur even.” Fadnavis did not respond to text message or calls from HT.