Raut was summoned for questioning in a money laundering case linked to the alleged irregularities in the Patra Chawl redevelopment land scam
Mumbai: In a huge blow to the Shiv Sena, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Sunday detained its senior leader Sanjay Raut in a Mumbai land scam case after hours of conducting searches at his residence. The defiant leader said that he was being targeted due to political vendetta. He claimed that the ED was going to arrest him in a “fake case”.
Raut was summoned for questioning in a money laundering case linked to the alleged irregularities in the Rs 1,034-crore Patra Chawl redevelopment land scam.
The ED action against Raut is considered as a huge blow to Shiv Sena supremo Uddhav Thackeray, who is facing a rebellion within his party with the desertion of 40 MLAs that resulted in the collapse of the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government in Maharashtra. Raut had stood firmly behind Thackeray and was at the forefront in attacking the BJP and the rebels.
Addressing party leaders and workers from Thane on Sunday afternoon, the Shiv Sena chief said that Raut might be arrested at any time and the ED’s action was a “conspiracy” against the Shiv Sena.
Raut had appeared before the ED in Mumbai to record his statement on July 1 in connection with the case. After that, the ED had summoned him twice, but he had skipped them, saying that he was busy due to the ongoing Parliament session.
At 7 am on Sunday, the ED sleuths, accompanied by CRPF personnel, reached Raut’s bungalow, Maitri, located in suburban Bhandup, and began the search. The search went on for nine hours.
As soon as the ED action began, Raut tweeted: “I swear by the late Balasabheb Thackeray that I have nothing to do with any scam.” He then added: “I will die but won’t leave the Shiv Sena.”
During the ED search, hundreds of Shiv Sena workers, holding saffron flags and banners gathered outside Raut’s residence and shouted slogans against the Central agency. Raut waved to his supporters from the window of his house. His family members, including his wife Varsha were also seen getting emotional standing by him.
The Mumbai police sent additional commissioner Dnyaneshwar Chavan of central region, additional commissioner (special branch) Rajiv Jain to monitor the situation. Police commissioner Vivek Phansalkar issued instructions to cordon the roads leading to Raut’s colony so that at no point were there more than 100 people at the spot.
After nearly nine hours of search and questioning, the ED officials asked Raut to join them for the investigation in the agency’s office. He left his house in his own car. Putting up a brave face, he said: “Sanjay Raut won’t be cowed down.”
“False charges and documents are being framed against people. All of this is being done to weaken the Shiv Sena and Maharashtra. I will not leave the party,” Raut said.
The ED, which took Pune-based businessman Avinash Bhosale into custody earlier in connection with the DHFL-Yes Bank case, wants to grill Mr Raut in this matter too. They claimed that the Patra Chawl case of the ED was also linked to the DHFL case.
In April, the ED provisionally attached assets worth over `11.15 crores of Varsha Raut and two of his associates as part of this investigation.
Two days ago, a witness in the case, Swapna Patkar, reported that she was being threatened to withdraw her statement given to the ED.
At the time of filing the report, Raut’s questioning was still going on at the ED office for more than three-and-a-half hours.