Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut has been arrested in an alleged land scam case
Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut was today sent to the custody of Enforcement Directorate till August 4 in an alleged land scam case. Mr Raut's midnight arrest sparked protests by party workers at several places in Mumbai.
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The state government had deployed heavy force at the Enforcement Directorate's Mumbai office, the hospital where Mr Raut was taken for a check-up and at the court. About 200 police personnel were posted on these premises to ensure peace.
Before he was taken inside the courtroom, Mr Raut told the media, "This is a conspiracy to finish us."
The Enforcement Direcorate has sought eight day custody of Sanjay Raut in the money laundering case linked to alleged irregularities in the redevelopment of a residential colony in Mumbai.
Sanjay Raut's lawyer, Advocate Ashok Mundargi, told the court today that the Raut's arrest is politically motivated. "He is a patient with a heart-related ailment. He had also undergone surgery. Papers related to this have been presented before the court," he said.
The Sena raised the issue in Parliament, with party MP Priyanka Chaturvedi giving a notice for a discussion on "misuse of premier investigative agencies by the Central government for political agendas". Congress leaders have spoken out in Mr Raut's support.
Mr Raut, a Rajya Sabha MP, is a key member of Team Thackeray that is caught in a bitter tussle with the Sena faction led by Eknath Shinde. Mr Shinde, now Maharashtra Chief Minister, led the rebellion that brought down the Uddhav Thackeray-led coalition government of Sena, Congress and the NCP.
Mr Raut was arrested last night. He was detained earlier after a daylong raid at his residence. Officials of the Enforcement Directorate raided his home after he skipped summons twice. The probe agency has produced him in court to seek his custody. The arrest memo says the Sena leader had been arrested under provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.
The agency wants to question Mr Raut over the re-development of a chawl in Mumbai and related transactions involving his wife and close associates. The Sena leader was questioned on July 1. He was then summoned on July 20, but he cited the ongoing parliament session. He was then called on July 27, but he didn't turn up.
Before entering the Enforcement Directorate office on Sunday, Mr Raut told reporters that the agency's action was aimed at trying to weaken the Shiv Sena and that a "false" case had been prepared. The Sena is in the middle of a tussle for leadership between the Uddhav Thackeray and Eknath Shinde-led factions.
The BJP has hit back at the Sena leader for skipping summons. "Why is he scared of Enforcement Directorate if he is innocent? He has all the time for press conferences but no time to visit the probe agency's office for questioning," said BJP MLA Ram Kadam.