Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Sunday, in Mumbai, in connection with the Patra Chawl land case. He was arrested hours after the agency conducted raids at his residence. A total of Rs 11.5 lakhs have been recovered from his premises by the agency.
The police have also filed a FIR against Raut, for allegedly threatening Swapna Patkar, wife of Shiv Sena leader Sujit Patkar. They have registered a case under sections 504, 506 and 509 of the Indian Penal Code, at the Vakola Police Station. Raut is allegedly heard threatening Swapna in an audio clip that went viral.
The ED detained the Shiv Sena MP after he failed to appear for questioning twice in the alleged land scam case. Before arresting him, officials from the investigation agency searched his home for most of the day, starting at 7 am. In the early hours of Saturday morning, a team from the investigation agency, accompanied by officials from the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), entered Raut’s home in Bhandup in the eastern suburbs of Mumbai and began searching it. The raid is being conducted regarding the redevelopment of a Mumbai chawl, and related transactions involving his wife Varsha, and close associates Pravin Raut and Sujit Patkar.
“The ED issued fresh summons to Sanjay Raut today morning. On that basis, Sanjay Raut has come to the ED office to record the statement. He has neither been arrested nor been detained,” Vikrant Sabne, the lawyer for the Sena MP had told reporters on Sunday.
The Uddhav Thackeray loyalist has denied any wrongdoing, and said that he is the victim of political retaliation. While he was being taken away, Raut told reporters, “Fake evidence has been planted against me. This is a conspiracy against me and the Shiv Sena. I won’t bow down.”
“I swear by late Balasabheb Thackeray that I have nothing to do with any scam,” tweeted Raut, shortly after the ED action began. “I will die but won’t leave Shiv Sena,” he added. In a statement earlier, former CM Uddhav Thackeray had alleged that the ongoing ED action was part of a “conspiracy” to end the party.
“ED guests are at Sanjay Raut’s house. He may get arrested. What conspiracy is this? Shiv Sena gives strength to Hindus and Marathi people and hence there is a conspiracy to finish off the party,” he had said, according to the Times of India.
Shiv Sena MP Vinayak Raut said that his party will not bow down in front of the ED. “We will not bow down in front of ED or the government. We will keep fighting for Shiv Sena… We are proud of him (Sanjay Raut), he has full support from the people of Maharashtra,” he said.
Sanjay Raut has received criticism from the BJP for ignoring the summons. “Why is he scared of (the) Enforcement Directorate if he is innocent? He has all the time to give (a) press conference but no time to visit (the) probe agency office for questioning,” said BJP MLA Ram Kadam outside Raut’s house, where a sizable group of Sena members gathered and yelled anti-BJP and anti-ED chants.
On July 1, the Rajya Sabha MP was interrogated for ten hours, and his statements were recorded in accordance with the Prevention of Money Laundering Act’s criminal provisions. His associates Pravin Raut and Sujit Patkar had assets valued at about Rs 11.15 crores attached by the ED in April. Sanjay Raut’s wife Varsha has a property in Dadar, and she and Swapna Patkar, the spouse of Sujit Patkar – a “close colleague” of Sanjay Raut – jointly own eight plots at Kihim Beach in Alibaug.
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Sanjay Raut was called for questioning by the ED earlier, on June 28. He had dared the investigation agency to arrest him after refusing to cooperate, and providing the Monsoon Session of ghd Parliament as an excuse, although he eventually arrived at the ED office.
The assets are land that Pravin Raut, Sanjay Raut’s assistant and a former director of Guru Ashish Construction Pvt Ltd, owns in the towns of Palghar, Saphale, and Padgha (in Thane district). The ED said in a statement that the attached assets also include the flat owned by Varsha Raut, and the eight plots in Alibaug. The ED claims that Sujit Patkar is a close friend of Sanjay Raut, and that Pravin Raut appeared to be operating as a front or working with a powerful person after his detention in February. According to the agency, it was discovered that he made payments to a number of “politically exposed persons” throughout the investigation.
According to reports, the ED, which previously detained businessman Avinash Bhosale of Pune in connection with the DHFL-Yes Bank case, wants to question Raut in this case as well. They asserted that the DHFL case and the Patra Chawl ED case are connected.
Pravin Raut was also detained in connection with the investigation into the redevelopment of Patra Chawl in Goregaon. According to the ED, Guru Ashish Construction Pvt Ltd was involved in the redevelopment of the “chawl”, which had 672 residents living in tenements on 47 acres that belonged to the Maharashtra Housing Area Development Authority (MHADA).