Mumbai/Nagpur/Pune, Jun 25 (PTI) As the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Friday conducted searches at the premises of former Maharashtra home minister Anil Deshmukh, his party the NCP cried foul, while the BJP said investigations are being carried out as per a Bombay High Court order and rejected suggestions of political motive behind the action.
Deshmukh said he extended full cooperation to ED officials who visited him during the searches and hoped 'the truth will come out'.
The ED conducted searches at the premises linked to Deshmukh in Nagpur and his associates in Mumbai as part of a money laundering probe against the politician on Rs 100 crore bribery charges, officials said.
They said the raids were carried out under provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) and the locations include Deshmukh's residence at GPO Chowk in Nagpur and that of his personal secretary Sanjeev Palande and personal assistant Kundan Shinde in Mumbai.
Palande was brought to the ED's office in Mumbai in the afternoon for inquiry in connection with the case, sources said.
Talking to reporters in Mumbai, Deshmukh said he would continue to cooperate with investigate agencies in future too and expressed confidence that 'the truth will come out'.
Deshmukh claimed former Mumbai police commissioner Param Bir Singh had levelled false allegations of corruption and misconduct against him after his removal from the post in March.
'Singh was removed from the post due to his suspicious role in placing an explosives-laden SUV outside Mukesh Ambani residence. All the five police officials from the CIU (crime intelligence unit) arrested in the case reported to Param Bir Singh directly. The NIA is investigating the case,' the NCP leader said.
'Singh levelled false allegations against me after he was shunted out. The CBI is investigating the case and I will cooperate,' he said.
Deshmukh came to his flat in 'Sukhada' building at Worli in Central Mumbai when ED searches were on, sources said.
He was present the flat with ED officials and a team of forensic experts, the sources said.
The ED had registered a criminal case under the PMLA against Deshmukh and others last month after studying a CBI FIR.
The ED case came about after the CBI first carried out a preliminary enquiry followed by filing a regular case on the orders of the HC that asked it to look into the allegations of bribery made against Deshmukh by Singh.
The NCP, which is part of the Shiv Sena-led ruling alliance in Maharashtra, said nothing has come out against Deshmukh so far.
There was an attempt to harass Deshmukh out of 'frustration' as the investigation against him and his family has not revealed anything, NCP chief Sharad Pawar said.
'Earlier some (Central) agencies had showered loving attention on the businesses of his son....As far as I know, they did not find anything. So out of frustration, there is an attempt to see if he (Anil Deshmukh) can be harassed in any other way,' Pawar told reporters in Pune.
The NCP president said such things are not happening for the first time.
'All these things are not new to us. Anil Deshmukh is not the first (to face such action). A new trend of using power has been shown by those who are in power. There is no need to talk about that issue anymore. We are not at all worried about it,' Pawar said.
An ED team of five officers, including a woman, arrived Deshmukh's residence at GPO square in Civil Lines in Nagpur at 8 am with a team of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), police officials said.
Searches at the residence lasted for almost nine hours. Deshmukh's wife son Salil and and wife of their younger son Hrishikesh were present at the Nagpur residence, they said.
Local NCP workers, led by Nagpur city unit chief Duneshwar Pethe, staged a protest against the ED action at 12 noon near the residence of Deshmukh.
They were put into a van and taken to a police station.
Later, another group of NCP workers from Nagpur Rural, led by former ZP vice-president Chandrashekhar Chikhale, protested against the ED at Deshmukh's residence.
The workers raised slogans when the ED team was going back after concluding their searches.
Meanwhile, the BJP said investigation against Deshmukh was going on as per a HC order and rejected suggestions that ED searches at his premises were politically motivated.
The opposition party in the state also hit out at its former ally Shiv Sena, heading the ruling coalition in Maharashtra, for linking the ED action against the NCP leader with the BJP.
BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis said it was wrong to attribute political motive to the ED action against the former home minister.
Fadnavis, speaking to the media at the Nagpur airport, said, 'All these inquiries are going on as per direction of the high court. There is no reason to find any political motive in them. We feel that agencies are working as directed by the HC.' Asked about NCP MP Supriya Sule's comments linking the ED searches to Emergency, Fadnavis said she has no experience of the 1975-77 era characterised by press censorship and suspension of civil liberties.
'Supriya Sule has not seen Emergency as she was a child at that time...even I was a child. She has not experienced Emergency...but we have experienced Emergency.
'My father was in jail for 21 months without any charge, there were several others like him, lakhs of people. George Fernandes (socialist leader and former Union minister) had to sleep on ice slab. What do you know about Emergency? It is wrong to link a HC-directed investigation with Emergency,' the former CM said.
In Mumbai, another BJP leader, Pravin Darekar, hit out at Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut for linking ED raids on Deshmukh with the BJP.
The Leader of Opposition in the council said if Deshmukh has not done anything wrong, he should not be afraid.
In a statement issued to the media, Darekar said, “Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut is wrongly suggesting that the ED searches were carried out on orders of the BJP. If Anil Deshmukh has done nothing (wrong), he should not be afraid.” “CBI officials carried out a raid on April 21 at the house of Anil Deshmukh in Nagpur. As he is under investigation, the ED also carried out raids at his residence in Mumbai. The more you try to politicise such routine procedures, the more Deshmukh and the MVA government would come under suspicion,” he said.
The ED and other investigating agencies have carried out raids in the past as well, but nobody then linked those raids with the then government, Darekar said. PTI DC SPK MR ND CLS COR NP KRK RSY RSY