Government deliberately targeting NCP leaders, says Pawar

Mumbai, Feb 2 (IANS) The NCP on Tuesday accused the government of deliberately targeting its leaders and said power and government machinery were misused in the arrest of party leader Chhagan Bhujbal’s nephew.

“NCP leaders are being deliberately targeted by the government. Never before in a democracy has power and government machinery been misused in this manner,” Nationalist Congress Party president Sharad Pawar told the media here.

He criticised the arrest of former parliamentarian Samir Bhujbal, a nephew of former deputy chief minister and NCP leader Chhagan Bhujbal, by the Enforcement Directorate on Monday night.

Throwing his weight behind the beleaguered Bhujbal and his family members, the NCP president said they were being targeted by a Bharatiya Janata Party MP. He, however, did not name the parliamentarian.

“The Bhujbal family is being willfully targeted. What is the need for three raids in one single case? This has raised questions on the intentions of the investigating agencies, which seem to be working at the behest of one MP,” the former union minister said.

However, Pawar made it clear that the NCP will not launch any agitation on the issue since there are “bigger issues of public interest” than this. He assured “full cooperation” with the investigating agencies.

Samir was held after sustained interrogation for over nine hours in connection with two money-laundering cases lodged against his uncle Chhagan Bhujbal, his family and others.

The arrest was preceded by daylong searches at nine premises belonging to the Bhujbal family – Chhagan, his son Pankaj and nephew Samir.

Samir Bhujbal, arrested under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, will be presented in a city court here on Tuesday.

The raids and arrest came as Chhagan Bhujal left for Washington DC at the invitation of the US Congress to address a three-day event on social justice and education, to be attended by select representatives from 140 countries, besides an interaction scheduled with US President Barack Obama on Thursday.

BJP’s Lok Sabha member from Mumbai Kirit Somaiya, who has been campaigning against the alleged corrupt activities of the Bhujbals, tweeted: “We have done it… Samir Bhujbal arrested by ED.”

He hinted that Pankaj will be the next to be arrested and even Chhagan Bhujbal if they did not cooperate with the investigators in the cases with the ED.

Meanwhile, the Bhujbals’ supporters protested against Samir’s arrest in their home town Nashik where a strong police posse has been deployed.

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