The Enforcement Directorate (ED) detained Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut in connection with an alleged money-laundering case in the Patra Chawl land scam, here on Sunday evening.
He was earlier grilled for several hours prior to shifting him to the ED office for further action — with arrest not ruled out — on alleged grounds of ‘non-cooperation’ with the probe.
As he was escorted out of his ‘Maitri’ bungalow, Raut waved at the hundreds of supporters waiting outside, while his wife Varsha, mother and other family members looked on grimly.
En route, Raut told a private news channel on phone that he was “fully cooperating with the ED” and would not be cowed down by the political tactics employed to destroy the Shiv Sena.
“I am not scared… There’s no question of non-cooperation with the law, I am ready to sacrifice myself for the Shiv Sena. The ED team came without giving any notice early morning, no papers have been found from me on this so-called case,” Raut said.
He reiterated that he was being pressurised in the past to help topple the erstwhile Maha Vikas Aghadi government (which fell on June 29), and termed the ED allegations against him as ‘false’, declaring he would not bend before anybody, but continue to fight against the Bharatiya Janata Party.
Raut said that he had sought time from the ED since he was tied up in the upcoming Vice-Presidential elections for which he was coordinating with various Opposition parties.
“The party is behind me, Uddhav Thackeray is supporting me… We shall not surrender before such pressures, intended to silence us and finish off Shiv Sena,” Raut declared.
Earlier, his brother MLA Sunil Raut told a private news channel that the ED could not locate certain documents pertaining to the Patra Chawl case, leading to Sanjay Raut’s detention and he would be taken to the ED offices.
The ED action came after its sleuths swooped on Raut’s Bhandup residence, ‘Maitri’ at dawn on Sunday and carried out searches for over 9 hours.
The developments followed Raut skipping two ED summons and then seeking time till August 7 as he was tied up in parliament-related commitments.
Hundreds of Shiv Sainiks converged outside and staged protests, raised slogans and condemned the detention and arrest of Raut.
The ED move comes a day ahead of the crucial hearing before the Supreme Court pertaining to the disqualification of 16 rebel Shiv Sena MLAs which could chart the further course of Maharashtra politics, in an upheaval since June 20.
The government had deployed tight security by the Mumbai Police and Central Reserve Police Force, to avoid any untoward incident.
ED had earlier questioned Pune businessman Avinash Bhosale into custody in DHFL Yes Bank case, and sources claimed that they wanted to grill Raut in this matter too.
Sources claimed that Patra Chawl case of ED is also linked to DHFL case.
Raut earlier took to Twitter to allege that he was being victimised on the instructions of the Centre.
In April, the ED had attached Raut’s property in connection with the land scam.
A property worth Rs 9 crore of Raut’s associate Pravin Raut and assets worth Rs 2 crore belonging to Varsha Raut, the wife of Sanjay Raut, were attached by the ED.
Pravin had eight land parcels in Alibaug and a flat registered in the name of Varsha Raut which were attached.
The ED had arrested Pravin in connection with the matter.
“We had filed a chargesheet in the matter against Pravin, Sarang Wadhawan and Rakesh Wadhawan of HDIL and Guru Ashish Construction and others were named as an accused in the chargesheet,” said an ED official.
The ED came to know during the probe that Pravin allegedly paid Rs 55 lakh to Varsha. This was paid from the bank account of Pravin’s wife.