The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Tuesday, 5 April, attached Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut's property in connection with the Rs 1,034 crore Patra Chawl land scam case.
Responding to the seizure, NDTV reported Raut as saying, "Please understand the meaning of property. Am I Vijay Mallya, Am I Mehul Choksi? Am I Nirav Modi or Ambani Adani? I live in a small house. I don't have a single acre of land in my native place. Whatever I have is hard-earned money. Does the agency feel there is money laundering? Whom are you linking me with?"
The ED has attached Raut's Alibaug plot and one flat in Dadar, Mumbai. Meanwhile, his close friend Pravin Raut has been arrested by the agency.
"ED provisionally attached assets totalling Rs 11.15 crore, in form of land held by Pravin Raut, ex-director of Guru Ashish Construction Pvt Ltd, a Dadar flat of Varsha Raut, wife of Sanjay Raut & Alibaug plots jointly held by Varsha Raut & Swapna Patkar, wife of Sujit Patkar," the ED said in a statement.
'Shoot Me, Send Me to Jail,' Challenges Raut
Speaking to the press after the ED action, Raut said, "I'm not one to get scared. Seize my property, shoot me, or send me to jail, Sanjay Raut is Balasaheb Thackeray's follower and a Shiv Sainik, he'll fight and expose everyone. I'm not one to stay quiet, let them dance. The truth will prevail."
He also told journalists that he is being targeted for the past two years. The action against him, Raut said, started after some persons pressured him to bring down the government in Maharashtra, adding that he has already informed the chairman of the Rajya Sabha Venkaiah Naidu about it.
Dubbing the raids as a matter of "political revenge" he said that some people had come to his house and threatened that if he did not budge to their request and helped them in bringing down the government he will have to face consequences. "The action started when I refused," he said.
"Asatyameva Jayate," Raut had tweeted moments after the news of the ED attachment broke.
On Misuse of Central Agencies
In January, Raut had said that "some senior BJP leaders" had asked him to switch sides and warned that central agencies will "fix" him otherwise.
Raut had earlier slammed the ED raids at lawyer Satish Uke's home and said that since he was the lawyer of the state Congress chief, "it wouldn't be surprising if Patole is also raided." Uke has since been arrested by the ED in a money-laundering scam.
Raut had reiterated that the Centre and the BJP were blatantly misusing the official machinery, especially in Maharashtra, in their attempts to topple the Maha Vikas Aghadi government with the help of the central probe agencies.
"A strange situation is witnessed in which those who provide information and evidence are being punished while the guilty are getting away scot-free. In my complaint, nobody from the PMO has taken any action despite furnishing evidence against the ED," Raut told mediapersons in New Delhi.
On 22 March, the ED had provisionally attached the immovable properties belonging to Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray's brother-in-law Shridhar Madhav Patankar.
On 29 March, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had written to Opposition leaders and chief ministers of non-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ruled states, expressing concern over central agencies being used to harass political opponents across the country.
The Trinamool Congress supremo alleged that agencies such as the ED, Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Central Vigilance Commission (CVC), and the Income Tax Department were being used by the Centre to target and corner their opponents.
Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Sharad Pawar also appeared to echo CM Banerjee's call for the Opposition to unite in the face of the Centre's "misuse" of probe agencies.
(With inputs from NDTV.)