Raj Thackeray Grilled by ED, Leaves Office After 8 Hours
ED is probing them in connection with the IL&FS group’s loan equity investment in Kohinoor CTNL.
MNS Chief Raj Thackeray, on Thursday, 22 August, left the Enforcement Directorate (ED) office after an eight-and-a-half-hour long interrogation in connection with an IL&FS probe.
The MNS leader reached the ED office at 11:25 am and walked out at 8:15 pm.
ED officials had prepared a questionnaire for him to get a fair idea of the deal, the official said. The officials allowed Thackeray to leave after recording his statement in the case, the official added.
Earlier during the day, the Mumbai Police imposed Section 144 of the CrPC (banning unlawful assembly) outside the ED office in south Mumbai.
Section 144 Imposed Outside ED Office, MNS Workers Arrested as Precautionary Measure
The move to impose Section 144 was taken apprehending law and order problem, a police official said.
“Raj has appealed his party workers not to throng outside the ED office but we don’t want to take any chances.”Police Official
Thackeray appeared at the ED office in Ballard Pier on Thursday morning for questioning in connection with the IL&FS probe, the official said.
Meanwhile, MNS leader Sandeep Deshpande, wearing a tee shirt with “EDiot Hitler” emblasoned on it, was taken into custody by police Thursday morning, also as a precautionary measure.
“We have imposed Section 144 of Criminal Procedure Code under the jurisdiction of Mata Ramabai Ambedkar Marg Police Station, where the ED office is located," the official said.
Although Thackeray has appealed to party workers not to protest over the issue, there are possibilities of gathering of supporters outside the ED office, the official said.
Considering the crowd expected to be present outside the ED office before the MNS chief reaches there, heavy police force has been deployed outside the agency office, he said.
“The area outside the ED office has been covered with barricades from three sides of the building and there is just one way to enter or exit.”Police Official
Police personnel have been deployed in Dadar area in central Mumbai and other places where MNS have strongholds to maintain law and order, the official said.
Mumbai Police on Wednesday served notices to MNS functionaries and several party workers under Section 149 of CrPC as a precautionary measure, he said. Section 149 pertains to prevention of cognisable offences.
The ED is probing alleged irregularities relating to loans and equity investment worth over Rs 450 crore by IL&FS in Kohinoor CTNL Infrastructure Company, which is developing Kohinoor Square tower in Mumbai's Dadar area.
Former Maharashtra chief minister and senior Shiv Sena leader Manohar Joshi's son Unmesh Joshi was also summoned by the ED in this case.
ED Investigating Alleged Irregularities in Rs 450 Cr Dealings
Raj Thackeray has been summoned by the anti-money laundering agency in connection with its probe into alleged irregularities relating to loans and equity investment worth over Rs 450 crore by IL&FS in Kohinoor CTNL Infrastructure Company.
The firm was founded by former Maharashtra chief minister Manohar Joshi’s son Unmesh, Raj Thackeray, and latter’s close aide and builder Rajan Shirodkar to purchase and develop the land of the defunct Kohinoor Mill.
Questioning of Unmesh has been going on at the Mumbai office of the ED since 19 August.
Raj had reportedly exited from the company in 2008.
I Don’t Expect an Outcome: Uddhav Thackeray
The Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief seemed to have found unexpected support from his estranged cousin and Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray on Wednesday, 21 August.
“I do not expect any solid outcome from the inquiry,” Uddhav told reporters in a brief reply when asked about the ED's notice to Raj Thackeray.
Sena is the ruling partner of the BJP in the central and Maharashtra governments.
MNS Withdraws ‘Bandh’ Call, Raj Appeals for Calm
MNS spokesperson Sandeep Deshpande on Monday had warned that the “party will protest on streets if the government takes any action with prejudice against Thackeray”.
The MNS had called for a bandh on Thursday in Thane district which was later withdrawn.
Raj Thackeray then held a meeting with party office-bearers at his residence in Mumbai on Tuesday to discuss the issue and future course of action.
He also appealed the party members to stay calm.
“Right since the time of inception of MNS there have been innumerable cases against you all and me. Each time we all have honoured the notices sent by investigating agencies and the court of law. This time too we all must honour the summons sent by ED,” Thackeray said in an appeal to MNS workers through Twitter.
‘Political Vendetta,’ Says MNS Spokesperson
The MNS has dubbed the ED summons as “political vendetta”.
“Raj Thackeray created a sensation during the Lok Sabha poll campaign earlier this year. It had a significant impact on people and to avoid a similar challenge ahead of the Maharashtra Assembly elections, the ED has issued the notice,” said MNS spokesperson Deshpande.
“It is a case of political vendetta," he alleged while talking to reporters in Mumbai.
“The Kohinoor deal is very old and Thackeray exited it long time back. I wonder why the Centre has come up with the inquiry notice so late.”Sandeep Deshpande, Spokesperson, MNS
He alleged that the ED has “become a tool to suppress our voice”.
Opposition parties in Maharashtra, including the Congress and the NCP, too have rallied behind Raj, terming the ED move a vendetta politics by the ruling BJP.
Raj Need not Worry if He Hasn’t Done Anything Wrong: CM Fadnavis
Senior BJP leader and Maharashtra Water Resources Minister Girish Mahajan refuted the MNS' charges, saying Thackeray need not worry if he has not done anything wrong.
Mahajan also said his party has no say in the ED's functioning.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis echoed the same views. “If he has done nothing wrong, he should not be afraid of such a notice,” he said, adding that MNS supporters should not cause trouble.
“If Raj has done nothing wrong, his party should not create problem for common people,” he had said.
“If they (MNS) engage in any untoward incident, they will face the consequences,” he added.
‘Entire Family Backs Raj’: MP Sanjay Raut
A day after Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray threw his weight behind estranged cousin Raj Thackeray, party MP Sanjay Raut came out in support of the MNS chief, while defending the CBI's action against ex-Union minister P Chidambaram.
"Uddhav Thackeray already made it clear on Wednesday that nothing concrete will be found against Raj. As Uddhav has extended support to his brother, his entire family is behind Raj Thackeray," the Rajya Sabha member said.
As for Chidambaram's arrest, he said that there was ample evidence against him and he had tried to evade arrest for sometime.
"Constantly terming the Enforcement Directorate's (ED) action as political vendetta would demoralise the investigating officials of the department,” he added.
‘Modi, Shah Want to Silence Raj’: NCP Leader Dhananjay Munde
NCP leader Dhananjay Munde alleged that an “undeclared Emergency” has become more apparent in the country with the summoning of Raj Thackeray by the ED.
A bitter critic of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah, he alleged that the summon is to "silence Raj" ahead of the Maharashtra Assembly polls, due in September-October.
"The ED has been unleashed behind Thackeray as he exposed Modi, Shah and their government in Maharashtra during the Lok Sabha polls (held earlier this year)," Munde said.
(With inputs from ANI and PTI)
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