‘ED Pressuring Me to Name Robert Vadra’: Congress Worker
Congress worker Jagdish Sharma, who was detained on Saturday, 8 December, by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and subsequently released, claimed that the ED had “pressured” him to name Congress President Rahul Gandhi’s brother-in-law, Robert Vadra.
"ED is pressurising me to name Robert Vadra,” ANI reported Jagdish Sharma as saying.
The ED) in its press release issued on Saturday, 8 December, in connection with the raids on the premises of Robert Vadra’s employees, said that they are “conducting PMLA investigations in certain cases relating to ownership of undisclosed assets abroad.”
“As part of these investigations, the Directorate has carried out search operations on 7 December 2018 under PMLA at a number of premises in Delhi-NCR and Bengaluru by issue of search warrants under section 17 of PMLA. These searches have been carried out as per the prescribed procedure. Documents and digital evidence seized during these searches are being examined.”Enforcement Directorate’s Press Release
The ED also mentioned that further investigations are in progress.
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Friday, 7 December, raided the premises of three people in connection to a defence deal. Two of these three people are Congress chief Rahul Gandhi’s brother-in-law Robert Vadra’s employees.
The officials of the directorate left Vadra's office in Sukhdev Vihar with documents in the wee hours of Saturday.
Vadra, in response to the raids, posted a statement by his lawyer, Suman Khaitan, on Facebook, saying the raid was an attempt to “divert attention from the main issues facing the nation on the polling day in the States of Rajasthan and Telangana.”
The post also said that the raids were carried in an “illegal manner” with no employ or lawyer being permitted to enter the premises.
The ED has denied that they performed any raid on Vadra’s premises in connection with the defence deal.
The raids were carried out in Delhi-NCR and Bengaluru, ED sources confirmed. The employees allegedly acquired assets through commissions over a defence deal that is yet to be specified by the ED.
According to ED sources, the assets were acquired abroad and the ED has the details of the assets. The employees received money in their bank accounts through multiple layers, and the ED says it has the trail.
Currently, all three involved are being questioned.
They Have No Search Warrant: Vadra’s Lawyer
Vadra’s lawyer Suman Khetan, addressing the media on the raid on his employees’ premises, said the employees were locked in one of the offices.
“They have locked our people of Skylight hospitality inside, they are not allowing anyone to go inside. Is this Nazism? Is this a jail?” he said.
“It has been four and a half years and they found nothing, so now they are locking us outside and planting and fabricating evidence,” he added.
Outside one of the premises searched by the ED, Khetan said, "They (ED officers) did not show any search warrant, broke the locks and now preventing people from coming out."
"For five years, the present rulers have used every trick in the book to persecute, to hound and to malign my client, Robert Vadra. The government has unleashed all its agencies including ED, CBI and Income Tax to victimise Robert Vadra in an utterly mala fide manner and to harm his reputation and attack his family members," he said in his statement.
Khaitan alleged it was part of a "sinister agenda" that the ED officers from Jaipur and Delhi raided the office at Sukhdev Vihar, and also the residence of his associate at Noida.
"The raids have been continuing since morning in a completely illegal fashion with no employee or lawyer being permitted to enter the premises," he said.
The raid comes just days after the ED summoned Vadra. Vadra on Wednesday, 5 December, had termed it a "political witch-hunt" and alleged that government departments were operating on an "agenda to besmirch" his reputation.
The ED had summoned Vadra in connection with its money laundering probe in a land scam case in Rajasthan's border city of Bikaner, officials had said last last week.
Vadra, in a previous Facebook post, had alleged:
Vadra said he had cooperated fully with the government departments for the last four-and-a-half years and would continue to do so.
"On the last occasion they summoned me for documents, my lawyer sat there for three hours and handed over an exhaustive set of documents, yet again. It is indeed strange that I was asked for the very same documents once again, even though they had already been furnished over the last few years," he said.
Vadra also alleged that he was sent another summon within 24 hours without the agency even perusing the latest set of 600 documents supplied to it.
"My lawyer has been compelled to appear in Jaipur once more (no surprise that this is just two days before the polling in Rajasthan). The authorities know perfectly well that there is no case to proceed against me," he said.
Vadra claimed that the authorities wanted to create another "media circus" to distract the public.
PM Modi Acting Like a Don: Congress
Congress party spokesperson Randeep Surjewala alleged that Prime Minister Narendra Modi "is acting like a don".
"Sure shot defeat in five states has unnerved Prime Minister Modi to again use the same old trick -- unleash revenge and vendetta against Mr Robert Vadra (Congress chief Rahul Gandhi's brother-in-law) to divert the narrative," Surjewala alleged at a press conference.
Instead of acting as independent investigative agencies, the CBI, the ED and the Income Tax department are acting as "personal slaves and political agents" of Modi, he claimed.
Politics of revenge and malicious vendetta have today reached its nadir, he said.
In his remarks, Surjewala also alleged that in the past 54 months, the Modi government has let loose a criminal conspiracy to "vilify, denigrate and malign" Vadra to settle political scores.
"As all else failed, the Modi government has unleashed all its agencies including ED, CBI and Income Tax to victimise Robert Vadra in an utterly mala fide manner," he alleged.
Surjewala claimed that in a "brazen affront" to the rule of law and to Constitution, on the polling day, ED officers from Jaipur and Delhi raided the office of Vadra in Sukhdev Vihar and the residence of his associate, the associate's sister and her in-laws at Noida, without any FIR or search warrant.
He also pointed to Vadra's lawyer statement that all this was done without even registration of an offence or an FIR against Vadra and there was an apprehension over planting of false and fabricated material in their office.
"Over last four-and-a-half years, this is the consistent vicious design of the Modi government to settle political scores against all opponents including over the dozen senior leaders of the Congress party," he alleged.
(With inputs from ANI and PTI)