Money laundering case: ED to seek Bhujbal’s custody
Mumbai : Former Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Chhagan Bhujbal, who was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate in connection with its probe in a money laundering case, will be today produced before a special PMLA court here.
The agency, which placed the senior NCP leader under arrest last night after a marathon grilling session yesterday will seek his custody for further interrogation.
According to an ED official, the arrest of the ex-PWD minister was effected under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) after he allegedly refused to cooperate during the 10-hour questioning. The agency has also recorded his statement in the case.
The agency has filed two FIRs against Bhujbal, his son and nephew and others under the provisions of PMLA, based on Mumbai Police FIRs, to probe the Delhi-based Maharashtra Sadan construction scam and the Kalina land grabbing case.
The ED had registered a PMLA case involving the Bhujbals and some of their associates and has already arrested the ex-minister’s nephew Samir last month in the case.
Samir is currently lodged in the high security Arthur Road jail here.
The ED had also questioned Bhujbal’s son Pankaj in the same case last month. It had also brought out orders for attachment of three properties with an estimated worth of over Rs 280 crore in the case under money laundering laws.
ED had twice conducted searches at nine premises, including properties and offices, belonging to the senior Bhujbal, Pankaj, Samir and few others.
The state Anti-Corruption Bureau has already filed a charge sheet against Chhagan Bhujbal, Pankaj, Sameer and 14 others in the Maharashtra Sadan scam case. The new Maharashtra Sadan was built at the cost of Rs 100 crore when Congress-NCP coalition was in power in Maharashtra.
Soon after Bhujbal was placed under arrest last night, NCP described the party leader’s arrest as “vendetta politics” by BJP, and said there was no need to arrest him as he was cooperating with the ED.
BJP MP Kirit Somaiya said, “Now it is the turn of irrigation scam’s Ajit Pawar and Sunil Tatkare to follow Bhujbal.”
NCP activists today staged road blockades in Nashik district and Worli area here to protest against Bhujbal’s arrest. Also, a meeting of NCP legislators was held here to discuss his arrest.
Former NCP minister Jaydutt Kshirsagar said Bhujbal has been cooperating with the ED probe and has also submitted all necessary documents.
Bhujbal, who began his political career with the Shiv Sena as a grassroot worker in the late 1960s, gradually rose to be the Mumbai Mayor, a post which he held twice.
However, he left the saffron party in early 90s owing to differences with Sena supremo Bal Thackeray and joined the Congress following which he secured a ministerial berth in the Maharashtra government.
In 1999, Bhujbal again defected and joined forces with Sharad Pawar, who formed the NCP. The same year, NCP came to power in the assembly elections along with the Congress.
Bhujbal, who was the first State NCP president was a minister in the Congress-NCP regime during the last 15 years. He also served as Deputy Chief Minister of Maharashtra.
His alleged involvement in the Telgi scam and his functioning as the PWD minister in the erstwhile Congress-NCP government had in the past spelled trouble for him.