ED summons, but Shiv Sena MLA goes into quarantine

Updated November 25, 2020

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Mumbai, Nov 25 (IANS) Shortly after the Enforcement Directorate (ED) summoned him for questioning in an alleged Rs.175 crore money-laundering scam, Shiv Sena MLA Pratap Sarnaik went into quarantine, here on Wednesday.

The ED had raided 10 locations including Sarnaik's home and offices, and his business associates, on Tuesday when he was away in Goa.

After the raids, the ED detained his son Vihang and whisked him off to its office where he was subjected to at least four hours of questioning till Tuesday evening.

Rushing from Goa to Mumbai on Tuesday afternoon, Sarnaik went into quarantine as per the Covid-19 rules applicable in the state.

He has sought time from the ED to appear and requested that he and his businessmen sons should be called for questioning simultaneously, while his daughter-in-law, Vihang's wife, has been hospitalised for hypertension.

On these counts, Sarnaik said he will be able to join the ED probe only after a week when he comes out of quarantine even as the MVA closed ranks and came out in his support.

The ED raids were in connection with a complaint lodged late in October against the leading security services provider, Tops Group of Mumbai, alleging that the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) had been cheated of Rs.175-crore.

Accordingly, the ED on Tuesday morning swooped on the Sarnaik family's homes and offices in Mumbai and Thane, and later issued summons to the father-son duo to appear before it on Nov. 25.

Even as a massive political row erupted between the ruling Shiv Sena-Nationalist Congress Party-Congress' Maha Vikas Aghadi and the Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party, a defiant Sarnaik said he will not be cowed down by such "pressure tactics".

A three-time legislator from Thane, Sarnaik - who is close to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray - said: "You can hang me. But, I will continue to speak out and raise issues."

Reacting to the development, BJP leader Kirit Somaiya asked whether Sarnaik is "scared of Covid or ED or money-laundering and benami transactions."

The MVA slammed the BJP and the Centre for deploying various central investigating agencies to silence political opponents, especially since Sarnaik has been vocal against Bollywood actress Kangana Ranaut, Republic TV chief Arnab Goswami and others in recent months.

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