ED Summons Maharashtra Minister Seen Directing Police to Arrest Narayan Rane

The Shiv Sena said the party would fight the matter legally and suggested that the summons to Anil Parab was linked to Rane's arrest.

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New Delhi: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has summoned Shiv Sena leader and Maharashtra Transport Minister Anil Parab for questioning on August 31, in the money laundering case registered against former state minister Anil Deshmukh and others.

A few days ago, Parab had been visible on camera, directing police over phone to arrest Union minister Narayan Rane. Parab is the guardian minister of Ratnagiri, from where Rane was arrested. Footage of him asking police to arrest Rane over phone during a press conference was televised widely.

Indian Express has reported Parab as having said that there was no clarity as to why the ED had summoned him as the notice does not mention a specific case.

The Shiv Sena said the party would fight the matter legally and suggested that the summons was linked to Rane’s arrest.

Parab, 56, is also a minister of parliamentary affairs in the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government led by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and is a three-term member of the Maharashtra Legislative Council.

Officials told PTI that he has been asked by the ED to depose before the investigating officer of the case at the agency’s office in south Mumbai on Tuesday.

They said Parab is to be questioned in the money laundering case being investigated against former Maharashtra home minister Anil Deshmukh after certain “disclosures” have been made by other accused and those involved in the case.

Reacting to the summon, Shiv Sena MP and spokesperson Sanjay Raut said the ED notice to Parab was “expected” and the party would fight it legally.

“Well done. As soon as the Jan Ashirwad Yatra concluded, Anil Parab has been served ED notice as expected. The central government has begun its work. The epicentre of the earthquake was Ratnagiri. Parab is the district guardian minister. Understand the chronology. Will fight legal battle legally. Jai Maharashtra,” Raut tweeted.

Union minister Rane was recently arrested from Ratnagiri for his comment that he would have “slapped” CM Thackeray. Rane had made the remark during his Jan Ashirwad Yatra.

Opposition parties have often pointed out to how the action of central agencies against opposition leaders appears to coincide with their actions against Bharatiya Janata Party leaders.

As The Wire‘s Ajoy Ashirwad Mahaprashasta had noted in a 2019 article, “During Modi’s first term, investigative agencies raided Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal’s office, while old cases against Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav and Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati were also reopened.”

“Days ahead of the general elections, the CBI swooped down on Kolkata police commissioner Rajeev Kumar’s office without a warrant. One may also remember the BJP and a section of television channels dramatising the questioning of Robert Vadra by the ED  in an illegal land deal case.”

In 2020 as well, the CBI summoned former Manipur chief minister and Congress leader Okram Ibobi Singh for questioning in a case of alleged misappropriation of state government funds worth Rs 332 crore during his regime, at a time when Singh was leading the movement to replace the BJP-led coalition government in the state.

Also read: Why Opposition’s Claim of Central Agencies Being Misused Rings True

Deshmukh case

The latest summons pertain to the criminal investigation being carried out by the ED in the alleged Rs 100 crore bribery-cum-extortion racket in the Maharashtra police establishment that led to Deshmukh’s resignation in April.

The ED case against Deshmukh, who was earlier the home minister in the MVA government, and others came after the CBI booked him in the corruption case related to allegations of at least Rs 100 crore bribe made by former Mumbai Police commissioner Param Bir Singh.

Deshmukh, who had skipped ED summons at least five times till now, had said that Singh made the allegations against him after he was removed from the post of Mumbai Police Commissioner.

It is being speculated that the ED may question Parab about the statements it has twice recorded of jailed police officer and another accused in this case, Sachin Waze.

Waze was arrested by the NIA in the case of recovery of an explosives-laden SUV from near the Mumbai house of Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani.

Waze had earlier alleged in a letter he sought to submit before a court that in January 2021, Parab asked him to look into an inquiry against “fraudulent” contractors listed in the Mumbai civic body and “collect” at least Rs 2 crore from about 50 such contractors.

Parab had then rejected Waze’s claims and had said he was ready to face any probe into the allegations.

Another Shiv Sena leader raided

The ED on Monday also conducted raids at multiple premises in Maharashtra linked to Shiv Sena MP Bhavana Gawali in connection with an investigation into alleged money laundering, officials said.

They said at least seven premises linked to the Lok Sabha member from Yavatmal-Washim are being searched under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

The ED case is understood to be based on a Maharashtra police FIR on an alleged Rs 18 crore fraud and other irregularities.

Officials said the searches are being carried out at locations in Washim, Mumbai and some other places.

(With PTI inputs)