New Delhi: The Bhartiya Janta Party took a large donation from a company that is now being probed by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) for facilitating “terror funding,” financial declarations by the BJP itself reveal.
RKW Developers Ltd, a company at the heart of a probe by the ED for carrying out transactions with and buying properties from the late Iqbal Memon alias Iqbal Mirchi – an accused in the 1993 Mumbai bomb blasts and a close aide of mafia boss Dawood Ibrahim – gave money to the ruling party, according to the BJP’s filings with the Election Commission.
While the BJP regularly receives larger sums from the various electoral trusts, which pool in donations from various corporate houses, no individual company donating on its own has given the party more than what RKW gave it.
In light of the ongoing controversy over electoral bonds, it is worth bearing in mind that had the Modi government introduced this anonymous form of political lobbying in 2014-15, RKW’s donation would never have come to light.
Ranjeet Bindra, a former director in the company, has been arrested by the ED for allegedly facilitating deals on behalf of the underworld. News reports have quoted ED sources describing Bindra as an “agent” who “brokered” the deal between Mirchi and the firms.
But that’s not all.
A company accused by the ED of buying Mirchi’s properties, Sunblink Real Estate, is linked, via a common directorship, to another company that also made a Rs 2 crore donation to the BJP.
Mehul Anil Bavishi, a director on Sunblink, is also a director in a company called Skill Realtors Private Limited. Filings made to the EC show that the BJP received Rs 2 crore from Skill Realtors in 2014-15..
Placid Jacob Naronha, a director in RKW Developers, is also a director of Darshan Developers Private Limited. Darshan had donated Rs 7.5 crore to the BJP in 2016-17, EC filings reveal. An India Today report says the ED is also probing the role of Naronha in the case.
The ED alleges that RKW Developers facilitated the sale of Mirchi’s properties and Bindra had allegedly taken a commission of Rs 30 crore. The agency had also questioned actor Shilpa Shetty’s husband Raj Kundra for dealings with RKW Developers. Shetty had been a director in a firm, Essential Hospitality, which had transactions with RKW Developers.
The Iqbal Mirchi case was a contentious issue last month in the run up to the Maharashtra assembly elections. The ED investigation pertains to alleged property transactions between Mirchi, Millennium Developers (a firm owned by Nationalist Congress Party leader Praful Patel) and Sunblink.
The investigation took off right before the Maharashtra polls and the agency had even questioned Patel and arrested two persons, including Bindra. Patel has strongly denied any wrongdoing. Mukhtar Memon, Mirchi’s brother-in-law, was questioned by the ED in connection with the sale of Mirchi’s properties to Sunblink Real Estate Pvt Ltd and Millennium Developers Pvt Ltd.
Last month, the ED raided fourteen DHFL premises in connection with a Rs 2,186 crore loan to Sunblink, which the agency believes was routed to Dubai. A Business Today story quoted unnamed ED officials claiming that Bindra had confessed to negotiating property transactions with Mirchi for Sunblink.
BJP played up ED action against Patel
In his last campaign rally in Maharashtra, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had accused the NCP of not doing justice to the Mumbai bomb blast victims.
“We can’t forget the wounds of the Mumbai bomb blasts. The then government didn’t do justice with the victims’ families and the reason for such a stance is now becoming known. Instead of nabbing those responsible for the terror attacks, those in power then indulged in Mirchi business,” he had thundered.
A report in the Times of India had quoted Union Home minister Amit Shah as saying the dealings of the firms with Mirchi was “nothing short of treason.” The articles quoting Shah are no longer available on the TOI website following an injunction granted against the media by a Delhi court in a case filed by Praful Patel, an editor at the newspaper told The Wire. However, the TOI story is still available via pressreader.com and Shah’s comment can be seen on the Times Now website at 4’10”.
Besides Bindra, a British national Haroun Yusuf has also been arrested in the case. According to news reports, Bindra acted as a broker for the land deal while Yusuf transferred the money to a trust and facilitated the deal.
Note: This story has been updated to include a reference to the injunction a Delhi court granted Praful Patel under which the Times of India and other media platforms were ordered to withdraw reports based on “unsubstantiated and uncorroborated information”.