The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Wednesday raided at least five places including the residence of Congress leader and former legislator Baba Siddique and that of Rafique Maqbool Qureshi of Pyramid Developers, in connection with an alleged Rs 400-crore slum rehabilitation scheme scam.
According to ED officials, the case against Siddique and Qureshi pertains to alleged irregularities in re-development of a slum Jamaat-e-Jamhooria in Bandra in suburban Mumbai, by Pyramid Developers.
The ED, which is investigating the case under the stringent Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), has alleged that Pyramid Developers is a front for Siddique. “ED case against Siddique and others is based on a case registered by the Bandra police station. The police FIR has named Siddique and many others,” said a source.
In March 2014, the Bandra police registered a case against Siddique, Qureshi and 150 others for alleged irregularities in allotment of houses in the Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) project. The police action was initiated after a metropolitan magistrate’s court ordered a probe into the case based on a complaint filed by a resident, Abdul Salaam, in 2012.
Salaam, in his complaint, alleged that several slum dwellers had forged ration cards to secure more than one room for their families in the seven SRA buildings developed by Pyramid Developers after the demolition of the Jamaat-e-Jamhooria slum.
The Bandra police had closed its probe after it found that the allegations were unfounded. “We had registered a case in 2014 on the instructions of the metropolitan magistrate. The complainant had alleged that the accused had forged Aadhaar and ration cards of residents but our investigation found that no such forgery took place. In 2015, we submitted a report to the court and the case was closed,” said Pandit Thackeray, senior inspector, Bandra police station.
While Siddique himself remained unavailable for comment, the Maharashtra Congress called it vendetta politics.
Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant tweeted, “B summary was filed with respect to registered FIR against Baba Siddique and 157 people. State police finds nothing, and ED raids. Clearly vendetta politics. A pattern can be seen in which opposition is being harassed through ED or CBI. Govt trying to damage image and suppress voice of opposition. It is a tactic to divert attention from govt failures and scare opposition.”
In October 2016, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) sent a notice to the re-developed Jamaat-e-Jamhooria Co-operative Society to recover unpaid water bills of over Rs 1.5 crore for the last nine years. The residents of the society, including Salaam, have alleged that the developers have not cleared the water bills of the seven buildings in the society.