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Saturday, October 23, 2021

Narcotics Bureau to IT raids, Sharad Pawar slams Govt ‘misuse’ of agencies

Addressing a press conference, the NCP chief said that having failed to “destabilize” the Maharashtra government, the Centre was targeting family members and close associates of leaders of the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi.

By: Express Web Desk | Mumbai |
Updated: October 14, 2021 8:14:01 am
NCP chief Sharad Pawar addressing a press conference. (Express Photo By Ganesh Shirsekar/File)

NCP chief Sharad Pawar Wednesday accused the Modi government of misusing Central agencies to target its opponents, mentioning the raids on former party minister Anil Deshmukh and expressing concern over the conduct of officials in the alleged drug bust involving Aryan Khan, the son of Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan.

Addressing a press conference, the NCP chief said that having failed to “destabilize” the Maharashtra government, the Centre was targeting family members and close associates of leaders of the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi.

“The Central government is misusing institutions, be it the CBI, Enforcement Directorate, Income Tax department or the anti-drugs agency Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB),” Pawar said.

In a reference to the NCB investigation in the Aryan case, Pawar said, “My colleague Nawab Malik had made certain observations about an NCB officer. His name is (Sameer) Wankhede. I have heard stories about Wankhede from the time he was with the Customs Department as well.”

He added: “The man made as panch (witness) by the NCB in this case is one K P Gosavi who is currently absconding and is being hunted by the Mumbai Police (a ‘private investigator’, Gosavi is facing a cheating case). This casts doubts on the panch’s integrity. If the senior NCB officer has chosen a panch like this, that just highlights the association of the officer with these kinds of people.”

Pawar said the Mumbai Police does a far better job of controlling drugs in the city than the NCB, while the bureau was just “showboating to please its political masters in Delhi”.

“There are two agencies here, one is the NCB and the other is the Mumbai Police’s narcotics cell. The drug recovery by the NCB is less while confiscation by the Mumbai Police is far higher,” Pawar said.

Citing the summons by the Enforcement Directorate and the subsequent raids on the residence of Deshmukh, the NCP leader who had to step down as home minister following corruption allegations, Pawar said he was surprised at the “behaviour” of agencies.

“Allegations were made against Deshmukh over complaints by a former Mumbai Police Commissioner. Deshmukh had to resign but the man who made the complaint is now nowhere to be seen. Deshmukh’s residence was raided for the fifth time yesterday. I am surprised at the behaviour of the investigating agency which needs to raid a place five times. The public also needs to understand this.”

Recently, the Income Tax department also raided entities linked to Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, including the residences of three of his sisters.

Pawar said the government might believe that “this will break our will”. “We are resolute and these things will not affect us,” he said.

The NCP chief also targeted the BJP over the Lakhimpur-Kheri incident. Ashish Mishra, the son of Union Minister of State for Home Ajay Mishra Teni, is the main accused in the death of four farmers in the case.

“UP CM Yogi Adityanath has abdicated his responsibility… by not taking action against those involved. He along with the Union Minister of State for Home need to resign,” Pawar said.

On India’s 13th round of talks with China that ended without a breakthrough, the NCP leader said this was a matter of concern, and pointed out, “almost immediately we saw an incident in Kashmir where five of our Armymen are killed”.

Pawar also said China’s influence in Kashmir as well as the region, including Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, was increasing.

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