After summoning him for questioning over the last four days, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) Tuesday arrested Karnataka Congress leader D K Shivakumar in New Delhi in connection with a case of money laundering associated with alleged hawala transactions.
Shivakumar was summoned for questioning last Friday and he arrived at the agency headquarters late in the evening following summons sent to him Thursday. After his arrest, ED sources said he was not cooperating during questioning and that custodial interrogation was necessary.
Shivakumar will be produced before a special court Wednesday by ED, seeking his custody. He had to appear before the agency after the Karnataka High Court last week dismissed his petition challenging the summons.
Following the arrest, Shivakumar tweeted, “I congratulate my BJP friends for finally being successful in their mission of arresting me. The IT and ED cases against me are politically motivated and I am a victim of BJP’s politics of vengeance and vendetta.”
“I appeal to my party cadre, supporters and well-wishers to not be disheartened as I have done nothing illegal. I have full faith in God & in our country’s Judiciary and am very confident that I will emerge victorious both legally and politically against this vendetta politics.”
His arrest is connected to a money laundering case registered by the ED last year after an Income Tax department investigation in 2017, where Rs 8.83 crore in unaccounted cash was found in New Delhi in locations linked to the Congress leader.
The I-T department carried out searches in August 2017 in premises linked to Shivakumar at a time when the then Congress minister sheltered 44 Congress MLAs from Gujarat at a resort outside Bengaluru ahead of a crucial Rajya Sabha poll in Gujarat where Congress leader Ahmed Patel was a candidate.
After the I-T department found Rs 8.83 crore in unaccounted cash and stated in a complaint that Shivakumar was not able to account for the source of the funds, the ED registered a case under the PMLA and criminal conspiracy charges against Shivakumar and four associates.
Shivakumar has argued that he cannot be prosecuted under the PMLA since the unaccounted amount found in his possession in August 2017 was not money that was proceeds of a crime as stipulated under the law. He has also argued that the tax evasion case brought against him by the I-T department remains undecided and so, he could not be prosecuted in the PMLA case.
However, the ED argued that it is empowered to investigate whether the unaccounted funds were “proceeds of crime” irrespective of the outcome of the I-T cases.
“IT raid on me was politically motivated for hosting Gujarat Congress MLAs. As a loyal soldier of Congress & a responsible politician, I did what party asked me to do, for which I am being targeted. I have full faith in legal systems & will face this legally as well as politically,” Shivakumar had tweeted on August 29.
During the recent political crisis in Karnataka too, before the BJP assumed power in Karnataka after the Congress-JD(S) coalition lost a trust vote, Shivakumar had tried to wean away coalition dissidents and woo them back to the Congress fold.
He had also questioned the ED’s short notice for interrogation. “Have received summons from ED late yesterday night at 9.40 PM asking for me to appear at 1 PM in Delhi today. Although the sudden scheduling by ED is mala fide, I believe in rule of law & will definitely participate & fully co-operate with them and abide by the law of our country,” he had tweeted on August 29.
Calling his arrest “illegal”, the Congress accused the BJP government of indulging in “punitive actions” against its leaders to divert the attention of the people from the mismanagement of the economy by the Government.
“Kumar is innocent. There is not an iota of evidence against him and it is only to draw the attention away from complete economic mismanagement… We will fight the arrest of Shiva Kumar legally as also in people’s court,” said Congress communication department in charge Randeep Surjewala.
AICC general secretary K C Venugopal said the arrest was a “clear case of political vendetta by the fascist BJP government at the centre”. “After P Chidambaram, yet another leader is facing vengeance for standing up against the horse trading and petty politics of the BJP. By these actions, the ED and CBI have proved to be the puppet agents of the Centre,” he said.
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