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Sharad Pawar defers visit to ED office after Mumbai Police Chief meets him

Sharad Pawar said the ED action against him was aimed at maligning the image of opposition leaders. Thanking parties, including the Shiv Sena, for extending support to him, he said they had stood up against tyranny.

By: Express Web Desk | Mumbai |
Updated: September 27, 2019 4:51:15 pm
Sharad Pawar postpones appearance before ED after visit from Mumbai Police Chief NCP chief Sharad Pawar at his Silver Oak residence on Friday. (Express Photo: Prashant Nadkar)

NCP chief Sharad Pawar Friday postponed his visit to the Enforcement Directorate (ED) office in a money laundering case in connection with the Maharashtra State Cooperative Bank scam. His decision came after a visit from Mumbai Police Commissioner Sanjay Barve, who had requested him not to go to the ED office in view of a possible law and order situation.

Senior Mumbai Police officials had met Pawar earlier in the day and urged him not to visit the ED office at Ballard Estate as well. The ED, too, had communicated to him that he need not appear before it.

Speaking to the media this afternoon, Pawar said the ED action against him was aimed at maligning the image of opposition leaders. Thanking parties, including the Shiv Sena, for extending support to him, he said they had stood up against tyranny. He also thanked Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Manmohan Singh, whom he said had called him. Pawar said he would embark on a tour of flood-affected regions of Pune and Baramati.

Mumbai Police Commissioner Sanjay Barve outside Sharad Pawar’s residence on Friday. (Express Photo: Prashant Nadkar)

Pawar had announced Thursday that he would appear before the ED even though he has not been issued summons as he did not want the agency to believe that he had vanished or was avoiding an inquiry. The NCP chief had tweeted, “As mentioned during my press conference yesterday, I will be visiting the Mumbai ED office at Ballard Estate tomorrow, Friday 27 September, at 14.00 hrs.”

He added, “For the next month, I will be campaigning across the state. I will be spending a lot of time outside Mumbai. In such a situation, if the ED decides to send me some sort of love message and in case I am not in Mumbai, they should not think that I have become invisible or am not traceable.”

Following his announcement, the Mumbai Police imposed Section 144  at Colaba, Cuffe Parade, Marine Drive, Dongri, Azad Maidan, J J Marg and MRA Marg police stations on Thursday.

Sharad Pawar to visit ED office today; section 144 imposed in South Mumbai Pawar on Friday. (Express Photo: Prashant Nadkar)

Pawar had appealed to the NCP cadre and supporters not to gather near its premises. “I appeal to all my cadre and supporters not to gather near the ED office premises. Keeping our tradition to honour the Constitution and respect for institutions, I request your cooperation to the police and other government agencies.”

Sharad Pawar to visit ED office today; section 144 imposed in South Mumbai Security heightened outside the ED office in Mumbai on Friday. (Express Photo: Nirmal Harindran)

Also read | Pawar booked, NCP plans show of strength in Mumbai today

The restrictions were imposed in anticipation of protests by the NCP cadre. “State NCP’s office is in the same are and there is a possibility that large number of NCP supporters would gather during Pawar’s visit,” an official was quoted as saying by news agency PTI.

‘Attempt to gain public sympathy’

Hitting out at the NCP chief, the BJP on Friday said that today’s events are only to encash upon the situation for political gains.

“The NCP has created an event by staging protests across the state over the ED action against their party chief. They are trying to seek sympathy of people but people are clever to understand it,” state BJP chief Chandrakant Patil said.

Patil said that several organisation in the country are autonomous and are functioning well. “There are autonomous organisations like Military, Courts, ED, Income Tax where there cannot be any interference of anyone but repeatedly allegations are made against the present Maharashtra government that it is getting it done with a grudge. These allegations are being done to gain public sympathy but the public is smart enough to understand,” he said, adding that there was no protest when police action was taken against NCP’s Chhagan Bhujbal.

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