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NCP leader Chhagan Bhujbal arrested for payoffs in Maharashtra Sadan scam

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NCP leader and  former Maharashtra deputy chief minister Chhagan Bhujbal was on Monday night arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in connection with corruption cases lodged against him. The NCP claimed Bhujbal was innocent while the ruling BJP welcomed the arrest.

Bhujbal wasquestioned for over nine hours by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in an alleged money laundering case which the agency claims caused a loss of Rs 870 crore to the exchequer

The development capped more than 11 hours of sustained interrogation and recording of the statement of Bhujbal by ED sleuths since noon on Monday.

Nationalist Congress Party spokesperson Nawab Malik criticised the development claiming Bhujbal was innocent, that he had done nothing wrong, and that there was nothing against him. He reiterated that the ruling BJP was allegedly pressurising the investigating agencies.

The summons followed a complaint by Bharatiya Janata Party MP Kirit Somaiya in connection with cases lodged under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act and Foreign Exchange Management Act pertaining to alleged irregularities in the construction of the new Maharashtra Sadan in New Delhi, allegedly worth several hundred crores of rupees.

Reacting to the ED moves, Somaiya said “Bhujbal’s arrest was inevitable” and predicted that the same fate awaits other NCP leaders involved in the mega irrigation scams which he has unearthed.

State BJP president Raosaheb Danve, Minorities Affairs Minister Eknath Khadse and other party leaders welcomed Bhujbal’s arrest.

On Monday morning, Bhujbal, accompanied by party colleague Jitendra Awhad, several legislators, a large number of party activists and his supporters from Nashik reached the ED office in response to its summons of March 8.

Police deployed tight security and clamped prohibitory orders banning assembly of five or more people in the vicinity of the ED office.

The action against Bhujbal came after over a month since his nephew Sameer Bhujbal was similarly summoned in February and subsequently placed under arrest by the ED.

Last month, the ED had also questioned Chhagan Bhujbal’s son Pankaj Bhujbal, a legislator, and allowed him to go, even as his father cried foul, while the NCP termed it “political vendetta”.

The ED probe follows a Bombay High Court ruling in January when it sought progress reports from the Maharashtra Anti-Corruption Bureau and the ED within four weeks on their investigations against the Bhujbals.

Following Somaiya’s complaints, the ED had lodged two first information reports against the Bhujbals and others under the PMLA to probe the Maharashtra Sadan scam in New Delhi and the Kalina land grabbing scam in Mumbai.

The ED had conducted searches twice at nine premises belonging to the Bhujbal trio and others, and subsequently served attachment orders on three prime properties linked to the Bhujbal family members worth over Rs.280 crore in Mumbai.

Simultaneously, the state Anti-Corruption Bureau had lodged a charge sheet against the three Bhujbals and 14 others in the Maharashtra Sadan case.

The Maharashtra Sadan, a state government guest house in New Delhi, was constructed at a cost of Rs.100 crore during the tenure of the erstwhile Congress-NCP government.

Speaking to media persons outside the ED offices, Awhad said the entire NCP party, including its president Sharad Pawar stood with Bhujbal.

wefornews bureau

India

Priyanka Gandhi sends homemade food for protesting Congress MPs

Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra sent food cooked in her kitchen for Congress MPs protesting at Delhi’s Jantar Mantar. Former Congress President Rahul Gandhi was accompanied by his sister Priyanka at the protest site.

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Rahul Gandhi

Chennai: Most of the MPs and MLAs protesting at Jantar Mantar are from the Punjab unit of the Congress. When IANS spoke to Jasbir Singh Gill, Congress MP from Khadoor Sahib in Punjab, he said, “We met Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Friday and had a long chat. It seems that she wanted to appreciate the work we have done and for this reason she sent the food,” he said.

Priyanka sent paneer, rajma, rice, roti and gajrela for the protesting lawmakers. Jasbir Singh Gill also told IANS that most of the time they get food from local gurudwaras and sometimes from people’s homes. Congress lawmakers have been protesting against the three contentious farm laws for the last 52 days. Gill also said they would continue with the sit-in protests till the farm laws are withdrawn.

The farmers’ protest in Delhi has led to a standstill at the Singhu border where thousands of farmers continue to stay put. This is despite the Supreme Court announcing a four-member committee. This was the second public event attended by the Milan-returned Rahul Gandhi who first went to Tamil Nadu to attend the ‘Jallikattu’ event.

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Cities

Earthquake of magnitude 4.1 strikes Jammu and Kashmir

They said while the tremors caused panic among people, there were no reports of any loss of life or injury or damage to property.

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Earthquake Strong

Srinagar, Jan 16 : An earthquake of magnitude 4.1 hit Jammu and Kashmir on Saturday, but there was no report of any damage, officials said.

At 10:01 pm, the earthquake struck at a latitude of 33.03 degrees north and a longitude of 75.93 degrees east — 93 kms east of Katra, they added.

The depth of the earthquake was 10 kms, the officials said.

They said while the tremors caused panic among people, there were no reports of any loss of life or injury or damage to property.

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India

Agriculture laws akin to ‘death warrant’, says farmer leader

“If you want your rights, then reach Delhi on 26 January, she said, adding that the “black laws enacted by the Centre were a “death warrant for farmers”.

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Poonam Pandit

Shahjahanpur (UP), Jan 16 : Farmer leader Poonam Pandit here on Saturday described the agriculture laws enacted by the Centre as a death warrant and urged farmers to reach Delhi on January 26.

The farmer leader said this addressing a Kisan Mahapanchayat in the Banda area of Shahjahanpur, which according to police was held without permission and amid the imposition of prohibitory orders.

“If you want your rights, then reach Delhi on 26 January, she said, adding that the “black laws enacted by the Centre were a “death warrant for farmers”.

“The way in which farmers are being stopped, it appears that Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath is also anti-farmer,” she said.

To stop the mahapanchayat, the administration had approach farmer leaders.

On Saturday, personnel from the Provincial Armed Constabulary were deployed at the site earmarked for the event.

After this, farmers started gathering in an empty field behind the site. Farmer leader Poonam Pandit arrived on a bike and addressed the panchayat for about 25 minutes.

Deputy Superintendent of Police Puvya Navneet Nayak told PTI over the phone that “prohibitory orders were in place in the district and farmer organisations had written on their letter heads that the mahapanchayat has been cancelled.”

“It is not proper to have a mahapanchayat and no permission for this was taken from the administration,” he added.

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