Kolhapur/Pune, Jan 11 (IANS In a dawn swoop on Wednesday, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) raided the home and certain locations linked to senior Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Hasan Mushrif, his family members and some other persons in Kolhapur and Pune for alleged charges of corruption and money laundering.
The simultaneous raids, carried out at 7 locations in the two cities, came after Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ex-MP Kirit Somaiya hurled various allegations of financial irregularities against Mushrif.
He has also accused the NCP leader and his associates of corruption and money laundering of hundreds of crores pertaining to deals through defunct companies, grabbing a sugar mill, besides amassing huge properties, etc.
Teams of around two dozen sleuths swarmed at Mushrif's home in Kagal town of Kolhapur around 6 a.m., and other places connected with the NCP leader, amid tight security, confiscated certain documents and other evidence, and the raids continued for over 12 hours.
On the radar of the probe agencies for some time, Mushrif, 68, has vehemently denied the accusations and wondered if the "people of a particular community are being targetted".
"No notice or intimation was given. We were all raided by the IT Department even four years ago. We have provided all the information. I have repeatedly said that I have nothing to do with all this, the companies, the factories or the persons as alleged," he said.
Somaiya said: "The countdown has begun for Mushrif Why does Hasan-Miya remember his religion now? After Miya Mushrif, there are many other leaders who will have to face the consequences". His reference was to Mumbai Congress ex-Minister Aslam Shaikh.
The former BJP lawmaker cited several instances and reeled off figures of alleged financial deals involving Mushrif, his associates, officials and others through shell or bogus companies, and how the funds were reportedly routed for other illegal deals worth hundreds of crores of rupees.
Among other things, Somaiya has charged Mushrif of grabbing control of the Appasaheb Nalawade Gadhinglaj Cooperative Sugar Mill Ltd, huge payoffs and money-laundering of massive amounts through murky transactions which benefited him, his family or associates.
As the raids started, angry NCP activists gathered outside Mushrif's home and staged vociferous protests, raised slogans against the BJP, the government and the probe agencies, and burnt effigies of Somaiya.
However, heeding Mushrif's video appeal to remain calm and maintain restraint, the protestors went away but returned to the Kolhapur residence in the evening as the raids continued, threatening that if the operations did not stop in an hour, they would storm the venue.
Mushrif is the fifth MVA leader to be targeted by the probe agencies after Anil Deshmukh and Nawab Malik (NCP), Shiv Sena (UBT)'s MP Sanjay Raut and ex-Minister Anil Parab, in the past couple of years.
Mushrif, a 5-term MLA from Kagal, is a close confidante of NCP President Sharad Pawar, and served as a minister for several years in the Democratic Front and MVA governments.
Top MVA leaders like Nana Patole, Atul Londhe, Jayant Patil, Ajit Pawar, Dilip Walse-Patil, Mahesh Tapase, Raut, Ambadas Danve and others slammed the BJP for pursuing fear politics, vendetta and misusing the central probe agencies to hound political opponents.