Mumbai: Former Maharashtra PWD minister Chhagan Bhujbal on Monday appeared before the Enforcement Directorate here for questioning in connection with its probe in a money laundering case registered against him and others.
The senior NCP leader, accompanied by MLC Jitendra Awhad, arrived at the ED office at Ballard Pier in South Mumbai amid tight security around 11.30 am.
A large number of party workers who had gathered outside the ED office raised slogans even as prohibitory orders were put in place to avoid any untoward incident. The agency is expected to record his statement in the case under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
The ED had registered a PMLA case involving the Bhujbals and some of their associates and has already arrested the ex-minister's nephew Samir last month in the case. Samir is currently lodged in the high security Arthur Road jail here.
The ED had also questioned Bhujbal's son Pankaj in the same case last month. The agency has filed two FIRs against the Bhujbals and others under the provisions of PMLA, based on Mumbai Police FIRs, to probe the Delhi-based Maharashtra Sadan construction scam and the Kalina land grabbing case. It had also brought out orders for attachment of three properties with an estimated worth of over Rs 280 crore in the case under money laundering laws.
ED had twice conducted searches at nine premises, including properties and offices, belonging to the senior Bhujbal, Pankaj, Samir and few others. NCP had then described the searches as "political vendetta".
The state Anti-Corruption Bureau has already filed a chargesheet against Chhagan Bhujbal, Pankaj, Sameer and 14 others in the Maharashtra Sadan scam case. The new Maharashtra Sadan was built at the cost of Rs 100 crore when Congress-NCP coalition was in power in Maharashtra.
Earlier, speaking to reporters before entering the ED office, Bhujbal said, "It is political vendetta, truth shall prevail. I will cooperate with the ED." Before Bhujbal's arrival, at least 30 NCP workers were briefly taken into preventive custody outside the ED office.
Police sources said that around 125 police personnel headed by DCP Zone-I, Manoj Kumar Sharma were present at the spot even as roads leading to the office were barricaded on both sides....