In what is construed as a retaliation, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Tuesday swooped to attach assets belonging to Shiv Sena MP and Chief Spokesperson Sanjay Raut hours after the Maharashtra government set up a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe allegations of corruption against the central probe agency.
The ED said it has attached eight plots of land belonging to Raut and his family at Alibaug in Raigad district and a flat in a 32-storeyed building in Dadar east, Mumbai.
The shock attachments are part of the ED probe into the Rs 1,034-crore Patra Chawl land-scam case in which Raut's friend Pravin Raut was arrested and a charge sheet filed in the matter.
Reacting to the developments, Sanjay Raut said in New Delhi he was "not scared of even the father of ED" and would continue his exposure against the ED officers.
"I am a fighter and a Shiv Sainik... I am not scared of even the 'baap' (father) of the ED... They have attached my properties made out of my hard-earned money," Raut declared.
The fast-paced developments in the day came nearly two months after Sanjay Raut wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Vice-President and Rajya Sabha Chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu on February 28, levelling serious charges against the ED and accusing the central agency of running an 'extortion racket' in Mumbai.
"We have set up an SIT to probe these allegations... It is headed by Additional Commissioner of Police (Additional CoP) Viresh Prabhu. We will give them whatever time period required for its investigations," said Walse-Patil, just hours prior to the ED action on the Sena MP.
Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) President and Minister Jayant Patil said he was aghast at the goings on by the central agency and how it was targeting the Maha Vikas Aghadi leaders.
Among other things, Raut had submitted a list of the ED officers who allegedly extorted money of crores of rupees with the help of one Jitendra Navlani under threats of framing them in various cases.
Earlier, the Mumbai Police Economic Offences Wing (EOW), monitored by a Deputy Commissioner of Police, was conducting the probe but now it has gone to the SIT.
On March 8, Raut had made a sensational expose before the media claiming how ED officials and Navlani - reportedly close to the Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party - had taken huge sums of money illegally from various builders and corporates against investigation threats, and directly charged the central agency of acting like the 'ATM' of the BJP.
Later, Shiv Sena leader Arvind Bhosale lodged a police complaint which initiated the probe and now it will be further investigated by the SIT, with Raut warning of another big exposure into the ED's affairs.