Mumbai: Shiv Sena MLA Pratap Sarnaik, currently quarantined as per Covid-19 protocol, has urged the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to give him and his son Vihang a week to appear before it in the alleged money laundering case. Vihang is currently taking care of his wife who is in hospital. On Tuesday, following raids at the Sarnaiks’ residence and offices and those of a security services provider, Topsgrup in Mumbai and Thane. Vihang was taken to the ED office for questioning and later released. He is likely to be questioned again on Thursday.
An aggressive Sarnaik however, refused to be cowed down, saying he would continue to speak against those who insulted and discredited Maharashtra and would even lay down his life in the cause, if need be. ‘‘The ED cannot silence me. I am ready to be hanged,’’ he said.
‘‘Ever since I submitted a privilege motion against Arnab Goswami and Kangana Ranaut and also urged the state government to reopen the Anvay Naik suicide case, I had been thinking of what lay in store for me. I have become a legislator because of Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray’s green signal for my candidature. I have attained my present position through struggle. It is my responsibility to explain the party’s policies and stand on various issues,’’ he said.
He said ED personnel had been asking Vihang about how vocal his father had been on issues involving Arnab Goswami, Kangana Ranaut and Anvay Naik.
‘‘In this country, in this state, I will speak out loudly if Maharashtra and Mumbai Police are being defamed. I will not keep quiet after the ED raid and I am ready to be hanged,’’ Sarnaik reiterated.
He further declared he was not involved in economic offences and was ready to face whatever was in store. He said he had been in the realty and hospitality business for the last three decades and had done nothing wrong and would extend all cooperation to the ED in its inquiry.
‘‘It is my responsibility to answer every question that comes my way,” he noted.
Sarnaik said the ED had asked Vihang about any financial transactions with Tops Security agency, against whom offences were already registered. ‘‘We have no business relations with Tops Security agency. We only know it as a security agency and deploy their security guards at various functions and have paid for their services from time to time. If the ED asks me more questions, I will answer them,’’ he added.
The agency also questioned and recorded the statement of Sarnaik’s associate Amit Chandole in their ongoing probe in the case. The ED is likely to scan the books of firms linked with the Sarnaik family, including the Vihang Group, in the business of real estate, hospitality and recreation. Also under the scanner are alleged foreign transactions by Topsgrup.
The firm’s chairman and founder, Diwan Rahul Nanda, had denied the allegations to The Free Press Journal on Wednesday. He also said that Pratap Sarnaik had been his friend for many years and that “he has not invested a single penny in my business or company, ever”.
Topsgrup is being probed for its business acquisition in the UK in 2009 and their trust in Mauritius. Nanda has said that these were legal. The ED is likely to summon more persons in this regard in the near future.