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Arvind Kejriwal Arrest: Here Are Opposition Leaders Raided By Probe Agencies In Last Decade

A host of Opposition leaders are being pursued by central agencies in cases of corruption. Allegations of disproportionate assets and Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) violations are among the charges commonly slapped on many Opposition politicians, often ahead of elections.

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PTI
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal | Photo: PTI
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In an unprecedented move, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Thursday evening in connection with the Delhi excise policy scam case. Kejriwal becomes the second sitting chief minister in the country to be arrested by the federal agency.

The dramatic developments unfolded hours after the Delhi High Court refused to grant Kejriwal protection from coercive action by the ED in the ongoing money laundering probe. A team of ED officials promptly arrived at the chief minister's residence, backed by heavy security deployment from Delhi Police, CRPF, and Rapid Action Force personnel to manage potential protests.

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The Enforcement Directorate (ED)has been increasingly deploying its extensive powers under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) against prominent opposition leaders across the country.

Here are some other Opposition leaders who have been raided by probe agencies:

Hemant Soren

Jharkhand Chief Minister and Jharkhand Mukti Morcha chief Hemant Soren recently became the latest opposition leader to be pursued by the Enforcement Directorate in a case of alleged money laundering.

A team of ED officials reached Hemant Soren's residence on 29 January to question him in connection with the case. However, his whereabouts were allegedly unknown. The probe agency meanwhile seized a Haryana-registered BMW car from Soren's residence apart from some documents recovered by them during the search conducted at the house, PTI reported.

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He was arrested on January 31 after resigning as CM but was allowed to vote in a trust motion his alliance won.

Lalu-Tejashwi Yadav

The Enforcement Directorate on January 19 issued fresh summons to Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Tejashwi Yadav and his father and RJD supremo Lalu Prasad for questioning in connection with the agency's probe into the alleged land-for-jobs scam. The case, which is being investigated both by CBI and ED, pertains to people allegedly given employment in the railways in return for land parcels gifted or sold at cheap rates to the Yadav family and its associates.

Manish Sisodia, Satyendar Jain, Sanjay Singh

In October 2023, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh became the second party leader after Manish Sisodia to be arrested in connection with the Delhi Excise Policy case following a raid at his premises by the ED. Another party leader, Satyendar Jain, is in jail in a separate money laundering case being pursued by the ED.

Sisodia, who is lodged in Tihar Jail, was arrested by CBI on February 26 after three days of interrogation following a series of raids over charges of corruption. The ED subsequently questioned him in March and arrested him under PMLA over alleged links with key accused in the money laundering probe into alleged irregularities in the framing and implementation of Delhi Excise Policy 2021-22.

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Satyendar Jain, who was the Health Minister of Delhi, was arrested by ED based on a CBI first information report (FIR) lodged against the AAP leader in 2017 in a case of disproportionate assets. Jain and others’ premises were searched by ED which reportedly seized Rs 2.85 crore and 133 gold coins.

Kejriwal has repeatedly called the charges against the AAP leaders "false", something that resonates with several other Opposition parties whose leaders have been targeted similarly by probe agencies. Allegations of disproportionate assets and Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) violations are among the charges commonly slapped on many Opposition politicians, often ahead of elections.

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Anil Parab

Shiv Sena (UBT) Member of Legislative Council Anil Parab’s premises were raided by the Enforcement Directorate during the Maha Vikas Aghadi government in Maharashtra formed by formerly united Shiv Sena, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), and the Congress. Charges against him were in connection to a money laundering case over Dapoli resort. The party had said that the raid and subsequent arrest were to exact "political revenge" for outperforming the BJP in the state. The arrest was also ahead of the civic body elections in Maharashtra.

Anil Deshmukh

Former Maharashtra Home Minister and NCP leader Anil Deshmukh was arrested in November 2021 after 12 hours of questioning in a money laundering case linked to an alleged extortion racket in the state police establishment based on accusations made by former Mumbai Police commissioner Param Bir Singh. Deshmukh was untraceable for more than three months and failed to appear in ED summons five times until November 1 when he voluntarily showed up at the ED office. He is still under investigation by the CBI and ED and is in judicial custody.

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Nawab Malik

On February 23, 2022, ED arrested then Maharashtra state minorities and skill development minister Nawab Malik in a money laundering case months after saying his "arrest is inevitable", according to a report by The Wire. He was allegedly linked to the activities of the fugitive gangster Dawood Ibrahim and associates. Malik is out on interim bail granted to him in August on medical grounds.

Karti Chidambaram

In May 2022, the CBI raided 10 locations across six states, including the premises of veteran politician P Chidambaram’s son and Congress MP Karti Chidambaram. The central agency alleged that the latter facilitated visas for Chinese nationals and received Rs 50 lakh in "bribes" while his father was the Union home minister in 2011. Karti denied the allegations, calling them baseless.

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Karti Chidambaram was also investigated by the ED in the INX Media scam-related money laundering case for receiving foreign funds to the tune of Rs 305 crore when his father was the finance minister. Earlier, his father P Chidambaram was also arrested by CBI and ED in the INX media case.

Abhishek Banerjee

Multiple raids have been conducted by federal probe agencies CBI and ED against Trinamool Congress (TMC) leaders, including party MP Abhishek Banerjee. In August 2023, ED conducted by multiple raids in and around Kolkata in connection with the school jobs scam. The probe agency also searched the office of Leaps and Bounds Pvt Ltd, a company founded by TMC General Secretary Abhishek Banerjee.

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Several members of TMC, including former ministers, are in ED and CBI custody in various cases of alleged corruption. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has slammed the BJP-led Centre for using probe agencies to “target” TMC leaders time and again.

DK Shivakumar

On August 2, 2017, Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister --then Karnataka Congress President-- Shivakumar’s home and office in Bengaluru were raided by the Income Tax Department in connection with alleged tax irregularities. Shivakumar had made national headlines that year after he agreed to accommodate 44 party legislators from Gujarat at a resort in Bengaluru to prevent them from being poached by the BJP ahead of Rajya Sabha elections.

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The searches were conducted in more than 60 locations across states for a span of 80 hours. At the end of the searches, an undisclosed income of nearly ₹300 crore was allegedly recovered. Shivakumar and his associates were then granted anticipatory bail against arrest but they remained under the scanner.

In May 2018, the I-T department lodged the original complaint of the case before a special court. Shivakumar, a popular leader among the Vokkaliga community, was accused of tax evasion and ‘hawala’ transactions worth crores. He was arrested by ED in September 2019 and remained in Tihar jail for 48 days. The seven-time MLA had claimed that the arrest was “politically motivated” for hosting Gujarat MLAs.

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MK Stalin’s daughter Senthamarai

Days ahead of polling in 2021, the I-T Department knocked on the doors of then DMK chief (now Tamil Nadu Chief Minister) MK Stalin’s daughter Senthamarai and his son-in-law Sabareesan’s residence in Chennai reportedly over "several incriminating materials on tax evasion".  They were also reportedly verifying “political cash distribution”. The DMK had alleged political vendetta and condemned the central government for the same.

V. Senthil Balaji

Former Tamil Nadu Electricity Minister Senthil Balaji was put behind bars on June 14 in PMLA case pertaining to a transport job-for-cash scam. The case dates back to 2011-15 when job aspirants seeking appointments in the state transport department alleged that Balaji took bribes from them. Balaji was then a member of the transport department of the Jayalalithaa-led AIADMK government.

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The ED registered a PMLA case against Balaji and others in July 2021 but FIRs against Balaji were quashed by Madras High Court. In May this year, the Supreme Court set aside the high court order and directed a fresh probe. The Income Tax department raided 40 places reportedly linked with Balaji and his supporters over a span of eight days.

The former minister was arrested by the ED on June 14, under the PMLA. He was questioned for around 19 hours. In a dramatic series of events, he was admitted to the hospital after he complained of uneasiness and chest pain during the investigation. He also broke down in front of the cameras. He underwent a bypass surgery at a Chennai hospital. The Principal Sessions Court judge, who visited Senthil Balaji in the hospital, ordered him to be remanded in judicial custody for 14 days. He is currently in jail.

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Partha Chatterjee

In July 2022, Partha Chatterjee, a senior leader of the Trinamool Congress (TMC) and the former Education Minister of West Bengal, was arrested by the ED in connection with the West Bengal School Service Commission (SSC) teacher recruitment scam. The arrest came after a massive crackdown by the ED, during which over Rs 50 crore in cash and a substantial amount of jewellery were seized from the residence of Arpita Mukherjee, a close associate of Chatterjee.

The ED accused Chatterjee of being the "prime conspirator and beneficiary" of the alleged scam, which involved irregularities in the recruitment of teachers during his tenure as the Education Minister from 2014 to 2021. The agency claimed that Chatterjee had played a pivotal role in the conspiracy to divert money meant for training unemployed youth.

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The TMC has strongly criticized the ED's actions, accusing the central government of "vindictive politics" and attempting to destabilize the state government. The party has alleged that the central agencies are being used as a tool to settle political scores and target opposition leaders.

Chatterjee's arrest has dealt a significant blow to the TMC, as he was considered one of the tallest leaders in the party and a close aide of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. The case has also raised questions about the transparency and accountability of the teacher recruitment process in West Bengal.

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