Former Jammu and Kashmir minister Choudhary Lal Singh was questioned by the Enforcement Directorate for over 10 hours on Monday in a case against an educational trust run by his wife and former legislator Kanta Andotra, official sources said.
AdvertisementScores of Singh’s supporters led by his wife Andotra assembled outside the agency office and staged a protest against the ED summons to their leader. They claimed he was being harassed at the behest of the BJP.
Singh, the chairman of the Dogra Swabhiman Sangathan Party, reached the probe agency’s office in Narwal at 10 am for questioning for a second time in three days, sources said. ED sleuths had questioned him on Saturday. After over a 10-hour-long grilling, Singh came out from the ED office and addressed his supporters, claiming that he was a victim of political vendetta. ”Our fight for the legitimate rights of the Dogras will continue but the Dogras also need to come together,” Singh, who is leading a campaign for the separate state comprising the Jammu region, said. He said politics has witnessed a decline as political rivals are being harassed. “We are not so weak to compromise and I am ready to face jail or death.” Singh said his family had set up a trust to educate the children for their better future and had done no wrong. Last month, the Enforcement Directorate conducted searches in Jammu and its adjoining areas as part of a money laundering probe against the educational trust of Andotra and a former government official in connection with alleged irregularities in land purchase to set up the trust.
AdvertisementThe money laundering case stems from an October 2021 charge sheet filed by the CBI in this case which alleged criminal connivance in the issuance of land between January 4 and January 7, 2011, without mentioning details in respect of violation of the ceiling limit of 100 standard kanals imposed under Section 14 of the Jammu and Kashmir Agrarian Reforms Act, 1976, thereby giving undue pecuniary advantage to trust. Based on this, the trust acquired multiple pieces of land of about 329 kanals vide three gift deeds executed on January 5 and January 7, 2011, the CBI charge sheet claimed. Singh’s supporters staged a dharna outside the ED office throughout the day and chanted slogans in his support and against the BJP. A delegation of Yuva Rajput Sabha led by its former president Rajan Singh Happy and members of the Gujjar and Bakerwal communities also visited the protest sight in support of Singh. ”It is simply a political vendetta as the BJP-led central government is using federal agencies against its opponents to harass, humiliate and defame them. They have nothing to prove against us and we are not going to bow down before the BJP,” Andotra said. ”We will strengthen democracy and safeguard the interests of Jammu. We will not be cowed down by such steps,” she said, claiming that the BJP wants to put her husband in jail. The Dogra Swabhiman Sangathan Party’s women wing president Suman Wazir alleged that Singh was being deliberately harassed as the BJP was feeling threatened by its potential opponents ahead of the Lok Sabha elections next year. ”Our leader has a spotless political career and this is the reason for us to come on the roads,” she said. Questioning the timing of the ED action, she said they do not have any objection to an investigation by the federal agency but the problem is that the BJP is using them to silence the opposition parties.