Karnataka Congress leader DK Shivakumar, arrested last evening by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) after four days of questioning, was produced in a Delhi court today – Wednesday, Sep 4 – where the probe agency sought a 14-day remand for further interrogation.
The Enforcement Directorate acted after the Karnataka High Court refused to grant the Congress leader protection from arrest.
The ED said on his arrest that Shivakumar had been uncooperative and evasive. He was taken to hospital for a check-up, where doctors said his sugar levels were fluctuating. He was admitted in Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital in Delhi. Congress leaders, led by General Secretary KC Venugopal, were denied permission to visit him.
Congress leaders have called his arrest as ‘political vendetta’ by the BJP-led central government.
In the court, ED said Income Tax investigation and statement of various witnesses have revealed “incriminating evidence” against Shivakumar.
The ED, alleging that Shivakumar tried to misguide probe, argued that custodial interrogation of Shivakumarwas necessary as some facts are in his personal knowledge.
It said Shivakumar is evasive, non-cooperative during probe. The ED claimed there was phenomenal growth in his income when he was in important position and it needs to confront Shivakumar with voluminous documents. It told the court custody was needed to unearth illegal properties.
Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi appearing for Shivakumar moves for his bail application and tells the court that the Congress leader had already been quizzed for 33 hours and that he is not a flight risk. Singhvi said unless the probe agency shows something startling has happened, Shivakumar can’t be sent to its custody as he never absconded.
Shivakumar’s arrest came in a case registered by the ED last year. It is the fall out of an investigation carried out by the income tax department against Shivakumar in 2017 where Rs 8.83 crore in unaccounted cash was found in New Delhi in locations linked to the Congress leader. The ED had in September last year registered the money laundering case against Shivakumar and others based on a chargesheet (prosecution complaint) filed by the Income Tax Department in a court here for alleged tax evasion and hawala transactions worth crores.
The Income Tax department accused Shivakumar and his aide of transporting huge amounts of unaccounted cash on a regular basis through ‘hawala’ channels with the help of three other accused. This was the time the Congress leader had arranged the stay at a Bengaluru resort of Gujarat Congress MLAs being sequestered before a Rajya Sabha election in which the party’s Ahmed Patel was facing a tough challenge from the BJP.
After his arrest, Shivakumarposted a tweet “congratulating” the ruling BJP for “finally” succeeding in arresting him.
The Congress has alleged political vendetta behind the action against Shivakumar, the party’s chief troubleshooter in Karnataka and at the forefront of efforts to keep the Congress-Janata Dal Secular coalition intact before an exodus of MLAs brought it down and led to the return of the BJP.
The Congress has threatened protests across Karnataka.Even when he was being arrested, his supporters first tried to block officers from taking him away and later resorted to blocking traffic and vandalizing buses in protest.
Protests broke out in several parts of Karnataka following the arrest. Demonstrations and attempts to block roads by burning tyres were reported from Ramanagara, Chennapattana and a few neighbouring towns, where a shutdown has been called for by Shivakumar’s supporters. As a precautionary measure, the district administration has declared holiday for schools and colleges today.
“DK Shivakumar, being the strong and obedient Congress leader in Karnataka, was always a target of the BJP,” Congress general secretary KC Venugopal said in a statement.
Shivakumar, accusing the BJP of targeting him, tweeted shortly after his arrest: “I congratulate my BJP friends for finally being successful in their mission of arresting me. The IT and ED cases against me are politically motivated and I am a victim of BJP’s politics of vengeance and vendetta.”
The 57-year-old Congress leader also assured the workers of the party and his supporters that he had not done anything illegal.
Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa said he was “not happy” with the arrest of the rival politician. “Let me tell you one thing, the arrest of DK Shivakumar did not bring me any happiness. I will pray to God that he will be out soon,” Mr Yediyurappa said.
The state Congress has called for a state-wide bandh following Shivakumar’s arrest in the money laundering case.