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ED raids: AAP accuses Centre, agency of intimidation, BJP hits back with corruption allegations

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NewsDrum Desk
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New Delhi, Feb 6 (PTI) The Enforcement Directorate (ED) raids on premises linked to AAP leaders here on Tuesday prompted the party to accuse the Centre and the probe agency of intimidation, while the BJP countered with allegations of corruption against the Kejriwal government.

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In a series of press conferences amid the ED raids, AAP leaders, including Delhi ministers Atishi and Saurabh Bharadwaj, accused the agency of "deleting" audio recordings of CCTV interrogation in the excise policy case and pressuring witnesses and the accused to extract statements from them.

ED sources refuted the claims and added that the agency will take a "legal recourse".

Hitting back at Aam Aadmi Party supremo and Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Union minister and BJP MP Meenakashi Lekhi alleged that the AAP government has put "the governance model of Delhi on the ventilator" by focussing solely on "publicity, drama and scams".

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Delhi BJP president Virendra Sachdeva welcomed the raids, alleging that AAP leaders were involved in corruption.

The ED earlier on Tuesday searched the premises of Kejriwal's personal secretary Bibhav Kumar and others, including Rajya Sabha MP and party treasurer N D Gupta, as part of its probe into charges that bribes generated from "irregularities" in the Delhi Jal Board tendering process were routed as election funds to the AAP, official sources said.

Addressing a press conference at the party office, Atishi levelled allegations against the ED and called the entire probe in the excise policy case a "scam" in itself. She alleged that the BJP government at the Centre was using the ED to scare and silence AAP.

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She claimed "many accused, witnesses, and government witnesses have come forward and said that they were pressured" into recording their statements.

Atishi, who also holds the finance, revenue, education and the PWD portfolios in the AAP government, alleged that audio recordings were "deleted" from the statement of an accused in the Delhi excise policy-linked money laundering case and the evidence was tampered with.

The minister further charged that AAP had learnt from trusted sources that "all the audio files of the footage of investigations done by the ED in the past one and a half years have been deleted by the ED".

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"It is clear today to everyone that this is not the investigation of a scam, but this ED investigation is a scam in itself. Today, I want to ask ED as to who is the ED trying to save by deleting these audio files," Atishi said.

The ED sources refuted the claims and said they would take a "legal recourse" against the minister for levelling such allegations.

The sources said the footage was recorded in video-only format during interrogation as the CCTV system did not have an audio recording facility at the time.

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Audio recordings were added to the video capturing system of the ED interrogation process only in October last year, they said.

Bharadwaj, also a Kejriwal government minister, asked the central agency to issue an official statement on the recordings.

"They should name the officer who was involved in this (not keeping the audio recordings). The Supreme Court had said in 2020 that there should be audio-video recordings of interrogations by investigating agencies. Instead of source-based statements, the agency should give an official statement," he said.

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At a press conference, AAP's chief national spokesperson Priyanka Kakkar said, "The so-called liquor scam is completely based on statements and the ED's investigation and statements have no substance." Slamming the ruling party in Delhi, Lekhi listed alleged scams under the Kejriwal government and said those who created space for themselves claiming to be "outright honest" have become "synonymous with corruption" today.

She also hit out at Kejriwal for skipping the ED summons in the excise policy-related money laundering case and asked Atishi to tell people when the Delhi chief minister would appear before the probe agency to answer its questions.

"One can always see that every time you ask questions related to law, adherence to law and order and regulations, one finds that everywhere they are missing in action," Lekhi said at a news conference at the BJP headquarters.

Delhi BJP president Sachdeva said it was Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "guarantee" to recover "every single penny looted" from the government exchequer.

"We welcome the probe. Facts will come up through the investigation," he added. PTI SLB/VIT BUN IJT IJT

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