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Twist in Mahadev app case, 'Courier' denies delivering cash to Baghel

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Bhupesh Baghel Voting

Chhattisgarh CM Bhupesh Baghel (File photo)

Raipur: An alleged courier arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in the Mahadev betting app case on Friday submitted before a special court here that he had been framed up as part of a conspiracy and he had never delivered cash to politicians.

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Asim Das, the alleged cash courier, and constable Bhim Singh Yadav were arrested by the ED on November 3, four days before the first phase of the Chhattisgarh assembly elections.

The duo were on Friday produced before Ajay Singh Rajput, a special judge for Prevention of Money Laundering Act cases, upon expiry of their judicial remand, Das's lawyer Shoaib Alvi told PTI.

The court extended their judicial custody for seven days, he added.

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Das had written a letter from the jail to the Director of the ED and also sent copies to higher authorities including the Prime Minister's Office on November 17 stating that he was being implicated in the case and the central investigating agency forced him to sign a statement in English, a language he does not understand, Alvi said.

He urged the court to admit the letter as part of the case record, the lawyer added.

Das in his letter said he had visited Dubai twice in October this year after being called by Shubham Soni, a childhood friend. The trips were arranged by Soni, he said.

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Soni is one of the key accused in the case, as per the ED.

“Das in the letter said Soni wanted to start a construction business in Chhattisgarh and asked Das to work for him, promising to arrange money for the business. On the day he was arrested, Das was asked to pick up a car parked in the parking lot of the Raipur airport (after landing at the airport) and check into a hotel on the VIP road in Raipur. Later he was asked to park on the road where a person put bags of cash in the car and left,” Alvi said.

“I was asked over the phone to go back to my hotel room and after some time ED officials came to my room and took me with them,” Das claimed in the letter.

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"Later, I realized that I am being implicated. I have never supplied money or any other assistance to any political leaders or workers,” said Das.

The ED on November 3 had claimed that forensic analysis and a statement made by 'cash courier' Das had led to "startling allegations" that Mahadev betting app promoters had paid about Rs 508 crore to Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel, and "these are subject matter of investigation".

Das was arrested in Raipur after Rs 5.39 crore in cash were found in his possession, the ED said, adding that he had been sent by the app promoters from the UAE to deliver a large amount of cash for electioneering expenses of the ruling Congress Party.

"Das has admitted that the seized funds were arranged by the Mahadev app promoters to be delivered to one politician 'Baghel' for upcoming election expenses in state of Chhattisgarh," the agency alleged in a statement.

Chief Minister Baghel denied the allegation and accused the BJP of misusing the ED as it anticipated defeat in the elections.

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