The Enforcement Directorate on Thursday registered a money-laundering case against Samajwadi Party leader Azam Khan in connection with land grab cases registered against him in Uttar Pradesh’s Rampur district, PTI reported. The case was registered under provisions of Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002, according to ANI, after the directorate took cognisance of at least 26 first information reports filed by the police against the parliamentarian from Rampur.
Khan’s name features on the state’s anti-land mafia website, which was launched in June 2017 to help identify those who grab land and initiate action against them, The Hindu had reported last month. The state government has set up a nine-member Special Investigation Team to look into the charges. The complainants have also met Governor Ram Naik and sought action against the suspected members of land mafia. The Samajwadi Party has rejected the accusations.
Part of the land allegedly grabbed by Khan was acquired to set up the Mohammad Ali Jauhar University. He is the institution’s chancellor. The university has been in focus since Tuesday, when the police started searching it on the basis of a complaint that more than 9,000 books had been stolen from another college in the district and taken to Jauhar University’s library. The following day, the police claimed to have confiscated 50 boxes of 2,500 rare and valuable books. It arrested the parliamentarian’s son, MLA Abdullah Azam Khan, when he allegedly obstructed police officials.
The arrest led to protests in Lucknow. On Thursday, the police stopped and briefly detained dozens of Samajwadi Party leaders and hundreds of workers attempting to enter the district, PTI reported. The Opposition party’s leader, Akhilesh Yadav, alleged the there was a conspiracy to defame Azam Khan by framing him in false cases and ruin Mohammad Ali Jauhar University. “The charge of book theft is childish and cheap,” he added. “The BJP government adopted an undemocratic way to prevent peaceful protest by the SP. The citizen’s rights were suppressed, which is condemnable. Abdullah was detained as soon as he came out of his house in Rampur.”
Meanwhile, the Allahabad High Court asked the Adityanath government to provide details of the case that led the police to raid the university. Justices SK Gupta and SS Shamshery directed the state’s law officer to apprise it of the case after hearing a petition by the university’s registrar challenging the police action, PTI reported. The bench posted the matter for hearing on August 6.