The Enforcement Directorate on Tuesday summoned Nationalist Congress Party leader and former Aviation Minister Praful Patel in connection with an alleged land deal he struck with gangster Dawood Ibrahim’s close aide Iqbal Mirchi, Hindustan Times reported. Mirchi, who died in 2013, was an accused in the 1993 Mumbai bomb blasts in which more than 300 people were killed.
The investigation agency has asked Patel to appear for questioning on October 18. However, Patel denied he had been summoned. “I have not received any notice or summons,” ANI quoted the former minister as saying. “If I receive notice, I will go to ED myself.”
At a press conference, Patel claimed that reports in the media might be speculative, and the documents it accessed might have been leaked, ANI reported. “Obviously, you are in possession of some papers which may have never been brought to my attention,” he added.
The Enforcement Directorate has alleged that Millennium Developers Private Limited, in which Praful Patel and his wife Varsha Patel are shareholders, developed the Ceejay House building in Mumbai’s Worli locality in 2006-’07. Its third and fourth floors were transferred to Iqbal Mirchi’s wife Hazra Iqbal the following year, The Indian Express reported. The transfer was allegedly carried out “towards beneficial interest of Mirchi in the land”.
The directorate has also claimed that the sale of the land on which Ceejay House was built was carried out through dubious means. Mirchi allegedly laundered the sale proceeds.
Patel told reporters that at this stage everything was with the court receiver of the Bombay High Court. “We are nowhere directly looking after the property and neither are we directly in charge of it,” he added.
On Monday, the Bharatiya Janata Party had targeted the Congress over the alleged deal. BJP president and Union Home Minister Amit Shah said the alleged agreement between Patel and Mirchi was “nothing short of treason”, The Times of India reported. Shah asked interim Congress President Sonia Gandhi, its MP Rahul Gandhi and Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar to come clean on the matter. The minister said an Interpol Red Corner Notice was pending against Mirchi.
BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra also lashed out at the Congress, PTI reported on Tuesday. “There are documents available showing Patel and Hazara, the wife of Iqbal Mirchi, having signatures on the same papers, indicating they had an agreement over a property deal,” he said. “What was the quid pro quo with Sonia Gandhi for inducting Patel in the Union Cabinet?”
Patra said a minister learns of several secret decisions in Cabinet meetings. “Does Patel’s alleged links with a terrorist and member of the Dawood Ibrahim gang mean the national security was compromised?” he asked.
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