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Raids and searches during election time
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The Directorate of Enforcement (ED) is a central agency established in 1965 to detect and effectively prevent financial crimes such as violation of Foreign Exchange Management Act and money laundering. There is no doubt that if the system under the Central Department of Revenue had functioned as objectively and independently as envisaged, it would have been possible to put an end not only to black money transactions but also to corruption and chaos in the country to some extent. However, the pattern of searches and inquiries conducted by the ED in recent years is no more than vested interests giving rise to serious concerns and doubts. It has become routine for ED search teams to raid of the premises of politicians, political and voluntary organizations and institutions who speak out against the government or the ruling party, as if the country meant the central government and the party leading it. The case of Nawab Malik, the leader of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) in Maharashtra and the Minister for Minority Welfare, being arrested three days ago, is only the latest in a string of such incidents. Nawab Malik is one of the unyielding voices among the alliance that has weakened the BJP in Maharashtra the state where the commercial capital of India, is situated. For that very reason, the investigation and arrest of such a person cannot be seen as that innocent or straightforward. The ED had similarly treated in a similar fashion former Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh, who was seen as a nuisance by the Union government, and Shiv Sena leaders Yashwant Jadhav, Ravindra Waikar, Anandrao Adsul and Arjun Khotkar.

Through all this, the ruling dispensation is also targeting traders and institutions associated with the relatives of Shiv Sena, and NCP leaders. The government is trying to send a clear message to the NCP-Shiv Sena leaders who are calling for a united front of the opposition parties in the next general elections. There is also a picture in which just as one can get purged of sins through pilgrimage, one can see a quick discharge from all financial charges if one changes party. Narayan Rane was a leader who was always the target of the Enforcement Directorate when he was in Congress a few years ago. He left the Congress and joined the BJP to become a Rajya Sabha member and a minister of state. Now the same Rane is threatening adversaries with ED raids. Recently he warned that he had received information that an ED notice had been prepared against four persons at Matoshree (the residence of Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray). This is not a phenomenon confined to Maharashtra. The BJP is shamelessly turning the ED into an instrument in West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Kerala, states where the BJP fails to make political roots. ED raids on the homes of mainstream leaders in Jammu and Kashmir have ceased to be news now. In recent years, the ED has also conducted marathon searches at the offices of news outlets such as NewsClick.com, Dainik Bhaskar and The Quint, all of which reported news unpalatable to the government. The ED also brandished the cane before civil rights activists, including Harsh Mander, who had taken a strong stand against the Gujarat genocide and the country's hate killings.

In UP and Punjab, where assembly elections are being held, the ED promptly arrived to search leaders of the Samajwadi Party and the Congress, their relatives and businessmen who are their financial sources. Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi's nephew was also arrested. The more the investigative agencies move under the remote control of the government, the greater the erosion of the credibility and integrity of the agencies. Weeks ago, Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav described the ED and the CBI as those with the BJP in the election. The picture is complete when we find that Rajeshwar Singh, the former Joint Director of the ED, who during his term in office had faced allegations called very serious by the Supreme Court, joins the BJP and contests the UP Assembly, after opting for voluntary retirement!

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TAGS:Enforcement Directorate Nawab Malik arrest Anil Deshmukh Raids on those critical of central govt 
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