The Enforcement Directorate (ED) raided premises of Shiv Sena MLA Pratap Sarnaik, his sons Purvesh and Vihang Sarnaik at 10 other places in Thane on Tuesday morning in connection with a money-laundering case, official sources said. However, ED detained Sarnaik son Vihang from his house.
They said the searches are being conducted by the central agency at 10 locations linked to Sarnaik. The raid conducted under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
“The searches are being conducted on the Tops group promoters and related people, including some politicians,” an official source said.
After a four-hour operation, the ED team left the premises. Later they went to the home of Vihang’s businessman brother, Purvesh Sarnaik. A preliminary inquiry was then conducted into the members of the household. Since then, Vihang Sarnaik has been taken into custody by the ED for questioning.
Soon after he was appointed as a spokesperson, Sarnaik had become vocal against the Opposition in the state. He brought in privilege motions against Kangana Ranaut and Arnab Goswami in the previous session of the Assembly.
Sarnaik represents the Ovala-Maijwada constituency in the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly.
Known as a firebrand leader
Sarnaik is seen as a firebrand politician of the old Shiv Sena mould.
Sarnaik had also been vocal during the Sushant Singh Rajput case defending the allegations made against Sena scion Aaditya Thackeray.
The ED has not yet commented on the ongoing raids. More details on the case expected soon.
As Sarnaik is close to Matoshree, the party may see this as vendetta politics against him. “They have mistaken if anybody thinks they can use central agencies and form a government. No matter what, but none of our legislators will be pressurized and bow down to you. However, this is mere politics. The ED should not behave as a branch of the Bharatiya Janata Party,” said Sanjay Raut, Shiv Sena chief spokesperson.
Former Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, said, “Nobody should be scared of any such action if they have done no wrong. However, the Enforcement Directorate does not initiate any action unless it has solid evidence,” he said.