Giving more fodder to the opposition in Chhattisgarh, the Enforcement Directorate has alleged that chief minister Bhupesh Baghel was a direct beneficiary in the Mahadev app scam. The agency quoted its probe into accused Asim Das and said, “Mr Asim Das admitted that he was carrying Rs 5 crore to deliver to the ruling political executives of Chhattisgarh. He named ‘Bhupesh Baghel’ CM of Chhattisgarh, as the intended final recipient for the cash seized from his control.”
Asim Das was arrested by the ED on Thursday. The agency claimed that Das was a “cash courier sent from UAE especially, to deliver large amounts of cash for electioneering expenses of the ruling Congress Party”.
The ED claimed that during questioning, Das said that one of the “top management” people of the Mahadev app, Shubham Soni (alias Pintu) gave him Rs 5.39 crore in cash and asked him to hand this over to the “associates of Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh”.
“He informed that he was specifically called to Dubai recently and then sent back with specific instructions to deliver cash. He had received cash from the associates of Mahadev Book App and he was asked to wait at Hotel Room No 311 of Hotel Triton, awaiting further directions for delivery of this amount to the associates of ‘Baghel’,” the ED said.
The agency claimed that forensic and digital evidence recovered from the phone seized from Asim Das also corroborates the allegations made by him.
The ED is investigating the Mahadev Book Online Betting App syndicate in which, it says, the promoters are sitting abroad and remotely running thousands of panels across India with the help of their friends and associates who are mainly from Chhattisgarh and have earned thousands of crores of proceeds of the crime.
The central agency has already arrested four accused persons, seized proceeds of crime worth more than Rs 450 crore, and has filed a prosecution complaint against 14 accused persons.
A total of 20 assembly seats in Chhattisgarh will see voting in the first phase of the elections on November 7. Former chief minister Raman Singh from the BJP in his interview with CNN-News18 had accused Baghel of being a direct beneficiary of the Mahadev app scam. “The scam leads directly to the doorsteps of the chief minister’s residence,” he said.
Baghel has hit back, saying that it was his government that began the probe in this case. “We started the investigation and got 400 people arrested, lookout circular issued…Why is the central government not getting a red-corner notice against the promoters? Why are they not banning the app?” he said while speaking to CNN-News18 exclusively. “What can be a bigger joke than this that you accuse a state CM based on what an accused says, after getting beaten up. Kisi ki izzat uchalana bahut aasaan hota hai (It is easy to besmirch someone’s reputation). If I catch hold of someone and get him to name the PM, will it be acceptable?”