J&K political parties on Wednesday described the arrest of Dogra Swabhiman Sangathan (DSS) chairman and former Member of Parliament Chaudhary Lal Singh by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) as “deliberate targeting of Opposition leaders”.
Mr. Singh was arrested on Tuesday evening by the ED in Jammu amid protests by his supporters. On Wednesday the ED was granted seven-days remand. A case has been registered under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). Mr. Singh has emerged as the main voice of opposition to the BJP’s policies in Jammu.
‘ED an ally of the State’
“Mr. Singh was a Cabinet minister when the BJP ruled J&K. Since he then distanced himself from the party, Mr. Singh has joined the list of Opposition leaders targeted by the Centre. Elections are around the corner and Central agencies, like the National Investigation Agency and, ED are acting like an ally of the ruling party”, Peoples Democratic Party leader Tahir Sayeed said.
CPI(M) leader M.Y. Tarigami said: “how does the ED becomes so active when one starts criticising or expressing disagreement with the government. Curbing dissent using agencies like ED has become standard practice for this government.”
National Conference (NC) member Dr Sheikh Aamina accused the BJP of using the ED to “suppress the voices of leaders from J&K”.
Earlier in the day, the Special Public Prosecutor, Ashwani Khajuria, granted the ED seven-day remand of Mr. Singh. The agency had pleaded for 14 days.
On the court’s directions, Mr. Singh was taken to the Government Medical College (GMC) Hospital after he complained that he felt “uneasy”.
Talking to reporters at the hospital, Mr. Singh alleged he was “denied proper medical treatment”. “Several tests were not done,” Mr. Singh said, as scores of his supporters’ raised slogans.
Mr. Singh has been MP twice, a minister and three-time legislator. He is being questioned in a case related to the violation of the ceiling limit of 100 standard kanals imposed under Section 14 of the Jammu and Kashmir Agrarian Reforms Act, 1976, and was accused of allowing “undue pecuniary advantage to the R.B. Educational Trust run by his wife.”
Mr. Singh’s wife Kanta Andotra and and daughter Kranti Singh were earlier granted interim anticipatory bail till November 30 by the court in the case.
Mr. Singh has been galvanising the public in support of his demands, which include separate statehood for Jammu and special status under Article 371.
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