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ED raids premises of Raj Cong president in paper leak matter, summons CM Gehlot's son in FEMA case

Jaipur: Turning the heat on the ruling Congress in poll-bound Rajasthan, the Enforcement Directorate on Thursday raided the premises of state Congress president Govind Singh Dotasra in Jaipur and Sikar as part of a money laundering probe into the alleged exam paper leak case and summoned Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot's son in a foreign exchange violation case.

Besides the premises of the 59-year-old Dotasra, a former minister for school education, the agency is also searching the premises of a party candidate from Mahua seat in Dausa, Omprakash Hudla, and some others, official sources said.

The raids are being undertaken under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). An armed escort of central paramilitary force CRPF accompanied the ED teams.

The Congress slammed the Centre over the ED's action against its leaders in Rajasthan and accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of taking the help of probe agencies in fighting polls, and said people would give the BJP a befitting reply.

Chief Minister Gehlot flayed the ED action, saying terror has been unleashed in the country. He alleged the BJP was targeting him through ED raids as they could not topple his government

Elections for the 200-member Rajasthan Assembly will be held on November 25. The results will be declared on December 3.

Dotasra is the party candidate from Lacchmangarh seat of Sikar against BJP's Subhash Maharia. He is also the sitting MLA from this seat while Hudla is an independent MLA and the Congress has fielded him from the Mahua assembly seat this time.

The money laundering case stems from FIRs filed by the Rajasthan Police against the accused.

The accused, "in connivance with each other leaked the question paper of general knowledge of senior teacher grade II competitive examination, 2022 which was scheduled to be conducted by RPSC (Rajasthan Public Service Commission) on 21.12.2022, 22.12.2022 and 24.12.2022 and provided it to appearing candidates for the consideration amount of Rs 8-10 lakh per candidate," the ED had said.

Former Rajasthan Public Service Commission (RPSC) member Babulal Katara and two other people identified as Anil Kumar Meena and Bhupendra Saran were arrested by the ED in this case.

The agency also summoned the Rajasthan chief minister's son Vaibhav Gehlot for questioning in a case related to alleged contravention of the foreign exchange law.

Vaibhav Gehlot has been asked to depose before the federal agency's headquarters in New Delhi on Friday, the sources said.

However, he is expected to seek a fresh date for appearance as he needs to gather documents dating from 2011 till now to furnish them to the ED investigators, they said.
FEMA proceedings are civil in nature as compared to the criminal legal procedures under the PMLA.

The summons are linked to the recent ED raids against Rajasthan based hospitality group Triton Hotels & Resorts Pvt. Ltd., Vardha Enterprises Pvt. Ltd. and its directors and promoters Shiv Shankar Sharma, Rattan Kant Sharma and others.

The agency had searched the group and its promoters for three days in August at locations in Jaipur, Udaipur, Mumbai and Delhi.

Rattan Kant Sharma's alleged links with Vaibhav Gehlot are under the scanner of the ED and the agency is expected to question and record his statement under the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA). He has been a business partner of Vaibhav Gehlot in a car rental company in the past.

Unaccounted cash of Rs 1.2 crore was seized by the ED after these searches.

Soon after the action against its leaders in Rajasthan, Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge alleged that agencies such as the ED, Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Income Tax Department become the real 'panna pramukh (party workers)' of the BJP as soon as elections come.

"Seeing its certain defeat in Rajasthan, the Bharatiya Janata Party made its last throw of the dice! After Chhattisgarh, the ED has also entered the election campaign in Rajasthan and started action against Congress leaders," Kharge said.

"The dictatorship of the Modi government is fatal for democracy. We will continue to fight against the misuse of agencies, and the public will give a befitting reply to the BJP," the Congress chief said in a post on X.

Addressing a press conference here, the Rajasthan chief minister claimed that ED raids happen wherever elections are held. Be it Chhattisgarh, Karnataka or Himachal Pradesh, ED raids happened just before elections, he said.

"Raids happened but the Congress won the elections. The situation is worrisome. They have unleashed terror in the country," he said.

Citing data, Gehlot said that 112 searches by the ED happened during 10 years of UPA rule and charge sheets were filed in 104 cases. But after 2014, as many as 3,010 raids happened and charge sheets were filed in 881 cases, he said.

The Congress' state in-charge Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, state ministers Mahesh Joshi and Pratap Singh Khachariyawas were among those also present at the press conference.

Ashok Gehlot added that the Congress launched guarantees for women of Rajasthan on October 25 and the ED action against Dotasra and Vaibhav Gehlot came just a day later.

Congress' media and publicity department head Pawan Khera also lashed out at the Union government over the ED action.

"Just last week, Ashok Gehlot ji held a press conference in Delhi and raised questions on the role of central agencies in the elections. Today again, ED has become very active in Rajasthan. Modi ji, contest elections directly, stop taking the help of agencies," Khera said in a post in Hindi on X.

Congress leader Sachin Pilot also condemned the ED action, and said the leaders and workers of the state Congress are standing together in solidarity.

"I strongly condemn the ED raid on Rajasthan Congress State President Govind Singh Dotasara. ED summon has also been given to Vaibhav Gehlot, son of Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot," he said in a post on X.

He said BJP cannot scare Congress leaders with such tactics.

"BJP's nervousness is clearly visible due to such action because the public has made up its mind to bring Congress government back in Rajasthan in the upcoming elections," he added.

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