Dawood Call Row: Khadse gets virtual clean chit

CM backs him, even cops give a virtual clean chit, saying no calls were made or received on his phone from Dawood’s number as claimed by AAP

Mumbai : In a relief on two fronts, Revenue Minister Eknath Khadse on Sunday virtually got a clean chit from police who said no calls were made or received on his phone from underworld don Dawood Ibrahim’s number as claimed by Aam Aadmi Party even as Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis termed the charge against his colleague as “unsubstantiated”.

“Our initial analysis of the cell phone number (belonging to Khadse) indicated that there were neither outgoing nor incoming calls from this number to that of the fugitive (Dawood) during the entire period of September, 2015 to April, 2016, as stated in the (AAP) press conference,” Mumbai Joint Commissioner of Police (crime) Atulchandra Kulkarni said.

AAP spokesperson Preeti Sharma Menon had on Saturday alleged that the Maharashtra minister had received several calls from Dawood’s wife Mehjabeen Shaikh’s number 021-35871639 between September 4, 2015 and April 5, 2016.

She further claimed that the Maharashtra Chief Minister had asked the police to investigate the matter.

Khadse has dismissed the allegations as “baseless” stating the particular number was not in use for the last one year.

Kulkarni said, “When the issue of contact of the Maharashtra government minister with Mumbai underworld fugitive Dawood Ibrahim, who is abroad, cropped up, we checked the details.” Khadse was reportedly finding himself isolated in the wake of AAP demanding his ouster and following the arrest of his ‘personal assistant’ by ACB for allegedly demanding a bribe of Rs 30 crore in a land settlement case recently.

However, on Sunday Fadnavis rushed to the defence of his seniormost cabinet colleague who is viewed as a political detractor of the chief minister. “The report of ATS chief is very clear. There are neither incoming nor outgoing international calls from the cell number of Eknath Khadse, neither to the fugitive (gangster) nor to anyone else. It is not proper to target a senior minister without substantiated evidence. We condemn such act (of levelling allegations by AAP) and expect that the standards in politics will be maintained,” Fadnavis told.

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