Chhattisgarh: ED Recovers ₹5.39 Crore Courier To A Politician Named 'Baghel'

Chhattisgarh: ED Recovers ₹5.39 Crore Courier To A Politician Named 'Baghel'

Days before Chhattisgarh poll, ED stumbles on booty in cash meant for one Baghel.

Ashish SinghUpdated: Saturday, November 04, 2023, 10:46 AM IST
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Chhattisgarh: ED Recovers ₹5.39 Crore Courier To A Politician Named 'Baghel' | Twitter

Politics, the adage goes, is all about timing. In a well-timed disclosure, barely four days before the state elections in Chhattisgarh, the Enforcement Directorate has stumbled upon a booty in crores, which was allegedly meant to be delivered to one 'Baghel' for election expenses.

The initial seizure of Rs 3.12 crore was made after the investigative agency got a tip-off that a large amount of cash was being ferried on behalf of the promoters of the Mahadev App through a courier and was intended to fill the coffers of the Congress during the elections scheduled on November 7 and 17.

The ED arrested Asim Das, the courier, after raiding his room at Hotel Triton and impounding his Toyota Innova car. But the seizure was The tip of the proverbial iceberg with Das revealing to ED that a bigger cash consignment was lying at his residence at the Housing Board Industrial Area in Bhilai. The ED team swooped down on the dilapidated premises on Thursday night; in the nondescript quarters they found a treasure trove -- crores of rupees hidden in the 'diwan' and in the washroom's commode. A counting machine was requisitioned from the State Bank of India branch but it still took a marathon six hours to count the money.

A staggering Rs 5.39 crore recovered

The booty recovered thus far was a staggering Rs 5.39 crore. According to ED, Asim Das, alias Bappa, a one-time driver of a Congress councillor in Bhillai, had been under investigation for some time. On November 2, exactly five days before the elections, intelligence input was received that Das had been dispatched by Saurabh Chandrashekhar and Ravi Uppal, promoters of the illegal betting app, Mahadev, to deliver the precious cargo to the Congress party, ostensibly for poll expenses.

Courier to a politician named 'Baghel'

On being grilled, Das admitted that he worked as cash courier of Mahadev app promoters and that the seized funds were to be delivered to a politician named 'Baghel'. By an uncanny coincidence, the Chief Minister of the state is Bhupesh Baghel. In another stroke of luck for the ED some benami bank accounts of Mahadev App showed a balance of Rs 15.59 crore. Based on the questioning of Das, the forensic examination of the phone recovered from him, and the examination of an email sent by Shubam Soni (a high-ranking accused of the Mahadev network), a startling disclosure has been made: that regular payments were made in the past as well to ‘Baghel’, and that, thus far, around Rs 508 crore has been delivered by the Mahadev App promoters.

Both accused produced before the PMLA Special Judge

The ED questioned and arrested Police Constable Bheem Yadav as well. In the last three years, Yadav had unauthorisedly travelled to Dubai, admittedly met Ravi Uppal and Sourabh Chandrakar, and participated in the gala functions of Mahadev App; his travel expenses were borne by M/s Rapid Travels of Ahuja Brothers a money laundering and ticketing company of Mahadev App.

Yadav was allegedly the conduit for receiving the bribe money from the promoters, for the benefit of “senior officers and politicians of Chhattisgarh”. Their numbers and names have not surfaced as yet. Both the accused were produced before the PMLA Special Judge, Raipur, and have been remanded in ED custody for seven days.

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