Chargesheet against Sanjay Raut: Witness reveals sordid saga of life threats against landowners

Witnesses cite threats, huge undervaluation and cash changing hands; one says father threatened by Sanjay Raut to buy all plots very cheap

Urvi Mahajani Somendra SharmaUpdated: Tuesday, September 20, 2022, 10:20 AM IST
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ED charge sheet against Sanjay Raut: Witness tells ED, her father sold Alibaug land out of fear and life threats | Kunal Patil

In the money laundering case connected with Goregaon’s Patra chawl scam, incriminating statements by a seller and a co-owner of land in Alibaug form the part of Enforcement Directorate’s (ED) chargesheet against Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut.

One of the witnesses told the ED that her father sold his plots at Kihim beach in Alibaug to Raut out of fear. She has alleged that the leader threatened her father with dire consequences when he asked to spare at least one plot. Raut had allegedly threatened the man asking ‘jeevant rahu shaknar nahi (do you not want to live). She said her father had bought one acre of land in 1995 and built a bungalow, still leaving several plots around it. He received Rs 38 lakh in cash and a cheque of Rs 7 lakh. The agreement was signed with Raut’s wife Varsha and one Swapna Patkar.

As part of the chargesheet, the money generated through “illegal activities” from Raut’s involvement in various projects – Patra chawl redevelopment and similar projects in Bhendi Bazar – using his political position was invested in land at Kihim.

On the other hand, a co-owner of eight plots in Alibaug, who is also a witness in the case, has said that plots costing Rs 9-10 crore were allegedly undervalued to Rs 51 lakh. She has further alleged that a huge amount of cash exchanged hands, with Raut arranging the cash component. The witness has stated that Raut, who is originally from Alibaug, used his clout and forced many landowners to sell their flats.

The co-owner said she only met one original owner of the plots. He was “a very old person” and was allegedly threatened to sell his land.

As per her statement, all the plots are in close proximity to the sea and have been amalgamated into one large parcel of land. The plots were acquired between 2010 and 2012, which Raut declared in his election affidavit. “The value of the registration was meagre – in the range to Rs 5-6 lakh – whereas each parcel cost nearly Rs 1 crore,” she told the ED. As per the witness, the cash component was arranged by Raut and one Sujit Patkar for the buyers. Raut’s uncle, Subhash Raut, was allegedly the point man for these transactions.

Elaborating on Sujit Patkar’s role, the co-owner said he collected cash from Raut and handed it over to the landowners. The witness was allegedly part of some of these discussions between Patkar and the landowners.

The co-owner has said that Patkar still handles Raut’s cash and his other businesses and has “been made director in a number of companies floated by Raut”.

Some of the sellers have confirmed receipt of cash components over and above the cheque amount in these transactions. The source of cash payment made is from Pravin Raut, a key accused in the case. As per the chargesheet, Sanjay Raut, however, refused cash transactions in the land deals.

As per the chargesheet, Rakesh Wadhawan of HDIL was made responsible for the Patra chawl project. “The purpose of giving the project to HDIL was to bring maximum financial benefit to Sanjay Raut and Pravin Raut”, which didn’t happen as Rakesh Wadhawan started selling the FSI.

The co-owner witness also said that one Tandel, an employee of Pravin Raut, delivered the money to Sanjay Raut. The MP allegedly routed the unaccounted money through various shell companies opened in the name of his family members and associates.

Denying her role in the planning and execution of the purchase of plots, the co-owner witness said she is not aware whether Raut had plans to build a resort there.

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