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Former minister Lal Singh appears before ED; supporters stage protest

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Jammu: Former Jammu and Kashmir minister Choudhary Lal Singh appeared before the Enforcement Directorate on Monday for questioning in connection with a case against an educational trust run by his wife and former legislator Kanta Andotra, official sources said.
Scores of Singh’s supporters led by his wife Andotra assembled outside the agency office and staged a protest against the ED summons to their leader, claiming that he is spotless and is being deliberately harassed at the behest of the BJP.
Singh, the chairman of the Dogra Swabhiman Sangathan Party, reached the agency office in Narwal at 10 am for questioning for a second time in three days, sources said. ED sleuths had questioned him earlier on Saturday.
Last week, the Enforcement Directorate had conducted searches in Jammu and its adjoining areas as part of a money laundering probe against the educational trust of Andotra and a former government official in connection with alleged irregularities in land purchase to set up the trust.
The federal agency had raided about eight premises in Jammu, Kathua and Punjab’s Pathankot in the case against RB Educational Trust, its chairperson and Ravinder S, a former revenue official. The money laundering case stems from an October 2021 charge sheet filed by the CBI in this case which alleged criminal connivance in the issuance of land between January 4 and January 7, 2011, without mentioning details in respect of violation of the ceiling limit of 100 standard kanals imposed under Section 14 of the Jammu and Kashmir Agrarian Reforms Act, 1976, thereby giving undue pecuniary advantage to trust.
Based on this, the trust acquired multiple pieces of land of about 329 kanals vide three gift deeds executed on January 5 and January 7, 2011, the CBI charge sheet claimed.
As the questioning of Lal Singh was underway on Monday, his supporters staged a dharna outside the ED office and chanted slogans in his support and against the BJP.
“It is simply a political vendetta as the BJP-led central government is using federal agencies against its opponents to harass, humiliate and defame them. They have nothing to prove against us and we are not going to bow down before the BJP,” Andotra said.
“We will strengthen democracy and safeguard the interests of Jammu. We will not be cowed down by such steps,” she said, claiming that the BJP wants to put her husband in jail.
The Dogra Swabhiman Sangathan Party’s women wing president Suman Wazir alleged that Singh was being deliberately harassed as the BJP was feeling threatened from its potential opponents ahead of the Lok Sabha elections next year.
“Our leader has a spotless political career and this is the reason for us to come on the roads,” she said.
Questioning the timing of the ED action, she said they do not have any objection to an investigation by the federal agency but the problem is that the BJP is using them to silence the opposition parties.

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