Mumbai, Aug 23: The Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray was on Thursday questioned by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in connection of the IL&FS alleged money laundering case. Thackeray -- accompanied by his wife Sharmila, son Amit and daughter Urvashi along with MNS leader Bala Nandgaonkar -- reached the ED office this morning at around 11.30 hours and was grilled by the officials for nearly eight hours, sources said. According to sources, Thackeray was asked several questions related to the Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services Limited (IL&FS) probe.
Two days ago, in a statement, the MNS chief had declared that he would honour the summons by the ED, as he had always done in the past. Earlier in the day, MNS spokesperson Sandeep Deshpande and other activists were detained from Dadar and later whisked off to the nearby Shivaji Park police station to pre-empt any untoward incidents. Strongly protesting the party president's detention, Deshpande termed it as "high-handed action" by the police. Other activists protested silently by sporting black tee-shirts with the slogan “EDiot Hitler” painted on them, as thousands of supporters came to Mumbai from all over Maharashtra to express solidarity with their chief.
Late on Wednesday, the MNS activists were served notices by the Dadar police, warning them against creating any law and order issues before Thackeray's appearance before the ED. As a pre-emptive measure, the police had deployed road blocks, barricades, traffic diversions, a large posse of personnel, a dog squad, prohibitory orders in some key pockets to tackle the situation. Thackeray had made at least two direct appeals to all his followers to remain calm despite any provocation, keep away from the ED office, and desist from any form of agitation or violence.
However, his estranged cousin and ruling ally Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray on Wednesday indirectly backed Raj by commenting that "nothing would emerge from his (Raj’s) interrogation by the ED". “I don’t think there will be any outcome from his (Raj’s) investigation by the ED tomorrow,” Uddhav had said. Raj’s former business partners -- Unmesh Joshi (son of former chief minister and Lok Sabha Speaker Manohar Joshi and Rajan Shirodkar -- have already been grilled by the ED in a case pertaining to the IL&FS imbroglio. On Wednesday, agitated by the ED summons to the MNS chief, a young party activist allegedly committed suicide by setting himself on fire.UNI