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ED raids Robert Vadra associates over arms deal bribery case

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Friday searched properties in Delhi-NCR and Bengaluru that belonged to three people allegedly linked to Robert Vadra, son-in-law of Congress leader Sonia Gandhi, in connection with its probe into the alleged commissions received by some suspects in defence deals and illegal assets stashed abroad.

Alleging politics of revenge, Mr Vadra’s lawyer said that the Narendra Modi government was persecuting him and his aides in a “Nazi-like fashion”. The Congress said an “unnerved” Narendra Modi government was unleashing “vendetta” against party chief Rahul Gandhi’s brother-in-law to divert the narrative.  According to ED sources the raids that began around noon were carried out at multiple premises in Delhi-NCR and Bengaluru.

“The searches were carried out on the premises of two employees of firms allegedly linked to Mr Vadra and another person. These people are suspected to have received commissions out of a defence deal and they subsequently invested these funds to procure illegal assets abroad,” an ED source said. Sources, however, did not disclose the names of the people whose premises were searched or the defence deal under their scanner stating that “search action was ongoing”.

The raids come three days after the CBI extradited Christian Michel, the alleged middleman in Rs 3,700 crore AgustaWestland VVIP copter deal that was scrapped in 2014.

Mr Vadra’s lawyer Suman Jyoti Khaitan alleged that the ED teams entered the premises of associates of his client without showing “search warrants”. He claimed that the premises were locked from inside and questioned the government’s motive behind it. Khaitan went on to claim that probably evidence was being fabricated.

The Congress condemned the ED searches and said, “Sure shot defeat in five states unnerves Modi government to again use the old tools — unleash revenge and vendetta against Mr Robert Vadra to divert the narrative,” Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said on Twitter.

“Such cowardice and intimidation will not subjugate either the Congress or the will of people,” he said.

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