ED Lawyer Rebuked for Asking Shah to Chant ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’


New Delhi—An Enforcement Directorate (ED) lawyer was on Thursday rebuked for asking Freedom Party leader Shabir Shah to say “Bharat Mata ki Jai” during hearing of a money laundering case before a Delhi court.

Additional Sessions Judge Siddhartha Sharma reminded Rajiv Awasthi that the courtroom “was not a TV studio”. He asked him to maintain decorum and argue the case on its merits.

“If he believes in the Constitution, then ask him (Shah) to say ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’,” Awasthi told defence lawyers M S Khan and Ravi Qazi. He accused Shah of amassing crores to “fund terror”. The defense objected and insisted that Shah is a political prisoner deprived of his constitutional rights.

The court later allowed the ED’s plea for extension by six days for sixty-four-year-old Shah’s custodial interrogation in the decade-old case.

The prosecutor told the court that Shah, arrested on July 25 in the money laundering, was “totally non-cooperative” during his questioning by the ED.

Advocate M S Khan, appearing for Shah, however, alleged that his client was being pressured and compelled to give various statements during his custody by ED officials. He opposed the submission made by the agency, saying that it was not revealing the complete facts before the court.

The agency said there was a need to probe a lot of cash transactions which were used for terror activities and stone pelting causing huge inconvenience in the Valley.

The ED said it was ascertaining Shah’s role in “anti- national activities” as well as the terror funding through ‘hawala’ channels from countries like Pakistan, the UAE and the UK. It told the court that the separatist leader was in continuous contact with anti-national elements, besides terrorists in Pakistan, and received money for “disrupting the peace of Jammu and Kashmir”.

It also said that Shah’s associates were to be confronted with him and the “international ramification” of financial involvement was to be unearthed.

The ED’s application, seeking seven days’ custody, also said that during interrogation Shah revealed that he was obtaining donations for the Kashmir issue in cash for which he was not filing any income tax returns.

The records relating to the donations were to be recovered and the accused had to be confronted with them, the agency said.

Shah was arrested by the ED a day after several Hurriyat leaders were taken into custody of the National Investigating Agency (NIA).


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