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Mumbai Crime Branch, ED lock horns in high-stakes feud between 2 leaders from ruling party

Updated on: 03 February,2024 04:22 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Faizan Khan |

Sources tell mid-day the recent skirmish between Crime Branch and Enforcement Directorate goes right back to two powerful ruling party leaders

Mumbai Crime Branch, ED lock horns in high-stakes feud between 2 leaders from ruling party

Agencies are caught in the fight between heavyweights. Illustration/Uday Mohite

A running political feud between two prominent leaders in the ruling regime has recently escalated, engulfing the Mumbai Crime Branch and the central Enforcement Directorate. The Enforcement Directorate is already under fire from the national opposition for allegedly being used as a political tool to target opponents. Now, things have come to a head with the Mumbai Crime Branch registering a case against an unidentified ED person, and arresting seven others believed to have close ties with this person. They are accused of allegedly extorting money from multiple builders and businessmen.


Sources said the recent case of extortion and criminal conspiracy registered by Unit 9 of the Mumbai Crime Branch has sparked a cold war between the two agencies, with the ED also initiating the process of registering an Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR) to probe money laundering in the same case. An ECIR is the equivalent of an FIR in ED parlance. Crime Branch sources slammed this as a shady tactic to intrude into the Mumbai police’s case.

Dubious face-off

The latest flashpoint between the two ruling party leaders came last week when on January 31 the Mumbai Crime Branch arrested Hiren Ramesh Bhagat, alias Romi Bhagat, a Khar resident said to have links with various bureaucrats and politicians, for extortion and other charges based on a complaint by a city developer.

Sources said the Crime Branch case was filed on the instructions of a powerful BJP minister, aimed at dismantling a suspected network of individuals collaborating closely with unidentified ED personnel and allegedly extorting significant sums from businessmen and builders.

Behind this network is said to be a senior state BJP leader with a penchant for whistleblowing, who has developed close ties with ED officials. Based on his complaints, the ED has filed numerous cases against individuals apparently associated with the powerful BJP minister.

This is what, sources told mi-day, has resulted in the crime branch monitoring individuals facilitating settlements with the shady ED person. What happens next in this battle of egos inside the BJP set up is anybody’s guess.

How the case unravelled

The Crime Branch case was registered on the complaint of Omkar Realtor and Developers, who alleged they got a call from an unknown number on WhatsApp offering to settle an outstanding dispute with a firm called Satish Enterprises. The latter’s owner Satish Dhanuka has filed a complaint with the city police’s Economic Offences Wing regarding an outstanding payment of Rs 164 crore.

Shortly, the complainant got another call, informing him that the ED might also initiate action against him. The complaint alleges that a meeting was fixed at Nariman Point Starbucks, where Dhanuka was also present, along with a person claiming to be representing the mystery ED person. 

Here is when the complainant was threatened to settle the Rs 164 crore dispute, after which he approached the crime branch and got the case registered thanks to the powerful minister. According to crime branch sources, a gang has been working in concert with the unidentified ED person to allegedly extort numerous business owners.

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