Mumbai: Mumbai Police on Saturday said that it would rope in ethical hacker Manish Bhangale to probe into alleged telephonic conversations between Maharashtra Revenue Minister Eknath Khadse and gangster Dawood Ibrahim.
The investigations began after Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis asked the police to get into the bottom of the matter on getting a letter from the Aam Aadmi Party on the alleged exchanges. The matter came to light after Bhangale could trace the calls from Dawood's residence in Pakistan.
"The hacker had even sent the information to the Prime Minister’s Office but no Central agency seems to have any interest in actually locating the most wanted terrorist and criminal Dawood Ibrahim. Despite the fact that he is the most wanted man in Maharashtra, and that a Maharashtra leader’s name figured in the list, no agency from Maharashtra had contacted the hacker. When AAP wrote to the chief minister he instructed Mumbai Police to begin an investigation," AAP spokesperson Preeti Menon told Firstpost.
On Friday, Khadse said that he urged Fadnavis to probe the allegations that telephonic exchanges happened between the minister and the don. The minister apparently requested Fadnavis to inquire into the issue as he suspects someone hacked his phone and used it illegally.
"I am not using that number anymore and have acquired the call detail records which show that there is no international call on that number. But yet I have asked Fadnavis to inquire into the issue as I suspect someone may have hacked my number. It is a serious issue," Khadse told Firstpost.
In a release issued later in the day on Saturday, the minister said, "AAP spokesperson Priti Menon's allegation of calls from my mobile number to Dawood Ibrahim is baseless. The number which she is saying—9423073667—belongs to me and I have not been using it since a year. There is a possibility that my number was cloned and someone talked to Dawood in Pakistan. So I have request the chief minister and the Jalgaon superintendent of police to ensure a detailed enquiry in this issue."
The probe has picked up pace after the minister's demand.
The Maharashtra revenue minister is already mired with controversies after his aide Gajanan Patil was recently arrested by the Anti-corruption Bureau and his son-in-law was found to be driving illegally modified Hyundai Sonata vehicle.
Khadse also served a legal notice to social worker and activist Anjali Damania for allegedly making false charges against him over disproportionate assets. The notice blamed Damania for dragging his son-in-law over the illegally modified car.
Damania's allegations had came following the Patil's arrest for allegedly seeking a Rs 30 crore as bribe over a land deal from economist Ramesh Jadhav.
“Khadse’s son-in-law Manish Khevalkar owns a Hyundai Sonata, registered with Jalgaon RTO, which has been converted into a limousine. Khevalkar has modified the car without seeking permission from the RTO,” Damania said.
Reacting to the social activist, Khadse said, "She has levelled baseless charges of corruption and highhandedness against me and my family without having a shred of proof and also made defamatory statements and so we have sent her a notice asking for explanation. We will wait for her to apologise or else take action."
Talking to Firstpost, Damania said, "Eknath Khadse has sent me a legal notice. I have not still received it. It has been first forwarded to media who have sent it to me on WhatsApp. I am quite happy to get it, as it is a great opportunity for me to systematically show all documents which I have got from all over Maharashtra. I refuse to give a reply, but will wait for him to file a defamation case. Anyway, I am not bothered for legal notice."
Although the probe has started into the phone call issue, the AAP is not quite hopeful of a positive outcome.
"From previous instances it is very clear that in Maharashtra in cases related to Pankaja Munde, Vinod Tawde and Ekanth Khadse himself, that this state government will not act against corruption in its own ministries or ask them to resign," Menon said.
The AAP spokesperson even met the chief minister demanding Khadse’s resignation.
The topic also figured in the meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Fadnavis on Wednesday.
Senior BJP leaders, however, admitted the call issue is a matter of concern.
“Khadse is the seniormost leader of the party and considered the second-in-command in the ministerial council after Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. If his name gets dragged in such a controversy, we have a reason to worry,” said a senior party leader on condition of anonymity.
Two other BJP ministers—Rural Development Minister Pankaja Munde and Education Minister Vinod Tawde—were also in the dock over allegations of irregularities.
“Fadnavis has briefed the PM about the political situation in the state,” said a senior BJP leader.
The Maharashtra revenue minister is now hoping that his long association with the BJP will be his saving grace.
“I have given 40 years of my life to the party. I have come this far because of the faith of the party leadership,” Khadse said.
The Union home ministry has meanwhile asked the state agencies to go deep into the matter and submit a report, said a senior Mumbai Police official in know of the matter.
Updated Date: May 21, 2016 18:49 PM