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Koda aide’s innocent cry

- He was framed: counsel

Ranchi, Jan. 30: For 48-year-old hawala operator Anil Adinath Bastawade, the journey from a plush hideout in a remote Indonesian island to Birsa Munda Central Jail in Ranchi was a quick one.

Detained in Indonesia on January 22 following a red corner notice by Interpol for offences of fraud and money laundering, Bastawade was extradited to India late yesterday evening.

Around 3pm, clad in a white shirt and trousers, Bastawade landed at Birsa Munda airport. Accompanied by a posse of policemen, Bastawade was brought in a pilot jeep to the Ranchi Civil Court premises around 3.45pm. He was produced before the special designated court for Prevention of Money Laundering Act of R.K. Choudhary at 4.30pm, which remanded him to 14 days in judicial custody.

Dodging waiting newsmen, policemen rushed the accused to the waiting pilot jeep, which sped away to Birsa Munda Central Jail at Hotwar, 10km away.

Earlier, in the court, Bastawade told the judge that he was neither aware of charges levelled against him nor the reasons behind his arrest. He alleged that no documents had been given to him by officials accompanying him from Indonesia.

Bastawade’s counsel Ashwini Sinha insisted that his client was innocent. “We shall shortly move court praying for bail for Bastawade, who has been framed. The Enforcement Directorate is acting on a vendetta,” Sinha alleged.

It might be recalled that on August 23, 2010, non-bailable arrest warrants were issued by the PMLA court, Ranchi, against seven close aides of Koda — Vijay Joshi, managing director of Indo Asahi Glass Factory, Ramgarh, hawala operators Bastawade, Rohitash Krishnan, Ajay Amolchand Bafna and others in connection with the multi-crore money laundering scam.

A dossier compiled by the ED revealed that a sum of Rs. 3549.72 crore was laundered out of the state to foreign destinations and to various parts of the country during the period that Koda was chief minister between 2006 and 2008.

Sources added that the Enforcement Directorate was likely to move the PMLA Court soon for permission to interrogate Bastawade, who apparently holds the key to the crores of rupees diverted from Jharkhand via the hawala route to foreign destinations.