SRINAGAR: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has been granted a seven-day custody of former Jammu and Kashmir minister Lal Singh, who was arrested in connection with a money laundering case, media reports said.
This development occurred on Wednesday, a day after a special court denied his anticipatory bail request. Lal Singh, the chairman of the Dogra Swabhiman Sangathan Party (DSSP), was taken into custody from a residence in the Chawadi area of Sainik Colony in Jammu.
The ED’s investigation is centred around a case concerning an educational trust associated with his wife, former legislator Kanta Andotra. Special public prosecutor Ashwani Khajuria reported that the arrested individual was presented before a special court. Instead of the 14-day custody sought by the ED, the court granted a seven-day remand. The judge acknowledged the accused’s complaint of physical discomfort and ordered a thorough medical examination, as stated in Khajuria’s account of the court order.
Due to Singh’s discomfort, he was transferred to the Government Medical College (GMC) Hospital during the early hours of the day. After being discharged from the hospital around 3 pm, he was immediately taken to court. Singh alleged that he did not receive appropriate medical attention during his hospital visit. He claimed to have been in the hospital’s emergency ward without receiving the necessary care. Furthermore, his admission file was not prepared, and several tests were not conducted. Singh expressed his concerns while being escorted to the court.
Outside the hospital, a group of his supporters had gathered, strongly protesting against the BJP. They believed their leader was unfairly implicated in a baseless case as the upcoming Lok Sabha elections approach. Singh, a two-time Member of Parliament (MP) and a three-time Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA), had switched his political allegiance from the Congress to the BJP in 2014. He had also served as a minister in the previous PDP-BJP government, which dissolved in June 2018 after the national party withdrew from the alliance.
Several months before the government’s fall, Singh resigned from the BJP and founded the DSSP, following controversy over his participation in a rally supporting the accused in the rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Kathua in January 2018. However, he defended his presence at the rally, stating that he was there to “defuse the situation.”
In the previous month, the Enforcement Directorate had conducted searches in Jammu and its surrounding areas as part of its investigation into the money laundering allegations involving the educational trust run by Andotra and a former government official. This investigation focused on alleged irregularities in land acquisitions for the trust. The federal agency executed searches at approximately eight locations in Jammu, Kathua, and Punjab’s Pathankot on October 17, as part of the case against the RB Educational Trust, its chairperson, and Ravinder S, a former revenue official.
The roots of the money laundering case trace back to a charge sheet filed by the CBI in October 2021. This charge sheet alleged criminal collusion in the transfer of land between January 4 and January 7, 2011, without disclosing details regarding the breach of the ceiling limit of 100 standard kanals, as stipulated under Section 14 of the Jammu and Kashmir Agrarian Reforms Act, 1976. This action was perceived as providing an unjust monetary advantage to the trust. According to the CBI charge sheet, the trust acquired multiple parcels of land totalling about 329 kanals through three gift deeds executed on January 5 and January 7, 2011.