NEW DELHI: Four days before the first phase of assembly polls in Chhattisgarh, the Enforcement Directorate on Friday said accomplices of the fugitive promoters of Mahadev Online Book Betting app have claimed to have paid Rs 508 crore to Chhattisgarh CM Bhupesh Baghel, in what is sure to heat up the already intense election scene in the Congress-governed state.
The agency based its sensational charge on the statements made by one Asim Das, a courier allegedly engaged by the promoters of Mahadev app, who was arrested from a Bhilai hotel on Thursday with Rs 5.4 crore. ED quoted Das as saying that the money was to be delivered to “one politician Baghel”.
Reacting to the ED’s claims, Baghel said, “What can be a bigger joke than this? You can force anyone by thrashing or pressurising him to extract any statement naming the chief minister. What if I catch someone and force him to name the prime minister in a case? Does it mean that the prime minister needs to be questioned? It is very easy to tarnish anyone’s reputation.”
In an indication that ED may question Baghel, the agency said, “From the questioning of Asim Das, and from the forensic investigation of the phone recovered from him, and examination of email sent by Shubham Soni (one of the high-ranking accused in the Mahadev app case), many startling allegations have come forth, namely that regular payments have been made in the past and, so far, around Rs 508 crore has been paid by Mahadev app promoters to Bhupesh Baghel, CM of Chhattisgarh. These are subject matters of investigation.”
Both Das and his accomplice, police constable Bheem Yadav, were produced before the PMLA special judge, Raipur, who remanded them to seven days of ED custody. The charge comes at a time when BJP has made corruption its main theme against the Baghel government.
Reacting to the charges, deputy CM T S Singhdeo had said, “The BJP finds itself losing elections, which is why such wild allegations are coming up.”
The promoters of Mahadev app, Ravi Uppal and Sourabh Chandrakar, are from Chhattisgarh, and have been accused of funding police officers, bureaucrats and politicians in the state in return for protection for their betting business which has allegedly defrauded thousands of youth who were lured to the platform by promises of high returns. Before Yadav, the ED had arrested Chandrabhushan Varma, an ASI of Chhattisgarh police, allegedly the conduit of bribes from Uppal and Chandrakar.
The agency conducted searches at Hotel Triton and another location in Bhilai and intercepted Das “who was sent from the UAE especially to deliver large amounts of cash for electioneering expenses of the Congress party”, the agency claimed. The cash recovery was made from the car and residence of Das.
“Asim Das has admitted that the seized funds were arranged by the Mahadev app promoters to be delivered to one politician ‘Baghel’ for upcoming election expenses in Chhattisgarh,” the ED said and added that some benami bank accounts of Mahadev app have also been located and deposits worth Rs 15.6 crore have been frozen.
The ED said constable Yadav had “unauthorisedly” travelled to Dubai several times in the last three years and met Uppal and Chandrakar. Yadav’s travel expenses were borne by a ticketing company associated with the Mahadev app promoters.

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