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The Hindu
The Hindu
Shubhomoy Sikdar

Mahadev betting app case | ‘Cash courier’ tells ED he retracted statement against Bhupesh Baghel under influence

Asim Das, an accused in the Mahadev betting app case, who had purportedly claimed and later denied that he had been sent to “deliver” cash to former Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel, has retracted his denial, according to the Directorate of Enforcement (ED).

According to the ED’s submission to a Raipur court on January 1, that in a subsequent development, Mr. Das told it that he retracted his statement against Mr. Baghel “under influence” and believing it would help his case. 

In its second prosecution complaint (charge sheet) filed before a special Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court in Raipur, the Central agency told the court that Mr. Das had retracted from the above statement “under the influence of someone who arrived with his [Mr. Asim Das’s] advocate”. “This person gave him a pre-typed document and asked him to reproduce it in his handwriting. He didn’t know to whom the retraction was forwarded to and signed it, believing it would be beneficial to his case,” the ED told the court. 

Cash seized

Last November, days before the first phase of Chhattisgarh Assembly elections, Mr. Das was arrested by the ED in Raipur and ₹5.39 crore cash was seized from him. He had claimed that he acted as a courier, and the money that he received from the Mahadev app promoters was to be delivered to one politician “Baghel for upcoming election expenses in Chhattisgarh”. While Mr. Das had made the said confession on November 3, Mr. Baghel had dismissed these allegations and accused the ED of influencing the then impending elections. 

The said retraction came in the form of a letter that Mr. Das had written to the court from the jail on November 10 in which he claimed that he is being made a scapegoat in the case by Shubham Soni [a Dubai-based accused who is among the leading figures who run the app] and that the money found in his possession was meant for starting a construction business. 

Two days after the Assembly election results on December 5, Mr. Das’s father Sushil Das, 62, who was missing for two days, was found dead in a well in Durg district from where Mr. Das and Mr. Soni both hail. 

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