'This government will be toppled in 2024.'
Sanjay Raut, the Shiv Sena Rajya Sabha MP and executive editor Saamana, the Shiv Sena's daily newspaper, was arrested by the ED last year.
In the final segment of a three-part interview with Rediff.com Senior Contributor Neeta Kolhatkar, Raut recalls the moment when he was granted bail.
- Part 1 of the Raut Interview: 'They barged into my mother's prayer room'
- Part 2 of the Raut Interview: 'It's inhuman, merciless that breaches every human right'
Do you remember the day you were released?
Of course, I distinctly remember it. We were taken to the court and were expecting the bail order.
I sat in front and seated behind me were my wife and both our daughters, and my son-in-law. All were tense regarding the outcome.
I didn't want to think too much, but my lawyer had confidently argued, presenting all the facts.
The way the ED's lawyers made claims, I felt the court would be able to see through their false claims and realise we have concrete proof.
The judge took over an hour to dictate the order and I thought it would go on longer. Then he suddenly said, 'You both are granted bail', (Sanjay Raut and Pravin Raut).
I actually couldn't hear the judge. I asked what the judge said and my brother reassured me that I was granted relief.
All of a sudden people cheered and clapped loudly in the lobby and inside the court. The lobby was thronged with thousands of supporters.
Talyancha prachanda kadkadat (Thunderous applause was heard).
Ravish Kumar had showed it that night in his programme and had mentioned this occurred for the first time in a court and called it historic.
Of course, the ED objected to the bail and urged the judge to stay his order. He refused and said he would resume the court at 3 pm after considering the objections placed by ED.
After the court resumed, the judge rejected the ED's objections and said he would not stay his order.
The judge allowed the ED to appeal in the Bombay high court and they rushed in such hurry, they wanted to do everything to keep me in jail for one more night.
My wife and daughters cried with joy, my brother too cried. They were not sure I would get bail on that day.
I was sent to jail till the ED approached the high court in a hurry.
When I was back in my barracks, I saw the television and breaking news flashes.
Around 5 pm, they flashed on a channel, the judge said my arrest was 'illegal'.
The news said it was a 122 page order. The ED was forced to release my by 7 pm.
Thousands of party workers had gathered outside the jail and celebrated. They celebrated, burst crackers and took out a procession for me. Their love was evident.
It must have been the happiest day for your mother and your family.
Yes, for everyone. My mother is an extremely strong woman. She had told me right at the beginning, don't fall on your knees, go to jail.
"We want to face the world with pride," those were her words when the ED came to arrest me. 'Sharan nahi jayecha, turungat jayacha. Amhala baher tond dakhvayacha ahe'. (Smiles).
My wife too showed her courage, echoing the same sentiments as my mother.
My daughters told me, "Baba, we want to live with our heads held high, for which we can bear any amount of pain." (Amhala taath manena jagayacha ahe, amhi sagla traas sahan karu.)
Did extended family or friends distance from you and your immediate family when you were jailed?
Did your daughters face any consequences?
Of course, some people distanced themselves from us.
One of my daughters is an entrepreneur; she has a small fashion designing business and has a small shop. Their business runs on credit to vendors, Rs 10,000-Rs 15,000, and all are cheque transactions.
Now her business has been impacted. The vendors and clients feared the ED will chase them and question them. Obviously nobody wants any agency at their doorstep. These are not small things for us.
These girls have to piece their lives together and start from scratch. We are middle class people.
My wife is a teacher. We cannot imagine what taunts and barbs she may have had to face. The school authorities were supportive, still it wasn't easy for these women folk.
Now people fear to do any business with us because they don't want to be hounded by the ED.
They don't want their names to be dragged in our case and be called for investigations or face raids.
There is a prevailing fear. I will give you an example.
I used to use my friend's car sometimes. He would leave it with me and I used it.
During the raids in my house they searched for the car owner's details, found his address and for the next eight days they raided my friend's house.
They, of course, got nothing from those raids, but they simply terrorised him.
His entire business collapsed due to these ED raids. People are terrorised by these investigative agencies, without doubt.
What is the one lesson your learnt from this entire experience?
In the end, all officers of every agency from any rank prove themselves to be Sameer Wankhede (the controversial Indian Revenue Service officer_.
Those who target us, each and everyone thinks he is a Wankhede.
You wait and watch, the consequences they will face will be the same as Wankhede is now facing.
And with confidence I tell you, this government will be toppled in 2024.
At that time, we will settle scores with each and every person.
Feature Presentation: Aslam Hunani/Rediff.com