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Thursday, May 30, 2024

TMC’s Saket Gokhale arrested by Gujarat police for third time in a month in a money-siphoning case

Trouble seems to mount for TMC leader Saket Gokhale as he has been arrested for the third time in a month by the Gujarat Police. According to reports, he was arrested on Thursday evening by Gujarat police from Delhi and is being taken to Ahmedabad by car.

A report by OpIndia in the case notes:

As per sources cited by Republic TV, Saket Gokhale, who was once a social media user loyal to Rahul Gandhi before joining TMC, was arrested in a different case involving siphoning of money in the name of activism. The police have found accounts linked to Gokhale in which he was receiving money, which he claimed was being used for legal fees for activism-related cases but was instead being withdrawn by him for personal finance, as per sources. It is pertinent to note that several Muslim activists had also abused Saket Gokhale demanding accountability for the money he was collecting online. It was alleged that all Saket Gokhale does is file online petitions for free, and does not follow up with his petitions in court. Therefore, he does not spend any money on his ‘activism’, and all the money donated to him by Congress workers and supporters goes towards his personal expense.

In December, Saket Gokhale had been released on bail after he was arrested by the Gujarat police over his tweet spreading fake news about Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Morbi visit. Earlier, an Ahmedabad court had remanded Trinamool Congress (TMC) spokesperson Saket Gokhale to two-day police custody.

Notably, Gokhale had shared a fabricated news report about an RTI query and its response that does not exist. He had claimed that ₹30 crores was spent on PM Modi’s Morbi visit, sharing a news clipping from an unnamed Gujarati newspaper, which was claimed to be Gujarat Samachar. But the government has said that it is fabricated and no such report was published and there is no such RTI reply. Moreover, Gujarat Samachar also clarified that they have not published such a report.

Later in the day, Saket Gokhale was reportedly arrested by Morbi Police immediately after he was released by Ahmedabad police as per the bail order. Another case was registered against him for the fake tweet in Morbi; accordingly, Morbi police detained him.

If the reports by Republic TV are to be believed, the case in which Saket Gokhale has been arrested appears similar to a case under which Washington Post columnist and self-proclaimed Muslim journalist, Rana Ayyub, is being investigated by Enforcement Directorate. Assets worth Rs 1.77 crores were also attached pursuant to the case.

On October 12, the Enforcement Directorate filed a prosecution complaint against alleged journalist Rana Ayyub in a money laundering case. The complaint was filed under Section 8 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 in a special court in Ghaziabad, in relation to the three fundraising campaigns that Ayyub ran on Ketto but didn’t utilise most of the collected money for stated purposes.

In the prosecution complaint, the ED stated that it had initiated a money laundering investigation on the basis of an FIR registered on 07.09.2021 by the Indirapuram Police Station, Ghaziabad, U.P, under various sections of IPC 1860, Information Technology Amendment Act 2008 and Black Money Act against Rana Ayyub alleging that she illegally acquired funds from the general public in the name of charity by launching fund-raiser campaigns on the online crowdfunding platform ‘Ketto’.

ED also stated that Rana Ayyub is a professional journalist and received foreign contributions without registration under FCRA. According to the statement issued by ED, the investigation revealed that Rana Ayyub launched 3 fundraiser campaigns on ‘Ketto platform’ starting in April 2020, and collected funds totalling Rs. 2,69,44,680/-, namely: 

  • Help in raising funds for slum dwellers & farmers
  • Relief work for Assam, Bihar and Maharashtra 
  • Help Rana Ayyub & her team to help those impacted by Covid19 in India.

The ED probe has found that all the money transferred to her personal bank accounts, Rana Ayyub used only around 10.8% of the fund she collected for relief work, and the bulk of the money was kept in bank accounts. The statement said, “Investigation by ED revealed that the funds raised on the online platforms were received in the accounts of her father and sister and subsequently transferred to her personal accounts. Ms Rana Ayyub utilized these funds to create fixed deposits of Rs. 50 lakhs for herself and also transferred Rs. 50 Lakhs in a new bank account. ED investigation revealed that only approx. Rs. 29 lakhs was used for relief work.”

(Featured Image Source: OpIndia)

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