'Coincidence?' - Congress questions PM Narendra Modi over Mehul 'bhai' getting Antiguan passport

Congress has asked the Modi government to explain how Mehul Chowksi got an Antiguan passport.  

  'Coincidence?' - Congress questions PM Narendra Modi over Mehul 'bhai' getting Antiguan passport
File photo

NEW DELHI: The Congress party yet again made a blistering attack on the Narendra Modi government in the wake of reports that multi-crore PNB bank fraud accused Mehul Choksi has fled to  Antigua from the United States and taken the passport of the Caribbean country.

Posing a series of questions to the BJP government on Wednesday, the Congress party tweeted, ''Getting an Antiguan passport takes 3-4 months and people who are subject to a criminal investigation are ineligible.''

''How did Mehul 'Bhai' get an Antiguan passport in double quick time?'' the party sought to know from the government. 

The Congress also clubbed its tweet on the PNB scam with a hashtag #DeshKaChowkidarYaKisiAurKa (watchman of the country or someone else).

Tha main opposition party also claimed that ''on 20 April 2018, PM Modi had tea with the Antiguan PM and soon after, Mehul 'Bhai' escaped to Antigua on an Antiguan passport. Was it a Coincidence?''

The Congress attack on the government came hours after it came to light that Mehul Choksi has moved a special court seeking cancellation of non-bailable warrants issued against him, citing mob lynching as his fear if he is brought to India.

Choksi claimed that he faces a threat to his life not only from his former employees and debtors but also from jail staff and inmates. 

"There have been various cases of mob lynching in India. This recent trend of mob lynching and general public giving justice on the road is growing. Even the applicant faces a similar threat as there are several persons who have grievances and anger against him (Choksi),'' he reportedly said in his application moved before the special PMLA court.  

"As it became impossible for the applicant's company to function and the employees were not paid their salaries and debtors did not get their money back, all these persons have become agitated against the applicant and he is now facing threat to his life," Choksi claimed in his application.

Choksi stated that he never shied away from the investigation and has responded to all the communication he received from the investigating agencies. His ill health, the revocation of his passport and threat to his life are the main circumstances why he is unable to travel to India, his application said.

Special PMLA Judge MS Azmi had directed the Enforcement Directorate to file its reply on Choksi's application and has kept the matter for further hearing on August 18.

Highly placed government sources had claimed that in response to diffusion notice issued by Interpol, the Enforcement Directorate has been informed by the Antiguan authorities that Choksi arrived there this month and had taken the passport of that country, 

Choksi had fled the country in the first week of January, nearly a fortnight before weeks before country's biggest banking fraud surfaced.

The CBI has booked Choksi, uncle of his alleged partner in crime Nirav Modi, in two cases related to the scam and filed charge sheet against him.

A special court in Mumbai has issued a Non-Bailable Warrant against him. 

Armed with the warrant, the CBI moved the Interpol for the issuance of Red Corner Notice against the Gitanjali group promoter, who is one of the masterminds behind USD 2 billion banking fraud in the Punjab National Bank, but it is still under process. On this basis, request for Red Corner Notice was moved in June. 

While RCN has been issued against Nirav Modi and his brother Nishal by the Interpol, the request for such a notice against Choksi is pending with the Lyon-based international police cooperation agency, they said.

The issuance of RCN would mean that the member countries of the Lyon-based international police cooperation agency can arrest and extradite him.

(With Agency inputs)