UPDATE: 14:46 p.m. IST -- The Enforcement Directorate Friday summoned Vijay Mallya on March 18.
Liquor baron Vijay Mallya, against whom a consortium of Indian banks have moved court, took to Twitter to condemn the "media witchhunt" and claimed he was not an "absconder." Mallya reportedly left India on March 2, even as the banks had sought his passport be seized.
"I am an international businessman. I travel to and from India frequently. I did not flee from India and neither am I an absconder. Rubbish," Mallya said in one of his tweets Friday. "As an Indian MP I fully respect and will comply with the law of the land. Our judicial system is sound and respected. But no trial by media."
Mallya then attacked a news channel, accusing it of libel and slander, and hit back at what he called a "media witch hunt," claiming it "escalates into a raging fire where truth and facts are burnt to ashes."
Mallya's secretive departure from India, even as banks have sought to recover thousands of crores of rupees from him, has led to a major debate in the country, even reaching the houses of Parliament, where the Congress party Thursday attacked the BJP-government of letting him slip out.
Mallya's company owes banks more than Rs 9,000 crore, and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said in Parliament Thursday "banks will go on to recover the entire amount due to them."
Mallya flew to London last week, according to the Times of India. Earlier this week, the Debt Recovery Tribunal (DRT) ordered freezing of the Rs 515 crore settlement deal, given to Mallya as a severance package by Diageo Plc after he stepped down as chairman of United Spirits Ltd (USL).
The State Bank of India, which is leading the consortium of lenders, said in a media statement Thursday it had moved the DRT the day after the Feb. 25 settlement deal.