Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Nawab Malik has been arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in connection to a money laundering case involving mafia don Dawood Ibrahim and his aides. This has led to political unrest in Maharashtra.
On February 23, the ED arrested NCP minister Nawab Malik in a money laundering case linked to notorious fugitive Dawood Ibrahim.
The ED claims that Malik paid Rs 55 lakhs during the period of 1999-2003 for the possession of a 3-acre land in Kurla, whose present market value is more than Rs 300 crores, with the help of Haseena Parkar (Dawood Ibrahim’s sister), and two more associates. The remand application filed in Malik’s case stated that the acquisition of this land by Malik, and the involvement of Haseena Parkar, was an attempt to solidify Dawood’s terror network in India.
Along with Parkar, Salim Patel, a known D-company associate, has also emerged as a person of interest. After the issue came to light, it was discovered that no FIR had been lodged regarding the land grab issue, which forced ED to initiate a probe. During the investigation, some evidence reportedly showed the receipt of transactions between Nawab Malik and affiliates of Dawood Ibrahim. The agency then searched Malik’s residence and arrested him after five hours of questioning.
In November 2021, BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis had alleged that Maharashtra Minority Development Minister Nawab Malik had links to the underworld. Fadnavis, to prove his claim, said that he can show documents of five of Malik’s property deals, at least four of which can be traced to the underworld.
Hitting the national headlines is not something new for Nawab Malik. He also garnered substantial attention after alleging that the Narcotics Control Bureau’s (NCB’s) raid on Empress Cruise, on October 4, 2021, was orchestrated. Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan’s son Aryan Khan was arrested in relation to the case, and later released on bail. As the controversy over the NCB picked up steam, Malik put out a few photographs of an alleged drug dealer with Fadnavis and his wife Amruta. Although Fadnavis gave an explanation regarding the photos, a new political crossfire between the two began.
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Malik is considered to be one of the most vocal critics of the BJP government. His arrest has given rise to protests and clashes between party workers, forcing police officials outside the ED office in Mumbai to be more vigilant. Adding to the growing political strife over the arrest, ministers of the Maha Vikas Aghadi government in Maharashtra slammed the decision, calling it a ‘political vendetta’.
While questions were being raised on whether Malik will be quitting the party or not, NCP president Sharad Pawar issued a clarification that he will not ask him to quit. Reportedly, Pawar had a conversation with West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee, who took a similar decision when last year one of her cabinet ministers was arrested by the CBI in the Narada case.
“It is simple, they take the name of Dawood, particularly if a Muslim activist is involved… invoking Dawood’s name is a convenient to damage one’s reputation… I still remember when I was CM 25 years ago, similar allegations were made against me,” said Pawar in response to the ED’s move.
Shiv Sena’s Sanjay Raut also came forward in support of Malik. He said, “The way in which he was taken from his home by ED is a challenge to (the) Maharashtra government. After 2024, you’ll be probed too. Keep this in mind.”
After a preliminary investigation into the case, Nawab Malik was remanded to ED custody until March 3. BJP leader Fadnavis was noted as saying, “If politicians will be in direct contact with the underworld, then ED will have to do such investigations. All political parties should support this.”
Soon after Malik’s arrest, reports claimed that the ED had summoned the minister’s brother Kaptan Malik for questioning in the money laundering case.