BJP demands Nawab Malik’s resignation, protests outside Maharashtra assembly
A special PMLA court has sentenced Malik to 14-day judicial custody, while noting that statements of witnesses prima facie show the involvement of the NCP leader in money laundering
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) legislators on Tuesday staged a protest outside the Maharashtra legislative assembly demanding the resignation of minister Nawab Malik, who was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in connection with a money-laundering probe linked to the activities of fugitive underworld don Dawood Ibrahim and his aides.
Speaking on a motion moved by the opposition BJP on the law-and-order situation in the state, leader of opposition and former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis claimed in the assembly that Malik had knowingly entered into a transaction related to the land owned by the aides of Dawood and his sister Haseena Parkar.
“The power of attorney was in the name of Sardar Shahawali Khan and Salim Patel, who are accused in the 1993 serial bomb blasts and also the aide of gangster Dawood Ibrahim. The money out of the land deal was given to Haseena Parkar. Mumbai saw multiple blasts claiming hundreds of lives in 2005, 2006 and 2008. The real estate deals were utilised for the funding of the terrorism activities and Malik’s links in such deals are established,” Fadnavis claimed.
“It is not to satisfy our ego, but the sacking of the minister was necessary to send out a strong message that Maharashtra does not tolerate such activities. For the satisfaction of the people of Maharashtra, the removal of the minister from the cabinet is necessary,” he added.
Later, several BJP MLAs staged a protest outside the state legislature, demanding Malik’s resignation.
Meanwhile, a special Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court on Monday sentenced Malik to 14-day judicial custody, while noting that statements of witnesses prima facie show the involvement of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader in money laundering. “It is to be noted here that prima facie, there are statements of witnesses which show the involvement of the accused in money laundering,” special judge RN Rokade had observed.
Senior NCP leader Malik (62) was arrested by ED on February 23. He was sent to judicial custody on Monday. Though ED didn’t press for Malik’s further remand, it told the court that the accused was not cooperating in the investigation.
The court noted that the proceeds of crime are yet to be identified by the competent authority under the PMLA and the investigation is at the initial stage. “It is pertinent to note that the accused has challenged earlier remand orders as well as the arrest of the accused before the Bombay high court. Having regard to the grounds mentioned in the remand report, the accused is required to be remanded to judicial custody for 14 days,” the court said in its order, which became available on Tuesday.
The ED case against Malik is based on a first information report (FIR) filed recently by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) against Dawood and others. NIA had filed its criminal complaint under sections of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).
Malik on Tuesday urged the Bombay high court to set aside his arrest by ED claiming it violated his fundamental right to life and liberty.
Senior advocate Amit Desai, representing Malik, told the court that NIA was trying to connect the minister with gangster Dawood Ibrahim and cases related to the fugitive, even though his client had nothing to do with them.
“My remand paper deals all with the Dawood gang even though I am not related to it. They (ED) have tried to suggest that on February 3, 2022, they had registered an FIR against Dawood Ibrahim Kaskar. It goes into folklore around Dawood and into incidents going back to 30 years ago,” Desai said.
“They say they registered an ECIR on February 14 this year, and two other FIRs of 2017 with which I (Malik) am not concerned. But they are trying to suggest that there is a predicate offence with which I am concerned,” Desai told court.
During the assembly session on Tuesday, Fadnavis also levelled allegations against leaders of the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) that they were hatching conspiracy to frame BJP leaders, including him, Chandrakant Patil, Girish Mahajan, Sudhir Mungantiwar and Sanjay Kute by “cooking up false evidence” against them. Fadnavis also submitted multiple audio and video tapes to the assembly speaker reportedly as the proof of the conspiracy and demanded a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
“The special public prosecutor Pravin Pandit Chavan appointed in many sensitive cases by the government had taken the responsibility of framing Mahajan in a false case pertaining to a Pune-based institution. The case was registered in 2021 for the incident that took place in 2019. They had conspired to plant drugs on him to make a suitable case to book him under MCOCA (Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act). The audio and video tapes I am submitting today clarify that Chavan drafted the FIR, managed witnesses, trained them for testimony, planted proofs of blood stains and knife to corroborate the case,” he said.
Fadnavis handed over 28 pen drives containing the recording of at least 125 hours to the speaker of the legislative Assembly.
Home minister Dilip Walse Patil said he has not gone through the video tapes produced by Fadnavis and will speak on it during his reply to the debate on Wednesday.
(With agency inputs)