ED questions Nawab Malik; Sharad Pawar alleges misuse of central agencies
Maharashtra minister Nawab Malik arrived at the ED’s office in Mumbai at around 7.30am after officials visited his residence and asked him to join its probe in a case against fugitive don Dawood Ibrahim
MUMBAI: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) began questioning Maharashtra minister Nawab Malik on Wednesday morning in connection with a money laundering case against fugitive don Dawood Ibrahim and his gang.
Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar hit out at the Centre over the questioning calling it another example of misuse of central agencies. He said they knew his party colleague Malik will be harassed as he was speaking against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led central government.
People aware of the matter said ED officials visited Malik’s residence and asked him to join its probe. They added Malik was being questioned about the purchase of a property from one of the convicts of the 1993 Mumbai blasts.
Malik has been a vocal critic of the BJP over the alleged misuse of central agencies, including ED, against the ministers in the Shiv Sena-led government and their families.
Pawar said there was nothing new in Malik’s questioning. “...Malik was speaking openly [against the Centre]. We were sure that he is going to be harassed,” Pawar said. “It is simple to link a Muslim [political] worker with Dawood [Ibrahim]. I also faced similar allegations when I was the chief minister. An environment was created [against me] which lasted for some 25 years. Link people with a name, harass and defame them by misusing power. The same is happening in this case.”
NCP lawmaker Supriya Sule said Malik was not given any notice or summons. “The way Nawab bhai was making revelations, I am not surprised over the ED action as we have been getting such threats through tweets and allegations. It is unfortunate to see that politics has come to this.”
Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut called the questioning a challenge to the state government. “...Malik has been continuously speaking against injustice and unmasking them. So, they are sending the ED after such people. Malik is a Cabinet minister and ED officials have picked him up for questioning...this is a challenge for Maharashtra. We are confident he would be back home by evening.”
Raut said the misuse of central agencies will not last beyond the 2024 national polls. “[BJP leader] Kirit Somaiya has given files against some people who are in the BJP now. But no summons is sent to them.” Raut said they will file a complaint with the ED against the people who are now with the BJP.
Raut said he will expose officials of central agencies allegedly shielding Rishi Agarwal, the promoter of ABG Shipyard in connection with the ₹22,842 crore banking fraud case. “Who is Agarwal? ...There is some force behind all this in the government. In the coming days, I will expose all these matters, no matter what consequences I have to face. I will expose all the officers. I will speak against injustice and for the good of the nation.” He added he will expose the central agencies and show how hollow they are and are crumbling under the pressure of the ruling party to muzzle the opposition.
BJP leader Ram Kadam rejected the criticism and alleged Malik purchased a land parcel from an aide to Ibrahim for peanuts. “[The land] was about to be seized by the government. Despite this, the state government and the ruling party leaders are crying foul and calling it a vendetta. Why cannot an agency initiate action against such a deal with a gangster.”
The ED on Monday also questioned Ibrahim’s nephew, Alishah Parkar, regarding some business allegedly linked to Ibrahim’s D-Company. Parkar was called to the ED office along with certain documents. Ibrahim’s brother, Iqbal Kaskar, is under ED custody.
The ED last Tuesday raided at least 10 locations in Mumbai and neighbouring areas, including Parkar’s residence, in connection with the money laundering case. It also questioned some businessmen last week.
ED is investigating the alleged money laundering aspect of the activities of Ibrahim’s gang. It has registered a case on the basis of two first information reports against Kaskar and others. Kaskar has been accused of using Ibrahim’s name to extort money from builders.
On February 3, NIA registered a case against Ibrahim, who has been designated as a global terrorist.
Kaskar’s lawyer told a court that his client, who has been in jail since 2017, has been booked in one case along with Ibrahim, and even in that he was acquitted. “Just because he is a brother of Dawood, they have arrested him. He has not committed any offence. However, he is ready to co-operate with the investigators.”