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Maharashtra ministers sit on protest against Nawak Malik’s arrest

Mumbai, February 24

Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar and various other state ministers sat on a dharna here on Thursday to protest against the arrest of their cabinet colleague Nawab Malik by the Enforcement Directorate in a money laundering case.

Pawar was the first to reach the protest site close to the statue of Mahatma Gandhi near the state secretariat Mantralaya.

He was later joined by state Home Minister Dilip Walse Patil, Health Minister Rajesh Tope, Revenue Minister Balasaheb Thorat, Water Resources Minister Jayant Patil, Housing Minister Jitendra Awhad, Food and Civil Supplies Minister Chhagan Bhujbal, Relief and Rehabilitation Minister Vijay Wadettiwar, Minister of State for Home Satej Patil and MoS for Tourism Aditi Tatkare.

NCP MP Supriya Sule and state women’s commission chairperson Rupali Chakankar were also present.

Talking to reporters, Thorat claimed that central probe agencies were being used to silence political opponents.

“This is unfortunate and a black chapter in the country’s history,” the Congress leader said.

Jayant Patil, who is also the state NCP chief, said the allegations against Malik are “baseless”.

Malik would respond to all the allegations of terror links against him in the court, he said.

The BJP’s “attempt to overthrow the MVA government” had not been successful yet; ‘the action against the serving cabinet minister is part of such a move”, he claimed.

Malik (62), the state minority affairs minister and NCP’s chief spokesperson, was arrested on Wednesday after being questioned for about five hours at the Enforcement Directorate’s office in south Mumbai’s Ballard Estate area. He was later produced before special judge RN Rokade, who remanded him in the ED custody till March 3.

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