Days after Maharashtra Minority Minister Nawab Malik was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) over the charges of money laundering, some political leaders have started making it a religious issue. Nawab Malik’s name appeared in the process of investigation after the ED conducted raids pertaining to hawala transactions while probing a money laundering case against fugitive terrorist Dawood Ibrahim and his aides in Mumbai.
On February 23, before his arrest, Nawab Malik was issued summons to appear before the ED concerning a PMLA case related to elements linked to Dawood Ibrahim and the underworld. AIMIM leaders including party chief Asaduddin Owaisi among others saw this as an opportunity to further their Islamist politics over the arrest of ‘minority affairs’ minister Nawab Malik who happens to be a ‘Muslim’.
While speaking at a public rally in Uttar Pradesh’s Siddharthnagar, AIMIM Chief Asaddudin Owaisi said, “I want to ask people from the Samajwadi Party, Azam Khan was the minister when Akhilesh Yadav was the CM. Then why is it that Azam is in Jail, while Akhilesh is out? Similarly, In Maharshtra Nawab Malik has been arrested but the current Deputy-CM from NCP (Ajit Pawar) who is accused of a massive Irrigation Scam is roaming free.” He highlighted with anger to the audience, “What is this happening? Are you not being able to connect the dots? Hence, vote for AIMIM with all the Jamaat to increase your participation and responsibility,”
Here, Owaisi was trying to say that while Muslim leaders (Azam Khan and Nawab Malik) were in jail, Hindu ministers belonging to the same parties (Akhilesh Yadav and Ajit Pawar) were spared by the investigation agencies.
On Sunday, AIMIM MP from Maharashtra, Imtiaz Jaleel reiterated the same logic while expressing his support to Nawab Malik. While talking to the media, He said, “We fully support Nawab Malik while nobody from the MVA alliance is concerned over this issue. What Asad Sahab (Owaisi) talked is true – for the scam involving thousands of crores, Ajit dada never went to jail.” He asserted, “We have expressed our support to Nawab Malik because you cannot link Muslims of this country with terrorism. We might consider tomorrow if he is accused of corruption; but if you look at Muslamans through this lens which is often used by the BJP, then why wasn’t Malik arrested earlier if you had all the proofs?”
He then claimed, “If required, we will also enter the streets and assemble at the Kranti Chowk to show solidarity with Nawab Malik. When Sharad Pawar was summoned by the ED for questioning, NCP members gathered in large numbers in front of the ED office. When a Nawab Malik or an Azam Khan is arrested, no one goes to support them,”
It was also the case, that when NCP supremo Sharad Pawar was asked to make a statement over Malik’s arrest that he tried to play the Muslim card. Alleging that the arrest of Malik is a deliberate misuse of central agencies, he said, “If there is a Muslim activist who is their opponent, it is their habit to link his name to Dawood. When I was the CM of Maharashtra, they had tried to link my name with Dawood as well. This is an attempt to harass those who are speaking against the misuse of central agencies,” Pawar was quoted.
While the ED questioned Nawab Malik over his alleged links with Dawood Ibrahim, leaders have already started questioning the credentials of the investigation, only because the accused happens to be a Muslim. The attempts of ‘secular’ politicians to communalise politics as well as to construct a narrative around an investigation concerning national security are out in open.