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Rediff.com  » News » 'Nawab Malik has been jailed to keep him quiet'

'Nawab Malik has been jailed to keep him quiet'

By NEETA KOLHATKAR
Last updated on: March 28, 2022 09:38 IST
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'After he had exposed the Narcotics Bureau's wrongdoings, he threatened to expose the Enforcement Directorate as well.'
'So they are trying to rake up an old legal deal, distorting information and using the PMLA which did not even exist at that time.'

IMAGE: Nationalist Congress Party leader and Maharashtra Minister Nawab Malik. Photograph: ANI Photo

When Shah Rukh Khan's son Aryan Khan was arrested in what is now infamously known as the Mumbai cruise ship drug case on October 3, Nationalist Congress Party leader Nawab Malik didn't know he too would find himself in jail six months later.

When Aryan was arrested, Malik -- then Maharashtra's minister for minority development, Aukaf and skill development and entrepreneurship -- locked horns with the officer responsible, Sameer Wankhede, who was then the Mumbai zonal director of the Narcotics Control Bureau.

Wankhede has since been pulled from the controversial case and, last month, an FIR was registered against him for allegedly providing false information that he was an adult in order to procure a liquor licence.

This was one of the many accusations levelled against him by the 62-year-old Malik, who also accused Wankhede of forging his caste certificate.

After he accused Wankhede of alleged discrepancies, Malik stated that Maharashtra's Opposition leader Devendra Fadnavis and his party, the Bharatiya Janata Party, were gunning for him.

On February 23, Malik was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate for a land transaction with the late Haseena Parkar, fugitive gangster Dawood Ibrahim's sister, by retrospective application of provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act. The transactions in which Malik has been implicated are from 1999, 2003 and 2005, his lawyer told the court.

Speaking to Rediff.com Senior Contributor Neeta Kolhatkar, Nilofer Malik Khan, Nawab Malik's daughter, shed light on the battle being fought by her family.

 

Nawab Malik is a minister in the Maharashtra government. He is a Muslim. And he has been vocal about the central agencies which are allegedly being used by the BJP to settle political scores. Do you believe this is a conspiracy against your father?

I wouldn't say he has been jailed because he is a Muslim. But he is extremely vocal and he has been exposing the fact that central agencies (the NCB arrested Malik's son-in-law and Nilofer's husband Sameer Khan in a drugs case while the Enforcement Directorate has accused Malik in a land case) are being misused by the central government.

My father has not been targeting any one person or officer. He is just exposing the injustice done to numerous people; simple folk who fear to speak against any officer or agency because they are scared they will be arrested and charged with breaking sections of the law that have severe punishment.

People who heard of my father's promise to protect them came forward to share information with him.

At the same time, he prepared us for the fact that he would be hounded.

My father is not the kind of person who gets scared. He will expose any wrongdoing and speak up against any kind of injustice.

My parents taught us that 'do kapde kam pehno, do roti kum khao, lekin koi ghalat kaam mat karo (It is better to sacrifice your clothes or food than to do something wrong).'

Your father has been charged retrospectively under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act. The charging officers later admitted to a number of typos in their charges against him.

A typo can occur once or twice, but how many do they make? Four times?

They wrote in the remand that there were bags full of money.

Now, they are saying it is only Rs 5 lakhs. Twenty years ago, Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 notes existed, so why would one need a bag -- forget bags -- for Rs 5 lakhs? Did my father take chillar paisa (coins)? (Laughs).

Look at their lies. Why is such a big investigating agency making so many mistakes? Why are so many mistakes being allowed?

The court finally cleared my husband's name and said there was no evidence against Sameer Khan (Sameer Khan, who is Malik's son-in-law, and five others were arrested on January 9, 2021, by the NCB under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act).

The forensic report proved the product the NCB was referring to was tobacco and not drugs and the court ordered his release.

The story is repeating itself with my father. It is farjiwala (a case of presenting false evidence), part two.

Are you aware of this land deal which is said to have taken place over 20 years ago?

Like you said, more than 20 years have passed since this land deal was done through my uncle, who is no longer alive.

If there was anything wrong with it, it would have come up at that time itself and become a civil matter.

My brother was very young then, yet the officials are summoning him repeatedly. They are asking us -- we were just in Class 10 or Class 11 then -- about it.

And they expect immediate replies.

Just tell me, will a sitting cabinet minister -- who is holding press conferences in person on a daily basis and has promised to share what information he has with any agency -- run away?

Is the manner in which they have portrayed him and behaved with him correct?

If they had summoned him, my father would have given them all the information he has.

He has never broken any law.

It is quite clear that he has been jailed in order to keep him quiet.

After he had exposed the Narcotics Bureau's wrongdoings, he threatened to expose the Enforcement Directorate as well. So they are trying to rake up an old legal deal, distorting information and using the PMLA which did not even exist at that time.

From the bottom of my heart, I wish he hadn't spoken up.

But then, I feel hopeful because he keeps saying, 'Main kranti laaunga (I will bring about a revolution).'

Are you getting support from political circles and the Maha Vikas Aghadi government (The MVA, a political coalition created by the Shiv Sena, the Congress and the NCP to which Malik belongs, is the ruling coalition in Maharashtra)?

Everybody is supporting us -- be it the NCP, the Shiv Sena, the Congress or the MVA.

They call us, they speak with us, they try to understand the situation. They have come home and have met my mom and all of us.

We are glad that they are here for us like a family. Even my mother feels reassured.

Such gestures are very important.

Earlier, they were only close to Daddy, but they have now bonded with the entire family.

IMAGE: Nationalist Congress Party supporters protest outside the Enforcement Directorate office over Nawab Malik's arrest. Photograph: ANI Photo

Nawab Malik purchased a house from Haseena Parkar (Parkar, who died in 2014, was the younger sister of Dawood Ibrahim, one of India's most wanted criminals) legally. Do you feel that has been twisted so that the majority community feels this person, who belongs to the minority community, is anti-national?

Why can't we, as Muslims, be seen as independent of Dawood?

In the five years that my father has been an MLA, not once has there been any blemish on him.

So why is this suddenly happening now? Are the people blind? Can't they see through this plot?

And then someone like (BJP spokesperson) Sambit Patra says Nawab Malik's two daughters are married into Dawood's family.

I am married to Sameer Khan. My sister's husband's name is Moinuddin Shaikh. They don't have any connection with Dawood.

Sadly, these kinds of statements are believed by the public.

I feel our lawyers should send a defamation notice to these leaders for making such outlandish allegations.

How difficult has it been to meet your father in jail? This is the second time, after your husband's arrest, that you are facing such a situation.

It's very sad.

When Sameer was arrested in 2021, all mulaqats (meeting a family member in prison) had been stopped because of COVID-19; we were only allowed one phone call a week for five minutes. The call would automatically disconnect once your time was up.

After a few months, I was allowed a mulaqat with Sameer at the Arthur Road jail (central Mumbai), where he was imprisoned.

When I finally saw him, I was behind a glass and he was at a distance -- say five feet or more -- behind another glass. We were allowed only to speak on the phone.

I burst out crying. I could not believe we were not allowed to stand or sit close to each other. What made matters worse is the fact that I know my husband is innocent.

When I finally returned home, I was still very agitated. That's when Daddy explained how the process is used against those who are in jail.

With Daddy in jail now, we are again in the same situation. But I am better prepared; I know this is what happens and this is how the authorities wield control.

Sameer's arrest taught us that; this time, we are stronger.

IMAGE: Nilofer Malik Khan, Nawab Malik's daughter with her husband Sameer Khan. Photograph: Neeta Kolhatkar

How was it for your mother, meeting your dad in prison?

She took it in her stride.

But the process drains you physically and emotionally. You have to go early and wait, standing, till your turn comes.

You are asked for your Aadhaar card.

They send it inside and tell the police there that this person has come to meet this prisoner.

Then those policemen go and bring that person from their cell.

We would reach before 8 am and, by the time the formalities were over and we'd get our chance to meet Dad, it would be around 9.15-9.30 am.

When Mom visits Dad, I wait in the queue in her spot. The minute I see Dad, I call out to Mom and exchange places with her.

It's not easy for Mom. Mom and Dad shouldn't have to face something like this at this point in their lives.

Of course, Dad is very happy to see us. We discuss the status of his case. He clarifies certain points about the allegations against him.

At the end, he says, "Beta, take care of yourself. Don't worry. Don't lose hope. It is a judicial fight. Everything will be fine. It's just a process. I will be out soon."

Then, he raises his hand and says, "Hum kranti laaenge." We smile and reply, "Yes, hum kranti laaenge" (smiles).

Visiting him must be difficult. You had to do so when your husband was in jail as well.

It is a very difficult, and very sad, situation for my mother.

It's extremely crowded. And the situation is very different from what people think it's like.

The prisoners come from different strata of society; it's not only the poor who are jailed.

All of us who wait to see our jailed relatives there are bound into an extended family by our grief and our hope.

We look at each other for reassurance as we wait for a glimpse of our incarcerated family member.

As one person's number is called, it gives the others hope that they too will get a turn.

During this depressing wait, we are each other's support.

When I visited the jail, I saw 20 telephones and long queues of people waiting in anticipation for their turn, hopeful that they too would get to speak with their loved ones.

So far we have been allowed two mulaqats with Daddy. It's limited to one meeting a week.

Since the process is very time consuming, it is better to reach early -- say by 7.30 am -- and wait inside. Then, you have a better chance of meeting your relative.

The sad part is there are many undertrials who have not yet been proven guilty. Why is our system treating people in such a manner?

Has your father been given any special facilities?

No, he is treated like any ordinary prisoner.

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NEETA KOLHATKAR
 
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