MUMBAI: A day after leader of opposition Devendra Fadnavisquestioned NCP minister Nawab Malik over his alleged land deals with the underworld, Malik made charges against Fadnavis, saying that the ex-BJP CM had links with Riyaz Bhati, considered a henchman of underworld don Dawood Ibrahim. Malik also alleged that during Fadnavis’s tenure as CM, persons with criminal backgrounds were appointed on state-run boards and corporations and given the status of cabinet minister or junior minister.
Malik claimed Fadnavis had taken the lead in criminalisation of politics and shielded criminals involved in the fake currency scam which allegedly took place after demonetisation in 2016. He also alleged Fadnavis was making all attempts to divert attention from the controversy surrounding NCB zonal director Sameer Wankhede, who carried out, in Malik’s words, a “fake” raid on a cruise ship on October 2.
“Who is Riyaz Bhati? During the tenure of Fadnavis as CM, Bhati was caught with fake passports, first in 2015 and then in 2020. I don’t know whether he was arrested or not, but he was let off in two days. Bhati was seen with Fadnavis at several BJP events. I don’t want to drag the PM into the controversy but Bhati had access to the PM’s event and even clicked pictures with him. He secured entry from the VIP gate. If entry for the PM’s event is so strict, how did Bhati secure a pass for it? Ultimately, the matter was settled after dons from other countries called the IPS officers here,” Malik said on Wednesday.
He alleged Fadnavis had protected a person who had been caught with fake currency notes worth Rs 14.56 crore in BKC area. A few people were then arrested from Mumbai, Navi Mumbai and Pune, he said. “… Following demonetisation, in most states, massive fake currency was seized. On October 8, 2017, DRI seized fake currency worth Rs 14.56 crore, but the case was suppressed with the blessings of Fadnavis. Notes with a face walue of Rs 8.8 lakh were then shown as seizure. At that time, Wankhede was in charge of DRI,” Malik claimed.
Fadnavis, he alleged, appointed Hazi Arafat Shaikh, elder brother of one of the accused in the fake currency case, Imran Alam Shaikh, as chairman of the Maharashtra State Minorities Commission. Hyder Azam, was appointed chairman of the Maulana Azad Minorities Financial Development Corporation, he said. Azam had been accused of illegally bringing in people from Bangladesh to Mumbai, and his second wife is a citizen of Bangladesh, Malik claimed. Malad police were investigating her antecedents, but all cases were suppressed on Fadnavis’s instructions, the minister alleged.
Munna Yadav from Nagpur, alleged to have a criminal background, was appointed chairman of Constructions Workers’ Board and given the rank of junior minister, Malik said.

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