The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Monday arrested Nawab Malik, Maharashtra’s minister of Minority Affairs, in connection with a money laundering case associated with the activities of gangster Dawood Ibrahim and his aides.

The 62-year-old Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader was arrested following a lengthy questioning session held by the ED on Wednesday morning.

As per ED officials, Malik was arrested under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) as he was evasive in some of his replies.

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Malik and the NCP, however, maintain that the arrest is an act of political vendetta by the BJP.

While leaving the ED office in south Mumbai on Wednesday, Malik struck a defiant note and told his supporters, “We will fight and win. We won’t bow down.”

Earlier in the day, NCP workers mounted a protest against Malik’s arrest, with party spokesperson Sanjay Tatkare claiming misuse of power by the BJP government.

“The protest is against the unjust questioning of Nawab Malik as he was exposing the BJP+NCB+CBI+ED nexus on a daily basis. We will not be cowed down. NCP will keep exposing BJP and all central agencies,” Tatkare said, as per NDTV.

NCP chief Sharad Pawar also weighed in on Malik’s arrest and told media that Dawood Ibrahim’s name had always been used in the state to defame political opponents. The 81-year-old said that a similar tactic had been used against him when he was the Chief Minister of Maharashtra.

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“I don’t know about the case against him [Malik] but Dawood’s name has always been invoked to try to defame rivals. 25 years later, the same trick is being used to harass and defame,” Pawar said, as per NDTV.

The BJP, however, rubbished claims of “vendetta politics” by the ED and said that if opposition parties were concerned about the misuse of power by central agencies, they should seek legal means of recourse.

“We [BJP] have been subjected to injustice for the last 27 months [by the state government], but when our 12 MLAs were suspended, we went to court and got justice. Similarly, if they think that victimisation is happening, they should approach the court,” said BJP state president Chandrakant Patil.