In a stunning turn of events, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) arrested Maharashtra Minister Nawab Malik after he was grilled for nearly 8 hours in an alleged shady land deal case, here on Wednesday afternoon.
The development came as a major jolt to the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) as Malik is the first serving Cabinet Minister to be arrested in this manner, sending shockwaves in political circles.
Shortly after 3 p.m., Malik was whisked off by the ED to a government hospital for a medical check-up at the Sir J.J. Hospital and he is likely to be produced before a designated Special PMLA Court later in the day.
As he was escorted out of the ED office by police and ED, a grinning Malik sporting a white kurta-pyjama, was seen raising a fist in the air, and declaring: "Jhukenge Nahin, Ladenge Aur Jeetenge" ("Will not succumb, Will fight and Win") to his supporters as he was made to sit in a vehicle.
An ED team had visited Malik's home around 5 a.m. and taken him away for questioning in the Kurla land deal allegedly having a mafia taint.
The ED had summoned teams of the CISF and Mumbai Police security for the arrest even as a large number of Nationalist Congress Party workers staged a noisy protest outside the agency's office since morning.
Malik becomes the first sitting minister and a second senior NCP leader after the former Home Minister Anil Deshmukh was arrested by ED on November 2, 2021 in alleged corruption and money-laundering cases.
The arrest triggered hectic political activity with NCP President Sharad Pawar going to meet Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, Home Minister and other ministers.
Simultaneously, the Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) sharpened its knives and intensified efforts to bring down the government before its declared deadline of March 10.
BJP State President Chandrakant Patil demanded that now that he is arrested, Malik should quit immediately as also all other ministers facing various allegations, should resign from the Cabinet failing which the BJP would take to the streets.