Mumbai (The Hindu): The NCP on Thursday released photographs of BJP leaders, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and others with Riyaz Bhati, an alleged accomplice of gangster Dawood Ibrahim. There are over a dozen charges of firing, land grabbing and extortion against Mr. Bhati.
“Mr. Bhati was absconding after the 1993 Mumbai blasts till 2007. He was arrested in 2015 but was mysteriously released within 15 days. He is known as Dawood Ibrahim’s man in Mumbai,” Nawab Malik, chief spokesperson, NCP, alleged.
According to Mr. Malik, Mr. Bhati holds two passports with different names and birth dates with passport numbers G3128659 and Z2479378. He alleged that Mr. Bhati was arrested on October 29, 2015 after a Red Corner notice was issued against his name by Interpol, following a tip-off that he was to visit Dawood in Europe. “But he was released within 15 days,” he said.
“How can a person with this background meet the Prime Minister? How can he be given two constables for his protection? At a time when the Central government plans to hunt down Dawood Ibrahim, a person close to him poses for photographs with BJP leaders,” Mr. Malik said.
He also alleged that Mr. Bhati had threatened the principal of Wilson College to ensure a vote for BJP’s Mumbai unit chief Ashish Shelar in the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) election. He also claimed that Mr. Bhati is part of BJP’s Mumbai council, and demanded his ouster.
Under fire from the NCP, the BJP threatened Mr. Malik with a notice for defamation. “We deny any relations of the said person with BJP leaders. The party will file a defamation suit against Nawab Malik for making unsubstantiated allegations,” BJP spokesperson Madhav Bhandari said. He claimed that Mr. Bhati was seen with Mr. Shelar as he was an MCA member and Mr. Shelar was a candidate.
“NCP chief Sharad Pawar was contesting for president. He should be in a better position to answer questions about Mr. Bhati,” Mr. Bhandari said. The BJP, however, did not elaborate on security extended to Mr. Bhati, or his photographs with Mr. Modi and Mr. Fadnavis.
The latest salvo from the NCP adds to controversy surrounding BJP leaders over their keeping the company of alleged goons. Recently, photos of Mr. Fadnavis with Baba Bodke, a known gangster from Pune, went viral on social media. The party has also come under fire for sharing stage with and getting to criminals to join the BJP.
Shiva Patil from Kolhapur, who was jailed for 14 years, was recently made an office-bearer of the BJP’s Mathadi workers’ union. Relatives of gangster Chhota Rajan have joined the Mumbai BJP. Lalit Kolhe, an MNS leader who was externed from Jalgaon, joined BJP during the CM’s visit last week. Gangster Pavan Pawar, who was found in possession of illegal firearms in the midst of communal tension in Nashik two weeks ago, too joined the BJP a few months ago.
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