Shiv Sena, Congress back Sharad Pawar ahead of his visit to ED office, prohibitory orders imposed in South Mumbai

The police have imposed prohibitory orders outside the Enforcement Directorate's office at Ballard Pier in South Mumbai in view of NCP chief Sharad Pawar's planned visit on Friday.

Joint Commissioner of Police (CP) Vinay Choubey and a team of police on Friday arrived at the residence of Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar's residence ahead of his visit to Enforcement Directorate's (ED) office in connection with a money laundering case.

Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Nawal Malik on Friday claimed that police have been detaining party leaders since last night in view of the workers' announcement to accompany their leader Sharad Pawar to the Enforcement Directorate (ED) office in a money laundering case on Friday. "The police have been detaining NCP workers from yesterday night itself. I think this sort of action against the party workers is not right," Malik told ANI here.

In the meanwhile, BJP's ally Shiv Sena too backed the NCP chief. "People do not believe on the charges leveled against him. They have faith in Pawar. There is no proof against him," said Sanjay Raut.

Senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge alleged that the Bharatiya Janata Party was trying to malign leaders' image ahead of Maharashtra polls. "Sharad Pawar is a known leader, and if he himself is ready to join the probe, it is clear that BJP is trying to malign the image of people before the upcoming elections. BJP is trying to weaken the political parties and their leaders. We have seen what BJP has done with TMC, Congress, TDP, SP and others," he said.

Pawar, named in a money-laundering case by the ED in connection with a scam at Maharashtra State Cooperative Bank, has said he will visit the ED office, even though it has not summoned him yet. NCP workers had staged protests in Mumbai earlier when the ED named Sharad Pawar in the case.

Anticipating similar protests on Friday, orders prohibiting movement of groups of people under section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure have been imposed outside the ED office. A late Thursday night communication from the police said prohibitory orders have also been imposed under the jurisdictions of Colaba, Cuffe Parade, Marine Drive, Dongri, Azad Maidan, J J Marg and MRA Marg police stations in South Mumbai.

Pawar has appealed party workers not to gather outside the ED office. "As mentioned during my press conference yesterday, I will be visiting the Mumbai ED office at Ballard Estate tomorrow, Friday 27 September, at 14.00 hrs. @MumbaiPolice @NCPspeaks," Pawar tweeted earlier in the day. "I appeal to all my NCP cadre and supporters not to gather near the ED office premises," he said.

The veteran leader has been maintaining he was not associated with the bank in any capacity and questioned the timing of the registration of the case which comes just weeks ahead of the October 21 Assembly polls in Maharashtra. The ED has filed a money laundering case against Pawar, his nephew Ajit Pawar, a former deputy chief minister, and others in connection with the scam.

An Enforcement Case Information Report, equivalent to a police FIR, has been registered by the central agency under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act. The case is based on a Mumbai Police FIR which had named former chairmen of the bank, Ajit Pawar, an ex-deputy chief minister of the state, and 70 erstwhile functionaries of the cooperative lender.

(Inputs from Agencies)

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