Thursday, December 29, 2005

Jail menu has biryani too

By Mateen Hafeez/TNN

Mumbai: Prison diet means undercooked rotis, stale dal and rotten vegetables, right? Wrong. Arthur Road Jail is actually popular among undertrials as the best destination among all the prisons in the state when it comes to food.

There are three categories of food available inside. The first is ‘bissi’—free food provided by the jail. Served thrice in a day, it comprises a breakfast of tea, toast and butter. Lunch is dal, rice, vegetables and chapatis. The same menu is repeated for dinner with the addition of a curry, which has the flavour of mutton or chicken.

The second category of food is what money can buy. “There is a canteen where you can exchange
coupons for purchasing good quality roti, mutton gosht, boiled chicken and other food items.’’ A third category is home food, provided the court allows it. Dawood gangsters have anything from biryani to the best of sweet dishes. There are some who cook their own food in jail, albeit illegally.

“The prisoner stocks some amount of chapatis daily, and when he has saved upto 70 to 80 chapatis in a fortnight, he uses the dry chapati as fuel. An oil container is kept between two bricks and heated for cooking rice, chicken and other dishes,’’ an undertrial said, adding, such desperate means were adopted by prisoners who were finicky about jail food. “But of course, they must bribe jail officials for it,’’ he added.

The Times of India, December 29, 2005

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Interpol notice in dowry case

IT Professional, Parents Dump Kolhapur Girl After Marriage

By Mateen Hafeez/TNN

Mumbai: A 27-year-old IT professional Abhijeet Khatav along with his parents, who are based in Sydney and are of Australian nationality, have been listed by the Interpol as wanted for demanding dowry from an Indian. This is probably the first case where an Interpol notice has been issued in a dowry case, city police said.

Usually, a red-corner notice is issued against those accused in crimes like drug trafficking, bomb blasts, hijacking, child sexual abuse, terrorist activities, illegal remittance of foreign exchange, etc. The request for a red-corner notice was issued on the basis of a complaint filed with the Borivli police station. Interpol is expected to issue a request to the Australian police for their extradition.

Kamal Bansode, police inspector attached to Borivli police station, said the complainant, Sapna (name changed), has named husband, Abhijeet, father-in-law Suresh Khatav (57), and mother-in-law Chhaya (55). In her complaint, Sapna said that her husband, who works as Credit Officer
with M/s Haier Electricals in Sydney, had demanded Rs 5 lakh as dowry after the marriage. She further alleged that her mother-in-law Chhaya had taken away her jewellery worth Rs 85,000, while Abhijeet had cast aspersions on her integrity.

“Abhijeet’s uncle, Dashrath, had gone to meet relatives in Kolhapur, where he saw Sapna for the first time. As the Khatavs had asked him to look for a suitable girl for Abhijeet, he recommended her name for Abhijeet to his brother,’’ said inspector Bansode.

Abhijeet and Sapna met each other through video conferencing for the first time. They married on December
5, 2003, after which the couple went to Goa for a honeymoon. Within a week of the wedding, Abhijeet allegedly told her that he suspected her character.

He allegedly also demanded Rs 5 lakh as dowry. When she approached police, Abhijeet apologised and promised that he would send a visa for her once he reached Australia.

Months after Abhijeet and his family left for Australia, she received a letter from the Australian embassy, informing her that a visa could not issued to her as her husband had told Australian officials that the marriage would be annulled soon. It was then that Sapna approached the Borivli police and lodged a complaint against Abhijeet and his parents on May 21, 2004.

The Borivili metropolitan magistrate on July 21 last year issued nonbailable warrants against the three accused. Later, the extradition cell of the city crime branch took charge and sent a request to the CBI to issue a redcorner notice against the three accused. Sapna who continued with her education in the meanwhile stays with her parents in Kolhapur.



Rogues’ Gallery

Suresh


Abhijeet


Chhaya

The Times of India, December 24, 2005

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Victim’s story helps nail brothel owner



By Mateen Hafeez/TNN

Mumbai: The revelations of a girl, forced into flesh trade, have helped the police nail her tormentors for good.

Savitri Gowda, 45, probably the richest female brothel owner in the city, was convicted to three years’ rigorous imprisonment on December 14. The D B Marg police, which booked Gowda for prostitution, was forced to cement the case against her after the young girl narrated to the chairman of the child welfare panel in 2003 how she had been kidnapped, sold, raped, resold and finally forced into prostitution by Gowda and two others.

The two other women convicted along with Savitri were 40-year-old Ammani Pujari and the victim’s stepmother Pyaari Jaan Shaikh. The girl was rescued from Gowda’s brothel at Jamuna Mansion at Khetwadi near Grant Road. The victim, Shakila (name changed), now 19, was brought from Karnataka to Mumbai by stepmother, aunt Pyaari Chaand and uncle Ibrahim Chaand in 1997.

“Shakila was sold to a pimp for Rs 30,000 on a contract of one week, during which the 11-year-old was raped. Later, Shaikh, Chaand and Ibrahim took her to Jamuna Mansion, where Gowda ran a brothel. Gowda bought the child for Rs 10,000 and forced her into flesh trade,’’ said investigator Dinkar Mohite.

Naval Bajaj, who was then the zonal deputy commissioner of police, said: “It’s mostly brothel-keepers who are involved in the buying and selling of minors, thereby supporting child prostitution. A Nirmala Niketan study has said child prostitution is highly profitable and the brothel-keeper can earn over 75% of his total in
come only from minors.’’

Gowda had come to the city 29 years ago and, within a short span of three years of her stay, became the owner of a room on Grant Road, police said. Of 84 brothel rooms at Jamuna Mansion, she got hold of nine in her name and five as benami property. She then went ahead and bought a 1,000-square-foot bungalow in the Congress House area for Rs 80 lakh on January 1, 2004. Soon, she added another flat

(1,500-sq-ft, behind Apsara Cinema, Grant Road) worth Rs 1 crore to her list.

Apart from the string of residences, Gowda owns an STD/ISD centre evaluated at Rs 50 lakh near Prarthana Samaj signal. When the police turned on the heat, she bought a flat at Dadar in April this year for Rs 60 lakh, police added.

Of the nearly 500 CSWs in Jamuna Mansion, 70-80 were controlled by Gowda, who has a 12-year-old daughter and a seven-year
old son, both studying in an English-medium school. She travelled in an air-conditioned Fiat and had two drivers appointed for it.

During a raid under PITA in June 2001, at least 84 commercial sex workers, many of them minors, were rescued by the police. Shakila, who was one of them, was later sent to a rescue home at Chembur, where Andheri-based NGO St. Catherine Home took responsibility of bearing her expenses till she turned 18.


It was here on August 1, 2003, that she narrated her story before the chairman of the Child Welfare Committee, following which D B Marg police swung into action. Gowda, Pujari and Shaikh were arrested immediately but Shakila’s uncle, aunt, another accused Pujari Girja and pimp Raju Shengha are still at large,’’ said PI Rajan Katdare.

An NGO has helped Shakila marry a Kurlabased man, with whom she now stays.


MADAM RICHIE RICH

Savitri Gowda, who came to the city 29 years ago, owned her first room at Grant Road within three years.

Soon she had nine of the 84 brothel rooms at Jamuna Mansion in her name.


After buying a 1,000-square-foot bungalow in the Congress House area for Rs 80 lakh on January 1, 2004, Gowda soon added another flat (1,500-
sq-ft, behind Apsara Cinema, Grant Road) worth Rs 1 crore to her list.

She owns an STD/ISD centre evaluated at Rs 50 lakh near Prarthana Samaj signal.To escape police heat she then bought a flat at Dadar in April this year for Rs 60 lakh.


Gowda controlled 70-80 of the nearly 500 CSWs in Jamuna Mansion


The Times of India, December 22, 2005

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

At Nagpada, police marshals on a different beat

By Mateen Hafeez/TNN

Mumbai: It’s a common sight at Nagpada. Beat marshals from the Nagpada police station come out every Saturday night and from 10 pm to 1 am go around conducting a drive on their bikes. Only, it has nothing to do with the welfare of citizens. A TOI investigation revealed that the marshals carry out a weekly drive to line their pockets.

“If we give them their fixed amount, they leave silently. If we don’t meet their demands, they abuse us,” said Rasheed Khan
(name changed), a food stall owner.

This correspondent was recently witness to such an ‘extortion drive’ and found that there are even slabs for hafta payment. A paan shop owner has to shell out Rs 20 while a food seller is asked for Rs 100. They sometimes also accept payment in kind. If a beat marshal wants to eat Chinese food or biryani, they don’t claim the full amount but take the food asking the stall owner to deduct the price from the hafta.

When TOI asked deputy commissioner of police Santosh Rastogi and additional commissioner of police
(central region) S K Jaiswal informing them about the corruption, the duo did not reply. When asked what action the police would initiate against such beat marshals, Jaiswal said, “You have informed me about it and I will inquire into the matter.’’

Senior inspector Ashok Duraphe of the Nagpada police said, “I spoke to the beat marshals. They tried to be evasive but I didn’t believe them. They’ve been transferred.”

Interestingly, every stall owner in the area has also maintained a record of how much hafta has been given and to whom. They have maintained books where the receiver signs on receipt of payment and if someone else comes (by mistake) to collect the money, the stall owner shows the diary saying, “We have already paid money to other cops.”


Rate Card

Paan beedi shop—Rs 20 per week

Kabab pav,vada pav stalls—Rs 30 per week

Pulao, biryani stall—Rs 50

Chinese food stall—Rs 50 to Rs 100

Other stalls—Rs 200 onwards

The Times of India, December 20, 2005

Hunt on for Rao’s mystery aide

D K Rao

By Mateen Hafeez/TNN

Mumbai: After the arrest of gangster D K Rao, known for masterminding robberies from behind bars, the intelligence unit (operation) of the city’s crime branch is now looking for his mystery aide. This unidentified associate apparently maintained a record of Rao’s properties and monetary transactions, including collection of commission and extortion money.

“Rao reportedly took a 40% commission for carrying out robberies from jail,’’ said Dilip Patil, who is heading the probe. A Dharavi resident, Rao’s parents died some time ago. He is unmarried and has no relatives. Hence the police suspect an aide would have definitely maintained the record of his property and other transactions. However, the police are yet to zero in on the bank account where Rao kept his money before it would be sent to his mentor Chhota Rajan through hawala routes.

“Rao would instruct his men and talk frequently to Rajan using a cellphone from the jail. We are now looking for the man who used to collect extortion money and Rao’s commission for the contract robberies and deposit it in a bank,’’ the source added.

Rao was the 11th accused to be arrested in a Rs 50 lakh extortion case, which was unearthed after the arrest
of Rajan’s trusted extortionist Vicky Malhotra on July 11, 2005 in New Delhi. The arrest of Malhotra, who had been dodging the police of four states for 15 years, was followed by that of Fareed Tanasha, John D’Souza, Dharmesh Shah, DK Rao and others.

In the two months prior to his arrest, Malhotra had issued extortion threats to least 40 jewellers, business
men, builders and doctors in the city. It was the first time when a single extortionist had frequently demanded money from a large number of businessmen in a span of less than two months. So, it was not surprising when 25 of his victims came forward to register police complaints.

Details of properties left behind by the several Rajan aides who were
eliminated, either in police encounters or in inter-gang rivalry, would also be with Rao—the sole man who along with his unidentified associate kept a ‘watch’ on Rajan’s properties, amassed by ‘capturing’ those belonging to slain fellow gangsters.

TOI had earlier reported about Rajan’s technique of capturing the properties of several of his slain buddies, including Rohit Verma, O P Singh, Balu Dokre etc. “Verma, who was gunned down by the Chhota Shakeel gangsters in Bangkok in September 2000, ran a magnificent jewellery shop in Bangkok. After his death, Rajan took over the jewellery shop since his source of income has been limited now,’’ a crime branch officer said.

O P Singh, who was strangulated to death in the Nashik Jail in November 2002, had several benami properties, bought with extortion money, at Madh Island, Mira Road and Bhayandar. After his death, Rajan, under whose name the properties were bought, allegedly captured all, including a lodge in Kathmandu.

The modus operandi was that every gang member had to inform Rajan about the use of their extortion money. They usually bought property, the details of which would be passed on to Rajan, who upon their death would replace the caretakers of the properties with his own men.


The Times of India, Decembere 20, 2005

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Rivals locked in jail warfare

By Mateen Hafeez/TNN

Mumbai: Rivalry between the Dawood Ibrahim and Chhota Rajan gangs doesn’t just play itself out on mean streets, but flares up even inside prisons, especially in the Arthur Road jail. In fact, the recent arrests of former D-gangster Abu Salem and the Dubai-based don’s associate Riyaz Siddiqui point to a revival of D-company in the famed jail.

Salem and Siddiqui, who are both in police custody, will soon be sent off to jail, which police sources say, will only enhance chances of internal clashes between the Dawood gang and the members of the Chhota Rajan gang. And the fall-out of these clashes, as in most of the earlier cases, will be borne by the Arthur Road jail authorities.

A recent clash on August 24 between Rajan gang members—Vicky Malhotra, Fareed Tanasha, Sajid Joses and Vineet Yadav, and Dawood gang members—Salem Kutta and Ehtesham Shaikh—took place outside the jail’s dispensary. Though a jail official quickly broke it up by dragging Kutta back into the barrack, he managed to communicate the incident to some of his supporters, who began pelting bricks at Malhotra and his accomplices, who in turn retaliated, inflicting severe head injuries on assistant sub-inspector Shabuddin Mulani in the process.


This was not the first such face-off inside the jail where the authorities suffered. Dawood’s ‘absconding’ aide Feroz Konkani, who fled from J J Hospital after killing two cops on May 4, 1999, had assaulted three Rajan men inside the jail before being shifted to Thane central jail in 1997. A source from the jail, citing example of D-gang’s terror in the Arthur Road jail, said, “If they are near a toilet or sitting somewhere, nobody dares to go near. They are very organised. Any untoward incident in the jail brings them together immediately while nobody dares to save their rivals. Moreover, if they feel that Rajan gang members are allowed more facilities than them, it becomes very difficult for jail authorities to control them.’’

It all started on August 8, 1985, when Dawood aide Abdul Hameed, after suspecting that his cellphone was being tapped, pulled out a revolver and fired at a jail warden Baba Saheb Tukaram. Although the latter survived the attack and Hameed soon overpowered, a police search unearthed one revolver, two daggers, imported cigarettes and bottles of liquor.

A departmental action resulted in the suspension of four jailers held responsible for negligence. Sources said that in 2003, at least six Dawood aides were deported from the UAE and sent to the Arthur Road jail. These included the don’s brother Iqbal Kaskar, his aides Mustafa Dossa, Anil Parab, Rajkumar Sharma, Ejaz Pathan and Tarique Parveen. Before their arrival, at least 50 accused of 1993 serial bomb blasts had been languishing in the jail.

The Times of India, December 17, 2005

‘Vested motives did Nani in’

Sujata Nikhalje


By Mateen Hafeez & Somit Sen/TNN

Mumbai: Criminal advocate Satish Maneshinde on Friday alleged that a crime branch officer indicted in an IB (intelligence bureau) report had ‘falsely implicating’ Chhota Rajan’s wife in an extortion case. Rajan is believed to be working for the Indian intelligence agencies.

While Maneshinde did not name the officer, he said he had adequate proof to show that the arrest of Sujata, Rajan’s wife, pointed to ‘vested motives’.

Claiming the extortion charges against her as false and concocted, Maneshinde asked, “If she demanded extortion money in January, 2004, as the police claim, then why did it take them 22 months to register a case?.’’ The advocate, known for representing Sanjay Dutt in the serial blasts case and for appearing for ‘encounter specialist’ Praful Bhosale in Khwaja Yunus case, said, “Even in a small case, the police summon the accused at least
10 times. But, here they chose to directly arrested my client.’’

Indicating that the crime branch cop had deliberately concocted the case, the lawyer said, “The report has been sent to higher authorities and soon you will see action on it.’’

The police are now ascertaining whether Sujata can be booked in the Vicky Malhotra case, in which six persons have already been chargesheeted. Another of top Rajan aides D K Rao was arrested on Thursday. Refuting charges of hounding the gang’s members, deputy police commissioner Dhananjay Kamlakar said, “We have been keeping a surveillance on the gang’s activities for the past few months and have only decided to strike at the right moment.’’

The police are also trying to track down Bharat Nepali, who is believed to be shuttling between Mumbai and Nepal occasionally. The police will also question a few more family members of Rajan in the case.


The Times of India, December 17, 2005

Friday, December 16, 2005

Cell jammer plans jammed in jail

By Mateen Hafeez/TNN

Mumbai: With the discovery that Chhota Rajan aide D K Rao was merrily using a cellphone to keep in touch with mentor, the Arthur Road prison authorities’ tall claims — about ensuring that inmates were incommunicado with the outside world — have fallen flat.

Rao, who was booked under the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act on Thursday, was arrested after the crime intelligence unit (operation) recorded over a dozen telephonic conversations between him and Rajan two months ago. Rao has been in jail for the last seven years.

TOI reported how mobile phones were being used by Rao and other Dawood gang
members inside the Arthur Road jail on August 23. Officials blame a delay in implementing a plan to instal a mobile-jammer device inside the jail (despite five trials) for the security lapse.

The mobile phone, used by Rao in the Arthur Road jail, was allegedly provided by three constables posted at the jail, officials said. Rao, arrested for opening fire on a police team and attempting to kill them in 1998,
was sentenced to a decade in prison.

Officials say the plan to instal jammers, which can disconnect communication on any frequency, has been delayed because of lengthy state government paper-work. The jammers, priced between Rs 50,000 and Rs 5 lakh, have been here in India for six years.


Officials say the Arthur Road prison, one of the most sensitive jails in the country with over 75 gangsters of gangs led by Dawood, Rajan, Arun Gawli and Abu Salem gang, is on top of the list of jails considered for the installation of jammers. But over two dozen mobile phones were circulating in the jail and constables would be assigned (by gangsters) to get them refilled.

“Several bomb blast accused also use mobile phones and the
crime branch has arrested one person for sending mobile phones to the jail,’’ deputy commissioner of police (detection) D D Kamalakar said. SIM cards bought under fake names are sent inside the jail through undertrials who attend court frequently. “We have seized several mobile phones in the past and action was taken against those who were found guilty,’’ inspector-general (prisons) Shrikant Savarkar confirmed.



The Times of India, December 16, 2005

Jewellers demand more security for couriers

PLAYING IT SAFE

By Mateen Hafeez/TNN

Mumbai: Following the spate of robberies in which delivery boys carrying cash and gold ornaments were waylaid, jewellers and courier firms in Kalbadevi and Zaveri Bazaar have demanded intensive patrolling in the area.

Considered as the hub of Mumbai’s gold trade, the busy bylanes of these two areas house around 300 courier companies which service the over 1,000 jewellers by carting large amounts of mostly readymade gold ornaments to various parts of the country.

Moreover, smaller jewellers land at Kalbadevi to buy gold ornaments at wholesale rates.

Dispatching a gold consignment involves wrapping it in an inconspicuous cloth or jute packaging and send it along a small group of escorts, who as a rule do not include uniformed or armed security guards, to avoid attention. The pack
age is then taken to either CST or Mumbai Central and booked as a regular parcel. Often, the courier firm deploys a staffer to guard the package during journey.

The last two years have seen at least three major robberies on the stretch between Metro Cinema and CST, wherein valuables worth over Rs 70 lakh were robbed. Sources said that last year, a police team had
spotted a gang of robbers fleeing in a taxi, but could not nab them as their vehicle ran out of fuel. Apart from these, there have been a number of incidents involving smaller sums.

Kalbadevi street, incidentally, falls in the jurisdiction of two police stations—Pydhonie and LT Marg. Interestingly, the area also has the police commissioner’s office apart from Esplanade court, Azad Maidan police station and the office of the Special Task Force. Courier firms
in Kalbadevi say that it is high time the police post three to four vans in the area. “Increased patrolling and mobile policing on this road will prevent incidents of robbery,’’ said a courier agent.

However, the city police insists the area is safe and “nakabandis carried out regularly’’. Deputy commissioner of police Naval Bajaj, who claimed that not a single inci
dent had taken place in the area in the past seven months, said, “We have already increased the patrolling and it has helped.’’

And some of the courier firms did vouch for the police’s record. In the most recent case, they point out, the robbery was committed by a gang who trailed the couriers to Nampally railway station in Hyderabad. “Our belongings were sent to CST railway station in heavy security. The robbers did not get a chance here. So, they targeted us outside
the state,’’ Sanjay Jain, owner of Marudhar Express Couriers said.

Employees of Marudhar Express were robbed of five kilograms of gold worth Rs 35 lakh near Hyderabad on November 6 this year. The police have arrested six persons in this case thereby solving other robberies as well.

The other aspect to these crimes is the fact that most of the gold that is transported is anyway insured against theft or damage in transit, which means neither the buyer nor the seller incurs a loss in the event of a robbery.

A jewellery shop owner said, “Several jewellers who sell goods on wholesale rates to retailers outside Mumbai don’t care if their jewellery is robbed because they claim insurance for each and every item. Once they take a Block Policy Insurance (insurance of fixed amount for a fixed period), even if it is robbed or damaged they can claim the insurance policy’’.

The Times of India, December 16, 2005

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Better halves have done dons’ work

By Mateen Hafeez/TNN

Mumbai: Chhota Rajan’s wife is not the only one to take up her husband’s extortion racket after he left India. Most of the better halves of the Mumbai underworld took over the reins of the family business after their husbands fled the city.

Seven women, including Chhota Shakeel gang’s Amina Bi, Tabassum Shaikh, Shamim Baig alias Mrs Paul, Rubina Siraj Sayeed, slain gangster Suresh Manchekar’s wife Supriya, his mother Laxmi and Chhota Rajan’s wife, Sujata Nikhalje, have been booked under Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act. The first to be booked under it was Amina Bi.

Tabassum Shaikh was booked on 17 January 2002 with six others for trying to kill Aziz Malik, owner of a Chinese restaurant in Andheri.

The court fined her Rs 5 lakh and sentenced her to five years’ rigorous imprisonment.

Shamim Mirza Baig, Chhota Shakeel’s girlfriend, also booked under MCOCA, was reportedly the most powerful woman in Byculla jail. D-gang member Rubina Siraj Sayyed would go to the courts to meet gang members who would be brought to the court for hearing, officials said.

The Times of India, December 15, 2005

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Gang busted after 3-yr run

Name: Ayyub Chikna, 27 Resident of: Muzaffar Nagar, Delhi Wanted in: 15 cases of robbery


Targeted Delivery Boys Of Courier Firms That Handled Jewellery, Cash

By Mateen Hafeez/TNN

Mumbai: Twenty-nine-year-old David Thevar was on his way to sell a stash of looted jewellery when he was intercepted at a crowded bus station in Tamil Nadu. His interrogation led to the arrest of five more persons and the busting of a gang that targeted courier agencies handling large amounts of jewellery and cash.

The property cell of the crime branch puts the value of the stolen loot, most of which is yet to be recovered, at over Rs 1 crore. Inspector Arun Chavan, who is leading the investigation, said that along with Thevar, the other accused—Adhishtaraj Nadar (26), Punnaswamy Nadar (33), Mani Kollar (28) and Ibrahim alias Langda Sharif (54)—have been remanded to police custody till December 22.

“Every one of them is involved in five cases each, including four big robberies. The most recent was on November 6 this year,’’ said Chavan. “Two of the accused boarded the Hussain Sagar Express
from CST; some jewellery and other cargo was being sent to Hyderabad on the train by the Marudhar Express courier company. On reaching Hyderabad, the duo along with some aides there robbed the employees of the courier company while they were waiting for their company’s vehicle outside the railway station. The accused then fled with the booty worth Rs 35 lakh to Tamil Nadu.’’

The Hyderabad police had informed their counterparts in Mumbai that a Maruti 800, found abandoned outside the railway station, was a stolen car which could be traced to Mumbai.

For Ayyub Chikna, the gang leader, this was the 15th major robbery he had planned. Chikna (27) had assembled the group inside Arthur Road Jail where they were all serving terms. “Chikna picked men who were to be released in the near future and managed to gather information on courier agencies,’’ said Chavan. Five of the gang’s members are still at large though.

“The gang had been active for the last three years. They would keep a watch on their target and after detailed planning they would rob them. Their arrest will definitely help us solve some other cases,’’ DCP (crime) D D Kamalakar said. Police said two accomplices of Chikna, Majeed Shaikh (26) and Aslam Pathan (30), had been recently shot down in an encounter near Bandra-Kurla Complex by inspector Vijay Salaskar of the anti-robbery squad. The duo had planned to rob a consignment of jewellery while it was going from Kalbadevi to the Santacruz airport.

The earliest case that could be traced to the gang was one in 2002 when they intercepted a taxi in which two employees of a courier company were travelling. Their second robbery was near St Xavier’s College at Marine Lines in September 2004. Similarly, in July this year, four of the accused, travelling in a stolen vehicle, robbed a courier firm’s staff of jewellery near Cama Hospital.

WHEN 13 MEN LOOTED JEWELLERY WORTH OVER RS 1 CRORE Metro Cinema, 2002: Rs 21 lakh
A gang of four intercept a cab carrying two employees of a courier firm, Andhra Express. They smash the taxi’s windscreen, threaten the two with choppers and make away with jewellery of over Rs 21 lakh

Marine Lines, Sep 2004: Rs 35 lakh
Gang waylays employees of a courier company and robs them of jewellery and ornaments worth over Rs 35 lakh. A case is registered at Azad Maidan police station.

Cama Hospital, July 2005: Rs 21 lakh
Four men in a stolen vehicle ambush a group travelling in a private vehicle. They threaten the passengers and make away with jewellery worth over Rs 21 lakh.

Nampally, Nov 2005: Rs 35 lakh
Robbers trail employees of Marudhar Express from CST to Nampally station near Hyderabad and rob them of jewellery while they wait for a company car. The booty is worth Rs 35 lakh.


It all started at Arthur Road Jail

The gang of 13, involved in over 10 robberies in Mumbai and surrounding suburbs, came together under one Ayyub Chikna (27) at Arthur Road Jail three years ago. Chikna also put together an information network to rob delivery boys working for courier firms that specialised in handling large sums of cash and jewellery.


On the run
Three gang members were arrested from Tamil Nadu. Three other accused were nabbed in Dharavi. The remaining five are still on the run.





Two shot down
Inspector Vijay Salaskar of the anti-robbery squad along with officers from the property cell shot down two of the accused, Majeed Shaikh (26) and Aslam Pathan (30), near Bandra Kurla Complex in July this year. The duo had planned
to rob a courier firm of a consignment of jewellery which was on its way from Kalbadevi to Santacruz airport.

The Times of India, December 13, 2005

Friday, December 9, 2005

State approves legal officers for police dept

ARMING THE COPS

By Mateen Hafeez/TNN

Mumbai: The state government has finally approved a police proposal to appoint law officers and legal advisors to the department to help push up the percentage of convictions.

“With the home department’s sanction, we will soon create 27 posts for law experts to will provide us with legal assistance to ensure a better conviction rate,’’ Mumbai police commissioner A N Roy said.

Every zonal deputy
commissioner of police will be assisted by at least one law officer; regional additional commissioners and the police officer in charge of the economic offences wing (EOW) will be provided deputy legal advisors; and joint commissioners of police (crime, ATS and law and order) will be supported by legal advisors. The chief legal advisor, who will head the team of law officers, will assist the commissioner of police.

The directorate of prosecution located near Crawford Market, which used to be a part of the city police, was given the status of an independent
body a few years ago; the city police has not had any legal advisory committee since then. Roy said the new legal body would work under the city police as the directorate of prosecution did in the past.

Owing to lack of legal officers, the city police could not secure convictions in several important cases. These include the state’s first Pota accused Mohammed Afroze (acquitted by a special court), don Dawood Ibrahim’s deported associate Riyaz Siddiqui, who
was accused of conspiring a double murder in Bandra in 1996 (bailed out), Rajkumar Sharma who conspired the killing of a Chhota Rajan gangster was acquitted (as the cassettes in which his conversation was recorded went missing).

Similarly, Dawood’s brother Iqbal Kaskar was acquitted in a murder case for want of timely legal help. Moreover, the conviction rate in economic offences are less than 20 per cent.

Several senior officers opined that a legal assistance from the law experts will definitely help the police in securing more convictions.

The Times of India, December 9, 2005

Bar raised for crime branch, skills on test



By Mateen Hafeez/TNN

Mumbai: The process of getting a much-coveted posting in the elite crime branch has just become tougher, thanks to joint commissioner of police (crime) Meera Borwankar’s efforts to make the section “more professional.’’

“The Mumbai police force is the quickest in the country and the crime branch is the best division within it,’’ said Borwankar. To make it more effective, the criteria for posting in the crime branch and the economic offences wing (EOW) has been changed. Henceforth, an officer with a degree in commerce or law will be given preference. Earlier, a policeman could look forward to a crime branch posting at least once in his career. However now, one has to be an expert in detection, investigation, interrogation, as well as be dedicat
ed, computer savvy and possess leadership qualities to earn a place.

“Commissioner of police A N Roy has given us the freedom to select officers. I want to make the crime branch an ideal and completely professional,’’ said Borwankar.

At present, a case is handed over to the crime branch when the concerned authorities feel it requires han
dling by more efficient staff. Cyber crimes, economic offences, fake currency rackets, cases relating to organised crime syndicates, crimes against minors and women need special expertise for detection.

With the selection procedure becoming tough, an officer willing to join the crime branch will have to be a braveheart. “We prefer officers who have handled or can tackle hardened crimi
nals.
The officers are trained for quality paper work and they are taught to take a case to its final stage, conviction,’’ Borwankar said. Putting forward her own example, the joint commissioner said, “Every week I study two cases regularly. One is about acquittal and the other is about conviction. We take the points based on which an accused was acquitted or convicted. The study is to make sure that we don’t lose the case.’’


The Times of India, December 9, 2005

Wednesday, December 7, 2005

MCOCA slap for D-gang conduit

Underworld don Dawood Ibrahim

Mistry Took Care Of Financial And Legal Matters

By Mateen Hafeez/TNN

Mumbai: The crime branch claims to have found the ‘missing link’ between Dawood gang members behind bars in Mumbai and those who operate underworld activities from abroad. According to the police, Rasheed Mistry, a hawala operator and extortion money collector for gangster Chhota Shakeel, was also the man who took care of the D gang’s financial matters and legal expenses.

The crime branch on Tuesday booked Mistry alias Raju Bhai (33), a resident of Dongri, under the stringent MCOCA for his alleged nexus with the underworld. Mistry was intercepted by the immigration authorities after they suspected him of travelling on a fake passport at Sahar airport on November 30.


During interrogation, the police recovered four fake passports and several credit cards from his possession. He was about to leave for Dubai on a fake passport bearing the name Shoeb Ahmed Raza, when intercepted.

“We have been looking for him for the last one-and-a-half
years. His four accomplices were arrested in 2004 but he evaded us. He would travel very often but under fake identity,’’ deputy commissioner of police (detection) Dhananjay Kamalakar told TOI.

An investigating officer from the crime branch said Mistry reported to gangster Faheem Machmach alias Fatwa in Dubai. He would also coordinate with Tahir Merchant alias Tahir Taklya for the collection and distribution of extortion money. “Chhota Shakeel and Mach
mach have accomplices who go and collect extortion money. Then it is handed over to Mistry who sends half the money to Dubai and the rest is distributed to D gang members who are behind bars. Each gangster’s kin would be paid between Rs 4,000 and Rs 6,000 per month to run their families,’’ an officer said.

Earlier, on June 10, the crime branch had arrested Rubina Siraj Sayyed, said to be the girlfriend of Chhota Shakeel. Her arrest was followed by those of Mohammed Ameen alias Mansoor alias Anthony alias Junior, Uday Pawar alias Pankaj and Rubina’s husband Siraj Sayyed. The police said Rubina would go to all the courts to meet the gang members who were brought to court for hearings. She would pay some money to them and also their families. The court premises was the only place where Rubina would meet all the accused.


The Times of India, December 7, 2005

Saturday, December 3, 2005

Family was informed many hours later

Shivkumar Jaiswal alias Shakal

Cops To Carry Out Demo To See How Undertrial Drowned

By Mateen Hafeez/TNN

Mumbai: The family of Shivkumar Jaiswal alias Shakal (23), who died in the Mahim police lockup early on T h u r s d ay morning, alleged that the police did not inform them about the death for several hours, choosing to keep it a ‘secret’.

“Around noon a constable came to my house and escorted me to the Dadar police station. The police made me sit for over an hour and then I was sent back home. I didn’t know what was happening. They didn’t even inform me about my son’s death,’’ a mourning Hiravati,
Shakal’s mother, said. According to the family, Rajkumar, the eldest son of the family, was finally informed about the incident at around 1.15 pm.

The body of Shakal, who was arrested in mid November on theft charges, was removed from a 3.5fttall water drum inside the police station. The post-mortem report said he died due to drowning. How
ever, Shakal’s family refuses to buy the police’s suicide theory. “How can a person more than 5 ft tall die in a drum 3.5 ft high?’’ Shakal’s sister, Hausladevi, asked.

Shakal’s mother, who was widowed 12 years ago, stays in Heera Seth Chawl, near Worli Koliwada bus depot. Her son, who worked in a pizza shop near Grant Road, was caught stealing cash from his employers. It was his second offence. “We had arranged his engagement
in June this year. I met him in the Bhoiwada court on Thursday and he promised he would never commit a crime again,’’ Hiravati told TOI.

Shakal was the fourth in a family of five siblings. His brothers, Rajkumar and Mahendar, work in a spice making plant in Vashi as daily wage earners.

Police said Shakal was arrested
by the Gamdevi police after the robbery at his employer’s office. Later, he was sent to the custody of the Dadar police station on November 22 for a burglary at Dhanlaxmi Jewellers from where he had allegedly stolen ornaments worth Rs 3.44 lakh on September 9.

Hiravati, who last met her son on Wednesday, said Shakal was hopeful that he would be released on December 5. “He told me he would go to my home town in Uttar Pradesh
along with his sister. But we didn’t know he would be killed in the lockup,’’ Hiravati said.

Senior officers probing the death in custody—the eighteenth in the last five years in umbai—are bemused. “It’s one of the most unusual cases I have ever come across in my life. So the probe has been handed over to the crime branch,’’ joint commissioner (law and order) Arup Patnaik said.

Patnaik said custodial deaths were usually accidental, suicides, natural deaths or due to torture. “It is still not clear how this man died. There is no question of suspending anyone until we come to know the exact reason for the death.’’

The police is likely to conduct a demonstration to verify if it was possible for Shakal to sit in the drum and drown himself. The doctors are also waiting for a report to see Shakal suffered epileptic seizures, which may have caused his drowning.


The Times of India, December 3, 2005

Thursday, December 1, 2005

Get ready for a quiet new year party

By Mateen Hafeez/TNN

Mumbai: The countdown to new year has begun. But, Mumbaikars may have to welcome in 2006 without the accompaniment of live bands, loudspeakers and fire crackers.

Loudspeakers will be allowed till midnight, two hours beyond the 10 pm deadline and so will bursting of crackers and music. But after 12, everything has to fall silent. Mumbaikars, known for their boisterous and noisy new year parties, have to abide by the SC order, police said.

“One can celebrate even after midnight, but without loudspeakers. And no fire crackers after the deadline,’’ said city police chief A N Roy. He maintained that police will do their jobs as they did during Navratri and Ganeshotsav.

Social activist Sumaira Abdulali said, “There is a sizeable number who may not celebrate the new year. The law has been formed keeping the majority in mind.”

The Times of India, December 1, 2005

Monday, November 28, 2005

Cops scan phone records of Salem and his shooters


Extradited gangster Abu Salem

By Mateen Hafeez/TNN

Mumbai: The Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) investigating the Pradeep Jain murder case is busy scanning through records of telephone conversations between the killers and gangster Abu Salem to gather ‘material evidence’ in the contract killing case.

One of the accused, S R Singh Yadav, owner of Labh Constructions, had paid money to Salem to eliminate Jain, owner of Kamla Constructions, over a property dispute. Jain was killed outside his office in Juhu on March 7, 1995.

“The amount (supari) given to the underworld and, then to the unemployed shooters is also being probed and verified,’’ a police officer said. The supreme court has noted that the accused were associates of Dawood Ibrahim and Salem and were in constant touch via telephone, getting directions and receiving renumeration.

A source indicated that the ATS was planning to confront Salem with the two persons convicted in the case. The police may summon them for questioning or verification on a production warrant. A investigating team was
busy in a meeting with ATS joint commissioner, K P Raghuvanshi, for over two hours on Saturday afternoon.

The apex court, which convicted three persons in this case, had observed: “To this underworld the unemployed, thoughtless and dejected youths are attracted, and bosses of gangsters leave no stone unturned to utilise services of such misled youth for the commission of crime.’’


The TADA court had tried 13 persons in this case: seven were absconding and of them, three (Saleem Haddi, Rajesh Igve and a former police constable Uday Pawar) were shot dead in encounters. Six others—Subhash Bind, Shekhar Kadam, Subash Yadav, Bharat Chhaganlal Ragani, Subedar Singh and Shaukat Ali Jamal—were arrested but the special court had acquitted all of them in 1997 on “benefit of the doubt’’. Since under TADA, an appeal lies directly before the SC, the state challenged the acquittal. The SC then sentenced two of the shooters, Bind and Kadam, to life imprisonment, while another accused Subhash Yadav was awarded two years’ RI.

Salem who was extradited from Portugal on November 11 was earlier in CBI custody, then sent to Arthur Road jail and now will stay in the lock-up under the ATS’ custody till December 2.

“Our teams are collecting all types of evidence related to this case to prove the accused’s (Salem) involvement. The case is a decade old but we are not leaving a single point to assure that the culprit be punished,’’ police commissioner A N Roy said.


The Times of India, November 28, 2005

Friday, November 25, 2005

Pathology lab workers held for extortion

By Mateen Hafeez/TNN

Mumbai: Sleuths from the anti-extortion cell arrested Sangeeta Sawant (22), a pathology lab receptionist, on Thursday in an extortion case. The police say the brain behind the conspiracy is one Salahuddin Khan (45), based in Dubai, who had lured Sawant saying he would marry her.

Sawant, along with Rasheed Qureishi alias Chacha (49), was arrested on charges of trying to extort eight lakh rupees from a textile merchant.

Police have been given custody of both of them till December 7.

Assistant police inspector Anil Naik said the duo were acting on the instructions of Khan, a security supervisor in a construction company in Dubai. Khan, wanted in 36 cheating cases, fled to Dubai in 2000.

Senior inspector Prakash Boparai said that in September Khan had called up Metro Pathology Lab in Mazgaon where Sawant was a receptionist. He asked Sawant if she could find out contact details of a person in south Mumbai. Sawant then carried out his request.

Khan later gave seven to nine other numbers to her to find out details about them. After getting these details, Khan would threaten the victims claiming to be an associate of gangster Chhota Shakeel.

Meanwhile, Chacha who works as a lab assistant in the same lab came to know about Sawant’s activities and joined her. He was given the job of collecting extortion money.


On November 10, Khan called up the textile merchant from Dubai and asked him to pay Rs 10 lakh. After negotiations, the merchant agreed to pay eight lakh rupees. Meanwhile, he lodged a complaint with the anti-extortion cell and on Wednesday night the police caught Chacha near Mazgaon court. The police then arrested Sawant. Police have recovered phone numbers of nine persons who may have been threatened by Khan.

The Times of India, November 25, 2005

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Dawood ‘cashier’ on CBI wish list

Dawood Ibrahim gang member, Tahir Taklya

Extradition Will Throw Light On Fake Currency Racket Run By D-Gang

Mateen Hafeez
Mumbai: After gangster Abu Salem’s successful extradition, the CBI is now eying the extradition of littleknown Tahir Merchant alias Tahir Taklya, currently lodged in an Abu Dhabi jail. Taklya is one man who can throw light on the Dawood Ibrahim gang’s fake currency racket in India.

Taklya (49), police sources said, handled all the financial dealings of the Dawood gang before the 1993 serial bomb blasts. After the blasts, he fled to the UAE and was assigned a similar job of keeping accounts of hard cash. He was also in charge of printing and cir
culating fake Indian currency from Dubai, which reached India via Nepal.

Taklya, a south-Mumbai resident, was caught by the Abu Dhabi police on March 27, 2004, on charges of carrying weapons. The extradition request is still pending with the UAE authorities. The CBI also announced a reward of Rs five lakh for information about Taklya.

Meanwhile, crime branch sources said several members of the Dawood gang who were arrested earlier had disclosed that Taklya was also assigned the job of taking care of legal expenses of Dawood gangsters in India. He would allegedly arrange money through
hawala.

The police had in such a similar case arrested Rubina Shaikh for her nexus with the D-gang. Shaikh was booked under the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act. She would come to the court frequently and provide legal assistance
to Dawood aides. She was also said to be having an affair with gangster Chhota Shakeel. The police said that during her interrogation she has also mentioned Taklya’s name in connection with a ‘similar job’.

The CBI is thus preparing for the second round of welcoming back the wanted accused. After the January 19, 2003 shootout in a snooker club in UAE where Dawood gang member Sharad Shetty was gunned down, as many as six Dawood men were deported to India.

The deportees included Dawood’s brother Iqbal Kaskar, his associates Riyaz Siddiqui, Rajkumar Sharma alias Chikna, Anil Parab,
Tarique Parvin, Mustafa Dossa alias Mustafa Majnoun and Ejaz Pathan. Siddiqui was released on bail because of lack of evidence.

Shetty was the betting kingpin for the Dawood gang in the UAE. He would administer the entire betting syndicate in the underworld.

After Shetty’s killing, Taklya was assigned the job to take care of betting, fake currency circulation and keeping record of all monetary transactions.

Sources said since mid 90s Taklya along with Aaftab Batki was handling the fake currency racket. Batki is believed to be hiding in Thailand.

The Times of India, November 24, 2005

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Media glare keeps Salem kin away

Court Grants Abu Lais 15 Minutes To Meet His Brother

By Mateen Hafeez/TNN

Mumbai: “Abu Salem’s family is eager to meet him but they are scared of the media, ‘’ said the gangster’s lawyer, Rashid Ansari, who had come to the CBI’s Nariman point office to hand over the TADA court’s order on Saturday. The court has sanctioned the plea of Salem’s brother to meet the don, who is in CBI custody.

Salem’s younger brother, Abu Lais, will be meeting the don for 15 minutes, said sources.

A source close to the lawyer said Abu Lais was in Mumbai on Saturday but did meet his brother because of the media. “The media persons are posted here roundthe-clock so we are thinking
what to do in this situation,’’ Ansari said.

According to Ansari, who claimed to be the gangster’s nephew, two brothers of Salem—Abu Hakim and Abu Jaish—also wanted to come to the city to meet him since they had not seen the don for the past 13 years.

Soon after Ansari came to the CBI office, the reporters, photographers and cameramen present there mistook him as Salem’s brother and tried to speak to him. The photographers clicked hundreds of pictures within a couple of minutes. Traffic outside the CBI office was jammed for sometime.

Ansari said Salem’s mother Jannatun Nisa was worried about her son and also wanted to join Abu Lais. But
the family decided that only Abu Lais should meet Salem.

Salem is the second son in the family and his youngest sister is married to a smalltime businessman in Azamgarh. “His brothers are farmers. Salem left home in the late ‘80s. He last visited Mir Sarai in 1991. I practice in Lucknow but headed for Mumbai soon after Salem was extradited. I spoke to my senior advocates and came to Mumbai,’’ said Rashid.

Ansari said Salem’s family was clueless about his ‘marriages’. He never informed his family about them, the sources said.

Ansari is one of the lawyers to represent Salem in court. He is also representing Salem in a forgery case in a Lucknow court.

The Times of India, November 20, 2005

Friday, November 18, 2005

I have got three film offers: Tarannum

Tarannum is hugged by her sister outside Byculla jail

By Mateen Hafeez/TNN

Mumbai: Having discarded her hijab for a salwar-kameez and with a steaming plateful of mutton biryani in front of her, Tarannum Shaikh, the most glamourous blot on Mumbai’s police force, talks about her two long months in Byculla jail.

“I was kept with murderers, thieves and drug peddlers,’’ says the ‘crorepati’ bar dancer who was arrested in September on a raft of charges ranging from betting to conspiracy. “But thankfully, I met Preetii Jaiin.’’

Jaiin, the aspiring actress who was sent to jail for allegedly trying to target filmmaker Madhur Bhandarkar, was a source of solace. “Whenever I was worried about the case and my family, Preetii helped me cope with my trauma,’’ says Tarannum, who practised the Ramzan rigour of rising before sunrise and fasting through the day. She added, “There were only five lights and fans for 50 women.’’

Her night shift at Deepa Bar may be a thing of the past with the ban on dance bars, but with three offers from the film world, Tarannum is not stuck for an alternative career. The first offer was received even before her life became a public spectacle.

“Nitin Manmohan (producer of Dus), whom I respect very much, had spoken to me over the phone. When I was in the lock-up, he spoke to my mother about my role in the movie. I have two more offers which I don’t want to talk about now,’’ she says.

Before Bollywood came calling, Tarannum had set her sights skywards.

Panscholi came to bar with someone: Tarannum

By Mateen Hafeez TIMES NEWS NETWORK

Mumbai: Revealing her dreams of becoming an air hostess, former bar dancer Tarannum Shaikh, who was released on bail in a betting case on Wendesday, said, “After I left my job at Deepa Bar a few months ago, I wanted to join a course to become an air hostess, or do an airport crew course. But then the police arrested me for betting.’’

The 24-year-old dancer has a diploma in computer management from an institute at Millat Nagar. But all that the diploma has got her so far is the charge of hacking, which the police have been unable to substantiate.

Her mother, a diabetic and heart patient, has been in a state of shock ever since her daughter’s arrest. This is the second major upheaval the Shaikh family has been through. It was the Babri riots of 1992-93 that first upturned their lives. “During the riots, our Sion house was set on fire. We asked everyone to help but nobody came. The government gave us a house at Oshiwara with other victims. I started working (as a bar dancer) to earn money for my family.’’

The job at the dance bar, where she was obviously a
hit, changed the fortunes of the family. Tanishq, the bungalow on S V P Road in Andheri, with its dish antenna, is a symbol of this success and was one of the things that drew police attention to the ‘crorepati dance girl’.

With the biryani polished off and Tarannum appearing more relaxed, it was time to pop an awkward question: did actor Aditya Panscholi visit her bar along with Sri Lankan cricketer Muthiah Muralitharan? “Panscholi did come along with someone to our bar long ago,’’ she replies. “We girls were excited when we saw him and did
n’t bother to notice who was with him. Now police are saying the other man was a cricketer. But we don’t know.’’

Yes, she did go to Dubai with 12 other girls for a show in 1997. But she is less candid when it comes to commenting on the police. “The police have the right to question a person if they suspect him,’’ she begins cautiously, “but if they had released me earlier, I would have been obliged to them. I admitted that I placed bets but I didn’t know it was a crime. They were friendly bets. I want to live a normal life and will be happy if left alone.’’

Punter held in betting case
Mumbai:
Close on the heels of Tarannum Khan’s release on bail, Mumbai police arrested cricket punter Bhavesh Upadhyay in the same case on Thursday.

DCP (crime) Dhananjay Kamlakar said Upadhyay would be produced before a magistrate on Friday. The police said Upadhyay was a “big catch’’ as he had a diary and a laptop, with crucial information on the cricket betting syndicate, in which bookie Milind Dheeraj Nandu alias DJ and Tarannum were allegedly involved. It is not known whether the police have recovered the laptop, though sources said they have seized a diary from him.

Sources said the laptop contained data on the bets laid on various one-day international matches. “Upadhyay was an assistant to DJ and was a part of the cricket betting syndicate. We have also come across 157 codes and mobile numbers,” said Kamlakar. TNN


The Times of India, November 18, 2005

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Salem’s lawyer denies CBI has seized diary

By Mateen Hafeez/TNN

Mumbai: Oves A Siddique, the lawyer defending Abu Salem in the Tada court, on Wednesday denied that the CBI had seized a diary containing ‘vital information’ from his client. According to Siddique, “CBI did not seize any diary from Salem. If the CBI had seized such an ‘incriminating’ document, the agency would have mentioned it in the remand paper’s seizure column. It’s only media speculation that the diary contains secrets of several celebrities.’’

Two days ago, television channels and newspapers carried reports of a diary being seized by investigators. The reports said it contained names of two top Bollywood actors, two cricketers, politicians and several bookies who were believed to have been in touch with Salem. “Everyone is talking about an incriminating diary. But where is it? If investigators have found one, then why are they not talking about it even after so many days?’’ Siddique said. Speaking about the evidence in the case, the lawyer said, “On the basis of evidence available, Salem may be convicted for five years only.”

The city crime branch, meanwhile, was collecting records of gangsters who may have worked for Salem. “Salem will not confess anything so we are putting together a record of gangsters who either worked for him or were killed in encounters. It will help us nail him in cases where he had ordered killings for extortion,’’ said a senior officer.

The Times of India, November 17, 2005

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Failed producer under cop shadow

Adil Farooq

By Mateen Hafeez/TNN

Mumbai: While the city police is busy checking the current status of all cases related to gangster Abu Salem, one of them involving Adil Farooq, managing director of Faisal Kamal Films is also being examined by the police. Farooq had allegedly forced several filmstars to sign up for his movie Tum. However, shooting for the movie never took place.

“Farooq, a New Delhi resident, was released on bail in 2003 and since then there has been no information regarding his whereabouts,’’ a police officer who was part of the investigating
team said on Monday.

While the police may try Salem only for two cases mentioned in the extradition papers — the Ajit Diwani murder case and the Pradeep Jain killing — the police do not want to miss any opportunity to prose
cute Salem in other cases. Salem was the most dreaded extortionist in Bollywood and had threatened many producers for overseas rights.

“The offence is two years old. We will examine this case again since it would give us more information about Salem’s nexus with Bollywood,’’ deputy commissioner of police (detection) Dhananjay Kamalakar said.

Farooq, producer of Tum, was arrested by the criminal intelligence unit (CIU) on March 2, 2003, on charges of forcing actors to sign for his movie and allegedly forging actor Bipasha Basu’s signature on a
contract. Farooq confessed that he did it on the instructions of Salem.

Farooq was the only accused to be arrested in this case. Later he revealed that he was employed for Faisal Kamal Films as supervisor for Rs 5,000 a month.

Several actors who were signed for the movie were also questioned. The police said that film’s mahurat was organised in November 2002. The cast included Jackie Shroff, Saif Ali Khan, Prem Chopra and Aftab Shivdasani. The shooting, scheduled in the UAE, never took place since the producer was caught before he could start shooting.


The Times of India, November 15, 2005

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Old friends await Abu’s arrival in jail

Mateen Hafeez I TNN
Mumbai: Members of the Dawood Ibrahim gang, cooling their heels at the Arthur Road jail, are awaiting old buddy Abu Salem’s arrival at the prison.

Salem was kicked out of the D-gang after a dispute with former colleague Chhota Shakeel. But that did not ruin his friendship with the other gang members. When TOI visited the jail, a Tada accused, who was arrested on charges of keeping weapons at his residence, said: “Salem was a good buddy. He was very sharp, intelligent and grew in the gang very fast. He made enemies faster than friends.”

Asked whether there was any problem within the jail since members of Rajan, Arun Gawli, Ashwin Naik and other gangs were housed within the same premises, a Dawood gang member said: “People were saying that Iqbal Kaskar (Dawoods brother) would be harmed in the jail but they were just rumours. There is no danger.’’

Another Tada accused said they had no problem with Salem since they had never fought on any issue. “The fight was between Salem and pav takla (Shakeel’s nickname),’’ he said. Referring to Salem’s relationship with former members, he added: “If you have good relations with a person and someone does not share your sentiment, it doesn’t mean it will affect your relationship with him.’’

The Times of India, November 13, 2005

Cops try to track down witnesses in Salem cases

By Mateen Hafeez/TNN

Mumbai: The extradition of Abu Salem over, the city police are trying to establish contact with over 250 witnesses named in the 30 cases registered against the former Dawood aide.

Many of the cases are a decade old and it will be tough for the police to contact the witnesses. In most of the cases, Salem’s co-accused have been tried and convicted or let off. Salem’s entry will require the prosecution to bring back the witnesses.

A senior officer, who headed several anti-Salem operations, said it would be highly difficult for the police to contact many of the witnesses. “Mumbai is a city of migrants and a lot of people live on rent. In the last 10 years, most of the witnesses might have changed their houses or contact numbers and a few of them could have migrated to other areas. So it
will be difficult for police to keep tabs on them,’’ he said.

The more high-profile of Salem’s cases are the 1993 serial bomb blasts, the Gulshan Kumar and Ajit Dewani murders and attempts on the lives of prominent film personalities, such as Rajiv Rai and Rakesh Roshan. But there are equal
ly a number of lesser-known instances in which Salem was booked for murder, attempt to murder and kidnapping. These included the killings of a watchman employed by a builder in the western suburbs, an NRI in Kandivli and a real estate agent in Santa Cruz.

“It’s a difficult job to get
the witnesses again since there is a possibility that they might have changed their residence. However, we have their old addresses and they will be contacted again,’’ said deputy commissioner of police (detection) Dhananjay Kamalakar.

Of the 30 cases in which Salem is named as the prime accused, trials have conclud
ed in 21 and many of the accused and co-accused have either been convicted or acquitted. Most of them date back to the period when Salem had fled the country. In nine of the cases, there was no trial since no concrete evidence was found and witnesses didn’t come forward.

A senior officer said in these cases, the witnesses had not turned up despite the absence of Salem. It is unlikely that they will testify against him. “However, we will do everything to protect the witnesses in these cases,’’ he said.

Even then it would be a tall order. Prominent criminal lawyer Majeed Memon,
who has represented several bomb blast accused, said in any criminal trial the judge acts upon the evidence and the eyewitnesses. “The evidence evaporates with the passage of time and witnesses either vanish or forget the event they are deposing on.’’

In the present situation, he said, if the trial has already concluded and it is reopened because of the advent of a new accused (Salem in this case), the prosecution is bound to have a tough time establishing its case. Firstly, because they may not be able to secure the presence of witnesses and secondly the witness, even if available, may have a short memory and may not be able to stand the test of a searching cross examination. “The result is that the cases, however serious they be, cannot be established beyond any doubt,’’ Memon said.


City police commissioner A N Roy said the police will do everything possible in securing conviction in as many cases as possible. “If needed we will post more officers for the investigation. Every action for conviction including, legal formalities, bringing witnesses, producing evidence will be done because we would like to make case as strong as possible,’’ Roy said.


THE HISTORY SHEET

• Killing of non-resident Indian Harish Bhatia at Kandivli on June 13, 1995

•Murder of watchman, Qamruddin Khan, attached with the Kulsumbai builders, on December 28, 1994

• Murder of real-estate agent Sayeed Mugal at Santa Cruz on July 23, 1994

•Attempt on the life of television actor Feroz Khan who played the part of Arjun in the TV serial Mahabharat, at Bandra on July 1, 1994


• Attempt on the lives of police constables Mahadev Nanavre and Sanjay Desai at Juhu police station on December 20, 1994

The Times of India, November 13, 2005

Saturday, November 12, 2005

HE WAS A SCARED BOY



When he was arrested in 1991 for extortion,Abu Salem shivered in front of a cop fearing for his life. But somewhere down the lane he became a manly don

By Manu Joseph/TNN

Not everybody likes to come home. Mumbai police know that. In recent years they have been unaffection ate receivers of gangsters deported from Dubai and elsewhere in the region which have an unusual method of extradition. Like in the case of Tariq Parveen, a top aide of Dawood Ibrahim, the goons are first put in a plane headed to Mumbai, and when the flight has taken off, the home ministry in Delhi is informed. Mumbai’s cops then frantically rush to the airport to nab the unescorted criminals. But in the case of one of their most wanted men, Abu Salem Abdul Qayoom Ansari, the package landed from Portugal smoothly. It was a tame end to the folk tale of the second-most newsworthy Indian criminal, the 5 foot 4 inch multimillionaire with unascertainable wealth in the Middle East.

According to CBI records, Abu Salem was born in 1969, in Mir Sarai, Uttar Pradesh. It is believed that his father was an advocate who died about twenty years ago in a motor cycle accident. He has three brothers, a sister and an old ailing mother. The fam ily today is said to have a modest assort ment of small shops that sells spare parts and clothes. Mohammed Shahid who describes himself as a family friend, says that the family feels the pain of Abu Salem because he is blood but beyond that there is no bond. For nearly two decades, the family claims, it has
had nothing to do with him.

The boy who grew up in UP selling trouser zippers and clothes, became something else after intermission. He was 16 when he left home and came to Mumbai, possibly after a brief stint in Nepal. He sold vada pav in Bandra and
did several other odd jobs before becoming a clothes merchant. Somehow, he got acquainted with the city’s mafia and was eventually introduced to Dawood Ibrahim, probably by gangster Anees Ibrahim. He is believed to have served as an underworld car driver before being promoted as arms supplier.

It was around this time, in 1991 when A A Khan, then additional commissioner of police, north west Mumbai,
heard of a thug trying to extort money from small time businessmen. “I sent two men to go pick him up. When he was presented before me, he appeared to be an ordinary scared miserable chap who thought we were going to bump him off. He was so small time. There was nothing impressive about him.’’ Salem was released soon but the routine fingerprint record that was taken would come to haunt him. When Salem was in Lisbon fighting India’s extradition attempt, the only proof that he was indeed Salem was provided by the fingerprint and photographs taken after his arrest by A A Khan.

This characterisation of Khan of a petrified lad is very different from the perception of Abu Salem by his victims. After being released from jail for his petty extortion attempt, his ascent in the underworld was spectacular. He rose very quickly to become an integral part of the don’s inner circle with a specialty in extorting from the Hindi film industry, channelling illicit money into film production, forcibly getting the dates of stars, and usurping overseas rights. He continued more aggressively on this path after his estrangement with Dawood Ibrahim who had by then evolved into being some sort of a paid protector of filmdom. His friction with Shakeel and Dawood’s favouring of Shakeel is said to be the reason behind Salem’s split from the
D-Company.

According police sources, Salem had a nexus with Ali Budeshi, a Bahrain-based gangster, with whom he joined forces to embarrass Dawood. Every time Salem would attack the film industry, it was considered a snub to the don.

By the standards of gangsters at least, Abu Salem was said to be good looking. In fact, in the leaked Bharat Shah tapes, the reference to a character called chikna was first mistaken for Hrithik Roshan before cops privately
confirmed to journalists that it was Abu Salem’s street name.

Though he terrorised the film world, he was also an incorrigible fan who was taken in by the skin and glamour of the industry. Subash Ghai, in an interview with this reporter a few years ago said while admitting that Salem had called him up asking for overseas rights of the film Pardes, “He actually started the conversation this way, ‘Sir, I want the rights for Pardes. Don’t mistake me. I have been your fan ever since I saw Karz.’’’ When Ghai told Salem that the matter of overseas rights was already settled, Salem very respectfully asked for a print of the film so that he could pirate it.

He is known to have made such polite requests to several film-makers. Struggling actors in his vigil have found jobs after he made pleasant calls.

Abu Salem, in many ways, typifies Mumbai’s mafia of the nineties that was eventually swatted by the policy of encounters. He dreamt big, talked big, loved the fair beauty of film stars and cherished his power over them. He is also known to make a philosophy out of loyalty. It’s hard to miss the fact that his association with still-born starlet Monica Bedi has lasted longer than most marriages.


Pahlaj Nihalani claim The police to have foiled a plan by Salem to target the film-maker and shot dead two men in an encounter


Rajiv Rai attempt There was on an his life at his Tardeo office. He survived because of the presence of mind of a police guard

Mukesh Duggal was The producer murdered in a housing colony in Juhu. He was suspected to be a frontman for Salem who had double-crossed him

Ajit Diwani actors The secretary Manisha to Koirala and Aftab Shivdasani was shot dead by two Salem aides at his Oshiwara office in June 2001

Dinesh Anand The small-time actor was shot dead by Salem at National Park in
Borivli because he was a close associate of Mukesh Duggal

(With inputs from Meenakshi Sinha, Somit Sen and Mateen Hafeez)

WHO: Music baron Gulshan Kumar
WHAT: Killed in D N Nagar
WHEN: August 1997

The music mogul was repeatedly threatened by Salem himself for extortion. When he refused to pay up, he was gunned down outside a Shiv temple by Salem’s men


WHO: Film director Rakesh Roshan
WHAT: Shot at in his office
WHEN: January 2000

Roshan was asked to part with the overseas rights of his film ‘Kaho Na Pyaar Hai’. When he refused, two men fired six bullets at him. One hit him on the arm


WHO: Film-maker J P Dutta
WHAT: Extortion calls
WHEN: May 2000

Was targeted for his film ‘Refugee’. The person believed to have been assigned the task of firing at Dutta was gunned down in an encounter


WHO: Film-maker Subhash Ghai
WHAT: Extortion calls
WHEN: August 1997

Threatening calls were made to Dutta before the release of ‘Pardes’ starring Shah Rukh Khan and Mahima Choudhary. He complained to the police chief


WHO: Actor and producer Aamir Khan
WHAT: Extortion calls
WHEN: June 2001

He was threatened and asked to part with the overseas rights of his film ‘Lagaan’. The police tracked down four men in the case and gunned them down





The Times of India, November 12, 2005

Saturday, November 5, 2005

Gangster-author pokes fun at city cops



Babloo Shrivastav Claims Committing A Crime In Mumbai Is Easy In First Novel

By Mateen Hafeez/TNN

Mumbai: He was a dreaded contract killer who ran a kidnapping ring across several states. An erstwhile Dawood associate who has been behind bars for the last decade, Babloo Shrivastav is a man haunted. Adhura Khwab (The Incomplete Dream), a veiled memoir sold as the gangster-turned-writer’s first attempt at fiction, now reveals hidden chapters from a life which moved from the volatile campuses of UP to the murky underworld of Mumbai.

From his prison cell at Naini near Allahabad, Shrivastav looks back on his stint in Mumbai, where he was a key Dawood man, as one devoid of challenges. Although several of his cronies were gunned down in encounters, Shrivastav has his principal character holding forth on the loopholes in the law. Arun Bhai, who’s virtually Shrivastav’s alter ego, looks down on the policing skills of Mumbai’s law enforcers.

In a section of the book, Bhai instructs gang member Chunky to inform all his accomplices about the plan of action and call for reinforcements if required.

“If there is a problem, call the other team which is in Gujarat,’’ he says. Chunky gently responds that the back-up guys may be wary of operating in Mumbai. Bhai shoots back, “Why? It’s the easiest place (for committing a crime).’’

Shrivastav, 43, goes on to present the picture of a city teetering on the edge of chaos, thanks to law enforcers who look the other way. “For the serial bomb blasts, at least 100 people must have worked under one boss for months together. But the police remained unaware.

The Mumbai police is the fastest
in the country but only in implementing bus and traffic rules, not in tackling criminals,’’ Bhai lectures his men.

Talking about smuggling contraband, Bhai says, “Initially we have to ‘take care’ of the assistant collector, assistant commissioner and the clearing agents. We can say that our containers are carrying oil or chemicals and these officials (who have been paid off) make sure that our stuff gets cleared.

Nobody is bothered about what’s in the container, electronic items, oil or RDX or AK-47.’’ Incidentally, crime branch and customs officials had unearthed a cache of firearms and ammunition this year at Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust, which was hidden in containers carrying grease.


The title of Shrivastav’s 232-page novel is a reference to his famous falling out with the D-gang and his desire to see the don brought to book. The “incomplete dream’’ that Shrivastav writes of is Dawood’s arrest. “He is an accused in the serial blasts and should be arrested. But it’s difficult because he has friends in every department of the government,’’ the writer says.

Referring to his rivalry with the Dawood gang, one of his men even describes them as double agents who worked as informers for Interpol. In a conversation with Mirza, one of his trusted men, the latter suggests that he leave Dubai. “Bhai aap kuch din ke liye yeh jagah chhod dijiye. Bhai chahe jahan bhi jau bahut savdhani se nikalna, woh log (D-gang) Interpol ke bahut bade
mukhbir (infomer) hain,” says Mirza. “Mirza Bhai, yeh kya kareinge mukhbiri. Interpol ko ham se zyada in ki talash hai. Mein khud unki mukhbiri kar doonga,’’ Bhai replies.

Over 20,000 copies of the book have already been sold. Published by Nai Sadi Book House, it was released on October 14, the gangster’s birthday, nearly 11 years after he was taken into custody.

Shrivastav, an arts graduate with a degree in law, had moved from student politics to a life of crime, running an organised ring of kidnappers who targeted businessmen in the north.

After he moved to Mumbai, Babloo Shrivastav’s gang made headlines with some high-profile abductions in the city.


KILLER’S LIFE IN CITY


Two kidnappers from the gang, Shahid Khan and Parag Jain, were shot down by the police at
Andheri (east) in 1998.

Customs commissioner L D Arora was killed by Shrivastav’s men in Allahabad. The Dawood gang had faced a tough time during Arora’s tenure in Mumbai.

Shrivastav also plotted the kidnapping of Mumbai-based businessman Mittal in 1995. Mittal was rescued and his two kidnappers were shot dead.

Vyas alias Lala, owner of Mehndi bar at Malad, was kidnapped by Shrivastav’s trusted associate, Archana Sharma.


BOOK IS HIS PERCEPTION: DCP
Deputy commissioner of police (detection), Dhananjay Kamalakar, said he has not read the book so far. “If Shrivastav has said Mumbai is the easiest place to commit a crime, he should not forget two of his men were killed while trying to kidnap a city-based businessman.
The crime record of the last 10 years shows that the underworld has been wiped out, there has not been a single underworld kidnapping this year and no killing for extortion. Whatever he has written in the book is his own perception,’’ said Kamalakar.





The Times of India, November 5, 2005