Sunday, August 28, 2005

Jails to keep gangs away from each other

The Arthur Road jail

By Mateen Hafeez/TNN

Mumbai: Dreaded gangsters in prisons will henceforth be moved around so that they stay out of each other’s way.

This was one of the plans the authorities were working on in their effort to prevent flare-ups like the one between members of the Dawood Ibrahim gang and the Chhota Rajan gang inside the Arthur Road jail on Thursday, officials said.

Deputy inspectorgeneral (prison) Sandeep Bishnoi confirmed the decision taken by the jail authorities: “We will seek permission from the court to shift the hard-core
and troublesome gangsters from the Arthur Road prison to the other prisons in Maharashtra. We have also instructed jail superintendent Jayant Naik to take adequate measures so that the gangsters from the rival gangs should not converge at a single place.’’

Binshnoi said he was satisfied with security in the jail but added that there was a need for more vigil. The jail authorities have also been told to deploy more force when hardcore criminals are taken from one barrack to another.

The Times of India, August 28, 2005

Friday, August 26, 2005

Qureishi bought Sadaf Manzil for Rs 45,000

Babu Mohammed Qureishi, the owner of Sadaf Manzil, was arrested and remanded to custody on Thursday

By Mateen Hafeez/TNN

Nagpada: The owner of the ill-fated Sadaf Manzil Babu Mohammed Qureishi, who was arrested and remanded to custody on Thursday, had bought the four-storey building in 1987 for just Rs 45,000.

Qureishi purchased the building, which crashed on August 23 killing 11 persons, from a Bohri Muslim named Kapadia. He had planned to sell it off sometime ago and was looking at a price of over Rs eight lakh. His tenants painted the picture of a middleclass Temkar Street landlord who made up for modest rent collections through the transfer fees that had to be paid to him when rooms changed hands.

A resident of Sadaf Manzil said Qureishi, who was known as dhani, would collect a rent of between Rs 80 and Rs 150 from each room. His monthly collections amounted to around Rs 1,300. “His actual income was only when a room would be sold to someone else. Dhani would get 33% of the price of the room as his ‘fees’ to authorise the buyer to get the room transferred in his name,’’ a tenant said.

The rooms were estimated to be worth Rs four to Rs nine lakh. Every time a room was sold, he would get his ‘fees’ from a new buyer so that the latter could get the room transferred in his name. One room on the fourth floor, where one resident was killed, was sold four months back, sources said.

All the tenants would pay rent to Qureishi regularly except a commer
cial establishment on the ground floor. Following a dispute between Qureshi and the tenant, a case was filed which is still pending.

Qureishi had named the building Sadaf Manzil, after his eldest daughter, Sadaf. He had lived in the same building till the death of his first wife Musarrat in 1992 after which he moved to Ramesh Mansion in Teli Mohalla along with his two daughters, Sadaf and Sana (15). He got married a second time in 1995 and has two sons from the second wife. Room number 7, where Qureishi used to live with his family in
Sadaf Manzil, was rented out to M/s Vasil Traders. The tenant used the room as a godown.

Qureishi has been booked for culpable homicide not amounting to murder and remanded to police custody till August 30. The J J Marg police had initially charged Qureishi (45) for causing death due to negligence and grievous hurt, which are bailable offences. However, the metropolitan magistrate directed the police to also book him under section 304 (II), which is a non-bailable offence. If convicted, Qureishi can be sentenced to 10 years RI.

Mhada union wants suspensions revoked
By Yogesh Naik/TNN
Mumbai: Despite almost all-round support for the suspension of the Mhada engineers who had given a “safe” certificate to Sadaf Manzil, which crashed on Tuesday, the union of Mhada employees has demanded that the suspensions be revoked. Ironically, the union is headed by the one of the superiors of the suspended engineers, Ravindra Karkhanis.

Soon after crash, Mhada had ordered the suspension of executive engineer N G Mahajan and deputy engineer A Katarki. The suspension orders of the two, posted in the Mumbai Repairs and Reconstruction Board, were issued on Tuesday evening. “It is quite tragic that Karkhanis, who is a deputy chief engineer in the repairs board, is fighting for their cause. We have accepted the application from the union but we will not revoke the suspension order before the inquiry is completed,’’ said a key Mhada official.

Commenting on the move Karkhanis said: “I can give you in writing that both these officials will not be found guilty in the probe. We had requested our superiors not to punish them till they are found guilty. Since they have been suspended, they will face public humiliation.”

“The building fell due to foundation failure. How can one blame our engineers for it? Water had seeped from house gullies adjoining the building. Besides, bandicoots had loosened the soil. When a concrete structure falls, it gives warning signals, but this does not happen in ancient buildings like Sadaf Manzil,” he added.

The Times of India, August 26, 2005

Arthur Road jail awaits jammers

By Mateen Hafeez/TNN

Mumbai: This may be an indication of why organised crime syndicates manage to keep two steps ahead of the law.

In 2003, the state government decided to install mobile phone jammers in Arthur Road Jail. Five trial runs and two years later, it is yet to execute the project which would prevent gangsters lodged in the facility from making contact with criminal networks outside.

Arthur Road is one of the most sensitive jails in the country, home to more than 50 gangsters linked to fugitive underworld dons Dawood Ibrahim and Chhota Rajan.

The decision to install the jammers was taken at a meeting attended by then chief minister Sushilkumar Shinde, then minister of state for home Kripa Shankar Singh and then jail superintendent Swati Sate with an intention to stop the illegal use of cell phones by prisoners.

In the last two years, jail authorities have successfully conducted five trials and reports have been submitted to the government. Deputy inspector general (Prison) Sandeep Bishnoi said, “We have sent the proposal to the Inspector General office. The proposal is pending with the government.’’ However, the state is yet to sanction the proposal.

Neela Satyanarayana, principal secretary (home), said, “Money for this project has already been sanctioned and we have floated tenders for it. As soon as a tender gets approval, the jammers will be installed.’’

If the jammers are eventually installed, Arthur Road will be the first prison in the country to have them.’’ a source said.

Cellphone jammers, priced between Rs 50,000 and Rs five lakh, were introduced in India almost six years ago. They have already been installed at the Vidhan Bhavan.

The Times of India, August 26, 2005

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Fingerprint bureau hit by faulty server

Mateen Hafeez I TNN
Mumbai: The computer server of the Finger Print Bureau (FPB), an important section of the crime branch, has been lying dysfunctional for the last 18 months. The faults are many, with problems being detected in the server, hardware and software. Moreover, the storage capacity of the computer is also full and it does not accept new finger prints.

Though the computers have broken down, the police are maintaining manual records of fingerprints. The police added that a new server has been purchased—from the Hyderabad-based Computer Maintenance Company (CMC)—to uprade and replace the dysfunctional server. However, the police are still waiting for experts to repair the other technical faults. Over 1.25 lakh finger prints, of con
victs and undertrials, are stored in the server.

Additional commissioner of police (crime), Hemant Nagarale insisted that the police had
planned to repair the system much earlier. “However, what the CMC quoted for repairs was higher than the cost of upgradation. So, we decided to upgrade the system and remove other technical faults,’’ he said. He added that it took a long time to locate the faults since the machine was switched off.

When asked whether the crime branch has stored the finger prints of underworld dons Dawood Ibrahim, Chhota Rajan, Chhota Shakeel, Tiger Memon and other fugitives, Nagarale said, “ We would not like to discuss confidential issues.’’ Finger print is the most significant evidence to confirm the identity of an accused. A red corner notice issued against fugitives contains their finger prints and crime history.

Though finger prints are being taken on paper, computerisation of finger print samples of all the recently accused cannot be carried out. The finger prints of recent accused are kept with the concerned police stations.

The Times of India, August 20, 2005

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Aliases helped Malhotra dodge cops for 15 yrs

Mateen Hafeez I TNN
Mumbai: What’s in a name, you may ask. But for fugitive gangster Chhota Rajans close confidant Vicky Malhotra, aliases helped him dodge the cops of four states for nearly 15 years. Malhotra ran out of luck after the city police in a massive operation finally managed to arrest him from New Delhi on July 11.

While Malhotra introduced himself as Vishal Vikrant Malhotra in Mumbai, his original name is Vi
jay Kumar Ram Badai Yadav. In Kolkata, where he stayed since 1996, he was known as Vijay Kumar Ram Badai Chaudhuri.

In less than two
months, after Rajans henchman Balu Dokre was killed in Malaysia on May 20 this year, Malhotra threatened at least 40 jewellers, businessmen, builders and doctors in the city and demanded huge amount of money. Surprisingly, 25 of his victims, came forward and complained to the police. Incidentally, it was the first time that a single extortionist had demanded amounts to the tune of lakhs from so many people in a span of less than two months.

The other strategy that Malhotra used to confuse the cops was by calling up his victims using a Hong
Kong mobile SIM card and asking them to contact his aide based in that country. So while Malhotra was in India throughout, the police were under the impression that he was in Hong Kong.

Malhotra, a class VIII drop-out from a municipal school in Siwan district of Bihar and the eldest son of a mill worker, came to Mumbai in 1990. He met Rajan gang members when he was in Nasik jail. In 1996, Malhotra, along with Babya Mayekar, shot down Shantilal Patel and Ramesh Patel,
two brothers who were in construction business in Santa Cruz. In 1996, Malhotra, along with Rohit Verma, shot down Prakash Singh alias Sunny, a Dawood Ibrahim gang member, at Four Bungalows in Andheri and absconded.

He then moved to Kolkata and prepared a fake affidavit with the name Vijay Kumar Ram Badai Chaudhuri and opened an account in a bank. Soon, he became a well-known businessman. He ran a garment shop in the posh Metro Plaza Mall and bought a plush flat in Dumdum Park in Kolkata. He got married in 1999 and later started A B Creation Pvt Ltd., and a hotel, ‘Silver Oak’, at Sarat Bose Road.
He used fake passports to travel to abroad and met Rajan on several occasions.

The Times of India, August 16, 2005

Monday, August 15, 2005

Arthur Road Jail in AIDS grip, 40 die in 18 months

Ailing Inmates Blame Authorities For Lack Of Medicare

By Mateen Hafeez/ TNN

Mumbai: For undertrials at Arthur Road Jail, life behind bars is becoming dangerous with each passing day. At least 40 undertrials have died of AIDS in the last one-and-ahalf years.

Those suffering from the disease and their relatives have blamed the jail authorities for not providing adequate medical attention.

However, jail superintendent Jayant Naik said that all the inmates who died of AIDS did not belong to his jail.

“If an undertrial from any jail in the state is referred to J J Hospital, he is first brought to our jail before being sent to the hospital. If someone from another jail comes here and dies then we cannot be held responsible for it,” he said.

But the plight of the ailing prisoners reveals otherwise. Omprakash Kanojia (35), who tested HIV positive eight years ago, is bed-ridden now. He is on the verge of death at barrack number 7/3.
A motor mechanic by profession, Kanojia was arrested by the Narcotics Control Bureau last year for smuggling heroin. His relatives said that he is in the final stage of the disease but even then is not provided the required medicines. “He has become so weak that he cannot walk alone and needs help every time he stands up.”

Despite sessions court judge A R Joshi’s order in November 2004 directing the jail superintendent to provide Kanojia proper treatment by admitting him in either a jail hospital or any other government hospital, the prison authorities have not done anything. Instead, Kanojia has been kept along with over 200
inmates in the barrack, whose standard capacity is just 80.

A police officer from the jail, on condition of anonymity, said that at least 50 more inmates are suffering from HIV but nobody is paying attention to them.

Like Kanojia, there are several other prisoners who are dying a slow death. Umesh Chavan (30), who was arrest
ed on charge of robbery over two years ago, allegedly got infected with HIV during a medical check-up.

Speaking to TOI, Chavan said, “I have been asking for proper medicines but the jail officers say they do not have them and I will have to make do with whatever the jail doctor is prescribing. Besides me, three other AIDS patients were kept along with 22 tuberculosis patients in a barrack.’’

Ramesh Agarwal, relative of an inmate, said if they bring medicine other than the prescribed ones, the constables do not allow them to give it to the ailing inmates. “However, if we bribe them, they agree,” he said. He also informed that the HIV patients were taken to J J Hospital only after the hospital timings were over.

“If you question them, their standard reply is that they don’t have enough man
power or van to escort the inmates. Patients are suffering because of their laxity,” Agarwal laments.

At least six to seven nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) have so far visited the jail and conducted camps for eye check-up, yoga as well as a physical fitness programme but none of them bothered to look after the inmates suffering from AIDS.

The Times of India, August 15, 2005

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Data entry is the new route to cyber crime

By Mateen Hafeez/TNN

Mumbai: White collar criminals are increasingly duping computer-literate youths on the pretext of offering them ‘data entry work’ through the internet. These youths are asked by such swindlers to deposit huge sums of money to bag contracts which, however, never materialise. If police sources are to be believed, the magnitude of the problem is not being gauged as victims often hesitate to lodge complaints.

The Cyber Crime Investigation Cell (CCIC) officers said a number of persons have approached them for help but are reluctant to lodge a formal FIR. “We have asked many victims to lodge a formal complaint so that the culprit could be arrested and prosecuted but they hesitate,’’ a CCIC officer said. He added that ‘data feeding’ is a flourishing business activity in the city and thus draws dubious operators.

A police officer, explaining the modus operandi, said ad
vertisements for data entry jobs are regularly seen on local trains. Such ads also offer work which can be completed from home or through the internet. This draws the attention of unemployed youths, who are then convinced to buy CDs from their potential employers to understand the work, and are charged between Rs 2,000 and Rs 5,000 for it.

Initially, when the work is assigned to a candidate, he is given some payments. After winning the employee’s confidence, the employer then asks him to invest money so that the employee can bid for a “big contract from a foreign company.’’ However, once the money is invested, the employer disappears and the victim is left in the lurch.

According to a police officer, the victims hesitate to lodge a formal complaint because they usually do not have documentary proof of contracts. Most of the time they don’t even know the address of their employer as business is done either through phone or the net.

The Times of India, August 11, 2005

Friday, August 5, 2005

How Terrible Tuesday made jailhouse rock

By Kartikeya and Mateen Hafeez/TNN

Mumbai: Inmates lodged in the city’s Arthur Road Jail have realised that prison is not secure enough to escape nature’s fury.

During the downpour, the ground-floor of the jail was flooded with waist-deep water and authorities had to transfer inmates to the upper storeys in what is in any case an overcrowded jail. Arthur Road, with an official capacity of 804 persons, houses around 2,900 undertrials and convicts.

Recounting the ordeal, an inmate said initially around 90 people were housed in each barrack amidst the downpour. But as water levels rose, jail staff began moving more, taking the number of inmates into each barrack to over 120.

“We could not sleep the whole night as the floor was wet,’’ an inmate who was brought to court said. Others complained about the lack of electricity for two days. “When the water entered through the main gates, we thought a dam had burst,’’ said an inmate housed in a barrack close to the jail’s entrance.

Another said a number of inmates who were ailing suffered the most, many of them tuberculosis patients who had to endure the cold and rain. And even after the waters resided, inmates said they faced a shortage of food and were given only “one roti each’’ at mealtime.

There was no fresh water either as
pumps could not function and fill up overhead tanks. Inmates had to drink unclean water and many of them ended up suffering from diarrhoea and vomiting; others had high fever.

When contacted, Jaywant Naik, the superintendent of jail, admitted that the jail got flooded because of incessant rains on July 26. “Water entered all the barracks and so we shifted inmates to the other barracks. Around 100 undertrials who were sent to the court stayed in Byculla jail for one day. However, it was a temporary adjustment and everything is normal now,’’ Naik said.

The Times of India, August 5, 2005

Thursday, August 4, 2005

State refuses to bow on lost passport

Application Fees Will Be 150% More,Verification Remains Stringent

By Mateen Hafeez/ TNN

Mumbai: Tough luck for those who lost their passports in the rains. The ministry of external affairs has not announced any concessions for holders whose passports went missing or was damaged in the deluge. What’s more, the process of verifying antecedents in all such cases is unlikely to be relaxed either.

Rather, such applicants will have to pay 150 per cent more than firsttimers as fees for passports to be issued. And they will only get a ‘duplicate passport’, not an original.

Those who are ineligible but try
to use the downpour as an excuse to acquire a duplicate passport will be carefully probed. The city crime branch unit-III, which busted an illegal passport racket recently, is keeping a watch for people who may try to obtain duplicate passports for anti-social activities.

Regional Passport Officer Hemant Kotalwar said the number of applications for new passports have doubled since last Friday. “We have noticed an increase in the submission of applications for passports in the last five days. The applications are twice what we get on a regular basis,’’ Kotalwar said.

An employee of the passport of
fice said the authorities expected the number of applications to increase soon. People busy with reconstruction or repairs following the floods, may soon file fresh applications, leading to a further increase in the number of applicants.

The specified fee for a first-time applicant is Rs 1,000, and for duplicate passports, it is Rs 2,500, Kotalwar said. Those applying for a duplicate passport will also have to produce a certificate attested by the local police station regarding loss of property.

The city police, which recently arrested two police constables in connection with a fake passport
racket and seized 131 such passports, has realised the need for firm counterchecks to prevent such frauds from being perpetrated again. The two accused constables had allegedly forged a passport for slain gangsterBalu Dokre in the name of Suresh Chandrakant.

Deputy commissioner of police (detection) Dhanajay Kamalakar said the police was certainly being careful about verifying passports or issuing certificates regarding missing passports. “We will take precautions to prevent forgery and keep a check on those who may try to get a duplicate one on the pretext of missing passports,’’ he said.

The Times of India, August 4, 2005