Saturday, January 28, 2006

Man kills wife over affair

By Mateen Hafeez/TNN

Mumbai: Unable to accept her extra-marital relationship, Ramdas Ghadigaonkar (28) killed his estranged wife Rashmi (22) at Worli on Wednesday night.

Ghadigaonkar worked as a commission agent for a bank. As his father was a head constable, he
stayed at the police camp in Worli. Rashmi was the daughter of a former head constable, who also lived in the same place. The couple married three years ago.

Investigating officer R G Dongre said following differences with her inlaws, Rashmi wanted to move out. However, Ghadigaonkar didn’t agree. She then left him and went back to her parents.

“On January 25, she called up her husband and asked him to come to Panvel. They spent the after
noon together and then Rashmi said she wanted to meet her old friends. So the duo came to Worli around 6 pm,’’ said Dongre. The couple, who used to drink together before they split, then bought liquor and went and sat by the seaface. Here, a drunk Rashmi confessed to her husband that she was in love with a man called Javed and wanted to live with him. This enraged Ghadigaonkar and “he decided to kill her,’’ said Dongre.

At 9 pm, Ghadigaonkar hired a taxi and took Rashmi to an old BMC
structure. When they got there, Ghadigaonkar hit her on the head with a cement slab. “He waited there until she died and then fled. On Thursday night, the killer slept at Jamboli ground and went home in the morning. At around 2 pm, he came to the police station and confessed to the murder.

The Times of India, January 28, 2006

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Daya links with underworld in focus

Daya Nayak


COPS AND GOONS

By Mateen Hafeez/TNN

Mumbai: There is more trouble in store for encounter specialist Daya Nayak. The suspended sub-inspector, who was given clean chit in two departmental inquiries, is likely to come under the police scanner again for his alleged links with the underworld.

In the past, every time case involving the police-underworld nexus has come up, the probe has been conducted by members of the police force themselves who have been quick to give their colleagues the clean chit, thereby allowing them to continue in office.

In the case of inspector Aslam Momin, a former colleague of Nayak who was dismissed on charges of helping a gangster, action was taken almost a year and a half after the incident. He was finally dismissed under Article 311 of the Constitution.

The first time Nayak came under the police scanner was on October 17, 2003, when a writ petition was filed in the high court alleging that several police officers had links with the mafia. Nayak, who claims to have eliminated at least 85 hard-core criminals in encounters, was reportedly one of them.

A point of reference was a recorded conversation, now with the MCOCA court, which described a murder plot being planned by Dawood Ibrahim’s
associate Faheem Machmach alias Fatwa and a city-based builder, R C Agarwal.

In the conversation Machmach referred to Nayak by name. In September 2003, Machmach had discussed plans to eliminate Agarwal’s business rival, Tejpal Singh, over a property dispute. “To abhi yeh Ketan se baat
karoun ya Daya Sahab se baat karoun?’’ Machmach asked. In the conversation, Machmach assured Agarwal that “kaam tumhara hojayega. Hum log usko marenge hi marenge. Hundred per cent marenge.’’ Following this, an inquiry led by the then assistant commissioner of police, Dilip Sawant, was initiated and Nayak was called to record his statement. However, Nayak was given a clean chit. He was, however, shunted out from Andheri CIU to the Charkop police station.

Interestingly, Nayak was one of the officers who arrested Adil Farooque, the producer of the Hindi film Tum in 2003. The mahurat of this film took place at Hotel Sun-n-Sand. Farooque was accused of forging signatures of stars like Bipasha Basu, Saif Ali Khan and others for the agreement. He also threatened the stars by posing as Abu Salem’s nephew. Salem was said to have financed the film.

Sources said stringent action was not taken against Farooque for using underworld money to finance films. Moreover, he was also not booked under MCOCA, but for forgery. Farooque was later released on bail and the chargesheet in the case is yet to be filed. Nayak had personally interrogated Farooque.

Another case involved the arrest of Chhota Shakeel gangsters in December 2002. The gangsters were caught with Uzi machine guns which cost over Rs three lakh. The arrested gangsters were said to be history sheeters but in this case too, they were allegedly helped by one of the officers, again Nayak, who was one of the interrogators. They were booked under the Arms Act and not MCOCA. The case was probed later but Nayak was again given a clean chit.


Chhota Shakeel

The Times of India, January 24, 2006

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Cops detain 2 ships for oil pilferage

DIESEL SCAM

By Mateen Hafeez/TNN

Mumbai: Close on the heels of the Vakola police busting a pilfered aviation turbine fuel (ATF) racket, a similar case of diesel pilfering came to light recently.

Crime branch officials said they detained two ships—Raj Tara and Ravi Charan—on Thursday evening in this connection under Section 102 of the CrPC, which empowers them to detain and examine any property they suspect stolen.

Deputy commissioner (detection) Dhananjay Kamalakar said: “We have detained two ships that supplied diesel from Indian Oil Corporation to the Navy.’’ The diesel

was being pilfered at the time of loading. The modus operandi was to fill up the ship’s oil containers with less diesel than shown on the invoice and the pilfered diesel sold in black. The oil containers presently aboard the ship contain two lakh litres of diesel valued at Rs 80 lakh in the international market. The ships are currently lodged at the Hay Bunder dock near Sewri.

The matter came to light when there was a shortage of diesel at the naval dockyard. The officials made inquiries and found that the actual quantity of diesel mentioned on the receipt was more than that of the quantity received.

The Times of India, January 22, 2006

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Mothers held for pimping girls

By Mateen Hafeez/TNN

Mumbai: Seven people were arrested by the social service branch (SSB) for forcing two minor girls, aged 14 years and 16 years, into the flesh trade. The seven included the mothers of the two minors. The women, originally from Rajasthan, were nabbed from The Emerald Hotel at Juhu Tara Road on Thursday.

Those arrested were identified as Seema Thakur (45), Shanti Singh (35), Geetadevi Singh (30), Shyamdevi Thakur (52), Guddi Chhadi (30) and two pimps, Haleem and Shabbir Shaikh. The police seized Rs 92,000, four mobile phones, hotel documents and a passport from them.

Joint commissioner of police (crime), M C Borwankar, who interrogated the accused and the victims, said the mothers told the police the pimps had offered film roles for their daughters and they were not aware of any other plan. “The girls, both school drop-outs, were terrified when they came to know about the flesh trade bit. They didn’t even know why they were taken to the hotel,’’ Borwankar said.
Two other girls, aged 17 and 18 years respectively, were also rescued from the hotel. The two mothers, Seema and Shyamdevi Thakur, had been staying in Mumbai for the last few years. They were produced at the Esplanade court on Friday, where they appeared with their faces covered with their saree pallus. The judge sent all seven to police
custody till February 4.

Sources said the police acted on a tip off from International Justice Mission Project, an NGO. The police, along with the NGO, laid the trap to rescue the girls.

The police sent a bogus customer who met Haleem Shaikh at Pavwala Street at Grant Road. Shaikh told the
bogus customer that he would charge Rs one lakh for supplying minor girls. The two mothers apparently also furnished medical certificates which stated that their daughters were HIV free and that the girls had never been in this profession earlier. The “customer’’ booked three rooms (number 507, 508 and 509) on January 17 to trap the accused.

He also paid Rs 12,000 for the rooms. Shaikh asked the “customer’’ to speak to him on January 19. As per instructions from the pimp, the customer called up Shaikh on his mobile phone (9820935844) and told him that he was ready and was near the hotel. The pimps and the women then arrived with four girls and together they entered the hotel room. The police plant then handed over Rs 80,000 to the accused.


All this while, a police team was waiting outside to nab the accused. When asked to “select’’ one of the girls, the bogus customer pointed towards the 14-year-old. He then sent a signal to the police team through his mobile phone. The police team then barged into the room. The girls, who were sent for medical examination, will be kept in an observation home, a police officer said.

The Times of India, January 21, 2006

Friday, January 20, 2006

Arrest of LeT men result of 3-month-long operation

Mateen Hafeez I TNN
Mumbai: The arrest of three Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terrorists and the imam of the Haj House mosque in the city was the result of a three-monthlong operation by the antiterrorist squad (ATS).
The earliest lead the ATS got was from a hawker at Musafir Khana near Crawford Market. The man was picked up because he worked for a local hawala operator. The hawker had earlier worked for Dawood and was allegedly involved in a few extortion cases. The ATS had sought information about hawala transactions to Kashmir.

The hawker had told the police about people who worked on a commission basis for the hawala operators. One of these was Mohammed Ramzan Haji, who was arrested on January 6 with two associates Khursheed Gani Lone alias Lala and Arshad Hussain Badroo for being members of the LeT.

While Haji was under surveillance, the ATS got wind of the LeT preparing
for an operation in Mumbai. Maulana Ghulam Hussain Baksh Yahya’s involvement came to light when the police tapped LeT’s Kashmir commander Salauddin’s cellphone.

ATS officials are also questioning Rafeeque Kashmiri, son of Gulam Kashmiri, the link between the three suspected LeT men and Yahya. Gulam, a driver, worked with Haj House for over 20 years
and died in October. He had introduced Haji to Yahya as his nephew.

Sources said Rafeeque, (30), who stayed in a 100 sq ft room near Musafir Khana, had taken a flat on rent at Asmita Vintage in Naya Nagar, Mira Road. Sources said Haji was Rafeeque’s cousin and the three men stayed at this residence before they were picked by ATS officials.

Rafeeque is believed to have told police that Haji used to come to his house even when his father was alive. He said he never suspected Haji of any ‘destructive’ plan.

Early this week, ATS officials had also questioned two money changers from the Musafir Khana area asking them if they provided notes of big denomination to Yahya against notes of smaller denominations.

Two days ago, a passport agent from Crawford Market was also questioned. Sources said Yahya had given him two passports for renewal and used to get a commission of Rs 100 on each passport.

‘Don’t fuel Islamophobia’
Film-maker Mahesh Bhat termed the arrest of Imam Maulana Ghulam Yahya Elahi Baksh a trial by media, saying the repeated display of the imam’s face and the Haj House building would fuel Islamophobia. “Post-9/11, Islamophobia is a disturbing trend in the West where every bearded Muslim is assumed to be a terror suspect. Don’t allow this to happen in our country,’’ he said.

The Times of India, January 20, 2006

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Imam got Rs 40 lakh from hawala operator

By Mateen Hafeez and Somit Sen/TNN

Mumbai: Maulana Ghulam Hussain Yahya (44), the imam of Haj House mosque who was arrested for his alleged links with Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), had received Rs 40 to 50 lakh from a big-time hawala operator with political connections. The money was delivered to militant groups in Kashmir.

A senior officer said Yahya, who was arrested on charges of ‘harbouring and assisting terrorists’ by the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) on January 13, had furnished
fake documents to get a SIM card. The police is hunting for a south Mumbai resident who had provided his photograph and address to arrange a SIM card for Yahya. “Yahya had a mobile phone in his name sometime back but he disconnected it. We are trying to find out why he disconnected his own number and obtained another number with someone else’s identity,’’ said police commissioner A N Roy.

Police sources said the mobile SIM card—procured last month—was used to make frequent calls to Salahuddin alias Director, who is in-charge of LeT. The police are also inquiring about a few LeT men who had taken shelter
in Mumbai in 2005 and for whom the imam had arranged accommodation at Musafir Khana.

A recorded conversation, believed to be between Yahya and Salahuddin, reveals how the
imam was used by the LeT to provide shelter for their men. During the conversation, Salahuddin asked Yahya whether Mohammed Ramzan Haji, (58), another accused, had reached Mumbai. “Has Haji reached Mumbai? He is with Amaanat (the name is a code word for their accomplice). Did you arrange a room for their accommodation?’’

Yahya was introduced to Haji by the latter’s uncle, Gulam Kashmiri, who passed away in October last year. Kashmiri, who came to Mumbai in the mid-50s, worked as a driver at Haj House for over 20 years. Last year when Haji came to Mumbai, Kashmiri introduced him to Yahya and later they became friends. After Kashmiri’s death, Haji had come to Mumbai and reportedly stayed at the Haj House following a reference from Yahya.


The ATS is also making inquiries about four persons who helped Yahya open accounts with several banks, including Bombay Mercantile Bank, United Bank of India, Development Credit Bank and Jammu and Kashmir Bank. The ATS also said Yahya had sent lakhs of rupees to J&K through hawala operators. Records of all the bank accounts are being scanned.

The ATS has also asked for details of the passport recovered from the imam.

The Times of India, January 18, 2006

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Cleric had faced opposition in Haj House mosque over leading namaz

Mateen Hafeez I TNN
Mumbai: Suspected Lashkar-e-Taiba agent, Maulana Ghulam Elahi Baksh Yahya (44), had faced opposition as the imam of the Haj House mosque.

In July last year, a section of Haj committee employees had boycotted him saying it was unIslamic on his part to lead namaz. They wrote a letter to the chief exec
utive officer of Haj House, Abdur Rasheed Mir on July 22, 2005, regarding this issue.

The letter said Yahya should be instructed to attend his normal official duties as peon and not lead prayers. “Under Islamic law, a peon cannot lead the prayers if the persons who are following him in the prayers are against his leading (Imamat). It is mandatory on his part that he should voluntarily withdraw himself
from leading the prayers,’’ the letter stated.

It added that many worshippers did not follow Yahya in the prayers, resulting in them having to go outside Haj House to offer prayers at other mosques. The complainants also offered Rs 50 each per month from their salaries and said a collective amount of Rs 3,000 would be paid to any other full time imam. A copy of this complaint was also sent to the director (Haj) of the Union external affairs min
istry. In opposition to this, a source said the dispute was not because of Yahya, but because he would lead the prayers as per the Hanfi sect and not the Sunni sect. “Most people who come to perform namaz are from the Hanfi sect and the complaint was sent based on a dispute between sects,’’ he said.

Meanwhile, three NGOs—the Mumbai Aman Committee, Ulema Council and
Jamiat-ul-Ulema—who promised to provide legal aide to Yahya, will approach the state human rights commission. Said Dawood Khan, member of Human Rights League, an NGO, “As per law, a person is innocent until proven guilty. Baksh is an accused and not a criminal. The family have almost been ostracised and we will fight for them to get justice.’’

The police, on January 6,
arrested Arshad Hussain Badroo, Khursheed Gani Lone alias Lala and Mohammed Ramzan Qazi alias Haji for suspected terror links. An official of the Haji Mohammed Saboo Siddik Musafir Khana Trust, who is in charge of booking rooms, was also summoned by the ATS on Monday to record his statement. “Yahya had told me that Haji’s friends would come and stay in room number 19 on January 15. They didn’t come and I gave this room to other guests,’’ he said.


The Times of India, January 17, 2006

Imam had received 3 consignments last year

Imam Gulam Yahya is being escorted to the Esplanade court

The Packets May Have Contained Explosives, Say Sources

By Somit Sen & Mateen Hafeez/TNN

Mumbai: Maulana Ghulam Elahi Baksh Yahya, the imam arrested recently for links with the Lashkar-e-Taiba had received three consignments in 2005, some of which are suspected to have been explosives, sources said.

Officers of the anti-terrorist squad (ATS) are now grilling the imam to find out where he kept the packets or whom he gave them to. “We suspect that the consignments were to be part of the mission which the terrorists were planning to carry out in Mumbai,’’ an officer said.

The ATS suspects that at least four modules were to arrive in the city from Kashmir to carry out a series of blasts planned in July-August. The first module, comprising three LeT members, was arrested in Nagpada on January 6 and the cops recovered detonators, timer switches, electronic circuits and pistols from them.

TOI had reported on Sunday that the second module, which was assigned the task of smuggling explosives, was believed to have entered Mumbai. “The imam is now been grilled about the whereabouts of the second module as he was the key contact person for the various modules in the city,’’ an officer said. One more person, suspected to be a close aide of the imam, has been detained and he will be shown as arrested in the next few days.


The ATS has evidence to show that the imam was in regular touch with LeT’s northern commander Salauddin over the phone for about a month. Said an officer, “We have found Salauddin’s contact number stored in the cellphone seized from the imam. Besides, Salauddin’s phones have been tapped last year and there is evidence of him talking to the imam on various occasions—three to eight times a day and for
thrice a week,’’ a police source said.

Sources said one of the three terrorists, Mohammed Ramzan (now in police custody), had come to Mumbai on at least two earlier occasions accompanied by a few LeT members. The terrorists had taken shelter in Haj House, where the imam allegedly arranged for their stay for three days. “The imam had also provided shelter to LeT members in the nearby Musafirkhana for four days dur
ing Ramzan last year,’’ an officer stated. Ramzan and his accomplices Arshad Hussain Badru and Khursid Ghani Lone were produced in the Mazgaon court on Monday, and were remanded to further police custody till January 20. A team from the Jammu and Kashmir police will now seek their transfer to Kashmir for further investigations.

It is learnt that the imam, who was attached to the Haj House masjid, had been receiving finances from a few “influential’’ persons in Mumbai and the money was allegedly siphoned off to Kashmir for terrorist activities. One of these persons is believed to be a local politician, although the police said they were still gathering evidence in this connection. The police have also summoned two hawala operators through whom the imam is suspected to have sent money to Kashmir.

The police are also looking into the background of Badru, who has been a corporator representing the National Conference Party in J&K. “He comes from a respectable family in his village,’’ an officer said. The other terrorist, Lone’s brother-inlaw was shot dead in an encounter by J&K police four days before the LeT members were arrested in Mumbai.

The police have also come across coded language used by the LeT. “They refer to each other with codes and we are trying to break these codes,’’ an officer added.

The Times of India, January 17, 2006

Sunday, January 15, 2006

‘Quiet’ imam’s arrest stuns neighbours




Alleged Lashkar-e-Taiba conduit Maulana Gulam Ilahi outside the metropolitan court (below), his wife and children at Musafir Khana





Mateen Hafeez I Times News Network
Mumbai: The Mohammed Ali Road home of suspected Lashkar-e-Taiba conduit and imam of Haj House mosque Maulana Gulam Ilahi Bakhsh Yayha remains locked a day after his arrest. “The family has moved to a relative’s place,’’ says a neighbour. TOI finally tracks down his wife Nafeeda Begum at a flat in Musafir Khana, behind Manish Market. The couple’s three children study in the nearby Anjuman-i-Islam High School.

A tearful Nafeeda insists her husband is innocent, underlining the fact that he earned barely Rs 6,000 a month. “We could hardly save any money. How could he send lakhs of rupees from here to Jammu and Kashmir?’’ she asks, referring to the charge that Yahya was involved in LeT’s financial transactions.


Kolkata-born Yahya came to Mumbai 20 years ago after finishing a nine-year course in ‘Aalim Fazil’ from the Darul Uloom Deoband in Uttar Pradesh. He was appointed muezzin at Musafir Khana and was later promoted as naib imam (assistant priest) in 1994. Two years later, Yahya joined the Haj House as an imam and part-time peon. Yahya, second among four siblings, married Nafeeda 14 years ago and the couple lived in a rented 125 sq ft home.

Neighbours described Yahya as quiet and non-interfering. They found it difficult to believe that he “harboured and assisted terrorists’’ — a charge under which he was arrested.


Yahya was questioned at least four times prior to his arrest, with a late-night search conducted at residence by policemen on January 9.

“On Friday night, a police team came and took away my husband. Later, they gave me a letter saying he was under arrest. They assured me that he would be released in the morning,’’ said Nafeeda.

There were eight in the team which searched her home on January 9. “They looked through all the books, including my chil
dren’s notebooks. They checked everything, from slippers to boxes of foodgrains, bathroom, etc and found nothing,’’ she said, adding that the police team didn’t carry a warrant.

Haj House superintendent Akbar Shaikh admitted being aware of the police questioning Yahya, but didn’t know why. “Last night, he led the Isha Namaz (around
7.45 pm) before leaving. On Saturday, we saw the news of his arrest on television,’’ says Shaikh.

The mosque is located on the third floor and Yahya was provided a room on the eighth floor. “But he preferred to stay at Chakala with his family,’’ said Shaikh, adding, “The police must had something in its hand and then arrested him. Let the court decide about
this matter.’’

Meanwhile, Nafeeda has approached the Mumbai Aman Committee for legal assistance. “We will study the case and see how legal aide can be provided to this family,’’ said the committee’s chairman Fareed Shaikh. MLA Dr Sayyed Ahmed, who is chairman of the Haj Committee, was not available for comment.

The Times of India, January 15, 2006

Imam arrested for LeT links

Maulana Ghulam Yahya Baksh, who came to Mumbai from West Bengal, outside the metropolitan court

Haj House Mosque Cleric Grilled For Three Days, Fears Of Second Terror Module In City

Mumbai: In a move which points to the widening web of terror in India, police have arrested an imam of the prestigious Haj House Masjid for suspected links with the Lashkar-e-Taiba, the group which has emerged as the biggest threat in southern and western India following last month’s Bangalore attack.

The arrest of the 44-year-old Maulana Ghulam Yahya Baksh late on Friday night by the anti-terrorist squad (ATS) is likely to lead the police to a south Mumbai politician, who sources said, was a key financier of terror operations. Baksh is the fourth suspected LeT member to be arrested from Mumbai since a crackdown began after a suspected Lashkar gunman sprayed bullets at a gathering of scientists in Bangalore.

The politician, who intelligence sources said is deeply connected with the underworld, is suspected to have funded militant groups through the imam. At least Rs 40 lakh is believed to have passed through him in the last year to terrorists in Kashmir, sources said.

The arrest of the Maulana, who came to Mumbai from 24 Parganas in West Bengal, also lifted the veil off a second terror module being formed for a possible strike in Mumbai. “This module was assigned the task of bringing in explosives into Mumbai by the LeT northern commander Salauddin. This is serious and we are working on the information,’’ a senior police officer told TOI. Syed Salauddin is based in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

The first LeT module was busted with the arrest of three men from Nagpada on January 6. The ATS believes the Maulana could lead the police to other modules as he was the key “contact man’’ for LeT modules deployed by Salauddin to Mumbai.

The Maulana was detained three days
ago, as reported by TOI, but the arrest was delayed because of Eid. “It was a sensitive issue and we did not want to arrest the imam during Eid,’’ an officer said.

Baksh was produced before a holiday court on Saturday afternoon and remanded to police custody till January 24. He has been booked under sections 16 (conniving), 18 (conspiring) and 19 (harbouring terrorists) of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). The Maulana lives with his wife and three children at 193, Lokhandwala building on Devji street, off Mohammed Ali road.

The ATS had the imam under its scanner for a month. He is believed to have travelled to various cities and come to Mumbai in 1994 and was appointed the imam of the Haj House Masjid near Crawford market two years later. “It is a prestigious job as the imam leads those who offer namaz at this masjid. People from all over the country visit the Haj house,’’ an officer said.

The Times of India, January 15, 2006

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Chargesheet against accused ready after 3 yrs

Khwaja Yunus

Khwaja Yunus Disappearance

By S Ahmed Ali & Mateen Hafeez/TNN

Mumbai: Three years after the mysterious disappearance of Ghatkopar blast accused Khwaja Yunus from police custody, the state crime investigation department (CID) is now putting the final touches on a 1,000-page chargesheet against five officers suspected of murder.

Explaining the delay in filing the chargesheet, state CID chief (IG) Y J Umaranikar said: “There were a few matters connected with the case pend
ing before the HC. Secondly, we were busy piecing together the evidence.’’

The CID’s case is likely to rest on circumstantial evidence. The CID had refused to accept the theory put
forward by the police that Khwaja escaped from custody while being escorted to Aurangabad for investigations. They have concluded that Khwaja died due to the use of third degree methods during interrogation at the Powai crime branch unit.

Earlier, the CID had secretly carried out a search for Khwaja’s remains on the basis of tip-offs. A team had visited Uran, Lonavla and some cemeteries in Mumbai. Officials said their field trials showed it was not possible for a handcuffed accused to escape from an overturned vehicle with seven policemen. “We don’t need the body any more as there is a supreme court ruling on
custodial deaths and we have enough evidence to bring a conviction against all the accused,’’ said Umaranikar.

Khwaja, a software engi
neer working in UAE, was taken into custody while on a holiday in his hometown Parbhani. He was picked up on suspicion of links with a group which had allegedly set off a bomb on a bus at Ghatkopar on December 2, 2002.

He went missing soon after. Investigators claimed he had escaped while being escorted to Aurangabad, but his family insisted there was more to it and filed a habeas corpus plea. During the hearing, the court asked for the testimony of co-accused Dr Abdul Mateen, who told the judge
that Khwaja was beaten to death.

The special court, taking note of his allegation, ordered the state CID to file a case of murder against the cops involved in the probe. En
counter specialists Praful Bhosale, Hemant Desai and Sachin Vaze were arrested and later released on bail pending trial.

For Asiya Begum, Yunus’s mother, it has been a long wait. “The arrested policemen have been released and there is no progress. We have been awaiting justice for three years,’’ she said.

She alleged that the prosecution was deliberately delaying the trial. However, she added, “We have faith in the court and will fight till we get justice. We will also go to the SC if the culprits are not punished by the special court.’’

Mihir Desai, an advocate handling the case, said they had filed a petition in
the high court for compensation which has been admitted last November. “The trial in this case is expected to begin in the next two months,’’ he said.



The Times of India, January 12, 2006

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Roy denies arrest of fourth man

Police Still On Lookout For LeT Supporter In City

Mateen Hafeez & Somit Sen I TNN
Mumbai: On Monday, antiterrorism squad (ATS) officials announced that one of the three suspected Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terrorists in its custody, Mohammed Ramzan Qazi alias Haji (58), had been head-hunting for the Pakistan-backed banned organisation. He was also responsible for funds distribution among new recruits.

According to joint commissioner of police (ATS) K P Raghuvanshi, Haji was assigned the task of looking after the financial transactions of LeT’s local unit in Jammu and Kashmir. He would get the money from Sayyed Salahuddin, the area commander, and then distribute the same to recruits.

Haji, who owns a plush bungalow in the Navpur area of Baramullah dis
trict, also owns 15 shop premises, most of which are rented out to commercial establishments. “He also owns an apple orchard on a three acre plot in his home town. His properties are worth over Rs 1.5 crore,’’ said Raghuvanshi.

It is said that Haji, who
joined the LeT five years ago, soon became a f avo u r i t e of his bosses in Kashmir for his superb communication skills and c o nv i n c i n g powers.

Meanwhile, in Mumbai, the police
seized a diary from Haji, containing names and telephone numbers of at least 15 fruit sellers in Kashmir. The diary also contained prayers written in Arabic. “All three are hard-core terrorists and we are using all kinds of techniques to get the correct information about their plan, target, modules and their men in the city,’’ added Raghuvanshi.

Sources said the police had picked up one more person in this connection, who was being questioned
by the ATS. However, police commissioner A N Roy denied the move, saying nobody had been detained after the three arrests.

Roy said the arrested men were supposed to meet a per
son in Mumbai who was to provide them with logistical support. “We are still to track down this man,’’ he stated.

Roy said the accused were part of the first module to enter Mumbai and
establish a base. “I am certain that we have also succeeded in preventing other modules from entering here,’’ Roy said, adding that the modules were ‘sleeper agents’, whose task was to enter here and remain inactive for a few months.

Sources said LeT’s northern commander Salauddin had planned to send the modules to carry out subversive activities in Mumbai in July/August. The central intelligence agencies kept a track of the activities of the Kashmiri militant groups and when they learnt about three men arriving in Mumbai as part of the first module, they alerted the
Mumbai police.

The ATS officers claimed that they arrested the trio from Nagpada, though sources said they were picked up from Naya Nagar in Mira Road a week ago.

The Times of India, January 10, 2006

Sunday, January 8, 2006

Police get city cell SIM card from terror trio

Mateen Hafeez I Times News Network
Mumbai: A cellphone SIM card recovered from the three Lashkar-e-Taiba suspects arrested on Friday may lead them to more revelations in the case, feel antiterrorist squad officials.
The SIM card, having a Mumbai number (starting with 98679), was found along with the timers, detonators, electronic circuits, cartridges and the pistol, officials said. The card was found with Khursheed Gani Lone alias Lala, they added.

The SIM card, officials said, raised several issues. How the trio managed to get a mobile connection within a couple of days of arriving in Mumbai, the name of the person to whom the SIM card was issued, the identity proof that helped Lala get the card and the identity of the agent are few questions with which officials are now grappling.

Lala was nabbed along with Arshad Gulam Badroo and Ramzan Wahab Qazi alias Haji near Cafe Sagar at the Nagpada junction. Officials said they were trailing the trio since Wednesday when they arrived at Nasik and from there to Mumbai.

But it is the SIM card that is now intriguing them, say investigators. “Cellphone service-providers ask for proof of residence before they register a subscriber. Connection is snapped if
the address proof is not submitted within 24 hours,’’ an official said. “We are trying to find out who the subscriber,’’ he added.
Service-providers usually ask for the ration card, the driving licence or a copy of the passport.
Investigators will approach the service-provider to give details of calls made and received on the phone. “The records, conversations, SMSes and clippings (if any) will defintely help the investigation. It will also provide information about those with whom the three were in touch in Mumbai or elsewhere,’’ an ATS officer said.

The police have not yet disclosed the contact numbers found on the set.

A police team from Jammu and Kashmir is expected in the city within a day or two to interrogate the three; all three are involved in several terror cases there and Lala is also accused of being involved in a Rs 11.70-lakh heist on a bank in November last year.

Lala is also believed to have played a key role in a bomb blast in Kashmir last year. Investigators say they are depending on help from the cellular service-provider; they expect the firm to provide the entire database of calls and SMSes made and received on the phone.

The three were remanded to police custody till 16 January.

The Times of India, January 8, 2006

LeT suspect also an NC councillor in J&K

The three suspects being taken to the Kalachowkie police station on Friday

2 of his family died trying to snap terror links

By M Saleem Pandit & Mateen Hafeez/TNN

Sopore/Bandipora/Mumbai: One of the three alleged Lashkar-e-Taiba operatives arrested in Mumbai on Friday is a National Conference councillor in Sopore; the party shares power with the Congress in the state.

Family members of Arshad Ghulam Badroo claimed he was innocent but his colleagues said his life was a tad iffy. Arshad owns Badroo Traders, a general store near Jamia Masjid in Sopore. Salesman Javid Ahmad said.


Arshad went on a vacation to Delhi on December 20. “But we have no knowledge of his being in Mumbai,’’ he said, adding that Arshad did not respond to his family’s frequent calls for the past week.

“The family came to know about his arrest on Saturday when someone from Mumbai called,’’ Ahmad said.

The extended family, however, has had strong militancy links. Arshad’s cousin (his maternal uncle’s son) was a militant and was killed by unidentified gunmen three days ago. His brotherin-law, Abdul Majid Dar, used to be a Hizbul Mujahideen commander before he initiated dialogue with the Centre in June 2000 after declaring a ceasefire. He, too,
was killed by militants. Sister Shamim Badroo, who married Dar in 1998, crossed over to Pakistan for training in a mujahideen camp. But, after being widowed, she (a doctor) took up work at the G B Pant Hospital, Srinagar.

Arshad’s elder brother, Ishtaq Ahmad Badroo, and his mother were on a condolence visit to the slain youth’s place in Bandipora on Saturday. They refused to comment on the arrest.
The two others arrested along with Arshad were Khursheed Gani Lone alias Lala and Ramzan Wahab Qazi alias Haji. Both are
wanted by Jammu & Kashmir Police on terror charges; Lala runs a medical store in Bandipora and Haji is a developer. Families of both denied the terror charges.

The 27-year-old Arshad was elected to the Sopore Municipal Council in January 2005 on an N C ticket. But, con
trary to the claims of his family, fellow councillors have raised doubts over Arshad’s activities. SMC chief Gulam Rasool Dar said: “Arshad never visited the council office and I have seen him only once.’’ SMC executive officer Mohammad Latif, too, said Arshad’s “activities were suspicious’’. Officials in Mumbai said Badroo and Lala were initially business contacts. “Haji married another woman 12 years ago before divorcing his first wife. He has six children, including a daughter, and the eldest son is an engineer in Baramullah,’’ Sunil Deshmukh, one of the investigators, said.

The three speak only Kashmiri which is proving an obstacle in interrogation.


‘We awaited orders after arrival’

Mumbai: The three terror suspects, Khursheed Gani Lone alias Lala, Ramzan Wahab Qazi alias Haji and Arshad Gulam Badroo, had headed for Mumbai on January 3 on Salahuddin’s orders.

They were told that further instructions would follow once they reached the city. But Lala, Haji and Badroo clammed up after that, giving police no information about their plans or intended targets.

The three were caught on Friday outside Cafe Sagar at Nagpada junction in south-central Mumbai with 20 detonators, five timers, five electronic circuits, a .32-bore Wilson pistol and six live cartridges. But what investigators found intriguing was that they carried with them just Rs 1,840.

Also found (with Lala) was a mobile phone, having a Mumbai SIM card. Officials say they will approach the cellular serviceprovider to get details of the calls and SMSes made or received on that phone.

A diary seized from
Haji’s possession contains some pages written in Urdu and Kashmiri but the police are still to decode the contents. Haji was also carrying a telephone index and some business cards. Railway tickets (for January 3) for the journey from Kashmir to Mumbai and suburban train tickets were also found.

One of the seized timers was found to bear the number 158090397 on one side
and 1.2/890 on the other side. Another timer showed the nu m b e r s 160235572 and 1.2/136. The seized articles were initally Xrayed by the bomb disposal and detection squad (BDDS). “All the seized articles will be sent to the Forensic Science Laboratory at Kalina (in Santa Cruz) and later to the National Bomb Data Centre at Manesar in Haryana,’’ ATS deputy inspector-general Jai Jeet Singh said.

More arrests were likely
soon, he indicated. “The investigation is in the initial stages and we don’t want to disclose anything right now. But there will be more developments soon,’’ Singh added.

The public prosecutor had sought their custody on the ground that the police wanted to nab Salahuddin, said to be the LeT’s J&K commander.

“We want to know who their
accomplices in Mumbai are and what their targets would have been. We want their custody for a thorough investigation to find out about the expansion of their terror network in the city,’’ the police stated in the remand paper.

“We know that the articles were brought in from
Jammu and Kashmir,’’ police commissioner A N Roy said. This is the second big operation unearthing LeT links in the city. A team led by encounter specialist Pradip Sharma had, in March 2003, gunned down three alleged LeT men (Lahore resident Abu Sultan, Karachi resident Abu Javed and Kashmiri Iqbal Vani) near the Goregaon flyover.

The Times of India, January 8, 2006

Saturday, January 7, 2006

Mira Road comes under police scanner again

Mateen Hafeez I Times News Network
Mumbai: The arrest of the three terror suspects, who stayed at a Mira Road flat, may result in door-to-door searches in the suburb as officials believe that the neighbourhood is becoming a safe haven for terrorists.

There have been incidents in the past when suspected terrorists came from different states and stayed in the locality as paying guests and played a key role in spreading terror, say officials dealing with the case.

The killing of Nasseer alias Nisar and Hasan in a police encounter near Ruparel College in Matunga on 11 September 2003 led to the disclosure that they came from Hyderabad and paid Rs 5,000 as rent for a Mira Road flat. That turned the spotlight on the area that is seeing unfrettered construction right now.

The duo were involved in the Zaveri Bazaar and the Gateway of India blasts that killed over 56 people on 25 August 2003.


The encounter team, led by senior inspector Dilip Patil, later raided Huda Apartment in the Naya Nagar area of Mira Road where the accused lived and recovered a huge quantity of explosives and gelatine sticks. “Mira Road has always been a haunt for criminals. New buildings are coming up in this area and one can get easy shelter and cover,” a crime branch officer said on Friday. “Nobody is bothered about who is living in the next flat. It has even helped Chhota Rajan gangsters,’’ the officer added.

Another blast accused, Zahid Patni, who was deported from the UAE in 2003, also stayed in Mira Road.
He was said to be the leading member of the Gujarat Muslim Revenge Force, an organisation formed by a group to avenge the Gujarat riots.

Officials are now questioning a Mira Road resident and trying to find out how the three arrested on Friday came and stayed at his place. They will probe whether he knew them.

The Times of India, January 7, 2006

NABBED BEFORE THE BLAST





Trio arrived a couple of days back, scoured the city for terror targets as cops were on their trail

Mateen Hafeez I TNN
Mumbai: The three Kashmiris, suspected to be Lashkar-e-Taiba men, were scouring the city for the last couple of days to look for suitable targets. It was ultimately that — their restless movements from one end of the city to the other — which led to police surveillance and their subsequent arrest on Friday morning.

One of the accused, 50-year-old Ramzan Wahab Qazi, had been to Mumbai earlier on a reconnaissance mission. He was acting as a guide to the two younger operatives: 29-year-old Khursheed Gani Lone and 27-yearold Arshad Gulam Badru Hussain.

“We had intelligence reports that some terrorists from Jammu & Kashmir might be visiting the city to spread terror. Policemen were deployed at all bus depots and railway stations,’’ police commissioner A N Roy said.


Officials said the three men were first spotted at Nasik railway station a couple of days back. They were tailed as they came to CST and then when they went to Mira Road where they stayed with a family.

Officials explained why they tailed the suspects for so long. “We can’t arrest the wrong person. We arrested them when we were sure they had come to Mumbai for spreading terror,’’ one of them said.

“We are questioning a member of that family and are trying to get detailed information about the family’s relation with the three suspects. We are yet to establish a link between them and are trying to find out whether the trio knocked on the doors with some reference or were staying there as paying guests,’’ an anti-terrorist squad (ATS) officer said. The police trailed the three as they moved all over the city; one of the places they visited was Kurla.


On Friday morning, the three took a train from Mira Road and got off at Mumbai Central railway station. They then walked from Mumbai Central to Nagpada. Qazi, in a traditional Pathani suit and a Kashmiri jacket, was seen guiding Lala and Badru, both wearing jeans and shirts. Two teams of ATS men walked along Belasis Road and apprehended the three men near Cafe Sagar, where the latter stopped to probably look for a place where they could keep their travellers’ bags. Mohammad Saleem, one of those who saw officials apprehending the three, said:”Many Kashmiris come to this area, specially on Fridays, and that was why no one noticed them.’’

Cafe Sagar, known for its food, has Nagpada police station on one side; Temkar Street, where Chhota Shakeel was born and grew up and Dawood Ibrahim had an office, is the next lane and Maharashtra’s biggest red-light area, Kamathipura, is a stone’s
throw away.

A shoe-shine boy, who saw the operation, said: “It looked like the three were waiting for someone. They were talking to each other and had bags in their hands.’’ Another witness said the three were heard asking about where to get some food.

This is the first time Mumbai Police has invoked the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (Amended)-2004.

Nasik:
Police have been trailing the three men from Nasik, where they are spotted on Wednesday.
CST, Mumbai: The men come to CST by train the same day.
Mira Road, Mumbai:
The men then go to a Mira Road house, where they stay. Kurla
The men roam the streets of Mumbai over Thursday and Friday, looking for targets. One of the places they visit is Kurla.
Nagpada: On Friday morning, the three take a train from Mira Road and get off at Mumbai Central railway station. They then walk from Mumbai Central to Nagpada. The men stop near Cafe Sagar restaurant, looking for a place to keep their bags. They are arrested as they are looking to split in different directions.

The Times of India January 7, 2006

3 J&K terrorists held with arms in city

Residents of the police quarters at Kalachowkie watch as the three terror suspects are brought in

Times News Network
Mumbai: The Mumbai police on Friday claimed to have busted a terrorist plot after arresting three suspects outside a hotel in central Mumbai and seizing a pistol, detonators and timers that could cause five explosions.

Khursheed Gani Lone alias Lala (29), Arshad Gulam Badru Hussain (27) and Ramzan Wahab Qazi (50), suspected to be affiliated to the dreaded Lashkar-e-Toiba outfit, were nabbed after the police trailed them for two days.

All three were Kashmiris, residents of Sopore and Baramulla, who were
wanted in J&K for various offences. The arrests were made outside a busy traffic intersection outside Cafe Sagar at Nagpada on Friday afternoon.

Police commissioner A N Roy said, “We had stepped up vigilance since last month after we received information that Kashmiri terrorists were likely to sneak into the city and cause sabotage. Our men trailed them and arrested them. We have seized a foreign-make .32 bore pistol, 20 detonators, five timers and six live cartridges from them.’’ Patrolling and stop-and-search operations have been routinely carried out in the city
since the attack on the Indian Institute of Science campus in Bangalore.

Police claimed the suspects had been living in the suburb of Mira Road for the last few days. They had come to Nagpada to meet an associate when they were intercepted. While two of them were carrying the arms in a rexine bag, Qazi had concealed the detonators in a jacket which he was wearing at the time of the arrest.

The anti-terrorism squad, which carried out the arrests, summoned staff from the bomb detection and disposal squad to their office to check if the seized material contained any explosives. But Roy denied that the trio had planned a fidayeen strike (suicide attack) on Friday. “We know they had come to Mumbai to expand the terror network. We have still to find out more about their associates,’’ he said.

Among the accused, Haji Qazi had visited Mumbai once earlier. But the others did not seem familar with the city. Sources said the suspects did not carry mobile phones for fear of being tracked and used public telephone booths to make calls. “We have informed our counterparts in Jammu and Kashmir and a police team will be coming to Mumbai. The accused will be interrogated jointly by the Kashmir police and the city police,’’ said Roy.

ARMS & THE MEN

Foreign-make .32 bore pistol
20 detonators
5 electronic circuits
5 timers 6 live cartridges


Trio wanted in J & K, came here to escape police heat

By M Saleem Pandit/ TNN
Srinagar: The three persons arrested in Mumbai on Friday were wanted by Jammu and Kashmir Police in connection with several terrorist strikes, Kashmir range inspector-general K Rjendrakumar said. One of the three was also involved in a heist at a bank in Srinagar on 30 November last year.

The three were also involved in hawala transactions and were responsible for moving money into the state from various channels to fund terrorist activities. The trio were involved in carrying arms and ammunition for the terrorists operating in Srinagar, officials said. The three were also involved in ferrying Pakistani Fidayeen militants to Srinagar for launching suicidal attacks in the city during three years, the IG added.

The three had fled from Kashmir to escape the pressure from police there, officials said. The police had launched a manhunt for Khursheed Gani Lone alias Lala of Bandipora in north Kashmir after one of his accomplices, Shabir Bhukari, a co-accused in the bank robbery, was arrested by the police in December from old city in Srinagar, inspector-general Rajendrakumar said.

The Lashkar operatives had been running away from Kashmir ever since police smashed the Lashkar modules by the killing several top commanders in Srinagar since November, he added.


Weekend court date

Mumbai: Police commissioner A N Roy said on Friday that Lala, one of the terror suspects arrested in Nagpada on Friday, was wanted in a Rs 11.70 lakh bank robbery that had taken place in November 2004 in Kashmir. Lala had also played a key role in a bomb blast in Kashmir last year and was wanted in that case as well. “There are different cases against all three in Jammu and Kashmir,’’ police sources said.

“We are also investigating the involvement of more persons who could be part of this group. The accused have been booked under various sections of the Explosives Act, Indian Arms Act and Unlawful Activities Prevention Act,’’ A T S joint commissioner K P Raghuvanshi said. They will be produced before a special court on Saturday. Meanwhile, security remained high at Mumbai airport. It has been stepped up after the Bangalore incident, sources said.

The Times of India, January 7, 2006

Thursday, January 5, 2006

Builder gets extortion calls from Machmach

Gangster Faheem Machmach alias Fatwa

Police Provide Protection To Developer, Trying To Trace Location Of ‘Private Number’

By Mateen Hafeez TIMES NEWS NETWORK

Mumbai: A property redeveloper in south Mumbai has been receiving extortion threats from gangster Faheem Machmach alias Fatwa.

Dubai-based Machmach, an aide of don Dawood Ibrahim, has been calling up the builder daily demanding Rs 50 lakh. The builder is a leading member of the the Property Redevelopers Association (PRA) and has bought a slew of dilapidated cessed properties in Grant Road and Girgaum areas to redevelop them into swank residential towers.


“The extortion calls began a month ago,’’ said a source close to him. The builder was immediately given police protection. The police are also trying to trace the location from where the calls are being made since the victim’s phone shows ‘private number’.

According to sources, while gangsters usually use tippers to gather information about a builder, Machmach is now using a different approach. The gangster initially targets a smaller builder who knows the big builder closely and threatens him. Then, promising not to kill him, the extortionist demands the office and residential ad
dresses and contact numbers of the bigger target.

In this case, Machmach called up a lesser known builder and de
manded Rs 10 lakh from him. The caller then asked for the details of the redeveloper adding that in case he refused or provided a wrong address he would have to pay with his life. Upset with the threats, both builders approached the anti-extortion cell and complained.

An officer of the anti-extortion cell said, “We have confirmed that the calls are being made by Machmach.’’

Machmach, listed as a most wanted accused, also has a red corner notice against him. The gangster, who lived in Bhendi Bazaar in south Mumbai, joined Dawood’s gang in the early
nineties and has emerged as the new face of terror for builders in the city after he became Dawood’s key aide for extortion from builders a year ago.

Machmach first came into the limelight in 2003 when the police registered an extortion case against him under the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act. In the recorded telephonic conversation, Machmach spoke to builder R C Agarwal, based in western suburbs in Mumbai and allegedly took a supari to kill Agarwal’s business rival. Agarwal was arrested and later released on bail because of his old age and health problems.


The Times of India, January 5, 2006

Wednesday, January 4, 2006

Iran firm taken for a Rs 18.2-crore ride

Lured Into Investing In Non-Existent Monorail Project

By Mateen Hafeez/TNN

Mumbai: It was an elaborate plan. The bait was a lucrative contract to build a high-speed monorail system, the deal was worth $52 million, and the key was a man who claimed to have the contacts.

The economic offences wing is probing a complex case in which a Tehran-based company was allegedly duped of Rs 18.20 crore by four persons based in four different countries. The firm disbursed the money to bag a non-existent monorail project in Indore, and the funds eventually made their way into an account at the Punjab National Bank’s Fort branch.

Babak Mohammedi, managing director of Iran’s Poledeg Construction Company, filed a complaint on December 12, accusing Somdutta Sharma (74), co-chairman of Hong Kong-based BCD Food and Oil, and three others of taking bank guarantees of $2.70 million and cash amounting to $1.50 lakh from his firm and then reneging on the promise of providing a contract to build the monorail project.

Inspector Vijay Dalvi, who is investigating the case, told TOI, “The others named in the FIR are Rohit Gupta, an architect and proprietor of Rohit Associates in Mumbai, US national Colonel Bin Mohammed and Anna Cheng, director of BCD Food and Oil in Hong Kong.’’

Sources said BCD in mid-2004 contacted Poledeg, a leading player in the infrastructure sector, and invited it to bid for a project in Indore. Sharma, a Canadian national, assured Poledeg that it would receive the contract to construct a monorail, provided it transferred $1.50 lakh into his personal account and issued a bank guaran
tee of $2.70 million to BCD.

Sharma had sent Mohammedi a copy of an MoU which showed an agreement between the Indore Municipal Corporation and BCD for a contract for the mono rail. Poledeg, in turn, provided a guarantee of $2.7 million through the

Bank of Iran and also deposited $1.50 lakh into a bank account. But Sharma wanted Poledeg to change the terms of the bank guarantee so that it could be in Sharma’s name.

Poledeg officials then began to suspect Sharma’ motives and Mohammedi visited India to inquire.
On reaching Indore, he was shocked to hear that the municipal commissioner had never sanctioned a MoU for such a project. The documents sent to him were forgeries. Mohammedi was also informed that Sharma had visited Indore and shown films about mono rail projects to convince citizens’ groups and the then mayor about the viability of the project.

According to Sharma’s proposal, the mono rail would run at an average speed of 300 kmph with a magnetic field to lift the coach above the track. However, when the municipal corporation contacted Rites Ltd, a state-run technical and engineering services firm, it learnt that no system on the lines shown by Sharma was in existence.

A source said Sharma was a regular visitor to Mumbai, where he had a room booked at a five-star hotel. It was here that he met architect Gupta and appointed him co-ordinator for the project on a commission. Gupta corresponded with Poledeg on behalf of Sharma. “Gupta switched off his cell phone and we are trying to trace him,’’ Dalvi said.

Sharma operated through an account in PNB’s Fort branch. This was where the money sent by Poledeg was deposited. “On January 5, 2005, there was Rs 65 lakh in the account, from which Sharma paid off hotel bills of Rs 22 lakh. He also donated Rs 60,000 to the Prime Minister’s relief fund (for tsunami victims) from the account on January 6, 2005. On January 25, 2005, Sharma met the colonel and paid him Rs 4.25 lakh as part of his efforts to bag the project,’’ Dalvi said. Mohammed now stays in the US. As per records, the current balance in Sharma’s account is Rs 5,600.

The Times of India, January 4, 2006

Tuesday, January 3, 2006

DK Rao decided quantum of aid to gang members

RAJAN’S REP

By Mateen Hafeez/TNN

Mumbai: The arrest of D K Rao from the Arthur Road Jail a fortnight ago has revealed that he was the nodal link between Chhota Rajan and other gangsters in the city. His duties included handling financial transactions on behalf of criminals behind bars and ensuring that money was sent to their families, said a police officer.

Senior inspector Dilip Patil said: “Rao’s arrest has shaken the Rajan gang. He was the head of the undertrials, working for the gang, in different jails. He decided the quantum of aid to the gang members.’’

According to another police officer, “Financial help,
ranging from Rs 5,000 to Rs one lakh a month, used to be given to the families of slain gangsters and trusted aides behind bars. Money was also spent on the legal expenses of gang members and to lure undertrials.’’

Rao, who studied upto class XII in National Kannada Education High School at
Wadala, is an accused in 25 cases, including 15 murders. He was serving a 10-year sentence for attempted murder at Arthur Road Jail when he was booked under the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) by the city police for running an extortion racket from inside the prison.

The police recorded over 30 mobile phone conversations between Rajan and Rao and converted them into transcripts that run into 74 pages. “We have taken voice samples, which will soon be sent to the Chandigarh Forensic Science Laboratory for verification,’’ an officer said. Apart from the financial dealings, the conversation throw light on various terminology used in the underworld like ‘kauwa’ (for mobile phone), ‘bacche’ (for bullets), ‘jhaadu’ (for AK-47 and carbines), etc.

Assistant commissioner of police R M Pargunde said Rao’s activities came to light after his aides, Vicky Malhotra and Fareed Tanasha, were caught in Delhi. The arrests were a big jolt for the gang and resulted in Rao playing a greater role.


The Times of India, January 3, 2006

Cop accused of killing lover tries to throw probe off track

By Mateen Hafeez/TNN

Mumbai: Sub-inspector Bhagwan Pakhre, accused of murdering lover Archana Gaikwad, is using all his years as policeman to dodge his interrogators. Investigators say it is too difficult getting accurate information from Pakhre since he knows all interrogation techniques and mind-games the police play “Pakhre has been in the department for over two decades. He knows the techniques of interrogation and to the extent that police can question him. It won’t be wrong to say he is trying to take advantage of his experience in the force,’’ deputy commissioner of police (zone-III) Santosh Rastogi said, referring to the 54-year-old sub-inspector.

Pakhre, who was the driver for an assistant commissioner of police, allegedly killed Gaikwad, with whom he had an extra-marital relationship for the last six years. Officials said Pakhre, who knew that the police would inform his bosses if he disclosed his identity, did not tell anything about his rank or posting to the men who nabbed him. “He tried to mislead investigators initially by giving vague answers,’’ one official said.

Pakhre knew that police would not beat him up and the exact line the interrogation would take, officials said. “Interrogators wanted to know where he was on the night of the murder but he kept quiet. There was also no answer when he was asked about his affair with Gaikwad and the reason for the murder,’’ an officer said. “Pakhre is trying to confuse the investigators. Though he has confessed to his crime, it is not going to help us till we collect evidence against him. He knows that the confession given to the police is not admissible in the court and that was why he admitted these things,’’ Rastogi said.

Gaikwad’s body bore injury marks on the chest, neck and abdomen and blood stains were also found on the seat of the vehicle out of which she was thrown. “We are waiting for the report. We are still not sure what weapon Pakhre used to kill Gaikwad. That recovery is a must for securing conviction,’’ another officials said. Gaikwad’s husband, Anil, is employed with the BEST as conductor. There were repeated fights among the couple that resulted in their separation. Gaikwad left her children, an 18-year-old daughter and a 15-year-old son, with their father as she went back to her mother’s place. The girl is doing her MBBS and the son is in class XII.

Gaikwad’s mother, Shobha Bhatkar, told the police that the former had a fight with her younger sister on December 29. She left home after that.

The Times of India, January 3, 2006