Tuesday, February 28, 2006

At Arthur Road jail, money does all the talking

Undertrials use funds to buy food, liquor, cigarettes, or a comfortable sleeping area. Money also helps appease cops, who allow prisoners to spend more time with relatives or friends after a hearing

By Mateen Hafeez/TNN

Mumbai: Inmates at Arthur Road jail are getting vocal about the alleged partiality shown by prison personnel towards rich or influential persons who are doing time. Well-to-do undertrials, who are able to smuggle cash into the prison and buy small luxuries by bribing policemen, are being exposed in the process.

Despite strict checks, a source revealed, “A tailor’s shop near the jail is being used to bring cash inside. Relatives, friends or gang members deposit their money at the shop. The tailor then takes his commission and hands over the rest to constables posted inside. The constables collect the money and hand it over to the undertrial for a percentage. If
they bring Rs 10,000, they are entitled to a commission of Rs 1,000.’’

Sources said influential undertrials use these funds to buy food, liquor, cigarettes, or a comfortable sleeping area. Often, money helps to appease constables, who allow prisoners to spend more time in court meeting their relatives or friends after a hearing.

An inmate who was recently released from the overcrowded prison told this paper that at least 30 new undertrials are brought to Arthur Road jail every day. “The number of undertrials is increasing day by day. Most of them are not taken to court when their hearing is scheduled. Authorities do not even inform them and these inmates just keep waiting for their turn,’’ he said.

Many undertrials who come from a poor background, rely on legal assistance provided by the government. Lawyers who receive no prior briefing and lack experience are usually found defending
such prisoners.

As per supreme court guidelines, an inmate has to be produced within 15 days if custody has to be extended. However, last year, over 50 inmates had gone on strike demanding to know why they were not being taken to court on the scheduled dates. Inmates had complained that their relatives were being inconvenienced in the process as they would come from various places to the court premises on the given day, in the hope of meeting the prisoner but they had to go back disappointed.

On the other hand, some inmates, who are influential or have deep pockets, are frequently allotted dates by the clerical staff to attend court. “The jail authorities act like their friends. They are in
formed in advance about their dates,’’ a police informant said.

Unofficially, inmates are loosely categorised on the basis of their crime: Those accused in heinous crimes are termed bahadur, petty thieves and drug addicts are described as ‘third grade’, and those belonging to organised gangs are bhai or bhai ka admi. Gangsters and those deported from other countries enjoy an exalted status as Khas aadmi.

Sources said when rich undertrials and gangsters are taken to court for hearings, their relatives and associates turn up to meet them and spend the next few hours in a leisurely manner. “Though the court gives them the next date in an hour or two, these inmates spend over three to four hours outside the court meeting acquaintances, eating meals, smoking and gossiping,’’ a source said.

Despite attempts, Arthur Road superintendent Jayant Naik was not available for comment.

The Times of India, February 28, 2006

Saturday, February 25, 2006


Residents of Kakad Estate gather to discuss news of the suicide


Adi Kurshetji was a wealthy Parsi with property at Worli & Breach Candy. Neighbours recall his relationship with Geeta Soni which led to murder

By Mateen Hafeez/TNN

Mumbai: Residents of Kakad Estate at Worli, where 73-year-old Adi Kurshetji was murdered in May 2003, on Friday recalled the stormy years when the old Parsi gent and the woman held guilty of his murder lived in their midst.

Many residents had gathered in the building’s compound adjoining a busy street after hearing of Geeta Soni’s suicide in the sessions court following the judgment which convicted and sentenced her to life imprisonment. Some remembered her as a passionate animal lover who often clashed with other residents in the building on the issue.

“She had made her house a mini-zoo. She kept around 40 cats, dogs, parrots, etc. Keeping so many animals in a residential building is against the rules of the animal welfare board. She would feed
them in the corridors and all the places where children played,’’ a resident said. Soni lived alone with her mother Sharda in flat B/6.

Another resident, a 60-year-old man, said, “Soni had installed huge cages outside her flat despite opposition from the residents. There used to be such a mess
that I had to convert my ground-floor residence into an office. Now I stay in a different place.’’

Soni’s family moved into the three-storey building
in 1984. Her father had died earlier and so had an elder brother who was said to have been murdered. Soni’s sister was married to a businessman and based in Dubai. “Theirs was a mysterious family,’’ a woman resident said.

Sources said Soni met Kurshetji in 1996 in a local scrap dealer’s shop, where
the latter was a frequent visitor. They became close and later Kurshetji adopted Soni as a daughter. At this point, Kurshetji did not own a flat at Kakad Estate. In fact, until 1999, Kurshetji and his wife Mehroo lived in a bungalow at Worli.

The bungalow was eventually sold for Rs 10 crore and Kurshetji used the mon
ey to buy a Rs 3.5-crore flat at Breach Candy and invested in another at Kakad Estate, along with Soni, for Rs 36 lakh. “Kurshetji and Soni wanted to jointly buy flat B/5. But we objected to making her a member and, so, the flat was bought in Kurshetji’s name,’’ a resident said.

Sources said soon afterwards Soni became close to Irshad Mullah, who was Kurshetji’s driver, and later married him. She also bought a flat for Mullah at Anand Ashram in Worli for Rs nine lakh.
“Nobody knows how she managed Rs nine lakh. She had a bad habit of borrowing money from all the residents and never returned it,’’ a source said.

When Kurshetji found out about the marriage, he decided to change his will and deprive her of a share. The decision apparently enraged her and finally led to the murder that involved Mullah and three sweepers, Pappu Valmiki, Ajay Valmiki and Rakesh Kumar, who were hired to kill him. The trio were promised Rs 3 lakh for the crime.

Other alleged conspirators included Dr Baburaj Sanjeeva Hegde, who had mentioned the cause of death as cardiorespiratory failure in the death certificate. The other accused was Parsi priest Behram Rustumji Dordi, who was allegedly promised Rs 5 lakh to perform the last rites. He was acquitted for lack of evidence.

The Times of India, February 25, 2006

Draft forgers con banks to the tune of Rs 1.5 crore

By Mateen Hafeez/TNN


Mumbai: The banking unit of the Mumbai police are on the lookout for three men—all experts in forging demand drafts—who have cheated several banks to the tune of Rs 1.5 crore.

Police suspect the three men to be Prathemesh Pravin Gohil alias Prafulla Waghela, Jatin Jayram Shukla alias Rajkumar Indermal Jain and Sushant Vilas Thakur alias Rajesh Parasmal Jain. However, their original identities are yet to be established.

A complaint was lodged
by Oriental Bank of Commerce (Fort branch) in this case. The bank was cheated to the tune of Rs 1.22 crore by the three. The police said the gang is relatively new and its modus operandi is to alter names and amounts on demand drafts.

According to investigating officer Sunil Kadam, at least 24 bogus demand drafts were prepared by the three in various branches of Oriental Bank, including Balotra, Ajmer, Palimarwadi and New Delhi. The accused prepared original demand drafts in the above branches for Rs 100-900. They later altered the amount to lakhs of rupees. For example, the amount of a demand draft of Rs 100 (issued on March 15, 2005) was altered to Rs 7.91 lakh. In another case, an original demand draft of Rs 200 was changed to Rs 7.95 lakh.

“In all the cases, the accused prepared the original demand drafts with fake names but withdrew money from specific accounts at ICICI Bank,’’ said Kadam. The investigators said someone preparing a demand draft does not need to write his full address and the accused took advantage of this. “It’s difficult to trace someone since the complete address was not written on the demand drafts. All the addresses given were fake,’’ an officer said. The three also submitted bogus PAN cards, driving licences and mobile
bills to open accounts with ICICI Bank. The accused operated four accounts at ICICI’s Ghatkopar, Bandra, Sion and Andheri branches. The mobile numbers given to the bank were also switched off. The police said after altering the amount and name on the DD, the accused would withdraw between Rs 5,000 and Rs 8,000 from any ATM and once the money was transferred into their accounts, they would go and withdraw it from the bank.

It was at the United Bank of India where an employee realised something was amiss while scrutinising the demand drafts. He alerted the bank officials who approached the Oriental Bank on this issue. During verification, Oriental Bank found it had been cheated and lodged a complaint against the accused.




The Times of India, February 25, 2006

Friday, February 24, 2006

Man posing as ‘imam’ recruiting agent held

He Promised Arabic Teachers Jobs In The Gulf

By Mateen Hafeez/TNN

Mumbai: The Cuffe Parade police on Wednesday arrested a 37-year-old man who claimed to be a recruiting agent and promised Arabic teachers in the city jobs of imams in West Asia.

Accused Mohammed Gul
shan Mirza, a resident of Yadav Chawl at Mira Road, was arrested on Wednesday after Arabic teacher Mohammed Hafeez Abdul Ahad (30) lodged a complaint. Mirza reportedly cheated over 30 other teachers as well.

Ahad told investigators that Mirza contacted him in the first week of January and introduced himself as a visa agent for people seeking jobs in the Gulf. Similarly, Mirza contacted a number of poor Arabic teachers and promised them work permits for West Asia. He would
say his charges were Rs 30,000 for the entire procedure and initially take Rs 4,500.

“He told me that I will get the job of an imam in Saudi Arabia. I have been teaching Arabic to children for the last over 10 years and thought this was a golden op
portunity and paid him Rs 4,500 as first instalment,’’ Ahad told the police. Sources said Mirza took the money as fees for “paper work.’’ He also told the candidates that they would have to spend around Rs 30,000 for the complete procedure of procuring visas, getting it stamped and other formalities.

Meanwhile, after taking Rs 4,500 from Ahad, Mirza disappeared and did not return as promised. A worried Ahad then contacted Mirza who told him that he was unable to arrange a visa for him and that Ahad should
forget about it. Ahad then lodged a complaint with the police and Mirza was arrested. Sources said Mirza came to Mumbai from Navghad in Uttar Pradesh about four years ago. However, he could not get any job for more than two years. Later, he started telling people that he had friends working in the Gulf who could arrange for visas for those here.

While an Imam earns Rs 5,000 to Rs 7,000 per month in Mumbai, an imam in Gulf countries gets over Rs 20,000 per month over and above money for food and accommodation. Ahad, who belongs to Allahabad, stays in Ganesh Murti Nagar slums in Cuffe Parade along with two others as a paying guest. Said senior inspector Digambar Kale: “We have repeatedly told people to verify the agent’s credibility before paying him any money. But nobody pays attention till they realise they have been cheated.’’

The Times of India, February 24, 2006

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Star student tries to end life

Nawaz Niyazwala beat 114 other participants to bag the Mr Bhavans title

Consumed Poison After Alleged Argument With Girlfriend

By Mateen Hafeez/TNN

Mumbai: This was one college romance that went badly wrong. The winner of this year’s Mr Bhavan’s title, Nawaz Niyazwala (20), attempted suicide after being spurned by a girlfriend the day after Valentine’s Day. Niyazwala, who was admitted to JJ Hospital after consuming poison, remained in coma for two days before recovering.

Niyazwala, a second year BCom student at Bhavan’s College at Chowpatty, beat 114 participants for the Mr Bhavan’s title. Niyazwala’s family is now worried about the effect of the incident on his studies. His final exams begin on March 9.

A friend who did not wish to be named said Niyazwala was in love with a Mazgaonbased girl. The problem was
they belonged to different religions. Niyazwala wanted to spend Valentine’s Day with her, but she refused.

The next day, however, they met near Siddhivinayak
Temple and discussed their future. The girl told him that her family members did not approve of their relationship and breaking up was the only way out.

Following this, an upset Niyazwala purchased a bottle of pesticide and consumed it near Chowpatty at 1 pm. He later came to his college where he told his friends that he was meeting them for the last time since he had consumed poison and would die soon.

“I don’t want to live. I just want to die,’’ a tearful Niyazwala told his peers. The worried students immediately informed his father, Babu Bhai, a manager with Noor Cable Operators at Dongri. Babu Bhai along with his neighbours rushed to Bhavan’s College, where they were met by a semi-conscious Niyazwala, who re
fused to come along with them.

He was eventually forced into a taxi and driven to JJ Hospital where he was immediately admitted and given a stomach wash.

Later, however, Niyazwalla denied that he attempted suicide because of a failed love affair. “I repent whatever I did, but I didn’t attempt suicide because of any affair. It was just that I felt that I would not be able to score high marks in the exams,’’ he said.

The Times of India, February 23, 2006

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Rebel’s killing marks end of Taliban gang

By Mateen Hafeez/TNN

Mumbai: With the death of robber Aslam Meraj Shaikh (24), killed in an encounter near Lotus Junction at Juhu-Vile Parle Development Scheme on February 8, the reign of the Taliban gang is all but over. Shaikh, who came to Mumbai in 2000 to work in a zari unit, was the last active member of the gang.

A Std IV dropout from Pratapgarh in UP, Shaikh was among several others who was brought to work in zari units by one Shakeel Ahmed alias Maulana (so called because of his traditional beard), said sources. Police said that Maulana had promised them
jobs in Mumbai and told the job-seekers that they could earn between Rs 1,000 and Rs 3,000. Shaikh, who lived in a slum in Antop Hill on a rent of Rs 200 per month, realised only after a year that Maulana was the head of a gang of robbers known as the Taliban gang.

Maulana told the unemployed Shaikh that he could join his gang and earn Rs 5,000 to Rs 10,000 a
month depending upon the robberies committed. Shaikh agreed and soon became an active member thanks to his bike-riding skills. However, he was a rebel who told Maulana that he would not grow a beard. Maulana had made it compulsory for every member to grow a beard which became the identity of the Taliban gang.

“The gang had terrorised wine shop owners during 2001-’02. Maulana would pay between Rs 3,000 and Rs 5,000 to his subordinates,’’ an officer said.

Shaikh and his associate Mohammed Haneef were caught by passersby in D N Nagar in 2002 while robbing a wine shop and handed over to the police. Later, they confessed their involvement in 10-12 wine shop robberies across the
city. Shaikh was in the custody of D N Nagar police for 14 days after which he was taken into custody by the Byculla, Nagpada, Oshiwara and the Tilak Nagar police. Meanwhile, all the gang members were caught and sent to Arthur Road jail. In 2004, the entire gang was released on personal bonds of Rs 1,000 each. Soon after they were released, the gang’s first target was a wholesale dealers’ shop in Mulund. They threatened over 40 shop employees at gun point and decamped with Rs 60,000.

In September 2004, Maulana was gunned down in an encounter
near Ballard Pier Court where he had come to observe a petrol pump which the police claimed was to be robbed by the gang.

Haneef and Alam were arrested and booked under MCOCA and convicted for seven years rigorous imprisonment last year. When Shaikh came to know about the conviction, he disappeared. But he returned to the city in 2006 and was killed in an encounter.

The Times of India, February 21, 2006

Friday, February 17, 2006

Take care, top cop tells city banks


By Mateen Hafeez/TNN

Mumbai: The city police would like banks, reeling under a series of robberies, to tighten their security.

Senior police officials said on Thursday they could, at best, help banks; but, ultimately, it was the banks’ job to make robbers’ task difficult.

“This (security) is a matter of banking operation in
which we don’t want to interfere. We want them to take a look at the methods which they can employ to protect themselves,’’ Mumbai Police commissioner A N Roy said.

The burglary at the Dadar branch of Dena Bank on Wednesday was the tenth time in the last 12 months that a bank had been targeted. The sum looted or burgled from all the banks would add up to a nice kitty of more than Rs 75 lakh. Most banks hired guards but did not bother to keep their photographs, addresses and other details, Roy said, adding: “Our aim is to curb crime but what can we do if someone is not taking any precaution?’’

Roy could be right. When robbers struck a Ghatkopar bank last month, the guard had gone to change his uniform. “The cashier’s room hardly had any security system. A punch would have been enough to smash the thin wooden wall,’’ Roy said.

Officials said quite a few banks did not have any alarm system and, at most of the places where they existed, they
did not work properly. “If you go to a bank, you will find most of the guards filling forms for the visitors or helping strangers to find out an address,’’ an official said.

The Indian Bank’s Oshiwara branch, robbed last Friday, has a foreign exchange facility. But it did not have a guard; the bank depended on the society’s watchman. Dena Bank did not opt for a single guard at night and relied on a watchman hired by the building. Officials say they are doing their best. The 600-odd beat marshals patrol neighbourhoods of 600 banks and over 400 ATM centres and have foiled 35 cases of robbery, theft and dacoity since 2004.

The Times of India, February 17, 2006

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

One killed, others fled: Encounter reports add a line

In at least nine encounters, the accomplices have managed to escape

By Mateen Hafeez/TNN

Mumbai: Police encounters have got a twist. In addition to the standard ‘the gangster opened fire and the police retaliated’, a special police squad in nine separate encounters since January 1, 2005, after each hit has said that “the accomplice, however, managed to escape’’. Interestingly, all those who allegedly fled from the encounter spot have neither been identified nor caught.

The squad was formed by then additional commissioner of police, Param Bir Singh and last year out of 12 encounters in the city, the squad bagged the credit for eight. Police records of all the nine encounters state the “accused opened fire and the police retaliated. One of the accused was killed while the others escaped.’’ “We try to nab all the aides, but they manage to flee,’’ an officer of the squad said.

On October 14, 2005, the squad
shot down Sunil Shinde alias Batla, an alleged accomplice of gangster Faheem Machmach, who police alleged had once collected Rs 25 lakh from a businessman on behalf of the gangster. However, Batla’s family rebutted this. “My son had a vada pav stall at Mazgaon which the BMC employees took away since he could not bribe them. He was without a job for two months,’’ Batla’s father, Narayan Shinde, had told TOI. Police said Batla’s accomplice who had come in a rickshaw ran away during the encounter.

Last week, Aslam Meraj Shaikh, (24), a robber of the Taliban gang, was killed by the squad. The police claimed Shaikh along with two members came near Lotus Junction at JVPD on February 8 to rob a bank and both the associates managed to flee on a bike. Shaikh sustained two bullet injuries and was declared dead on admission to the hospital.

It’s a coincidence that has
raised eyebrows. Sources said that officers of at least four police stations participate in every encounter and so they can take all precautionary measures to nab an accused. “How can a person escape from the encounter spot where more than 10 police officers work together in an operation? They could trail the fleeing accused but it never happens. Is this difficult for officers of four police stations from the same zone?’’ asked a senior officer.

Param Bir Singh (now IG) said he did not remember any accomplices fleeing from the encounter spots. “I will have to check the facts from the records,’’ he said.

DCP Amitabh Gupta, in whose jurisdiction (Bandra-Oshiwara) maximum robbers were killed by the squad, refused to comment on the coincidence.

Noted criminal lawyer Majeed Memon said there is always a suspicion that encounters are staged. “Every encounter is said
to be an extra-judicial killing by human rights activists. The Bombay high court in the infamous Javed Fauda case has set a list of dos and don’ts for cops involved in encounters. To win the public’s confidence, the police must account for every encounter in the light of those guidelines. When we find that every encounter is similar to the previous one and monotonous in nature, the suspicion of it being fake becomes belief,’’ Memon said.

One of the officers in this squad, inspector Raju Pillai, was conferred the prestigious Police Medal for meritorious service on Republic Day this year. Sub-inspector Dhananjay Daund is said to be behind 20 encounters. The others include inspector Pradip Suryavanshi and assistant inspector Sarvankar of the D N Nagar police, assistant inspector Jagdish Sail (Juhu police), subinspector Juvekar from west region control.


July 7, 2005:
Pandav Putra gang chief Sandeep Deshmukh, (30), shot dead near Bandra Reclamation. His associate fled.
August 25, 2005:
Robber Irshad Chand Miya Shaikh, was killed in Oshiwara. His aide managed to escape.
Sept 14, 2005:
An alleged Chhota Rajan gangster, Sanjay Nirmal, was killed at Mahakali Road in Andheri. His aide gave police the slip.
Oct 5, 2005:
A robber Nisar Ahmed Shaikh alias Munna, (32), was killed in Juhu. In this case too, his accomplice fled.
Dec 6, 2005:
Robber, Mangesh Sawant (32), was killed in encounter. t During separate encounters of robbers Raju Baze and Subhash Hadkar last year, their accomplices also fled

The Times of India, February 15, 2006

Friday, February 10, 2006

Sub-broker held for duping over 100 investors

Red Corner Notices To Be Issued For Partners Who Fled Country


Mumbai: The economic offences wing (EOW) arrested a subbroker and director of Jasani Leasing and Finance Ltd on Tuesday night for duping over 100 investors to the tune of Rs 4 crore.

Jairam Manghandas Jasani (48), who is a resident of Bandra, has been remanded to police custody till February 18.

Red corner notices are also likely to be issued against two other directors who fled to London along with their families on January 9 this year, the police said. The two, Tulsi Pramanand Jasani and Haresh Jasani, have been declared as wanted.

According to police sources, the trio claimed to be sub-brokers of Network Brokers, a firm run by broker Suresh Jain. The trio had been in the business of shares for more than 10 years. When the sensex crossed the 9,000 mark last year, they lured investors to purchase shares of Reliance, Wipro, TCS, Infosys etc saying that they would make huge profits.

“The case came to light when the investors asked the trio to transfer the shares in their demat accounts but the accused failed to do so since they never bought shares for the clients in the first place,’’ a source said.

Complainant Praful Vora, a businessman, accused the Jasanis of issuing bogus
purchase bills and misappropriation of funds. “The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) had on May 1 last year declared that subbrokers cannot do their own billings and that the billing could be done only by brokers. We will ask their broker, Jain, why he didn’t check the activities of the Jasanis who were billing on their own despite SEBI instructions,’’ said investigating officer Pravin Patil. The police suspect the fraud may go beyond Rs 10 crore.

“Most of their clients were Sindhi businessmen. The Jasanis would provide bogus bills to their clients saying they had purchased shares on their behalf, which they never did,’’ an officer said. “We are collecting evidence against the accused so that the Interpol can be informed through red corner notices,’’ he added.

An investor told the police that he had invested money last year and was under the impression that the Jasanis had bought shares for him. He also told the police that the Jasanis had a good reputation in Bhuleshwar, where they had an office, and so no one doubted their credibility.

A similar case was reported to the EOW in May last year in which a sub-broker Ashit Vinod Shah (42) had duped investors of over Rs 50 crore. Shah was the director of MCI Securities Pvt Ltd. Among Shah’s other offences were not transferring the shares to his investors’ demat accounts and reselling the shares without their knowledge. He also promised several investors interest on share lending and for using their shares but stopped paying them the interest after a short period.

The Times of India, February 10, 2006

Tuesday, February 7, 2006

Lack of FIRs hinders cyber sleuths

Victims Hesitate To File Complaint As Culprit Is Usually Known To Them

By Mateen Hafeez/TNN

Mumbai: In 2005, the cyber crime investigation cell (CCIC) in the city received 143 complaints—almost one complaint every second day—a reasonable number for a city of the size of Mumbai.

However, it translated into only one first information report (FIR). Going by the account of officers in the cell, all of whom are specially trained to tackle cyber crimes, victims hesitate to file an FIR once they realise that the culprit is either a friend, neighbour or acquaintance.

For example, a group of
students, all girls, from the psychology department of Mumbai University, approached the CCIC complaining that they had received morphed photographs showing one of their classmates naked over email. “The students were upset as they felt that the accused could have done the same with their photographs as well,’’ a source told TOI.

During investigations the police found that one of the girls who had broken off with her boyfriend recently had received the email from him. It transpired that she had created a bogus email ID in the name of her boyfriend’s cousin, who lived in Dubai. She forwarded the mail to her boyfriend and later to the other girls.

Her boyfriend was surprised when he received
this email since the “ sender ’ ’ was his cousin.“She wanted to continue the relationship with her boyfriend but didn’t know how to go about it. She thought the email fiasco would help her to patch up with him and gather his sympathy. Investigators found that the IP address from where the mail was sent to everyone indicated that it was the same girl. During questioning, she confessed, but the police could not arrest her since there was no formal FIR.

Said an officer, “Our aim is not just to arrest people but to educate them that there are cyber rules and something which they don’t think
wrong may be illegal and they may be punished for it. If you receive any email containing morphed photos, you should not forward it but delete it since it may create problems for you.’’ Officers said the only solution lay in spreading awareness.

In yet another incident, a software engineer, who wanted to marry his classmate from college days, came to know about her wedding and started send
ing abusive and vulgar emails to the girl and her fiance too.

The girl, who was working with a national security agency, then informed the CCIC. Investigators zeroed in on a cyber cafe in Vidya Vihar. Later, it was revealed that the accused, a resident of Mulund (east), would come twice or thrice a week from Mulund to Vidya Vihar so that the IP address would mislead the police. When the girl found out who the culprit was she shocked, but she too refused to file a first information report.

In yet another incident, a former student of the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore, now employed with a leading media house, started receiving obscene emails soon after she sent out invites for her wedding to all her friends. The mails were traced to a 50-yearold former classmate of hers.

The Times of India, February 7, 2006

Friday, February 3, 2006

Ship crew used wrong measures

Pervez Mehta, director of Raj Shipping, was granted bail on Thursday

By Mateen Hafeez/TNN

Mumbai: Investigations into the oil pilferage case have revealed that the crew of Raj Shipping, contractors for transporting diesel to the Indian Navy, would use a ‘sounding rod’ and not a flow metre to measure the quantity of oil in containers.

A flow metre gives an accurate reading of the quantum of oil while a sounding rod only gives a rough indication. Even if a few hundred litres are pilfered, the sounding rod will not show it. “With the
help of these rods, the Raj Shipping crew pilfered diesel worth crores of rupees meant for the Indian Navy and sold it at a discount to small ship owners,’’ a police source said.

The police had arrested 11 people on Monday including Avaksi Kerfegar Doctor, manager of Raj Shipping Agency Ltd, Pervez Mehta, director. All were released on bail.

Raj Shipping had a contract to supply diesel to the Indian Navy on behalf of the Indian Oil Corporation. Police said the diesel was pilfered during transportation and at the time of unloading. They suspect that the scam may have earned those involved over Rs 500 crore, police said.

It is learnt that Mehta’s father, Adi Mehta, was an accountant with Gujarat Chem
icals at Porbundar before he started this business in the early 1990s. Pervez Mehta returned from the US in 1997 and lives with his family at Dadar Parsi Colony. In the late ‘90s, the Mehtas also bought a survey vessel, Anweshak, from ONGC which they converted into a supply vessel.

A source said that diesel meant for the Navy would be sent through tank lorries to Ferry Wharf where it would be unloaded into barges. IOC officials then sealed the tanks and sent them to the docked vessels. Raj Shipping was paid transportation charges.

The police suspects that besides being sold to small vessel owners for Rs 30 per litre as against its market rate of Rs 37 to Rs 40, the pilfered diesel was also used for transportation of Raj Shipping’s own barges. Sources said Raj Shipping needs around 2 tonnes of diesel per vessel during the transportation. The police is probing where Mehta bought diesel for his own vessels.

Raj Shipping reportedly owns 17 barges, six pontoons (which store containers), two off-shore supply vessels and four tugs. The police had detained two ships containing 2.52 lakh litres of low sulphur, high flash high-speed diesel worth Rs 93.42 lakh.

H K Prem, Mehta’s defence lawyer, said, “The police claimed they had pilfered oil meant for the Navy. However, neither the Indian Navy nor the IOC have come forward saying it was their oil.’’

However, DCP (detection), D D Kamalakar, said, “There was definitely a basis for their arrest. The oil seized from them is supplied specially for the Navy and is not for commercial purposes. It was not their oil.’’

The Times of India, February 3, 2006

Dewani murder: Salem aide held

By Mateen Hafeez and Kartikeya/TNN

Mumbai: The crime branch on Thursday arrested Shah Alam, an alleged associate of gangster Abu Salem, in connection with the 2001 murder of Ajit Dewani, secretary of actress Manisha Koirala. Salem and Alam were remanded to police custody till February 15 by the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act court on Thursday.

The cops provided documentary details of the communication between Alam and Salem to support their claim that the former was aware of the developments that led to Dewani’s murder.
Alam stunned the court when he accused the police of detaining him since
January 26. He also claimed that he was assaulted by one of the police officers. Notwithstanding the allegations, the court’s decision weighed in favour of the crime branch argument that Alam was part of the murder conspiracy. Salem’s lawyers requested the court to allow his client to be taken to Hyderabad—where he is wanted in a case of passport forgery—and give a statement absolving his girlfriend Monica Bedi from the conspiracy. The plea was rejected by the court.

Salem, who was extradited on November 11 from Portugal, has been interrogated in two cases so far—the 1993 serial bomb blasts and builder Pradeep Jain’s murder.

The Times of India, February 3, 2006

Thursday, February 2, 2006

Cashier cheats bank of Rs 67 lakh

Siphoned Off Money From Other Accounts Into Four Fictitious Ones

By Mateen Hafeez/TNN

Mumbai: A clerk-cum-cashier of the Sarvodaya Co-operative Bank was arrested by the economic offences wing (EOW) of the crime branch on charges of using his colleagues’ passwords to operate fictitious accounts and siphoning off Rs 67.86 lakh.

Vikas Shankar Joshi (30), a commerce graduate from Vikas Night College at Vikhroli, joined the bank as a clerk in 2002. Good at computer operations, Joshi was asked to look after all financial transactions and help other employees in their work as well. A promotion to the cashier’s post soon followed.

According to the police, it was while working at the bank’s
Andheri branch that Joshi opened three fictitious accounts and maintained them by using the logins and passwords of four different colleagues.

Meanwhile, Joshi founded Om Sai Sahkari Patpedi, a small saving system which works like a bank, and went on to appoint a few people as officebearers saying he could not juggle two jobs. In mid-2005, he issued a bogus cheque of Rs 21 lakh through Om Sai Patpedi and deposited it in one of the fictitious accounts.

The cheque bounced. However, instead of showing that the cheque had been dishonoured, Joshi used the same cheque to siphon off money from other accounts in the bank into his own account. Using his access
to confidential files, he then deleted all the entries of debit and credit from the accounts he had hacked into.

Last year, Joshi was transferred to the Bhandup branch. Here again he opened a fictitious account. In September 2005, he made entries showing a transfer of Rs 35 lakh from Bhandup to Andheri branch in the fictitious accounts.

Meanwhile, the bank took up modernisation of its computer system, and Joshi was asked to supervise the process. It was then that one of the computer engineers who was working on the project informed the bank’s higher authorities about four nameless accounts.

The bank officials conducted an internal inquiry and zeroed in on Joshi since two entries in the fraud were made against his personal account.

“It was the only mistake that Joshi made. When he was questioned he could not give satisfactory answers. Then the bank general manager, approached the police and lodged a formal complaint. Joshi was remanded to police custody till February 4,’’ police said.

The Times of India, February 2, 2006

Wednesday, February 1, 2006

Kurla arrests: Cops probe training angle

Siddiqui and Ansari were held with explosives

By Mateen Hafeez/TNN

Mumbai: Preliminary investigation by the antiterrorism squad (ATS) shows that Mushiruddin Siddiqui (37) and Manzoor Ansari (28), who were held with arms and explosives at Kurla Terminus on Monday, had come here to train terror recruits in the art of preparing and planting bombs and operating automatic firearms.

ATS sources said the duo were here to make hand grenades with the 950 gm high-intensity explosive powder they had.

The ATS finds similarity between the cases of Siddiqui and Zahid Patni, an engineer who was deported from UAE and arrested in connection with the twin blasts in the city on August 25, 2003.

Patni was arrested on September 27, 2003, on
charges of training a family in making bombs that were planted at the Gateway of India and at Mumbadevi on August 25, 2003.

Patni, a resident of Mira Road, had allegedly formed the ‘Gujarat Muslim Revenge Force’ to avenge the communal riots in Gujarat. He visited Mumbai several times and allegedly taught bomb-making to an auto driver Mohammed Haneef, his wife Fahmeeda and daughter Farheen. The module was arrested on September 2, 2003.

Sources said while Patni was employed in Dubai, Siddiqui worked for an oil firm in Saudi Arabia from 1999 to 2000.

The police is focusing on the ‘training’ angle since Siddiqui had gone to Pakistan where he was trained for 22 days in operating AK-47s, AK-56s and assembling detonators, timer switches, electronic circuits and making bombs. Siddiqui was earlier questioned by the crime branch after the blasts in 2002-’03.

The ATS is also hunting for a ‘financier’ who funded Siddiqui’s trip to Pakistan. “Siddiqui worked as a fabricator and didn’t have money to go abroad. The financier is the missing link,” an officer said.

The Times of India, February 1, 2006