Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Anti-terror squad awaits medical cover

CHINKS IN THE ARMOUR: Members of the squad, which was involved in cracking several sensitive cases, say considering the risks involved in the work they need an insurance cover

Mateen Hafeez I TNN

Mumbai: Maharashtra’s elite anti-terrorism squad (ATS), formed two years ago to combat terror outfits, is yet to receive insurance cover and medical benefits for injuries sustained during sensitive operations. Considering the risks involved in their line of work, ATS members are now accusing the state government of depriving their families of muchneeded financial security.

The squad, which is routinely involved in raids and seizures of arms and explosives, arrested the imam of the Haj House mosque and three Kashmiris in January 2006. They had then seized detonators, electronic switches and revolvers from them. The other cases under ATS investigation include a recent bomb blast at Nanded in which two persons making bombs at the houseof a Bajrang Dal activist were killed, the recovery of explosives in Buldhana and explosions in Marathwada in 2003.

As per a July 2004 resolution, the government had decided that ATS staff would receive priority in housing, medical assistance, 50% hike in their salaries and an insurance cover of Rs 10 lakh each. “The cabinet had approved the
proposal for a hike in salary, insurance and other things but nothing has happened so far. The matter has been taken to the government and we are waiting for a reply,’’ Krishi Pal Raghuvanshi, inspector general ATS, told TOI.

Underlining the dangers posed by anti-terror operations, a senior member of the squad said his team had trailed a Tata Sumo earlier this month for 150 km and seized 30 kg RDX, 10 AK-47s and 2,000 bullets. “It was such a dangerous operation that had the accused opened fire, someone from our team would have been hit. The job requires that everyone be covered by insurance so that their families can be taken care of,’’ he said.

Additional chief secretary (home) A P Sinha said that he was not aware about the present status of the demand. “I was not on this seat at the time and therefore I don’t know about it’’ Sinha said.

Incidentally, only around 20 personnel in the 125-member squad have got a 50% hike in salaries. The rest—from the inspector general of police to the head constables—have been deprived of these benefits too. “The deputy inspector generals are drawing more salaries than the IGP, the head of the squad,’’ said a source.


The Times of India, May 31, 2006

Monday, May 29, 2006

Jaiin case: Cops yet to file chargesheet

Preetii Jaiin | ACCUSED

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: Eight months after arresting six people and beginning a probe into an alleged conspiracy to kill film director Madhur Bhandarkar, the police are yet to file a chargesheet against the prime accused, aspiring actress Preetii Jaiin, and five others. Jaiin was accused of issuing a supari (contract) to kill Bhandarkar.

Assistant commissioner of police (Agripada division) Manasi Mohite, who is heading the probe, said: “We have got all the evidence and you will know the contents of the chargesheet once we file it in court,’’ she said. She refused to divulge any further information in the case.


Last September, the police arrested Jaiin, don-turned-MLA Arun Gawli’s aide Naresh Pardesi, Shivam Arjunadas, Satish Mohite and two others in the case. It was alleged that Jaiin had issued a supari to Pardesi to get Bhandarkar killed.

Gawli had written to the police and state saying that Jaiin had conspired to kill Bhandarkar by issuing a supari and had visited Gawli’s office inquiring for Pardesi. Gawli claimed that he had never met her personally.

Gawli, though questioned in the case, was not an accused. Pardesi, an ex- shakha
pramukh of Gawli’s Akhil Bharatiya Sena, was arrested on September 10 last year.

Jaiin and Pardesi had to undergo brain-mapping, liedetector and polygraph tests, while Gawli underwent the lie-detector test. Results of all the tests are with the police.


Initially, the police had said that Jaiin had given a supari of Rs 30,000 but later said the amount was Rs 45,000. Later they claimed the amount to be Rs 75,000, until finally the police said Jaiin had paid Rs 2.5 lakh to get Bhandarkar eliminated.


Jaiin, who was in custody for 25 days, said, “The police are saying that I paid money to kill someone. They have to prove that the financial transaction took place and verify whether I was capable of paying this amount.’’ She said the police had examined her bank accounts and those of people related to her.

Deputy commissioner of police Santosh Rastogi said, “There is no eyewitnesss to the financial transaction between Jaiin and Pardesi. However, we have records of how Pardesi spent the money received from Jaiin.’’

On October 18, 2005, the police questioned Gawli for over seven hours, but could not get much information. “He is just a person of interest and not an accused in this case,’’ said ACP Mohite.


Prior to the supari case, Bhandarkar had lodged a police complaint in July 2005 alleging that he had been receiving threatening phone calls. In July 2004, Jaiin had accused the Chandni Bar director of raping her and threatening her life. During preliminary investigation, Jaiin told police that she had met Gawli and wanted him to take up her rape case in the legislative assembly. Pardesi too is reported to have told the police that Jaiin met Gawli. However, the MLA has denied any interaction with Jaiin.

HARD TALK
Cops are saying that I paid money to kill someone. They have to prove that the transaction took place and verify whether I was
capable of paying the amount


The Times of India, May 29, 2006

Thursday, May 25, 2006

MCOCA charges slapped on 11

Mumbai: The state police on Wednesday invoked the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act against the 11 persons arrested in Malegaon and Aurangabad for stocking and transporting arms, additional commissioner of police V Lakshminarayan said.

This is the first case relating to terrorism where the police have applied sections of the stringent Act, a piece of
legislation usually used to combat organised crime. Earlier, cases linked to terrorism were registered under the now repealed Prevention of Terrorism Act (Pota). Invoking MCOCA would allow the state’s anti-terrorism squad (ATS) to seek police custody for a longer period as well as book more persons involved in the case, an officer said.

The accused were on Wednesday produced before a court and remanded to police custody till June 6.

According to a policeman, each of the accused had played a specific role. “One of them acted as a coordinator, one drove the car, another loaded consignments, some of them
were involved in transporting it to other cities, and few helped other accused in concealing the consignments. It’s a clear case of organised crime and a fit case for MCOCA,’’ an officer said.

In the latest searches, the ATS raided the house of an advocate, Rafeeque Shaikh, in Chaleesgaon area, near Malegaon. But no objectionable material was found.

The Times of India, May 25, 2006

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

ATS unsure of student’s role

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: The ATS has not been able to get much out of second-year B.Sc student Aakif Biyabani, the eleventh suspect in custody in the arms haul case, and is not sure how much he knows about the case.

Biyabani, officials say, has not said anything beyond admitting meeting Pakistani national Jatun alias Zuber along with Zabihuddin in Kathmandu in June last year. “He said he visited Nepal twice with Fayyaz and Zabihuddin but was unable to throw more light,’’ an official said. Officials believe Zabihuddin worked for Zuber. All three —
Zuber, Zabihuddin and Fayyaz — are on the run.

The police may interrogate Mushirrudin Siddiqui, arrested this 30 January from the Kurla terminus, to get information about Lashkar-e-Taiba suspect Zuber. Siddiqui visited Pakistan in March 2003 for a 22-day training and also went to Nepal.

Officials say Zuber met Zabihuddin, Fayyaz and Biyabani at a five-star hotel in Kathmandu last year. “Biyababni insists he knows nothing about the conversation between Zuber and the others,’’ an official said.

The Times of India, May 23, 2006

Monday, May 22, 2006

Student held for links with terror outfit

Times News Network
Mumbai/Aurangabad: The anti-terrorist squad of the state police picked up a college student, an alleged Lashkare-Taiba sympathiser, from Aurangabad in the arms seizure case. The accused, Akif Biyabani, was charged under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.

A Mumbai court remanded him to police custody till May 24. He is the eleventh person to be arrested in the case. A huge haul of 43 kg of RDX, 16 AK-47s and 3,200 live rounds were seized in raids in Aurangabad and Malegaon over the past fortnight.


The police said Biyabani, a second year BSc student, was an associate of prime suspect Zaibuddin Ansari and had visited Nepal last year to meet LeT operatives. Ansari, a Beed resident, is absconding. “Biyabani was linked with the accused,’’ ATS inspector general K P Raghuvanshi told media persons on Sunday.

A resident of Ganesh Colony in Aurangabad, Biyabani ran a hardware business in the same locality and is said to be a friend of Amer Shakeel Ahmed who was arrested on May 9 at the Ellora Ghat, about 25 km from Aurangabad.

Earlier, the ATS had arrested Bilal Razzaq (29) on May 16 from Buddilane in the old city. It is learnt that Amer and others arrested earlier had named Biyabani. Sources said Biyabani was picked up by the ATS after keeping an eye on him for three days.

The Times of India, May 22, 2006

Saturday, May 20, 2006

City cops win right to keep imam in jail



NO RESPITE

Mateen Hafeez I TNN

Mumbai: The stand-off between the Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) police and Mumbai’s anti-terrorist squad (ATS), over whether former Haj House imam Gulam Hussain Yahya should be sent home or jailed was finally decided on Friday with the imam being sent to Arthur Road jail.

Thursday night saw a ver
bal duel between officers of the J&K police and the ATS over Yahya’s status.

When the J&K police arrived in the city armed with a Srinagar court order—which after releasing Yahya on a bail of Rs 10,000 directed the police to “take him back home’’—-additional commissioner of police (ATS) Jai Jeet Singh termed the order “inappropriate’’.

Singh said, “When the J&K cops sought his custody in February, it was their duty to inform the Srinagar court
that the accused must be sent back to the Mumbai jail after their investigations were over. But they failed to do that.’’

The J&K police team, comprising three officials, arrived at Mumbai Central along with Yahya at 8 pm on Thursday. The Srinagar court had granted Yahya bail since the Parimpora police could not file a chargesheet against him. He was shown as one of the accused in a case of conspiracy, waging war against the nation and unlawful activities. Yahya was arrested in Mumbai on January 13 and later handed over to the J&K police on February 21.

The J&K officials insisted that the imam should be taken home. The drama started at around 10 pm Thursday and continued till 2 am on Friday. Finally, the J&K police relented. The Pydhonie kept the imam in the lock-up at night and sent him to the Arthur Road jail on Friday.

A J&K police official said Yahya was taken to Srinagar after his name cropped up during interrogation of three Kashmiris—Ramzan Qazi, Khurseed Badroo and Arshad Gani Lone—who were arrested in Mumbai on January 6.

The ATS, which claimed to have seized 20 detonators, five electronic devices, five timers and two pistols from the trio, said they were to pass the consignment to an unidentified group.

The J&K police had detained over 20 persons in this case for keeping contact with LeT chief Salahuddin, providing shelter to militants and collecting money in the state and sending it for LeT operations.


The Times of India, May 20, 2006

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Suspects tracked for 5 yrs

ARMS CATCH: The Anti-Terrorist Squad and Intelligence Bureau recovered 43 kg of RDX from 10 persons in the state last week

Mateen Hafeez I TNN
Malegaon: The suspected terrorists who were recently arrested in Malegaon for possessing and transporting arms and ammunition had been on the police watch-list for the past five years.

One of the accused, Riyaz Ramzan alias Raju (36), was in fact under the scanner after he raised anti-American slogans during a rally in October 2001. According to the Malegaon police, Raju and another accused, Javed Abdul Majeed, played a prominent role in the rally. While Raju carried a picture of Al-Qaida chief Osama Bin Laden, Javed carried a placard that read ‘Osama Zindabad, Hum Tumhare Saath Hain’.

“From then on the local crime branch and officials of the state intelligence department (SID) started keeping a watch on their activities,’’ a police official said

Investigators said the accused were part of a conspiracy hatched by an “outside’ terrorist outfit. Three others arrested in the case are Dr Shareef Shabbir, Afzal Khan and Mustaque Ahmed.

Abdullah Shaikh, owner of the electronics shop from where the arms were seized, is currently being questioned by the police. “Shaikh had opened one of the five CPUs and saw AK-47s kept in the box. However, he did not inform the police and acted as if he was unaware of it,’’ a senior officer said.

Sources said that in 2005, Raju formed an NGO called Khair-e-Ummat. While Raju was president of this group, Shareef was appointed vicepresident.

However, Khair-e-Ummat followed the ideology of the banned organisation, Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), the police said.


“The NGO also conducted a seminar last August where speakers announced said that jihad was the only solution for the survival of Muslims in the country. On many occasions, the accused said he wanted to go to Kashmir for training to fight against the Indian government,’’ the police said.

“They would distribute pamphlets outside mosques after Friday prayers and try to indoctrinate youth by showing them photos of atrocities on the Muslims. For them, Khilafat (an Islamic government with one leader) was the only way through which Mus
lims could stop the alleged atrocities on the community. The accused would identify Muslim youth in the city and befriend them.

Later, they would take the sympathisers to the SIMI office and show them banned videos containing visuals of over eight to 10 communal riots across the country,’’ said a police officer.

Sources said that Javed had even tried to stop his friends from casting their votes in the 2004 assembly elections saying that supporting a non-Islamic government was gunaah (sin).


Thackeray Sr may have been target
Mumbai: Was Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray among the VIPs being targetted by the Lashkar-e-Taiba? On Wednesday, Sena mouthpiece ‘Saamna’ claimed that Thackeray’s photo was found from one of the suspected operatives arrested by the police in connection with the arms seizure at Aurangabad. Police sources said Thackeray has been on the hitlist of terrorist outfits for the past several years. He has been provided with VIP security with armed policemen guarding his bungalow Matoshree in Bandra (east) from all sides. However, after the Aurangabad incident, security at Matoshree has been stepped up. TNN

The Times of India, May 18, 2006

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

State to get two more anti-terrorism squads

Mumbai: On the basis of intelligence reports that homegrown terrorist modules are having increased contact with international groups, the state government has decided to set up two more Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) units—one in the second capital of the state, Nagpur, and the other in politically sensitive Aurangabad to help keep an eye on rural Maharashtra.

Confirming this development, deputy chief minister R R Patil said that the ATS has been asked to investigate a possible link between a blast in Parbhani, which took place a few months ago, and an explosion in Nanded, which took place two weeks ago.

The home department is of the view that the RDX recovered recently from a vehicle near Malegaon originated in the southern part of the country. But there is no confirmation about the source of the explosives being taken through Maharashtra, allegedly for use in Gujarat. Patil also announced a reward of Rs 2 lakh for the villagers of Verul, near Aurangabad, who helped the police track the terrorists and seize explosives.


The Trail
It all started with the gunning down of an LeT terrorist in Delhi on May 8. A day later, the anti-terrorist squad apprehended three suspected operatives along with a huge cache of arms near Aurangabad. There has been no let up since with more seizures and arrests from several corners of the state


Monday, May 8, Delhi
An LeT terrorist Abu Hamza killed, two (Feroze Abdul Latif Ghaswala and Mohammed Ali Chippa) arrested.
Tuesday, May 9, Aurangabad Three suspected LeT operatives (Ameer Shakeel Shaikh, Mohammed Muzaffar Tanvir and Sayyed Zuber Anwar) held after a hot chase. They were travelling in a Sumo jeep which they deserted. Another three men managed to escape in a Tata Indica.
Friday, May 12, Malegaon Indica found abandoned near Malegaon, off the Mumbai-Agra highway, without a number plate. Driver of Tata Sumo Abdul Aziz alias Raja held.

Saturday, May 13, Manmad Anti-Terrorist Squad arrests five people, on the lookout for main suspect Jabeer Ansari.

Monday, May 15, Malegaon Electronics shop owner Abdul Gani Osman Gani arrested

The Times of India, May 17, 2006

State to get two more anti-terrorism squads


Mumbai: On the basis of intelligence reports that homegrown terrorist modules are having increased contact with international groups, the state government has decided to set up two more Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) units—one in the second capital of the state, Nagpur, and the other in politically sensitive Aurangabad to help keep an eye on rural Maharashtra.

Confirming this development, deputy chief minister R R Patil said that the ATS has been asked to investigate a possible link between a blast in Parbhani, which took place a few months ago, and an explosion in Nanded, which took place two weeks ago.

The home department is of the view that the RDX recovered recently from a vehicle near Malegaon originated in the southern part of the country. But there is no confirmation about the source of the explosives being taken through Maharashtra, allegedly for use in Gujarat. Patil also announced a reward of Rs 2 lakh for the villagers of Verul, near Aurangabad, who helped the police track the terrorists and seize explosives.


The Trail
It all started with the gunning down of an LeT terrorist in Delhi on May 8. A day later, the anti-terrorist squad apprehended three suspected operatives along with a huge cache of arms near Aurangabad. There has been no let up since with more seizures and arrests from several corners of the state


Monday, May 8, Delhi
An LeT terrorist Abu Hamza killed, two (Feroze Abdul Latif Ghaswala and Mohammed Ali Chippa) arrested.
Tuesday, May 9, Aurangabad Three suspected LeT operatives (Ameer Shakeel Shaikh, Mohammed Muzaffar Tanvir and Sayyed Zuber Anwar) held after a hot chase. They were travelling in a Sumo jeep which they deserted. Another three men managed to escape in a Tata Indica.
Friday, May 12, Malegaon Indica found abandoned near Malegaon, off the Mumbai-Agra highway, without a number plate. Driver of Tata Sumo Abdul Aziz alias Raja held.

Saturday, May 13, Manmad Anti-Terrorist Squad arrests five people, on the lookout for main suspect Jabeer Ansari.

Monday, May 15, Malegaon Electronics shop owner Abdul Gani Osman Gani arrested

The Times of India, May 17, 2006

One more suspect held in arms case

Over the last 8 days, the police have seized 43 kg of RDX in state—6 kg more than what was used in the 1993 blasts

Syed Rizwanellah | TNN

Aurangabad: One more terrorism suspect was picked up in Aurangabad on Tuesday by the antiterrorism squad (ATS) from Mumbai in connection with the recent haul of arms, ammunition and RDX near Aurangabad and Malegaon, bringing the total number of arrests in the case to 10.

The ATS arrested Billal Abdulrazzaq Ansari, reportedly a close friend of the main absconding accused, Jabeer alias Zainuddin Ansari.

Police said that during questioning in Mumbai, one of the arrested men, Amir Shakeel Shaikh, named friends in Aurangabad, following which ATS personnel in Aurangabad sought the help of the City Chowk police and visited Bilal, a calligrapher and silk screen printer.

The local cops posed as customers who wanted some cards printed and, in a friendly manner, asked him about Amir. Bilal told them that Amir was his close friend and had been caught by police while handling “samaan’’.

Alarmed by words like ‘samaan’ and his behaviour, the policemen led Billal to the City Chowk police station.

Later, during a search of his house, the police found pictures of Amir there. Following ques
tioning by ATS men, Billal reportedly spilled the beans and narrated whatever events he knew. Assistant commissioner of police (ATS) Dattatreya Dhavale declined to comment on the matter.

Billal is a former employee of a newspaper in Aurangabad, but originally belongs to Malegaon. He was reportedly staying as a paying guest with the homoepathic doctor Shareef Shabbir (33), another person arrested in the case, in Aurangabad a decade ago. Police are yet to establish the doctor’s role.
Another four to five youths, including Shaikh Mujahed Shaikh Ismail (30), who owns a laundry in Aurangabad, have been picked up by the ATS.

Aside from Billal, Amir and Dr Shareef, the police have arrested Sayyed Zuber Anwar, Muzaffir Tanvir, Abdul Azim alias Raja, Afzal Khan, Mushtaque Ahmed, Riyaz Ahmed alias Raju and Javed Ahmed.

Police believe that the arrested men were mostly used as carriers of the explosives by Jabeer. Jabeer is basically from Beed has been absconding since May 9, when the first arrests and arms seizure were made.
(With inputs from Mateen Hafeez in Malegaon & S Ahmed Ali in Mumbai)

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Cover for BSE, temples

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: The terrorist attack on the Sankat Mochan temple in Varanasi early this year and the subsequent arrest of several suspected terrorists in the city have prompted the Mumbai police to draft a security plan for four temples and the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE).

The plans are likely to be implemented within a month. “Four big temples in the city—Siddhivinayak, Mumbadevi, Babulnath and Mahalaxmi— and the BSE were given preference for security cover,’’ joint commissioner of police (law and order) Arup Patnaik said. However, no decision has been taken on the security of prominent mosques, churches and other religious places in the city.

Police personnel have already been posted at Siddhivinayak and several other temples but the new proposal will provide a more concrete security structure to these places.

According to Patnaik, security measures are being taken following the general threat perception to the financial capital of the country. “Mumbai has always been on the target of anti-nationals. So there is need to take all possible precautions to avoid any untoward inci
dents,’’ he said. This year, the anti-terrorism squad (ATS) arrested six persons in connection with alleged terrorist activities and conspiracies. The police had seized 20 detonators, five timers, five remote controls, electronic circuits, 950 gm gun powder and three pistols from them. All the accused have been put behind bars.

“Security walls will be constructed across temples, physical frisking will be increased and the method of routine vigil will be modernised with the installation of close-circuit cameras in and around the temples,’’ Patnaik added.

The city police may provide extra manpower to these temples and the BSE in view of the protection of thousands of visitors every day to these places. “In our plan, we have also added the frisking through metal detector and X-ray examination of belongings of a visitor to a particular place,’’ an officer said.

The plans are being drafted with the joint strategy of the police, temple and the BSE authorities. “The plan has been finalised with mutual co-operation and understanding. We cannot eliminate the threat perception and the issue needs to be addressed,’’ Patnaik stated.

The Times of India, May 16, 2006

Monday, May 15, 2006

Gangster Naik gives aides a ring from cell



Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: Gangster Ashwin Naik is trying to rebuild his gang from Kalyan jail, where he is lodged. According to sources, Naik has been contacting his old friends and some unknown persons using a cellphone.

Jail sources said Naik, who has been paralysed below the waist ever since he was shot in the sessions court on April 18, 1994, is in constant touch with his old accomplices and is also busy recruiting young undertrials into his gang. When information about Naik using a cellphone was sent to jail authorities by the police last week, they conducted surprise checks thrice. “However, the jail authorities could not find any cellphone,’’ a jail source said.

It may be recalled that TOI had reported about Chhota Rajan gangster D K
Rao using a cellphone in Arthur Road jail. The authorities had initially denied it but the crime branch later seized a mobile phone from Rao’s custody.

At a meeting on May 10, S P Yadav, DIG prison, asked all the eight jail superintendents (south region) to keep an eye. “The Kalyan jail superintendent, V D Bendre, was asked about Naik using a mobile phone and told to keep a vigil,’’ the source said.

It is learnt that when relatives come to meet highprofile accused, they often bribe guards and avoid frisking. “Many accused meet their relatives in a sep
arate room and use the visitor’s cellphone. After the conversation, the visitor leaves with the phone, which is why it is not traced,’’ a source said.

However, Bendre maintained that Naik’s using a cellphone was a rumour. “Some jail officers are famous for spreading rumours. We have not found any cellphone during the searches nor do we have any information about Naik using a cellphone in the jail,’’ he said.

Deputy chief minister R R Patil said the state government was planning to install mobile phone jammers in several jails.


The Times of India, May 15, 2006

Gangster Naik gives aides a ring from cell



Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: Gangster Ashwin Naik is trying to rebuild his gang from Kalyan jail, where he is lodged. According to sources, Naik has been contacting his old friends and some unknown persons using a cellphone.

Jail sources said Naik, who has been paralysed below the waist ever since he was shot in the sessions court on April 18, 1994, is in constant touch with his old accomplices and is also busy recruiting young undertrials into his gang. When information about Naik using a cellphone was sent to jail authorities by the police last week, they conducted surprise checks thrice. “However, the jail authorities could not find any cellphone,’’ a jail source said.

It may be recalled that TOI had reported about Chhota Rajan gangster D K
Rao using a cellphone in Arthur Road jail. The authorities had initially denied it but the crime branch later seized a mobile phone from Rao’s custody.

At a meeting on May 10, S P Yadav, DIG prison, asked all the eight jail superintendents (south region) to keep an eye. “The Kalyan jail superintendent, V D Bendre, was asked about Naik using a mobile phone and told to keep a vigil,’’ the source said.

It is learnt that when relatives come to meet highprofile accused, they often bribe guards and avoid frisking. “Many accused meet their relatives in a sep
arate room and use the visitor’s cellphone. After the conversation, the visitor leaves with the phone, which is why it is not traced,’’ a source said.

However, Bendre maintained that Naik’s using a cellphone was a rumour. “Some jail officers are famous for spreading rumours. We have not found any cellphone during the searches nor do we have any information about Naik using a cellphone in the jail,’’ he said.

Deputy chief minister R R Patil said the state government was planning to install mobile phone jammers in several jails.


The Times of India, May 15, 2006

Friday, May 12, 2006

The changing face of terror

NEW PROFILE: Those held for terrorist activities recently were semi-educated

Mateen Hafeez I TNN

Mumbai: The profile of terrorists involved in various incidents in the state over the last six years has undergone a marked change. The highly educated and technically sound individual of the past has given way to mediocre school dropouts.

According to police sources, it was easier to indoctrinate semi-educated people in comparison to the educated ones. “They get carried away emotionally and are easy to manipulate,’’ said an officer who has interrogated several suspected terrorists.

Referring to previous cases, police sources said initially, the educated elite were targetted by terror outfits. “Most of the accused arrested for several blasts in the past were role models for children in their locality. Nobody suspected them. After their role in the blasts was revealed, they were condemned within the community,’’ an officer said.

After a series of blasts in the city between December 2002 and 2004, most of the accused arrested under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (Pota) were found to be highly qualified. Dr Abdul Mateen, arrested allegedly for providing shelter to the blast accused in his college hostel, was an MD and in-charge of the forensic science department. Another accused, Khwaja Yunus, held a BE degree, Imran Altaf Khan was a mechanical engineer and Muzammil Shaikh was an electronics engineer. Similarly, Atif Mullah, ar
rested for the Ghatkopar blasts, was an MBA. Another accused, Saquib Nachen, had done his masters in Commerce. Muzammil Ansari, another accused from Malegaon, obtained a civil engineer’s degree form Pune University. The court later acquitted eight accused in the Ghatkopar bomb blast case.

Advocate Majeed Memon, who appeared on behalf of several blast accused, said, “The perception that Muslim youth have taken to terror activities, if true, is indeed a matter of serious concern. Semieducated and failed students are likely to be tempted to take to crime no matter to which community they belong.’’

K P Raghuvanshi, joint commissioner of police (ATS) said during the interrogation of several accused in the last one year the police realised that the ISI
and other terror outfits were targeting unemployed and semi-educated youths. “It is easy to brainwash those who are not broad minded. They are spotted and then indoctrinated by the terror modules. The school dropouts are soft targets for anti-nationals,’’ Raghuvanshi said.

A senior officer said all the accused arrested for participating in terror activities/conspiracies in the last two years were either semi-educated or dropouts. “For example, the three arrested on January 6 this year from Nagpada were school dropouts. They were asked to execute terror operations to avenge the killings of Muslims across the country. They were completely brainwashed,’’ a police source said. The accused, Ramzan Qazi, a Class XII dropout, Khursheed Gani Lone alias Lala and Arshad Hussain Badroo, both ran grocery shops in Sopore.

Senior inspector Sunil Deshmukh, who is part of the ATS, said, “The semieducated are soft targets as they adopt the ideology of a terror outfit easily. Sometimes they are promised a lot of money or other rewards if they help implement the operations of a terror outfit.’’

On January 13, the Imam of Haj House, Maulana Gulam Illahi Baksh Yahya was arrested for “assisting and harbouring’’ terrorists. He too was a Class VII dropout from Kolkata. On January 30, two others, Mushiruddin Siddiqui and Manzoor Ahmed were arrested from Kurla for carrying 950 gm of gun powder. Siddiqui was a Class VIII dropout .

The Times of India, May 12, 2006

Police grill Sumo owner

RICH HAUL: The missing car was reportedly carrying more arms and ammunition

Yet To Establish Link Between Accused And Terrorist Outfits

Times News Network
Mumbai: Members of the anti-terrorist squad brought the owner of the Tata Sumo in which three suspected terrorists were travelling in before being apprehended near Aurangabad from Beed to the city on Thursday. Rafeeque Shaikh (35) was interrogated about the whereabouts of the man who booked the vehicle for a day.

Rafeeque told investigators that the missing accused had contacted him two weeks ago and sought to hire a Sumo for a day. “He hired my car and paid Rs 1,600. He told me that he wanted to travel to Mumbai. I didn’t ask him about the purpose of travel since this is my regular business,’’ Rafeeque said.

The ATS on Tuesday arrested three persons, Ameer Shakeel Shaikh (30), Sayyed Zuber Anwar (26) and Mohammed Muzaffar Tanvir (24) from Aurangabad after a oneand-a-half-hour long chase. The police seized the Tata Sumo (MH-14 X 4380) they were travelling in, and recovered 10 CPUs containing 30 kg RDX, 10 AK-47 rifles, 2,000 bullets, six magazine pouches, 40 magazines etc. The police were yet to establish the trio’s links with any terror outfits and said the target was not known.

“Rafeeque’s driver Raja drove the Sumo from Beed to
Chandod, while Tanvir along with Shaikh and Anwar left Aurangabad in a Indica (MH-20 W 1240). They met between Chandod and Manmad and exchanged their vehicles. The key accused who had come in the Sumo switched to the Indica which Raja took over and followed the trio in the Sumo,’’ an officer said.

However, it was still not clear where the missing ac
cused joined Raja, whether it was at Beed or on the way to Chandod. The ATS officers were following the Tata Sumo and they suspect that soon after Raja and his accomplice realised that the police team was chasing the Sumo they changed direction and fled on some other route. The Indica was reportedly carrying three boxes of arms, ammunition and explosives.

The police said they were interrogating the three accused about how they met their missing accomplice.

On Thursday, Shaikh and his two accomplices were questioned for two hours by V Laxminarayan, additional commissioner of police (ATS), the investigating officer. He was asking Shaikh to clarify the contents of a diary seized from him.


COPS STILL TO TRACE MISSING INDICA

Aurangabad: The Indica car (MH 20 W 1240) carrying suspected Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists which gave the slip to the Aurangabad rural police on Tuesday night has still not been traced. Refusing to comment on the issue, additional superintendent of police (Beed) Subhash Mohekar said the ATS was handling the case from Mumbai.

Meanwhile, Rafeeque Shaikh alias Raju (35), the owner of the Sumo used by the terrorists to transport arms and ammunition surrendered before the Beed police on Wednesday. He was referred to the Mumbai ATS late on Wednesday night.

Meanwhile, Rafeeque’s brother Liyaqat (25) claimed that Abdul Aziz Abdul Jameel (25), who once worked for Rafeeque as a driver had approached his brother with two unidentified persons and requested for the Tata Sumo to bring his aunt from Mumbai. Aziz said since he would be carrying his family members, he would himself drive the vehicle and would not require a driver. It was not clear whether Jameel and Raja, the driver of the missing Indica were one and the same person.

The Times of India, May 12, 2006

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Three nabbed with huge arms cache in Aurangabad

CACHE COUNT: A huge cache of ammunition seized from the terrorists arrested in Aurangabad was displayed at a press conference

Mumbai/Aurangabad: Close on the heels of the encounter and subsequent arrest of suspected Lashkare-Taiba (LeT) operatives in New Delhi on Monday, three suspected LeT operatives were arrested after a hot chase in Aurangabad district, 350 km from Mumbai, on Wednesday.

However, a second group of suspected terrorists, which was travelling in an Indica car (MH 20 W 1240), managed to escape. Their car was believed to contain three boxes of arms, ammunition and RDX explosives.

The Sumo jeep which the three captured operatives had deserted while fleeing had 30 kg of RDX, three kg more than what was used in the
1993 Mumbai serial blasts. Given the huge consignment of the powerful explosive, there has been speculation about whether it was meant for blowing up the world-famous Ellora caves. However, top police sources denied this, saying it was just a rumour. “Our information is that the weapons and explosives were to be stored somewhere in Beed district and subsequently were scheduled to head for Jammu,’’ a senior ATS official said.

BIG BANG AVERTED
Ten AK-47s, several revolvers, 2000 bullets and 30 kg of RDX were seized from the trio. Three other accomplices managed to escape in a car
The haul of explosives is bigger than what was used during the Mumbai serial blasts in 1993
Police deny terrorists planned to blow up Ellora caves, say consignment was headed for Jammu


Arms haul biggest ever in the state

Mumbai/Aurang abad: Apart from the RDX, ten AK-47 assault rifles and 2,000 bullets were seized from the Tata Sumo that the three men had abandoned while fleeing. Addressing journalists at the state police headquarters in Mumbai, deputy CM R R Patil said it was the biggest ever seizure by the anti-terrorism squad (ATS) in the state. “The source of the consignment and its destination is being investigated,’’ he added.

Sources said the Aurangabad rural police swung into action after SP Brijesh Singh received a tip-off from the Mumbai police seeking interception of a group of suspected terrorists who were on their way to Aurangabad from Mumbai.

The speeding vehicle not only outpaced a Shiur police jeep with PSI Syed Asif in hot chase but also managed to give the Deogaon Rangari police the slip.

It was the third team under the Khuldabad police station which finally caught up with the Sumo near Ellora Ghat. By this time, the trio
had deserted the vehicle and fled on foot. One of them ran into the forest and was caught by villagers. Another accused who fled towards the Ellora caves was caught by the police and the third was arrested from home.

During the search of the Sumo the police found 10 computer CPUs and when the CPUs were opened, they found one plastic packet containing 3 kg of RDX, one AK-47, 200 bullets, four magazines and one magazine pouch in each CPU.

Asked whether LeT sleepers were present in the city, Patil said it was just a rumour. Announcing a reward of Rs five lakh for the ATS team, Patil said since 2005 the ATS had seized arms and ammunition four times and were doing an excellent job. However, when a pending reward announced by the state government in 1993 was brought to Patil’s notice, he said, “I don’t know about it. I will see what can be done.’’

Meanwhile, the accused have been remanded to police custody till May 24. TNN

ROUBLE IN THE BACKYARD

Home minister R R Patil is displaying a seized AK-47 gun

Manhunt is on for terror ally

Mateen Hafeez I TNN
Mumbai: Officers of the antiterrorism squad (ATS) in the city have said the three suspected terrorists arrested in Aurangabad on Wednesday were carriers transferring firearms and ammunition from one place to another. The police are now on the lookout for a man from Beed who was supervising the delivery.

Senior inspector Sunil Deshmukh of the ATS said the three accused, Ameer Shakeel Shaikh (30), Sayyed Zuber Anwar (26) and Mohammed Muzaffar Tanvir (24), residents of Juna Bazar in Aurangabad district, took instructions from the ‘missing’ man.

Shaikh, a Class IX dropout, ran a Chinese foodstall at Juna Bazar. The key accused from Beed, whose identity has not been disclosed, would visit the foodstall. “The trio was used as carriers since they do not know how to use firearms and were never trained in bomb making,’’ said Deshmukh. Shaikh is said to be a member of the banned Students’ Islamic Movement of India.

While Anwar was a student of Arabic, Tanvir ran a cutlery shop and also used to work as a part-time driver. All three knew each other.

“The consignment was kept in a Tata Sumo between
Chandod and Manmad on Tuesday. The key accused instructed the trio to travel in the Sumo and said he would follow them in his car. We suspect that he fled or changed his route when he realised that the Sumo was being chased by the police,’’ Deshmukh said.

The vehicle (MH-14 X 4380) was hired by the key accused three days ago from Beed. A mobile number (9822297687) written on the window of the car was not reachable.

Meanwhile, the police raided the house of the key accused in Beed but could not
find him there. “The accused had asked the trio to deliver the consignment outside Aurangabad where a third party was supposed to take over,’’ a source said. The consignment, the police suspect, was smuggled from Pakistan. It was supposed to be sent to Jammu.

“When we asked the driver to stop the car he sped away at 140 km per hour and did not even pay octroi at two toll nakas. Moreover, their vehicle hit the toll naka’s barricade near Kannad and the accused were nabbed only after a hour and a half long chase,’’ an officer said.

The ATS also conducted searches in Mahim and Grant Road in Mumbai but could not find any specific leads.

The Times of India, May 11, 2006

Manhunt is on for terror ally



TROUBLE IN THE BACKYARD

Mateen Hafeez | TNN
Mumbai: Officers of the antiterrorism squad (ATS) in the city have said the three suspected terrorists arrested in Aurangabad on Wednesday were carriers transferring firearms and ammunition from one place to another. The police are now on the lookout for a man from Beed who was supervising the delivery.

Senior inspector Sunil Deshmukh of the ATS said the three accused, Ameer Shakeel Shaikh (30), Sayyed Zuber Anwar (26) and Mohammed Muzaffar Tanvir (24), residents of Juna Bazar in Aurangabad district, took instructions from the ‘missing’ man.

Shaikh, a Class IX dropout, ran a Chinese foodstall at Juna Bazar. The key accused from Beed, whose identity has not been disclosed, would visit the foodstall. “The trio was used as carriers since they do not know how to use firearms and were never trained in bomb making,’’ said Deshmukh. Shaikh is said to be a member of the banned Students’ Islamic Movement of India.

While Anwar was a student of Arabic, Tanvir ran a cutlery shop and also used to work as a part-time driver. All three knew each other.

“The consignment was kept in a Tata Sumo between
Chandod and Manmad on Tuesday. The key accused instructed the trio to travel in the Sumo and said he would follow them in his car. We suspect that he fled or changed his route when he realised that the Sumo was being chased by the police,’’ Deshmukh said.

The vehicle (MH-14 X 4380) was hired by the key accused three days ago from Beed. A mobile number (9822297687) written on the window of the car was not reachable.

Meanwhile, the police raided the house of the key accused in Beed but could not
find him there. “The accused had asked the trio to deliver the consignment outside Aurangabad where a third party was supposed to take over,’’ a source said. The consignment, the police suspect, was smuggled from Pakistan. It was supposed to be sent to Jammu.

“When we asked the driver to stop the car he sped away at 140 km per hour and did not even pay octroi at two toll nakas. Moreover, their vehicle hit the toll naka’s barricade near Kannad and the accused were nabbed only after a hour and a half long chase,’’ an officer said.

The ATS also conducted searches in Mahim and Grant Road in Mumbai but could not find any specific leads.

The Times of India, May 11, 2006

Friday, May 5, 2006

Pravin got the news a day later

Mateen Hafeez I TNN

Mumbai: Rubbishing media reports about Pravin Mahajan’s reaction to his brother’s death, Arthur Road jail officials say Pravin got the news only on Thursday morning.

“He was imprisoned in the anda cell where several inmates are entitled to newspapers, and some of those inmates told him about his brother’s death when they met him in the corridor around 7 am,’’ says DIG Prisons (south region) S P Yadav.


“At 8 am, jail superintendent Jayant Naik along with four constables were on their rounds,’’ says Yadav. “When Pravin saw Naik in the corridor, he said, ‘I heard that the papers have reported my brother’s death. Has he died?’ Naik nodded and told him Mahajan had died the previous evening.’’

“Pravin looked at Naik and was silent for a moment. He then kept looking blankly at the constables... he was silent and did not speak to anyone for over half an hour.’’

The Times of India, May 5, 2006

Thursday, May 4, 2006

Pramod’s death makes Pravin’s life more difficult

BLEAK HOUSE: Pramod’s younger brother Pravin, who was produced in Bhoiwada court on Wednesday, will now face a charge of murder instead of attempt to murder

Mateen Hafeez & Kartikeya | TNN

Mumbai: Now that Pramod Mahajan has succumbed to his injuries, how will his death affect the court proceedings against Pravin Mahajan, the prime accused in the case? To begin with, Pravin will now face trial under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) which deals with murder and not Section 307 or attempt to murder under which he had been booked until now.

Pravin’s defence advocate Nandkumar Rajurkar points out that Pramod Mahajan’s death has implications for the criminal investigation. “The only person who knew the truth is dead,’’ says Rajurkar. “Now we will never know what exactly transpired on the morning of April 22 at the Mahajan household.’’


‘Death will not affect Pravin case’

Mumbai: Pravin Mahajan’s defence advocate Nandkumar Rajurkar points out that Pravin has been sent to judicial custody on Wednesday and the prosecution might find it difficult to get further custody for interrogation, even though he now will face graver charges.

Special public prosecutor for the case Shrikant Bhat, however, says that Mahajan’s death will not affect the case at all. “Pravin will now face trial for an offence punishable by death, and we will ensure that he faces the legal consequences of his actions,’’ he says. Bhat refuses to say whether he will seek further custody of Pravin.


According to criminal lawyer Majeed Memon, while the police reserve the right to ask for a fresh 14 days of custody for Pravin, it’s up to the court to grant it. “We have to look at the broad spectrum of offences ranging from assault to murder,’’ he says. “Sometimes a simple assault can lead to death and the police get custody of the accused, but attempt to murder and murder are closely related offences in which the prosecution may not seek further interrogation.’’

In a similar case in Calcutta a few years ago, the defence had argued that charges against the accused should not be upgraded from ‘attempt to murder’ to ‘murder’ as the victim had spent many days in hospital before dying, and his death could be due to other re
asons like medical negligence.

The police are likely to change the ‘attempt to murder’ charge to ‘murder’ once the prosecutor informs the court about Mahajan’s death.


The Times of India, May 4, 2006

Monday, May 1, 2006

Tarannum case: No charges yet

NOT YET BOOKED: Tarannum was arrested on September 16 last year for her alleged nexus with bookies and the underworld


TIME RUNS OUT

Eight Months And The Cops Are Still Waiting

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: Nearly eight months after the arrest of crorepati bar dancer Tarannum Jafar Khan for her alleged nexus with bookies and the underworld, the Mumbai crime branch is yet to file a chargesheet in the case.

Tarannum and two bookies, Milind Dheeraj Nandu alias DJ (35) and Pradip Parmar (40), were arrested on September 16 last year. Later, one more person, Bhavesh Upadhyay, was arrested. All arrests took place within a month of registration of the case, and the accused were booked for cheating, criminal conspiracy, gambling, betting, computer hacking and destroying evidence.

During investigation, police seized Tarannum’s mobile after raiding her Versova bungalow. They found 93 numbers, 27 of which were of bookies and 30 of punters. However, other than DJ and Parmar, police have not arrested a single person whose number was on the mobile.

The police have also seized a TV, computer, three mobile phones, three voice recorders, a chart on cricket matches and documents related to betting. But all this apparently yielded very little material. Chief investigator ACP Ratansingh Rathor said, “We couldn’t get any information from the laptop since it was completely destroyed’’.

Documents seized from Tarannum show that she had kept a record of all interna
tional cricket matches played between March 1, 2005 and October 19, 2005. Police also claimed to have found 157 nicknames and codes, from DJ’s diary, which according to them, belonged to those who placed bets or accept them. “The codes belong to several bookies and punters.
Once we decode them, we will arrest the bookies,’’ DCP D D Kamlakar had said, the day after her arrest. Sources said police have so far decoded just 15 to 20 of the code names.

Tarannum was granted bail two months after her arrest as the police “could not file the chargesheet in the proper timeframe though it was not a heinous crime’’. The police had repeatedly sought remand on the grounds that
DJ and Tarannum had travelled abroad on a number of occasions and the police wanted to find out “if they have links with terrorist outfits and had passed on some sensitive secrets to them.’’

Their remand application had also stated that police was trying to find out if there was any underworld connection to the betting syndicate. In November, the cops summoned actor Aditya Pancholi who escorted Sri Lankan spinner Muthiah Muralidharan to Deepa Bar where Tarannum worked. But he denied that he knew her personally.

Rathor said the team will soon thrash out all issues with their legal expert and discuss filing the chargesheet within a reasonable timeframe. “The probe is still on and we will file the chargesheet at a proper time,’’ he said.


The Times of India, May 1, 2006