Friday, December 29, 2006

Jailhouse won’t rock this New Year

Mateen Hafeez I TNN

Mumbai: The 3,000 undertrials lodged at Arthur Road jail cannot make merry on December 31 as they did last year. This time, they will have to be present in the ground for the whole day since it will be their Warrant and Body Counting Day, when new numbers are given to them, said a source.

Following the brutal murder of an inmate, robber John D’Souza, on December 23, the inmates, their barracks and belongings have come under the jail officials’ scanner.

D’Souza was stabbed to death allegedly by a group on the instructions of a Dawood gangster.

Sources said that last year the jail officials had allowed a small function to celebrate New Year; food was also ordered from outside and liquor,
too, was smuggled in. A section of undertrials had allegedly gifted a sherwani to a senior jail official.

There were reports that gangster Abu Salem had been offered biryani and pulao in the jail. However, it turned out that it was part of the function organised by the inmates within the jail. It was learnt
that a small-time DJ was also called for the function.

When contacted, Swati Sathe, superintendent of the Arthur Road jail, said, “December 31 is the Warrant and Body Counting Day and all the undertrials will be given new numbers. The session will start early in the morning and all the inmates will be called
to the ground. In the evening, they will be sent back to their barracks where they will be given their numbers.’’

She added that this counting was a yearly roll-call for the jail inmates.

Arthur Road jail gets around 100 new inmates every day. Since the jail is already overcrowded, many inmates are transferred to other jails. There are also those who leave the jail after being granted bail or acquitted.

“The jail has undertrials accused in sensational cases. Most of the accused in the 1993 bomb blasts case, Ghatkopar bomb blast case, 7/11 train bombing case, gangsters from the Dawood Ibrahim, Chhota Rajan and other gangs are lodged here. So we have to be strict to deal with such hardened criminals,’’ said a jail official.

The Times of India, December 29, 2006

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Dawood aide is suspect in jail murder case


Crime Branch May Handle Probe

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: With the name of a top Dawood Ibrahim gangster emerging in the Arthur Road jail murder case, investigation might be handed over to the city crime branch, police sources said.

John Robert D’Souza, a robber, was stabbed to death in the jail on Saturday by a group of inmates. A magisterial inquiry has been ordered into the murder, since the incident took place when the victim was in ‘judicial custody’, and every custodial case is investigated.

Police sources said the name of the D-gang member, who is an accused facing trial under the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA), cropped up during the investigation. (His identity is protected since the investigation is at an initial stage).

“We have got some information that the gangster had ordered D’- souza’s killing after they had had arguments many times in the barracks meant for robbers,’’ said a police officer.

The D-gang member, who was deported from the UAE, has been lodged in the high-security Anda cell (egg-shaped cell where all hardened criminals are kept). According to the police, the gangster used to go to D’Souza’s barrack and sleep there at night. “On one occasion, the gangster slept near the door of the barrack where D’Souza slept. It led to an argument between the two. D’- Souza kept telling him not to come to his cell but the gangster continued to go there,’’ a police source said. “Even a day before the murder, there was a heated exchange of abuses and later the problem was sorted out when a few jail officials intervened,’’ the source added.

Next morning, D’Souza and an inmate Pankaj Dhaule left the barrack for a routine walk in the jail
when they were attacked. D’souza was subsequently stabbed to death. There were 14 stab injuries on his body. Pankaj Dhaule (30), Irfan Hasan Ahmed (23) and Sachin Shetty (29), all accused of robbery, were injured in the attack.

When contacted, Swati Sathe, jail superintendent, confirmed that the gangster visited D’Souza’s barrack. He used to visit the cell to discuss/meet co-accused, she said. “He is lodged in the high-security cell, but he used to come to this barrack to meet the co-accused,’’ Sathe said.

On Tuesday, Shrikant Savarkar,
inspector general (Prison) and DIG S P Yadav discussed the murder case. Over 157 under trials are lodged in the barrack which has a capacity for 50. Over 75 inmates were present at the time of the incident but no one stopped the fight. One of D’- Souza’s accomplices, who was caught from Ajmer along with him, on Tuesday gave an application to the sessions court through his lawyer pleading that the jail authorities be directed to provide him security since his life was in danger.

The Times of India, December 27, 2006

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Orkut under the scanner, again

Mateen Hafeez I TNN

Mumbai: At a time when the government’s Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) is trying to block fan clubs of underworld gangsters on, a similar complaint has surfaced regarding Orkut users who are writing obscene messages about women.

Mumbai’s Cyber Crime Investigation Cell (CCIC) has initiated a probe into the case. Orkut, a USbased company, is known for its popular social networking site which hosts several communities or categories of users.

The complaint made by an organisation in Nashik states that a section of users has created a “community’’ which makes obscene references to Hindu and Muslim girls and makes distinctions between them. The number of members writing in these sections is nearly 400. Most users do not reveal their identities or use fake names.

The organisation, which has lodged the complaint, had first pointed it out to the Nashik (city) police commissioner, Himanshu Roy. Later the case was forwarded to the CCIC. Confirming this, deputy commissioner of police (Establishment) Sanjay Mohite, said, “We have received three complaints of different issues concerning Orkut, including one about Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, fan clubs of Dawood Ibrahim and other gangsters and the Hindu women’s issue. As a part of our investigation, we wrote to CERT in New Delhi to block the site and the matter is in progress.’’

After receiving the complaint about derogatory remarks against Shivaji, the CERT has now blocked the relevant section.

Sources said this was clearly a fallout of unrestricted exchange of views and ideas on the internet. “It could be very dangerous in future. We suspect someone is trying to play mischief. We have sent a request to CERT to block the remarks against women also,’’ said a police source.

The crime branch had begun reviewing material on Orkut in the first week of December when it learnt of the fan clubs dedicated to dreaded criminals like Dawood Ibrahim and Chhota Shakeel. The police are also trying to find out whether these sites are being controlled by members of the underworld. There are instances where young girls have sent matrimonial proposals to the gangsters on these sites. Gangster, Abu Salem seems to fascinate the ladies the most—many of them had sent proposals for him.

The Times of India, December 26, 2006

Monday, December 25, 2006

Police seek custody of six for prison scrap


Mateen Hafeez & S Ahmed Ali I TNN

Mumbai: The N M Joshi Marg police station has registered two separate cases of rioting and one of murder against two groups for the killing of an Arthur Road jail inmate on Saturday.

It was a minor scuffle over filling drinking water within a barrack inside the high-security jail which resulted in a mini riot in which one John D’Souza, a robber from the Katta Shekhar gang, was stabbed 14 times, resulting in his death.

Sources said to prevent a further flare-up, jail authorities have isolated notorious criminals from both groups and lodged them in separate cells under strict vigilance.

The police attribute the incident entirely to a fight for supremacy among factions inside the jail premises. The police will on Monday file a plea before the sessions court seeking permission for the custody of all six accused. “As the accused are already undergoing trial, we need to take permission from the court to seek their custody,’’ added Sherkhane.

Sayyed Ahmed, Sachin Shette, Pankaj Dawle, Nakool
Divkar, Jarar Hussain, Sachin Chikne and Arfatraj Nadar are the names of the inmates the police is seeking custody of.

Assaults and clashes among inmates in Maharashtra jails are not new. The rivalry between the big gangs does not just play out on the mean streets, it flares up even inside a prison. While several cases of clashes among jail inmates have been reported earlier, Saturday’s horrible incident, in which a robber was stabbed to death in the presence of over 75 other inmates more or less, was the result of an overcrowded jail.

Although the 52 jails in Maharashtra house two or three times more inmates than their actual capacity, law and order problems arise mainly because of shortage of police personnel inside jails. Also, only a few constables are equipped with weapons, while others are given just lathis.

In a gangwar last year at the Arthur Road jail, a policeman sustained severe injuries. On August 24 last year, when members of the Dawood Ibrahim gang and the Chhota Rajan gang fought inside the jail, flinging bricks at each other, there were only two policemen to handle the situation.

The Dawood gang has been dominant at the Arthur Road jail since the don’s brother Iqbal Kaskar and over 15 other gangmates were deported from UAE in the last threee years.

“Most gangsters and robbers are lodged here. The jail has a capacity of 804 but houses 2,900 inmates at present. The strength of the jail staff compared to the number of inmates is very less, which makes it very difficult for us to control clashes,’’ said a jail official.

The Times of India, December 25, 2006

Sunday, December 24, 2006

1 dies in Arthur Rd jail clash

John D'Souza

75 Undertrials Present, No One Comes Forward To Stop It

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: A scuffle over filling potable water in a barrack at the Arthur Road prison on Saturday snowballed into a nasty fight that left one undertrial dead and three injured.

The deceased, John D’Souza, was a robber from the Katta Shekhar gang and was suspected to be involved in 25-30 robberies. He was stabbed 14 times in the fight that took place at 10.45 am on Saturday at barrack number 6/4. The injured, also robbers, were 30-year-old Prakash Dhaule alias Pankaj, 23-year-old Irfan Hasan Ahmed and 29-year-old Sachin Shetty.

“We have registered a case of murder and attempt to murder against the three injured persons,’’ N M Joshi Marg police station sub-inspector Deep
ak Chauhan said. They were admitted to J J Hospital, where they were visited by anti-robbery squad inspector Vijay Salaskar. The barrack has a capacity to house 50 inmates but 157 undertrials are lodged there now. Over 75 inmates were present when the incident occurred but no one stopped the fight. All four inmates were in jail for over five years.

Jail officials said D’Souza
went to fill his bottle with water from a tap four days ago; the three injured on Saturday also happened to be there. An argument, over who would get water first, ended in a scuffle but the matter was not reported to officials.

The same four were involved in another argument on Saturday morning and got divided into two groups of two. They then attacked each oth
er with broken steel plates (used during meals), inmates said, but officials suspected they could have also used a knife. The fight was brought under control only when police were called in. By that time, however, the harm had been done; D’Souza was stabbed in the chest and the stomach, Shetty sustained head injuries and the others had injuries on their thighs.

D’Souza was last arrested by the Byculla police from Ajmer on 21 May 2001. “He was operating for the Katta Shekhar gang after several of his associates were shot down in encounters. We were tipped off that he was at the dargah along with associate Ayub Chikna. He was arrested though Chikna fled,’’ an official said.

A BLOODY END: John D’Souza’s body being taken to the morgue

The Times of India, December 24, 2006

1 dies in Arthur Rd jail clash

Friday, December 22, 2006

Accused had plotted another blast

Mateen Hafeez I TNN

Mumbai: The chargesheet filed on Thursday by the ATS in the Malegaon blasts case says the accused had conspired to plant two more bombs after the serial blasts of September 8 which killed 31 people.

The 2,200-page chargesheet, against nine accused, was filed on Thursday in a special court here. The bombs were assembled by two Pakistanis who stayed in Mumbai and Malegaon for over one-andhalf month. One of them was identified as Muzammil.

Four bombs exploded in the powerloom township on September 8. A total of 319 people were also injured in the blasts.

The police said 20 kg RDX was smuggled to Malegaon and around five kg was used to make six bombs. However, several questions need to be answered: Where has the remaining 15 kg RDX gone? Who was the second Pakistani? Which route
did they use to enter the country and when did they leave India? Where did they stay in Mumbai? Where are the two unused bombs? The ATS has a simple answer for all the questions: Investigation is on.

The anti-terrorism squad (ATS) claimed to have got a tip-off on Septem
ber 13 when it heard about a battery unit owned by an accused, Shabbir Masiullah. The forensic report of soil from the battery unit stated that it contained RDX traces. On October 9, the ATS arrested Noor-ul-Huda, who was employed at the battery unit, on charges of planting a fake bomb. It was followed by the arrest of eight members of banned organisation, Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI).

“The accused wanted to create communal riots in Malegaon which is known for its Hindu-Muslim ties. But since that didn’t happen, they planned to plant two more bombs at Mohammedia Masjid in central Malegaon on October 13. However, because of clashes among the accused, the plan had to be postponed,’’ S K Jaiswal, DIG, ATS, said.

Malegaon residents were not happy with the way ATS was probing the case. They alleged the ATS was biased and demanded a CBI probe.

The Times of India, December 22, 2006

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Kingfisher hit by Rs 17 cr fraud

Mateen Hafeez I TNN

Mumbai: Kingfisher airlines on Wednesday complained to the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) of the city crime branch of an online ticket booking fraud through credit cards saying the airline was duped to the tune of Rs 17 crore. The EOW suspect a nationwide organised racket behind the fraud.

This is the first time an airline has lodged a fraud complaint. In most cases, the bank whose credit cards are used lodges a complaint.

The airline handed over an application to the top cops of the EOW who asked the banking unit to probe the matter. Documents submitted by the airline say that they were charged back Rs 17 crore from the banks. According to sources, usually when the amount involved in the fraud
case is not very high, subsidiary banks charge back the amount to big banks. However, in this case ICICI Bank has charged the amount back to Kingfisher.

“The accused book tickets online using credit card numbers mostly obtained from some restaurant, petrol pump or
shopping mall employee,’’ an officer said. They then sell the tickets at a discount. A middle man, a commission agent and many others are also involved. We suspect the involvement of an organised syndicate in the matter.’’ EOW sources said that online tickets for Kingfisher were booked from various parts of the country including Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Bangalore, New Delhi etc.

Officials of the airline met the police in the crime branch near Crawford Market on Wednesday and were asked to furnish documents of all the transactions and credit card numbers. “The transactions in this case took place between July 2005 and November 2006,’’ said a police officer. The police have also asked the airline to produce the exact amount of fraud in the Mumbai jurisdiction. A formal FIR is yet to be registered, sources said.

The Times of India, December 21, 2006

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

MLA kin questioned in Malegaon case

Mateen Hafeez I TNN
Mumbai: The anti-terrorism squad (ATS) is believed to have been questioning a Malegaon-based doctor, Riyaz Ahmed, in connection with the September 8 Malegaon bomb blasts case. Highly placed sources in the ATS confirmed this and said they were yet to corroborate many things.

Ahmed, a prominent doctor in the powerloom township, is son-in-law of former minister Nihal Ahmed, who has ruled Malegaon for over 22 years as an MLA.

Ahmed (48), an MBBS from the Grant Medical College in south Mumbai, was summoned by the ATS and questioned about his farmhouse on the outskirts of Malegaon. Ahmed is believed to have been interrogated about the suspected visits of some blasts accused to his farmhouse.

The ATS, whose officers are camping in Malegaon, suspect that some quantity of the RDX was hidden at Ahmed’s farmhouse in Dayanashiwar area. However, the police is tightlipped about the questioning. It is also learnt that the ATS had in October this year, dug up several places in the farmhouse looking for the hidden explosives. “The police had dug up many places there and samples of the soil were sent for chemical analysis tests. The police said that the farmhouse is registered in the name of Ahmed’s relative and he is not even aware of the people visiting the farmhouse since it is taken care of by his employees who have been missing for more than two months,’’ a source said.

An IPS officer from the ATS said that they had got the forensic report of the soil collected from Ahmed’s farmhouse which says that traces of RDX were found in the soil. “We have not got any concrete evidence yet but are investigating the case from all angles,’’ an officer said.

Four bombs had gone off in Male
gaon on September 8, killing 38 people and injuring 297 others. So far nine persons including two unani doctors have been arrested. At a press conference last month, state director general of police P S Pasricha had said that two Pakistanis, one of them identified as Muzammil, had come to Malegaon and assembled the bombs. He had also said that around 15 kg RDX was smuggled into Malegaon and 2 kg was used in the four bombs. “The police are trying to trace the missing 13 kg RDX,’’ the DGP had said.

When contacted, Nihal Ahmed told TOI, “Some of the accused in the blasts case told the police that they had visited my son-in-law’s farmhouse. The police questioned Dr Riyaz twice and took him to the farmhouse and dug up the soil in his presence. The police suspect that the arrested accused had hidden RDX at the farmhouse which is taken care of by employees.’’

The Times of India, December 20, 2006

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

No special plan, say jail officials

BAIL OR JAIL: Dutt is to appear in the special court on Tuesday

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: The state’s jail authorities are not making any special preparation to house Sanjay Dutt even if his defence team’s plea, for an extension of the deadline to surrender, falls through in court on Tuesday.

Dutt has been convicted under the Arms Act and his deadline to surrender in court gets over on Tuesday. But the court has already extended the deadline till Thursday for some other co-accused and that has given his legal team some hope.

Jail officials, however, are not willing to go into any speculation but say Dutt is just another convict in their eyes. “He is just like other convicts and we will go by the court’s order. The Arthur Road prison will interact with the inspector-general (prisons) to decide on where to send the convicts,’’ deputy inspector-general, prison (south region), S P Yadav said.

Referring to former cricketer Navjot Singh Sidhu’s conviction in a murder case, officials said they knew “the designated court might grant convicts bail even after dictating their punishment to the convicted’’.

Without getting into the nitty-gritty of Dutt’s case, officials say other convicts — who get simple imprisonment — are sent to any of the 52 jails in the state. But those who are punished with rigorous imprisonment have to serve term in one of the eight central prisons in the state.

“We usually do not keep convicts at the Arthur Road jail since it is already overcrowded. We send most convicts to the Kolhapur prison (western region) or the Yeroda jail (south region), which has the maximum number of convicts,’’ an official said. The 804-prisoner Arthur Road prison has around 2,900 prisoners and 90 per cent of them are undertrails.

Convicts, who get rigorous imprisonment, are offered work as carpenters, handloom operators, farm-hands or they can do screenprinting or manufacture furniture that is used in government offices. Convicts earlier had to break stones. But that has been stopped. “Convicts have to work in the four walls of the jail premises,’’ an official said. Convicts always get some remuneration for their work. Trainee convicts are entitled to a pay of Rs 20 a day and the others earn between Rs 30 and Rs 90 a day. Ratnagiri has a special jail for convicts where the elderly and the ill are sent.


TOI looks back at the two stints that Sanjay Dutt has served in prison as an undertrial

20 April 1993 to 5 May 1993
4 July 1994 to 16 October 1995

He befriended two kittens in the police lock-up during his first 14-day stint; the kittens would sleep on top of him, protecting him from the mice in the lock-up
He grew a beard, smoked a lot and lost 11 kilograms
He again went to jail in 1994 and
Madhuri Dixit severed all ties with him; but Rhea Pillai, sisters Namrata and Priya and father Sunil Dutt would visit him regularly in prison
His sisters tied rakhi on his wrist and he broke down because he had nothing to give them except some jail food coupons
He kept himself busy, writing poems, letters to his family and kept a diary

The Times of India, December 19, 2006

Monday, December 18, 2006

Man who killed constable held

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: The police on Friday arrested a 47-year-old man who was loitering about suspiciously on a platform at Kurla railway terminus. Realising they were after him, he tried to escape by running on to the tracks but was caught after a two-minute chase. It turned out he was the killer of a police constable.

Rajan Yeshwant Parab from Sindhudurg district had run over constable Vijay Gavkar (45) on Mumbai-Goa national highway on June 1 this year. The incident was registered as a case of accidental death, but was later found to be a deliberate act.

The murder was linked to a complaint of harassment filed in 2003 against Parab by his wife, Chhaya. Matters had got out of hand when his brother-in-law tried to bring about a reconciliation.

Parab kidnapped his brother-in-law. “He tied up his brother-in-law’s hands and legs and then took him to Orose. There, he confined him in a lodge. But, Chhaya’s brother managed to escape,’’ said an officer. He was rescued and later lodged a complaint with Dadar police station in Mumbai.

Parab was arrested on
charges of kidnapping. During the investigation, it was Gavkar who helped Chhaya and her brother, Bhatt. This enraged Parab who conspired to eliminate constable Gavkar.

“With the help of his accomplices he followed Gavkar and knocked him down on the highway near Kasal village. The Orose police registered a case of accidental death. Parab

later escaped to Kalyan. On Friday, he was about to take a train for Goa when we arrested him,’’ Dilip Rupwate, senior inspector of the Kurla crime branch said. Parab had sold off his luxury buses a few years ago after the state government banned the use of more than 15-year-old vehicles in the state, sources said.

The Times of India, December 18, 2006

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Informer held in Malegaon blasts case

THE NET WIDENS: Abrar, who allegedly planted one of the four bombs, is the ninth person to be arrested in the case

Mateen Hafeez I TNN

Mumbai: The anti terrorism squad (ATS) on Saturday arrested a 35-year-old alleged police informant, Abrar Ahmed, in connection with the Malegaon case. Abrar, who allegedly planted one of the four bombs, is the ninth person to be arrested in this case.

A resident of Islampura area in central Malegaon, Abrar went missing in mid-October this year. Abrar comes from a well-known family in Malegaon. His brother,

advocate Jaleel Ahmed, had filed a habeas corpus petition before the HC pleading that his brother be produced before the court. Ahmed’s family was suspecting that he was picked up by the police in connection with the blasts.

“He and another accused, Zahid Majeed had planted a bomb which went off at Mushawerat chowk on September 8. He has been sent to police custody till December 22,’’ said ATS chief Krish Pal Raghuvanshi. Two other bombers, Noor-ul-Huda and Raees Ahmed, are behind
bars. Abrar is likely to be sent for a narco analysis test in Hyderabad next week.

On his exact role in the blast conspiracy, Kisan Shengal, assistant commissioner of police (ATS), said: “We’re trying to ascertain his role. He has just been arrested and we’ll find out soon.’’

The HC on October 20 had instructed the Nashik (rural) police to search for Abrar who disappeared a week ago.

The court had also instructed Abrar’s family that once he was traced, they

should file another affidavit. However, after 10 days, Abrar appeared before the court with his wife.

Abrar used to repair inverters and batteries. On September 8, policemen deployed for nakabandi had stopped Abrar who was going on his scooter and found inverters and wires in the storage space.

He was interrogated and allowed to go. Sources said Abrar and his wife were ‘gifted’ mobile phones by a senior officer in Malegaon, who allegedly distributed cell phones to several informants.

The Times of India, December 17, 2006

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Cops close in on ‘mute’ serial slasher’s identity

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: Ten days after an unidentified man went on a stabbing spree in Colaba, attacking five youths during a streetside brawl and killing one of them, the Colaba police are close to establishing the accused’s identity.

They have found that he belongs to Assam and barely understands the local languages. He has apparently lost his power of speech, but has responded positively to queries about his hometown. The police used the services of experts from a school for hearing and speechimpaired students but they were unable to get through to him. “He understands Marathi and replies by gestures. He was taken for several medical tests but we are not getting a positive result,’’ said B R Gaikar, inspector (investigation).

The man went on a stabbing spree at Colaba on December 6 night, knifing five
youths on Wodehouse Road close to Colaba police station. The incident took place after the man spotted the youths picking up a fight with another group of youths passing by.

The victims were returning to their homes in Cuffe Parade
after a few drinks when they bumped into a group of people. The attacker knew none of the people, but slashed the boys on one side. He was overpowered and handed him over to the police. The accused, who had received head injuries in the fight, has been hospitalised. “We are planning to subject him to a micro test in the Hyderabad forensic laboratory after permission from court. It could help us to make him speak and get information about him,’’ the police said.

The police suspect he could have lost his speech due to severe head injuries. “When we ask him something, he replies through gestures. We have gathered that his father was killed and his throat was slit open. He says by gestures that he stayed in New Delhi for over 10 years,’’ an officer said.

The police had found a visiting card of a woman with a Bhagalpur address and a mobile number written on the card. Two credit cards of UTI bank and ICICI bank and an ATM card were recovered from his pocket. The woman whose credit cards were found, has been traced in New Delhi, but she knows nothing about the man. She had misplaced the cards.

The Times of India, December 16, 2006

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Accused’s kin files affidavit

Seeking Justice

Mateen Hafeez I TNN

Mumbai: In a new twist to the Malegaon blasts case, Salma Shaikh, wife of Mohammed Zahid who has been arrested for planting one of the four bombs that went off on September 8, has filed an affidavit before the executive magistrate at Pusad taluka in Yavatmal saying her husband was present at Pusad on the ill-fated day. Malegaon is 520 km away from Yavatmal.

Salma (20) had also requested a delegation that met PM Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi last month in New Delhi to help her since her husband was “wrongly implicated in the case’’.

A fact-finding team, com
prising lawyers and residents of Malegaon, had visited Pusad and reported that over 1,000 villagers had told them that Zahid led the Friday prayers at a mosque in the taluka on September 8. K P Raghuvanshi, IG, ATS, said the matter was under investigation. Zahid (30) had left his hometown, Malegaon, a few years ago after he was allegedly harassed by the police.

He was arrested in 2001 in connection with his association
with SIMI. Zahid was the vicepresident of the banned outfit’s Malegaon unit.

In her affidavit, Salma stated that her husband used to teach Arabic to children and was an Imam in a mosque at Phool Sawangi village in Pusad. “On November 21, 2006, five plainclothes policemen raided our house. Though they didn’t find anything illegal, they arrested my husband without a warrant. Before taking him away, they told me that my husband was being taken to Malegaon for investigation,’’ stated the affidavit, a copy of which is with TOI. On November 27, DGP P S Pasricha announced that Zahid had planted the Mushawerat chowk bomb.

“My husband neither has a cell phone nor a landline. So, it is impossible for him to take part in the blasts. Residents of Phool Sawangi village are witness to my husband’s presence on that day in the village,’’ the affidavit further stated.

The Times of India, December 14, 2006

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Bouncers to come under police scrutiny

Mateen Hafeez I TNN

Mumbai: Following a complaint by a group of collegians that they were roughed up by the bouncers of Aziano pub at Phoenix Mills, the city police is issuing a circular to all the 83 police stations to check the background of the 3,000-odd bouncers employed with pubs and bars in the city.

The decision was taken by Arup Patnaik, joint commissioner of police (law and order) on Tuesday afternoon. “Nobody knows what is the criteria for becoming a bouncer. They are employed by pubs and bars to protect their customers, however, we have continuously been receiving complaints about the increasing terror tactics of these bouncers,’’ Patnaik said.

Comparing the bouncers with recovery agents who use force, Patnaik said, “The pub and bar management don’t submit the bio-data or personal information of these bouncers. We have no clue where these bouncers come from. Do they need a specific criteria of being a gunda element and a tough physique? We are going to issue a circular and ask the pubs and bar management to submit the bio-data including photographs of these bouncers to the local police stations.’’

A group of bouncers on Saturday had beaten up seven students of SIES college at Aziano pub at Phoenix Mills compound. The students filed an assault complaint against the hotel’s management.

The Times of India, December 13, 2006

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

‘Dhoom 2’ to have stills warning against stunts

Mateen Hafeez I TNN

Mumbai: Even as Dhoom 2 producer Yash Chopra has decided to insert slides in the film to warn bikers of the dangers of speeding and trying out stunts shown in the film, police said that two college students who died on Worli seaface on Sunday night may have been attempting such a stunt.

The Worli police registered a case of accidental death and identified the deceased as Mahesh Shantaram Joga, 18, and Shyamkumar Margam, 18. They were residents of BDD Chawl, Worli. While Joga, an FYJC student of Siddhartha College was riding the Yamaha, Margam, a student of Bhavan’s College, was the pillion rider.

When the two reached A G Khan Road at Worli Seaface, police said they suspect that Joga sped and tried a wheelie—a stunt in which the bike’s front wheel is raised in the air. Joga then probably lost control and the bike collided with an electric pole near the Dalamal Court building, throwing the two boys on to the road.

Joga was injured on the head, face, arms, thighs and other areas. He succumbed on the spot. Margam suffered leg fractures, a broken nose and serious internal injuries. He died while being taken to Poddar Hospital, police said.

“Teenagers try to imitate film heroes. Perhaps they were imitat
ing some star, which cost them their lives,’’ said an officer. The Worli police have taken possession of the bike and a probe is on.

Meanwhile, Chopra has decided to include the warning slides in the film so that they will be seen in all cinema halls across the country. There are reports that an increasing number of youngsters are trying to copy stunts shown in the film. Adman Pradeep Yeragi has designed the slides. “The slides will be inserted in the film within two or three days,’’ Yeragi said, adding, “It was deputy commissioner of police Arun Baijal’s idea and he discussed it with the producer who agreed to do it.’’

Baijal said, “Yash Chopra has given us the go-ahead and we have prepared slides that will be shown in cinema halls all across the country. We were first targetting only Mumbai, but the producer told us it should be done nationwide.’’

It is not the first time that life has dangerously imitated art. A youth jumped from the balcony of a theatre in Madhya Pradesh after
seeing Hrithik Roshan’s Krrish. Also, a Phir Hera Pheri-like kidnapping was tried out in Mumbai and Indian television superhero ‘Shaktimaan’ (Mukesh Khanna) had to contend with numerous cases of kids trying to emulate him.

Khanna made special capsules that were telecast before his show warning viewers not to imitate what was being shown.

The Times of India, December 12, 2006

Saturday, December 9, 2006

System ill-treats ailing prisoners


Malathy Iyer & Mateen Hafeez I TNN

Mumbai: Arvind was admitted to JJ Hospital on November 26. The diagnosis was worrisome: TB meningitis with fluid accumulation in the brain. A surgery was imperative, but an MRI or CT scan was a pre-requisite. And thereby hangs a tale.

Arvind is an undertrial from Arthur Road Jail whose only recourse to major healthcare interventions would be JJ Hospital, Byculla. A resident of Bihar, he was arrested by the Bhandup police a few months ago in a robbery case.

His plight — lying semi-conscious on bed no 20 of ward no 9 — is yet another episode of how uncaring the system is about jailbirds and their ailments. Arvind was not taken for a CT or MRI scan until December 6. The reason? While no official version was readily available, sources in JJ Hospital revealed that while the CT was not working for a few months, the MRI couldn’t be done because jail authorities didn’t give any money towards his treatment.

According to S P Yadav, deputy inspector general, prison (south region), jail authorities shift undertrial patients if medicines are not available in the jail hospital or if the case needs sur
gery. “All the jails have IG fund for emergency cases. If an inmate is sent to any government hospital, the doctors have to show the expenses for surgery or treatment. The superintendent of the jail sanctions the expenses and it is reimbursed even before the operation,’’ Yadav said.

But documents available with TOI reveal that Arvind had also been admitted to JJ Hospital on October 23 and discharged on November 11.

“No CT scan could be done as finances weren’t available from jail authorities despite repeated attempts,’’ stated the medical documents.

It seemed like a re-run of sorts this time around too. Fortunately, after a flurry of complaints to the hospital authorities about the seriousness of the patient’s condition, Arvind was wheeled in for a CT scan on Thursday afternoon after the machine was fixed. “It is easier to take patients for free CT scans than free MRI scans,’’ said a source.

Following the scan, Arvind was taken to the neuro-surgery operation theatre late on Friday evening, a ward boy told TOI.

But fellow inmate Prakash Iqbal Shahu, who seemed semi-delirious on bed no 6, has not been so lucky. Suspected to have a clot in his brain that needed a scan before the doctors could decide how to proceed, he too was sent for a CT scan on Thursday. On Friday, doctors realised that he didn’t have a
clot and allowed him to leave.

As Prakash put it, “Whenever I go to the doctor, I am given a combination of two pills, one red and another yellow. Be it diarrhoea, cold or fever, I am always given the same pills.’’

Whenever a prisoner with a chronic ailment needs a check-up or medication, he is brought to JJ Hospital. But more often than not, this procedure takes time as prison authorities can rarely spare policemen to ferry the prisoner back and forth.

When TOI contacted Dr Altaf Patel, honorary professor under whom the two were admitted, he said that he thought both the prisoners needed surgery on clinical diagnosis. Asked why the MRI and CT scans were delayed, he said he had recommended the same on the first day itself.

When TOI contacted JJ Hospital superintendent Dr A Pol, he said it was the first time he was hearing about Arvind and Prakash’s complaints. “Moreover, our CT and MRI machines do need overhauling once in a while and may not be operational at times,’’ he said before adding that he was not in town.

JJ Hospital dean Dr P Shingare was not contactable despite repeated attempts. His mobile was not reachable while calls to his residence got replies that he is not at home.

The Times of India, December 9, 2006

Thursday, December 7, 2006

306 drunk drivers held in a month


Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: As many as 306 people have been arrested for drunken driving since the traffic wing started its crackdown following the Carter Road mishap in which seven persons died on 12 November.

Prosecution department officials also said that the police coffers had grown richer by Rs 6.12 lakh from the money that had

been collected as fine from the accused.

Detailing the arrests, officials said most of the 306 arrested were from the western suburbs and other upmarket areas of the city. “Officials on the road have arrested teenagers for drunken and rash driving in many cases. Conventional wisdom says the risk of accidents is much more if a drunken teenager is driving,’’ a senior official said.

Studies have backed up this theory; drunk adults have been found to be involved in only about 17 per cent of the mishaps that drunk teenagers have been involved in.
The Carter Road mishap occurred in the early hours of 12 November. A drunk Alistair Pereira, with several of his friends, ran over sleeping construction workers while returning home. Six persons died on the spot, one died in hospital later and eight others were seriously injured. Pereira was arrested, released on bail a couple of days back and rearrested on Tuesday after his licence was found to have been forged. Mumbai Police’s traffic wing immediately launched a crackdown on drunken driving.

Though the deputy commissioners of police of all the zones have conducted special drives to nab such drivers, officials say most of them have been apprehended by policemen from the traffic wing.

Officials explained the procedure to TOI on Wednesday, after Dombivli-based businessman Kartik Sampat rammed his car into a hut on Eksar Road in Borivli (West).

Officials usually detain suspected drunken drivers and examine them with the help of breath-analysers.

They are then taken to a nearby government hospital and, if found drunk, are booked under Section 185 of the Motor Vehicles Act-1988.

“If 30 milligrams of alcohol is found in 100 decilitres of blood, the driver is considered to be under the influnce of alcohol,’’ a senior official said, explaining the rules.

Punishment for this offence, say officials, is imprisonment that may extend upto a maximum of six months or a fine of Rs 2,000 or both.

The Times of India, December 7, 2006

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Wanted CAs in police force

Proposal To Hire Such Professionals To Crack White Collar Cases

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: After crippling the underworld, the city police wants to hire chartered accountants and bankers to focus on economic offences. To strengthen the city’s Economic Offences Wing (EOW), police commissioner A N Roy has sent a proposal to the state government to create posts for chartered accountants, tax consultants, account experts and personnel from banking and corporate sector. “These professionals will be hired on a contract basis and they will be available for advice,’’ said the police chief.

Early this year, the government had sanctioned the posts of legal advisor to the Mumbai police and an accountant. “We have sent our
proposal to the government to create posts for chartered accountants, tax experts, accountants etc. They will assist us during investigations in economic offence cases,’’ added Roy.

Over 100 cases are registered with the EOW every year relating to crimes in the sectors of banking, shares, housing etc. Normally, an economic offence case is transferred from a police station to the EOW once the money involved in the crime exceeds Rs 25 lakh. Though in many cases, the chargesheet is filed within the stipulated time, a number of economic offence cases are pending in court.

Former chief justice of Karnataka and Kerala high court V S Malimath, who headed a committee on reform of criminal justice system, had also recommended that state governments should set up committees, comprising experts from the fields of banking, finance and tax etc, to deal with econom
ic offences. While attending the national seminar on economic offences in Mumbai last month, he had said help from chartered accountants, tax experts etc will ensure conviction in more cases.

Sources from the EOW said in such cases the accused are education and techno-savvy. Referring a case related to banking crime, an officer said: “An accused had transferred Rs 24 lakh in his account through net banking and it was difficult to crack the case since the money was withdrawn two to three days in advance to the date written on the cheque. The police are still confused whether the cheque leaf was bogus or the dates were forged. In such cases, if a banking experts give suggestions it will help us,’’ said the officer.

The Times of India, December 5, 2006

Sunday, December 3, 2006

Parties unite in ‘transfer case’ cry

SEEKING FAIR PLAY: Malegaon residents feel that the anti-terrorism squad is unnecessarily harassing innocent people

Politicians Join The Chorus For Handing Over Probe In Malegaon Case To The CBI

Mateen Hafeez I TNN
Mumbai: Even as a decision on the transfer of Malegaon bomb blast case probe to the CBI hangs in balance, political parties in the state have begun taking credit for the move.

Union home minister Shivraj Patil on Thursday made a statement in the Rajya Sabha about the possible transfer of the case from the state anti-terrorism squad (ATS) to the CBI. The demand to hand over the case to CBI started over a month ago when Malegaon residents felt that they were being unnecessarily harassed.

On Friday, a group of Congress MLAs and ministers, led by Mumbai unit chief Gurudas Kamat, met chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh and demanded that the probe be handed over to the CBI as the minority community had lost faith in the ATS.

This is the first time that so many politicians have come forward and demanded a change in the investigating agency in the Malegaon case. According to procedure, the state has to give its nod to the Centre to hand over a case from an investigating agency to the CBI.

On November 24, Congress
MLA Naseem Khan, who had visited Malegaon after the blasts, along with film-maker Mahesh Bhatt and representatives of 15 organisations from the minority community, met Congress president Sonia Gandhi. Congress’ Maharashtra state general secretary Margaret Alva was also present at the meeting. The delegation informed Sonia Gandhi that minorities were unhappy with the probe carried out by the ATS. “Minorities feel the probe should be handed over to the CBI so that the real culprits are booked,’’ said Khan.

Naseem Siddiqui, chairman of the state minorities’ commission and NCP leader, has also come out in the forefront demanding a CBI inquiry. Siddiqui had last month called a meeting of representatives of Malegaon residents and ATS of
ficials and expressed his satisfaction with the squad’s investigation. “The ATS is doing its job. Give them some time,’’ Siddiqui had then said.

The commission on Friday invited MLAs and MLCs from the minority community to discuss the Malegaon issue. However, only two MLAs and two MLCs attended the meet. “When a CBI probe can be ordered into Khairlanji incident, then the state should hand over the Malegaon case to the CBI,’’ said MLA Nawab Malik of the NCP.

Congress MLC Muzaffar Hussain said if there was distrust in the community about the Malegaon probe then it should be handed over to the CBI. “Not only the Malegaon case but the Parbhani and Nanded bomb blast cases should also be given to the CBI,’’ added Hussain.

Commission’s vice-chairman Abraham Mathai said: “The Union home minister’s openness towards handing over the Malegaon blasts case to the CBI seems to be a logical conclusion as community leaders and secular citizens have been demanding the same. Finally, it is the state’s prerogative to do so.’’

The Times of India, December 3, 2006

Saturday, December 2, 2006

Police take custody of 4 suspects

Times News Network
Mumbai: In a fresh bid to crack the Malegaon blasts case, Mumbai police has attained custody of four suspects who are currently in jail. The police plan to confront them with each other during questioning and acquire vital leads to solve the case.

The police’s application for custody of the four men has come in the wake of demands from certain political quarters for transfer of the case to the CBI. There are allegations that the probe has made no headway.

The Malegaon blasts took place on September 8, 2006 and left 38 people dead and over 250 injured. The four men—Salman Farsi Aimi, Faruq Iqbal Magdumi, Shaikh Alam and Asif Khan alias Junaid are members of the banned Students Islamic Movement

of India (SIMI) and the state anti-terrorist squad (ATS) has repeatedly said that they are part of a larger syndicate of insurgents who carried out the blasts at Malegaon to cause communal disharmony.

Aimi, Magdumi, Alam and Junaid have been sent to police custody until December 6. The remand plea submitted in a special MCOCA court said confronting the accused with each other became necessary because during regular interrogation, the accused had “been trying to mislead investigators rather than come out with the truth’’.The ATS claimed that this became evident because the answers given by the four during their interrogation did not tally with what the ATS learned from them during their narcoanalysis tests at Bangalore.

The remand application admitted that there was unused explosive which still needed to be recovered but the ATS could not give all the details of its investigations given the sensitivity of the case.

Tour firms complain of harassment

Mateen Hafeez I TNN
Mumbai: Several tour operators from central Mumbai have complained that they are being harassed by the anti-terrorism squad (ATS) probing the Malegaon blasts case.

The tour operators, who did not wish to be named, said they were called to the Kalachowky office of the ATS for three consecutive days and asked about their regular passengers. The operators said they were asked to identify some passengers. “But we made it clear that we would not identify anyone we didn’t know. We are ready to help the police but why should we be made to wait for hours?” asked an operator.

ATS officials inquired about several people who travelled from Mumbai to Malegaon through their agency. When asked about the questioning of the tour operators, S K Jaiswal, deputy inspector general (ATS), said, “I don’t want to comment on it. We are doing our investigations meticulously.’’

Fearing harassment, a team of 21 doctors from Govandi Medical Association too met police chief A N Roy on November 28. The delegation told him there was fear among the doctors after a unani doctor, Salman Farsi, was arrested from Govandi and another doctor summoned for questioning. “The doctors said that if the police called someone for questioning or verification then the association should be informed about it,’’ said Roy.

The Times of India, December 2, 2006

Friday, December 1, 2006

7/11-like terror can hit city again: Police

Chargesheet Filed By ATS Says Railways Ignored Warning

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: The 7/11 bombing of local trains was by no means the last attack on Mumbai, and the city is likely to encounter more terror assaults in future. This warning is the highlight of the Anti-Terrorist Squad’s (ATS) 10,443-page chargesheet filed before the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) court on Thursday.

More shocking than this, however, is the revelation by ATS sources that it had warned the railway authorities about being targetted by terrorists much before the July 11 attacks. A letter by ATS chief Krish Pal Raghuvanshi onMarch 1, 2006, had informed railway commissioner Suresh Khopde as well as the general manager and divisional railway manager of Western Railway about a possible terror attack. Raghuvanshi had specifically mentioned that a terrorist could board a local train with an improvised explosive device and get down after leaving it in a compartment. However, the railway authorities did not take the letter seriously.

The chargesheet, which was prepared in 142 days, states that one of the 13 arrested accused, Asif Bashir Khan alias Junaid, is the chief operative of the Lashkar-e-Taiba in Mumbai (until now, the ATS had believed Faisal Shaikh to be the chief). “Junaid, president of the banned SIMI in the state, was wanted in two major cases. He acted as a ‘coordinator’ among all the accused in the 7/11 case,’’ said Raghuvanshi. Fifteen accused, including nine Pakistanis, are still at large.

The chargesheet also states that Naved Khan, who alleged ly planted a bomb in a Khar train, had told the police that he was in a snooker club in Mira Road then. “He had enrolled himself in the snooker club under a false name. How
ever, we have evidence that he did not go to the club on July 11,’’ Raghuvanshi told TOI.

The chargesheet mentions more than seven money transactions by the accused from Pakistan to a Gulf country and then India.

Bihar resident Kamal Ahmed, the first to be arrested in the case on July 19, underwent terror training in Pakistan. “We have submitted our evidence to the court about his visits to Pakistan. He visited Pakistan at least seven times and brought more than a dozen militants to India via the Nepal border,’’ ATS sources said.

The Times of India, December 1, 2006