Wednesday, January 31, 2007

One more arrested for links with LTTE

Asgharali Manaswala (47)

UNDER SCANNER

Suspect Owns Spare Parts Shop In Mumbai

Nitasha Natu and Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: An automobile spare parts shopowner from Chor Bazaar was arrested on Monday in connection with the supply of six tonnes of ball bearings—used to make explosives—for the banned militant outfit, Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

Asgharali Manaswala (47) is the second person to be arrested from Mumbai in this case. He has been booked under provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and the Explosives Act. The police produced him before a holiday court on Tuesday and sought a transit remand to take him to Chennai.

The case had come to light on Saturday when Mirajsaheb Ismail, a tea vendor from Goregaon, was arrested by Oshiwara police for facilitating procurement of the ball bearings, in three consignments of two tonnes each, for a Tamil Nadu-based group of people. Ismail was questioned by the ‘Q’ branch of Chennai police and he led them to Mausawala.

“The men visiting Ismail from Tamil Nadu wanted to purchase ball bearings at the lowest possible rates. Ismail first took them to an Andheri dealer who refused to sell the bearings saying he had a franchisee in Chennai whom they could approach,’’ said a senior official. “Ismail then accompanied the men to Chor Bazaar where they purchased the ball bearings from Manaswala’s shop in three consignments of two tonnes each.’’

Manaswala’s wife, Shirin, told TOI that her husband was
taken away by the police on Monday afternoon. She said his involvement was merely to the extent of selling material which the men sought to purchase and he had no knowledge about their antecedents. “Our shop is half-a-century old. Ismail, along with two others, had come to Chor Bazaar and went to a neighbouring shop, before coming to my husband’s shop. We generally give a bill for all the purchases, but in many cases the customers don’t take bills in order to avoid the 12.5 per cent Value Added Tax (VAT),’’ Shirin said.

She added that in this case too, the men placed the order but did not \want a bill. The quantity of ball bearings required was so large that Manaswala had to procure part of the consignment from elsewhere to execute the order. “A
businessman always thinks about profit and we don’t keep a record of all the customers, nor do we ask them what they intend to do with the consignment. If some alleged LTTE member bought it from our shop, how is it my cousin’s fault?’’ said Shabbir Pardawala, a relative.

A resident of Buniyan building at Mazgaon, Manaswala stayed there with his wife and two children. “The order was executed in 10 days. Ismail told us that the consignment was to be sent to Chennai through a transport agency. The two other men with him were speaking Tamil and it was difficult to interact with them. Ismail acted as interpreter between us,’’ another cousin of Manaswala said.

The Chennai police have been trying to track down all the people and places visited by the Tamil group after they reached Mumbai. Cops suspect Manaswala and Ismail of providing ‘local support’ for the LTTE. Eight men, including five Sri Lankan refugees, were arrested by the ‘Q’ branch police earlier this month while transporting two tonnes of ball bearings (bought in Mumbai) from Chennai to Toothukudi. The consignment was to leave Toothukudi in southern Tamil Nadu for Sri Lanka.

According to police sources, the consignment of ball bearings from Mumbai was likely to land at Mallathivu in northeast Sri Lanka. Consignments taken across the Palk Strait could be offloaded to smaller boats anchored off the coast of Mallathivu and ferried to LTTEcontrolled areas.


The Times of India, January 31, 2007

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Four jail inmates booked

ARTHUR ROAD MURDER

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: An investigation into the murder of undertrial Asgar Ali Mehandi, (25) inside Arthur Road jail on Sunday has revealed that the assailants used four sharp objects, a couple of them fashioned into makeshift weapons within the prison, to kill the victim.

The police suspect that the murderers were given a ‘contract’ to mur
der Mehandi in retaliation to the death of John D’Souza. Mehandi was the prime accused in the murder of robber D’Souza, who was lodged in Arthur Road Jail and was killed in December last year.

“Mehandi sustained six severe stab injuries on his chest, abdomen and neck. Each of the four assailants had a knife, screwdriver, a ladle that
was sharpened and a razor. Before his death, Mehandi named the four assailants,’’ said Sunil Temkar, senior inspector of NM Joshi Marg police station.Mehandi was cornered by the four men inside the barracks and was repeatedly stabbed in the presence of his cellmates. By the time an alarm was raised, he was severely injured. He was rushed to the hospital where he succumbed to his injuries. The four suspects were booked on charges of murder and will be taken into police custody on a transit remand. “We have sent the blood-stained clothes of the four suspects for a chemical analysis. Hundreds of other inmates witnessed the murder, but they are not willing to testify,’’ said a police officer.

Sources said Mehandi was lying on his bed in barrack number 11 when the four suspects, lodged in other cells, attacked him. “Before Mehandi could react, he was stabbed several times,’’ a police officer said.

THE WEAPONS USED

Ladle: Was sharpened at one end and moulded at the other to provide a grip


Screwdriver: About 10 inches long, it tore three inches deep into the victim’s body


Razor: The blades were placed between two sticks that were tied together. It was used to slash the victim


Knife: About a foot long, it was foldable

The Times of India, January 30, 2007

Monday, January 29, 2007

Problem lies in overcrowding

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: The rivalry between gangsters which is playing out in the cells of Arthur Road jail, has exposed the shoddy security measures undertaken in the state’s most sensitive prison.

While the jail has always seen members of organised crime syndicates warring with one
another, stabbing and shooting, incidents of late have seen gangs of robbers pitted against one another. Sunday’s incident saw an undertrial, Asgar Ali Mehandi, (25), being stabbed to death by four of his prisonmates in the presence of a huge crowd. Mehandi was prime accused in the murder of John D’Souza who was similarly stabbed and killed inside the jail; despite knowing that his rivals would have a go at Mehandi, the authorities could not keep him away from D’Souza’s accomplices.It is perhaps an indication of how overcrowded the place is.

The jail which has a capacity for
804 inmates, holds 2,990 undertrials and convicts. “Had there been more policemen we would have been able to control such incidents properly. We have to handle around 3,000 inmates but our entire staff is not more than 225 men. It’s not an easy job to handle hardened criminals with this staff,’’ a jail official said. For a long time, jail authorities have been planning to install CCTVs in all the barracks, but the plan is still only on paper. In effect, there is no way to maintain surveillance inside the prison barracks.

Following the murder, the suspects were rounded up and later Arthur Road jail superintendent, Swati Sathe, ordered a huge operation to frisk inmates and comb the cells for weapons. Sathe could not be contacted for her comments.

Jail authorities are clearly worried about the presence of more weapons hidden in the high-security jail, which is also home to those standing trial in the 1993 serial blasts case. Though an inmate is frisked at least 2-3 times before moving in out of the barracks where they are kept, the police are often unable to stop weapons from being smuggled into cells.

Sources said that last such clash within the prison was in August 2005 when Chhota Rajan’s accomplices, Vicky Malhotra, Fareed Tanasha and two others got into an argument with D-gang’s cronies, Saleem Shaikh and Ehtesham, resulting in the pelting of stones by both sides. While no gangster was injured, an assistant sub-inspector, Shahabuddin Mulani, was hit by bricks thrown by the gangsters and sustained severe head injuries. He had 17 stitches in his head.

Before this, Dawood’s absconding aide Feroz Konkani, who fled from J J Hospital after killing two policemen in 1999, had assaulted three Rajan gang members inside Arthur Road jail.

The Times of India, January 29, 2007

Friday, January 26, 2007

Many airlines were hit by e-ticketing fraud

COSTLY LAPSE


Mateen
Hafeez I TNN


Mumbai: Investigations into the e-ticketing fraud has revealed that the arrested accused, Imran Shaikh, (27), and other conspirators not only sold the tickets of Kingfisher Airlines fraudulently, but offered discounted rates on tickets of several other domestic airlines, like Air Deccan, Spice Jet, Go Air, also.

The Economic Offences Wing (EOW), probing the Rs 13.47-crore fraud of selling 15,255 air tickets of Kingfisher Airlines, is now hunting for the prime accused, Sameer Kasam Shaikh, Ajit Duraphe, Zubair Ahmed alias Pappu. The tickets were booked through internet using credit cards of several banks, including the ICICI and HSBC.

Kingfisher Airlines had lodged a complaint with the EOW on December 21, 2006.

The fraud came to light after owners of the credit cards with which the gang booked tickets approached the ICICI Bank saying they had never booked a ticket. Kingfisher Airlines approached the police when it was charged back the amount. The accused would offer tickets on cash payment and even ask purchasers to deposit the money in banks. Investigators suspect that an organised syndicate is behind this fraud since many passengers had deposited money in banks even in New Delhi and other cities.

EOW sources said Sameer had floated a firm, KGN Aviations. Sameer and Ajit booked several tickets by showing the firm as the booking agent. However, the firm was shut down after the case was registered. The police arrested six passengers based on information pro
vided by the e-commerce department of Kingfisher Airlines, which had blacklisted credit cards used repeatedly to purchase tickets and had tracked the Internet Protocol (IP) addresses of computers used for the transactions.

The police collected the IP addresses of computers used for about 7,500 transactions from Kingfisher Airlines and took help from the Internet Service Provider (ISP) to locate the accused. The police zeroed in on a cyber cafe, Galaxy, at Antop Hill. The authorities there informed the police that one Sameer had opened an account at the cyber cafe in the name of Kasam. The police found that Sameer was wanted in two other cases registered with the D N Nagar police and the Wagle Estate police related to credit card frauds. He was arrested in a cheating case by the Thane crime branch on February 3 last year but was released within a week.

Charudatta Deshpande, spokesperson of ICICI, said, “In case of airlines, their policies talk about verification and authentication to be done at the airport. But in reality it is not done.’’

The Times of India, January 26, 2007

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Cops may have nabbed serial killer but say can’t prove it yet

Mateen Hafeez I TNN

Mumbai: The Mumbai police believe they have the south Mumbai serial killer, but are not sure if the evidence will stand in a court of law.

The man they have zeroed on is a ‘re
formed’ robber, Ravindra Kantrole alias Abdur Rahim. The strongly-built man was picked up eight days ago, but formally booked in an old theft case only on Monday, ostensibly to keep him in custody and put him through scientific tests.

Kantrole (36) is a class ten dropout who drifted into crime and for some time was a member of the Dashrath Rane gang. He had been arrested thrice, but had supposedly given up crime two years ago when he converted to Islam.

He married a commercial sex work
er and has a 14-year-old daughter from her. The daughter has a speech problem. According to the police, there are frequent quarrels at home, a roadside shanty at Marine Lines. While Kantrole does odd jobs for a living, his wife works as a house maid.

The police suspect Kantrole, because the sniffer dog deployed in the last murder at Marine Lines led to a public toilet nearby, where an ironed grey shirt was hidden.

On asking pavement dwellers, they discovered it was Kantrole’s shirt. “Later, Kantrole admitted that it was his shirt,’’ said an officer who is part of the probe. On closer examination, the shirt showed blood stains and has been sent for forensic tests.

The police also say that Kantrole’s handwriting matches with that etched on a slip of paper found near the latest victim’s body.

The police have recovered a chopper from Kantrole, but said that this weapon was not used in the any of the seven cases which are attributed to the serial killer. The police are yet to recover the weapons used in five of the seven murder cases. Stones were used in the other two killings.

Kantrole was taken to all the seven murder sites, but he said that he has no involvement in the serial killings, a source said. The police are likely to subject him to a series of scientific tests to get the truth out of him.

However, the police are not willing to say anything on record. Joint commissioner of police (law and order) Arup Patnaik said that the police had not arrested anyone in the serial killing case. “The modus operandi only in two cases is similar. The policemen are working round-the-clock and will soon nab the culprit.’’

The Times of India, January 2007

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Khaki Personnel On Escort Duty Provide Favours To Undertrials For Hefty Sums

CASH CONNECTION: From cigarettes to meetings with family, it’s all available for a price to accused lodged in jails

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: The incident in which four policemen were suspended for allowing the relatives of a suspect to travel in a government vehicle is yet another instance of the growing collusion between police personnel and undertrials.

Sources said constables posted on escort duty for undertrials often earn sums equivalent to at least half their salary by helping prisoners procure things they may need or by arranging meetings.

“They not only escort undertrials to the court but also double up as messengers for an accused’s family by charging a minimum of Rs 200. When an undertrial wants to meet his relatives urgently, a constable is paid to call up the family. The constable takes the contact numbers, calls up the accused’s relatives and arranges a meeting in the court premises,’’ said an undertrial.

Apart from facilitating meetings between undertrials and their families, constables act as messengers or agents to procure things which a prisoner may need.

“They buy cigarettes for gangsters, help them keep their clothes in polythene bags, convey their messages
and even arrange for these inmates to meet their wives,’’ said another undertrial. He alleged that many undertrials meet their wives in a police van in the JJ Hospital premises when they are brought for treatment or check-ups.

“The accused is allowed to meet his wife inside the police van for over half an hour and the constables are paid a hefty amount for the same,’’ he said.

Sometimes, the collusion borders on the extreme. In March last year, a constable attached to the Arthur Road jail, Vasant Tare (49) and a clerk from the Thane central jail, Deepak Padalkar (36), were arrested and dismissed on charges of smuggling
drugs into the jails. The duo was booked under the Narcotic and Drug Psychotropic Substances Act (NDPS).

Smuggling drugs into jails is also on the rise. On December 22, 2005, the police seized 700 gm charas from undertrial Stanel Louis, a Nigerian national.
“Usually, the drug is smuggled by Nigerian nationals in the jail. When they go to court for hearings, their aides bring it concealed in shoes.There they exchange the shoes. The police escorts are aware of all this,’’ said an inmate who was recently released.

To crack down on this illegal activity, former jail superintendent Swati Sathe had ordered that the accused be taken to court in slippers.


The Times of India, January 24, 2007

Thursday, January 18, 2007

SPEAKING UP: Tahseen Shaikh with her husband Jabbar


I’ve seen serial killer, says woman

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: The special investigation team (SIT) probing the south Mumbai ‘serial murders’ heaved a sigh of relief on Wednesday when a 30-year-old woman approached them claiming to have seen the killer in the Marine Lines area on the evening of January 11, a day before the seventh victim was found on the foot overbridge near the Income Tax office.

The woman, Tahseen Shaikh, visited the office of Brijesh Singh, zonal deputy commissioner of police, and gave her statement. She was accompanied by her husband, Jabbar, who has tourist ve
hicles. A crime branch team spoke to her for nearly 15 minutes. They took the suspect’s description and said they would record her statement once the SIT completes the formalities. Later, DCP Singh personally recorded her statement and portrait-makers were called to prepare fresh sketches of the suspect based on Shaikh’s description.

According to Shaikh, when she was returning from Chandanwadi Qabrastan (burial ground) area on Wednesday evening, she noticed a man in his mid-thirties standing on the footpath. “I saw a big knife partly hidden in his trousers,’’ Shaikh told
TOI. She said the man was an Indian in his thirties.

Shaikh added that she felt being hypnotised when the man glared at her. “I got scared and walked away from there. Later, I went to Princess Street and forgot about the man,’’ Shaikh said.

Describing the suspect, Shaikh said, “He was wearing a black leather shoes, black trouser and white shirt with thin black stripes. He was slim, had curly hair and a stubble. From his appearance, he looked like a man from a middle-class family,’’ Shaikh said. “It was only the next morning when I saw on the TV that a serial killer had killed one
more person at Marine Lines area. I told my husband about the man I saw on Wednesday and told him about the knife hidden in his trousers,’’ a nervous Shaikh said.

Her husband Jabbar said since Thursday his wife was continuously thinking about the killer.

When asked about the reported arrest of Salim Munna Shaikh, who is alleged to be the prime suspect, R N Tadvi, DCP (operations), the spokesperson of the Mumbai police, said, “We have neither detained nor arrested Munna Shaikh. It’s a rumour. We are looking for him since he had killed three persons using a sharp knife in Marine Drive area.’’


The Times of India, January 18,2007

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Mumbai cops top city’s annual corruption list



Mateen Hafeez I TNN

Mumbai: For the sixth consecutive year, the Mumbai police have topped the city’s annual corruption index. At the second place is the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, with 16 of its employees caught red-handed for allegedly demanding and accepting bribes.

According to the list prepared by the anti-corruption bureau (ACB), 29 policemen were charged in 16 cases related to graft, resulting in the department topping the list for 2006.

The 29 black sheep include a woman constable, who was arrested for demanding a bribe of Rs 1,000 for returning the cellphone of a complainant, and a sub-inspector and a constable who went to the extent of withdrawing money from an accused’s savings bank account using his ATM card in return for shield
ing him in court. Asked to comment, former IPS officer Y P Singh said, “Senior police officers themselves don’t have impeccable integrity. There is an informal ban on holding frank discussions on corruption in official meetings and conferences. Sensitivity to moral values is also declining very fast.’’

But in what may come as a relief for the department, no senior policeman came under the ACB’s scanner last year. The highest ranking cop to be arrested in 2006 was suspended inspector Baban Kadam, who involved in a case of disproportionate assets. In 2005, the ACB had arrested senior inspector Sahebrao Survade of RAK Marg police station along with a constable for accepting a bribe of Rs 40,000.

Also, if the ACB’s lists are anything to go by, corruption is actually declining in the police department. In 2003, 60 cops were arrested for demanding bribes, while in 2006 the figure plummeted by half.


BLACK SHEEP
Police: 29
BMC: 16
Revenue: 12
Rationing: 8
Charity: 4
State Excise: 4



The Times of India, January 17, 2007

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

CREDIT CARD RACKET

Net cast wider, say city police

Mateen Hafeez I TNN
Mumbai: Investigations into a credit card fraud have revealed that the accused, Abdur Rehman Aziz, a Nigerian who was arrested last week, had used at least 26 credit cards to refill mobile phones and transfer money from victims’ accounts to several other accounts.

Aziz was arrested from the ICICI bank’s Kalbadevi branch when he had gone to withdraw money.

“The accused used the bank’s account holders’ credit card numbers to refill at least 35 SIM cards. This is the first case of an accused using credit cards fraudulently for refilling mobile cards. In the past, money was either transferred from an account or air tickets were booked with credit cards,’’ said an officer.

The police said that the accounts of the victims were operated from Bangalore, Kolkata and several other metropolitan cities. The police
are trying to find out the IP addresses of the computers used for operating the accounts electronically. The police are also seeking details of the cyber cafes from where the transactions were made. “We suspect a national-level racket in this case. The accused must have been assisted by some more persons,’’ the police source said.
The police arrested Aziz while
acting on a complaint filed by Sameer Dabra, officer (Risk Management) of the ICICI, with the Cyber Crime Investigation Cell, stating that the accused had transferred Rs 6.93 lakh from ICICI customers’ accounts to several other accounts.

Aziz, who came to Mumbai six months ago, had befriended Basra, alias Shanu, a cyber cafe owner at Pydhonie, and used to visit the internet centre every day. Once, he ex
pressed his wish to operate Shanu’s ICICI bank account for a few transactions. “He told Shanu that his brother runs a garment factory at Nigeria and wanted to send Rs 50,000 to him, but he (Aziz) didn’t have a bank account. He offered a 10 per cent commission to Shanu for letting him use her account. Shanu agreed, but later suspected something fishy and approached the ICICI bank,’’ an officer said.

The police suspect that Aziz got details of several account holders’ credit card numbers through internet phishing. In such cases, someone prepares a page similar to that of the home page of a website of a popular service provider and sends thousands of e-mails. Those who reply are told to furnish their account numbers and passwords for uninterrupted service.

Aziz has been handed over to the Bandra-Kurla complex police in a phishing case registered last year.

The Times of India, January 16, 2007

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Serial killings: Police hunt for witness




WHODUNNIT


Mateen
Hafeez | TNN


Mumbai: The 80-member special investigation team (SIT), investigating the serial killings in south Mumbai, is now looking for a 20-year-old witness, who was sleeping on the foot overbridge on Wednesday night and saw the brutal murder near the Income Tax office.

“We are preparing a sketch of a man who is said to be a witness. The police received information that he was sleeping on the foot over ridge and had witnessed the murder. Our teams have spread across the city and the investigation is going in the right direction,’’ assistant commissioner of police Prakash Aade told TOI.

The SIT suspect that the missing witness got scared after he saw a man being stabbed. The police on Saturday questioned 83 persons at different places and is believed to have got some lead in the case. Though the motive in all the seven murders is yet to be ascertained, the police are trying to find out if the killer (s) came from outside the city.

In a separate incident on Saturday, the Grant Road railway police found the body of a 25-year-old man. “The unidentified deceased had a head injury. We can’t say whether he was murdered. The body has been sent to JJ Hospital for a post-mortem,’’ said Deepak Bagwe, SI of Churchgate railway police, where an accidental death case has been registered.


Sources said the man was stoned to death. But, the police are tight-lipped about the exact cause of death.

On December 30, the Azad Maidan police had recovered the body of a 30-year-old man from Maharashi Karve Road.

The man had been stoned to death.

Meanwhile, the police are questioning Shahnawaz Hussain (40), a resident of Assam, who had stabbed a restaurant waiter to death and injured five others near the Colaba police station in December.

“The knife injuries in the Colaba case and in two to three murders in the serial killings are similar,’’ a police officer informed.

The Times of India, January 14, 2007

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Probe strengthens link between gay sex, killings


KILLER ON THE LOOSE: The foot-overbridge where the body of the latest victim was found

Special Investigation Team Believed Case Was Cracked With Detention Of Suspect, But Latest Murder Proved Them Wrong

S Ahmed Ali & Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: The Special Investigating Team (SIT) is becoming more convinced that the clues in the seven recent murders being investigated point to a serial killer on the loose and that most of the victims were involved in homosexual activity before being killed.

For some time on Wednesday, the SIT thought they had cracked the case after they nabbed a suspect. But the discovery of the seventh body on Thursday shattered this belief.

Sources said that on Tuesday night the SIT had picked up a suspect in his 30s while he was loitering near the Churchgate area in a suspicious manner. From his appearance and interrogation, the police believed he was behind the series of mysterious killings. “Our joy was shortlived as another body was found on the
foot-overbridge. We have ruled out the possibility of this person’s involvement,’’ said a senior officer on condition of anonymity.

When asked if they had any concrete leads, a top officer said, “There is no progress since we are getting clues on a daily basis. We cannot say when we will crack the case.’’

The body of the latest victim was found on the Marine Lines foot-overbridge on Thursday. The post-mortem report has revealed passive homosexual activity. TOI had reported on Friday that there was a homosexual angle to the crimes. The report had also stated that most of the victims had sex prior to being murdered.

Confirming this, joint commissioner of police (law and order) Arup Patnaik said, “The post-mortem report says that the man found murdered on Thursday
was a passive homosexual. Our men are exploring the homosexuality angle. Two bodies were found in a highly decomposed state and, therefore, we could not get a clear report of whether they were passive homosexuals too.’’

The latest murder has given the police a small clue—the killer’s footprints soaked in blood on the foot-overbridge. The 35-year-old, well-built victim had mut
liple stab wounds on his chest, right hand, wrist, arms and even on thethighs. “The deceased must have put up a fight, but he was overpowered by the killer,’’ Patnaik added.

When asked if the police were still treating all the cases as separate incidents or probing them as the handiwork of a serial killer, Patnaik said, “We presume it is a serial killing.’’

All the 80 police personnel who are part of the SIT were called to the police headquarters on Friday afternoon for fresh instructions. Sources said some of these men would possibly move around in disguise and even infiltrate groups of pavement dwellers.

The police have compiled a list of missing persons and are trying to check if any of them are among the deceased. However, none of the missing persons’ photos have matched with those of the victims.

The Times of India, January 13, 2007

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Post-Noida, parents, schools on edge in city



BETTER SAFE THAN SORRY: (Left) Citizens protest against the Noida killings at CST on Wednesday; (right) A board educating people about crimes against children has been put up at Nagpada


Mateen Hafeez & Anahita Mukherji | TNN

Mumbai: Mumbaikars are running scared following the Noida serial killings. As each day brings fresh revelations of how innocent young children were lured, assaulted and murdered, everyone—from harried home-makers to edgy school staff, and alert residential societies to the much-maligned police force—is taking time off to ensure that the little ones don’t go missing or fall prey to the baser instincts of man.

So, you have parents replacing the familiar rickshawalla with the maid to escort their normally independent wards to school and school managements stepping up se
curity on their premises besides discussing the children’s safety at PTA meetings. Housing societies in many parts of the city have put up cautionary notices even as the police step up their efforts to trace the nearly 4,000 kids who have gone missing in the last five years.

“Now I get terribly tense about my daughter’s safety. Yesterday, when I came back from work and found that she wanted to go and play in the garden at 7 pm, I shouted at her,’’ said Meenal Kalelkar, a Napean Sea Road resident. She now asks her maid to accompany her daughter to her tuition class even though it’s a stone’s throw away from her house.

MUMBAI REACTS TO NOIDA KILLINGS City schools tighten security

TIMES NEWS NETWORK

Mumbai: In a city where children often come back alone from school or spend a few hours alone at the neighbour’s house, families are now nervous when their kids are not with them and are keeping a sharp eye out for strangers.

Manju Menon from Sanpada worries about her six-yearold son every time the domestic help
takes him out to play without her permission. She is also worried when the bus that fetches him from the creche arrives late. “My BP has shot up after the media coverage on missing kids,’’ she says.

Nikhil Patel, who used to send his daughter to school by rickshaw along with the neighbouring children, has now discontinued the rickshaw service. “After reading about the Noida incident, I have started dropping my daughter to school myself,’’ he says.

Residents of Madanpura, Nagpada, Null Bazaar, Byculla, Grant Road, Mumbai Cen
tral, Crawford Market and other areas in south Mumbai have put up warning boards asking parents not to allow their children to go out for a long time and to keep a watch on them. “If you see a stranger in and around your area, keep a watch on him. If he behaves suspiciously, question him and also ask your children not to entertain strangers,’’ a board states.

Parents in these areas have been instructed by the school
authorities not to send neighbours or strangers to bring their children back from school. “My daughter’s teacher has said I should go and collect my child from the school,’’ said Rehan Ansari, a parent. Similarly, Jameela Mukhtar Ansari, whose son studies in a school at Byculla and travels by the school van, has been asked by the bus driver to come and receive her son from the bus point until further notice.

It’s not just parents who are suffering sleepless nights after the Noida killings. Schools too have stepped up security and have begun discussing the safety of the children during PTA sessions. “Although we installed CCTVs on the school premises a year ago, parents and teachers are anxious about their children. It’s difficult to tell whether those who come to fetch a child are actually the child’s parents,’’ said the principal of Holy Family School Fr Francis Swamy, adding he had to walk the tightrope between restricting the entry of parents and not turning the school into an isolated area where parents were not welcome.

The Archdiocesan Board of Education sent out circulars to all its schools a few months
ago—when there were a number of rumours about missing children—asking them not to send children out of the campus during recess and not to send children home with anyone other than a parent.


Vrinda Malse, principal, Navy Children’s School, says that while the naval fraternity is an extremely safe area, she can sense the anxiety among parents. “In the coming academic year, I’m sure not too many parents will want to send their children to a school outside the region,’’ she added.

The city police too has put its police stations and the Missing Persons’ Bureau on alert. The police has begun analysing data on the areas which are the most vulnerable for missing children. As part of a special drive, the police force is now engaged in scrutinising the age group, gender classification, the time and the area from which children have gone missing.

Police sources said that of the 3,836 minors missing last year, 948 are still to be traced. Similarly, in 2005, about 3,709 children went missing and 686 of them remained to be tracked down. About 18,142 children have been reported missing in the last five years and 3,692 of them are still to be found.

The Times of India, January 11, 2007

Monday, January 8, 2007

Now, Colaba cops to probe Kala Ghoda murder



FLASHBACK

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: The city crime branch, probing the Kala Ghoda double murder case, will hand over the case to the Colaba police station. All documents will be transferred in a day or two, police sources said.

Police informer Amjad Khan (40) and his friend, Himanshu Chowdhry (36), were gunned down near Kala Ghoda outside the sessions court on October 16. The two were accused in a narcotics case and had come to the court for a hearing. Amjad was appar
ently an informer in the JNPT arms haul case.

On October 24, the crime branch arrested gangster Ejaz Pathan’s nephew Wahab Khan and his two associates, Karim Khan and Abdul Samad, claiming they had solved the case. On the other hand, the D N Nagar police on December 9 arrested four persons, including two alleged shooters, and said it was they who had killed Khan and Chowdhry for a
Rs 5-lakh supari given by Chhota Rajan.

Deputy commissioner of police D D Kamalakar, who heads the crime branch, said the decision
on the transfer of the case had been taken. “The case papers will be handed over to the Colaba police station and they will carry out the investigation,’’ he added.

In the recent times, this is the first case to be transferred from the crime branch to a local police station.

In normal practice, a criminal case is initially registered and probed by the local police station and later transferred to some specialised unit of the crime branch which is considered as the most elite investigating pillar of the Mumbai police.

Interestingly, the double murder case was initially registered by the Colaba police, later transferred to the crime branch and now again it will be transferred to the local police station.

The D N Nagar police which arrested two shooters, revealed that they were provided to Chhota Rajan by Uttar Pradesh-based gangster, Rajesh Yadav, currently lodged in Allahabad jail.

Investigators said the other accused still wanted in the case include Dennie Nepali, a resident of Uttaranchal, Suraj Shetty, an undertrial in Bangalore jail and two other wanted shooters, Vishal Ranjan and Saurabh Sinha. Investigators also claimed to have got the sequence of the murder and how the supari was given.

The crime branch said they arrested Wahab and his aides following information about a dispute between Amjad and Ejaz Pathan.

Wahab told the crime branch that Pathan had loaned Rs 50 lakh to Amjad for the drug trade. However, Amjad returned only Rs 20-22 lakh and it was one of the reasons Wahab was following Amjad, the police said.


The Times of India, January 8, 2007

Saturday, January 6, 2007

Killed Shakeel man had just come out of jail

Ayyub Shaikh


Mateen Hafeez I TNN

Mumbai: Alleged Chhota Shakeel gangster Ayyub Shaikh , alias Ayyub Petrol (34), who was g u n n e d down on T h u r s d ay night near Kala Ghoda, had left his Pydhonie residence at 8.45 pm saying he would return for dinner after meeting his friends. An hour later his family was informed that Ayyub was injured in a police encounter. Ayyub used to rob people to buy narcotics for himself, the police said.

“His friend, Waseem, who is also a police informer, went to Ayyub’s residence and asked him to go somewhere. Ayyub told his wife that he would have dinner once he came back. However, he never returned. A taxi driver came to Ayyub’s residence to inform that Ayyub was injured in police firing. My brother has been killed in a staged encounter,’’ alleged Ayyub’s cousin Rehan Shaikh.

For MRA Marg police officials, who killed him, Ayyub
was a dreaded criminal. “He was involved in 34 cases, including robbery, dacoity and rape, and was booked under the Maharashtra Dangerous Person’s Act (MPDA) six times. He was active in JJ and Pydhoine areas and used to work for Chhota Shakeel,’’ said senior inspector Sunil Babar.

Ayyub is survived by his wife, mother and three daughters. “He was released 20 days ago from the Arthur Road jail,
where he spent one-and-a-half years. During that period, his seven-year-old son, Javed, and a new-born baby died. Two weeks back, he promised that he would not commit any crime again and was working hard to support his family. We don’t know why the police killed him when he was involved in earning livelihood by selling scrap and vegetables in the market,’’ said Hashim Shaikh, another relative.

The police,however,said that Ayyub, along with an accomplice, was riding a bike when a police team asked them to stop around 9.30 pm. But Ayyub opened fire at the police, and he was killed in the subsequent exchange of fire, the police said. “His aide managed to flee,’’ senior inspector Babar said. But the family is not convinced with the police version. How and from where did Ayyub manage to get a bike and a revolver within an hour of his leaving home, they asked. “Had he been working for Shakeel, he would not have been living in a 6x8 ft shanty made of bamboo sticks and polythene sheet. He did not even have money to buy medicine for his ailing daughter. Also, how did his socalled accomplice manage to flee?’’ asked a relative.


Family protests at police station
Mumbai:
The family of alleged Chhota Shakeel aide Ayyub Shaikh staged a protest on the premises of the MRA Marg police station on Friday claiming that he was killed in a fake encounter. “The police killed my cousin last night but we are still waiting to claim his body, even at 6 pm. The cops are not giving us a proper response and are claiming that they are busy completing formalities,’’ Hashim Shaikh, a relative said. The family was eventually handed over the body late on Friday evening.


The Times of India, January 6, 2007