Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Top Pak bookie missing from W Indies



MAFIA CONNECTION


Mateen Hafeez I TNN

Mumbai: Khwaja Aarif alias Pappu alias Durrani, a top Pakistani bookie, has gone missing from West Indies since Bob Woolmer’s death, fuelling speculation that the betting mafia could be involved in his murder, police sources said on Monday.

Khwaja is suspected to be the man who would fix the rate for cricket betting from West Indies. Pakistani cricketers have been suspected to have had links with the betting mafia in the past.

Khwaja, a Rawalpindi-based bookie, is said to be close to Dawood Ibrahim. Ibrahim has been seen at several parties in Pakistan organised by Iqbal Karachi, another bookie. This was revealed
by deported Dawood aide Abdul Qayyum, who is currently in CBI’s custody for his alleged role in the 1993 Mumbai bomb blasts.

Sources said if the Jamaican
police start probing the Pakistani betting syndicate, Indian gangsters holed up in Pakistan too will have a tough time. Woolmer was writing a book and had come to India and met New Delhi police commissioner K K Paul and discussed many issues. Paul headed an investigation into match fixing and had interrogated several cricketers and bookies in the past.

Qayyum is a former FBI informer, said crime branch officials. He was deported two months ago from Dubai. “During interrogation, Qayyum spoke about the D-gang’s involvement in the betting business. He said Dawood has placed his men in most of the games for betting. Qayyum added that the D-gang had spread its wings in other countries’ betting
syndicates too,’’ said an officer who interrogated Qayyum.

A police officer said Dawood and his aide Chhota Shakeel stepped into crime with small theft, assault and betting cases. They used to monitor betting at small carrom clubs and matka dens in Dongri in the late ’70s.

Dawood’s close aide Sharad Shetty, who looked after his betting business from Dubai, was shot down in an Indian snooker club in 2002, a year before the World Cup. After he was gunned down by Chhota Rajan’s hitmen, Dawood asked his brother Anees Ibrahim to take charge of the betting business in the Gulf. Chhota Shakeel is believed to be operating the betting syndicate from Pakistan.

mateen.hafeez@timesgroup.com


The Times of India, March 27, 2007

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Small bookies are insured, reveals investigation


Mateen Hafeez I TNN

Mumbai: Investigations into the cricket betting racket have revealed that small bookies get insurance cover from their bosses in case they lose the bet.

This came to light after the Social Service Branch (SSB) arrested several bookies over the last week. Their bosses, known as ‘numbari’ in code language, watch matches from the host country and fix the rate which is circulated to all their agents. “We have learnt that a top bookie in India who is running the betting syndicate with the help of a numbari has to deposit a certain amount of money before starting bets. This amount may vary from Rs 10 lakh to Rs 1 crore for cricket betting,’’ said Sanjay Mohite, deputy commissioner of police (Enforcement).

As part of procedure, a book
ie deposits money with a numbari and then he provides the details of the matches, betting rate for the toss-winning team and most often till 30 overs of the match, the rates don’t change. A bookie in a big city has a large number of punters, sub-agents and his clients.

The main duty of a punter is to search for clients and provide them with the contact numbers of a bookie. The system is known as ‘line dena’ and costs somewhere between Rs 1,500 to Rs 5,000. “There are subagents who constantly provide a client with the changing numbers of a bookie and this money is charged as fee for providing them the latest number, since the bookies don’t use one number for a longer time,’’ said Mohite. He added that no such bookie has been nabbed by them, but they came to know about the insurance cover dur
ing their investigation.

When asked about how and when an insurance cover is provided to bookies, an officer informed, “For example, a bookie has paid his deposit of Rs 10 lakh and has taken bets from many people. In case he loses the bet, a 50% compensation is provided by the numbari which is termed as insurance,’’ an officer said.

The bookies mostly use code language. For example if a
client has lost a bet, the bookie says,
“main ne tumhara khana khaya’’. For changing bets, a client says, “Yeh khana mujhe ghumana hai’’. When the bet is changed from one team to another during the match, the difference of money while changing the bet is called ‘Volan’.

The SSB on Friday night caught a bookie, Shailesh Kishomal, from Tardeo who was taking bets. “When the police raided his house he tore the betting chart, notebook and threw it in the dustbin to destroy the evidence. However, we were lucky to have seized it,’’ an officer said.

Investigating officer, Dilip Mandgaonkar said, “The bookies don’t take cash on the spot. They take bets on phone and payment delivery is done later. This illegal business is run based on trust only.’’
mateen.hafeez@timesgroup.com


2 bookies held during World Cup

Mumbai: The Social Service Branch (SSB) of the city police conducting raids on Friday night in Tardeo and Chembur and arrested 25 persons, including two bookies for betting on the match.

The police seized 15 mobile phones, three TV sets and Rs 70,000 in cash. “We raided a social club at Nilkanth shopping arcade in Chembur. Twenty-four people were arrested. The hotel owner, Krishnan Nair, is wanted in the case. The hotel has permission only for playing cards and carrom, but they were also indulging in gambling,’’ said Sanjay Mohite, DCP (Enforcement).


Mohite said the second raid was conducted on the fourth floor of a residential building at Tardeo. “Our teams arrested a bookie, Shailesh Kishomal Bohra. We have also seized betting charts, TV sets and mobile phones,’’ he said. The police also found important documents, Mohite said. “We will send the seized mobile phones for call analysis,’’ Mohite added.

The arrested have been sent to police custody till March 28. Two bookies arrested on March 16 from Mahim were also remanded in police custody till March 26. TNN

toireporter@timesgroup.com

The Times of India, March 25, 2007

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Antique route: Mum-US via S’pore

LOST GLORY: The seizure in New York yielded clues leading to an export firm

From Idols To Tortoises...Underground Trade In Mumbai Has Many Faces

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: The seizure of a huge consignment of Indian antiques in New York this week has once again focused attention on a illegal, but flourishing trade in artefacts which uses Mumbai as a transit point.

Interestingly, the New York seizure has coincided with the hearing of a case connected to a similar interception three years ago in Mumbai. In March 2004, the crime branch in Mumbai laid a trap at Byculla and nabbed two hoteliers from Bangalore who had come to the city to sell Tibetan idols. The duo, K S Radhakrishna Shetty and Ramesh Narayanswamy, were carrying idols which were 250 years old and had been stolen a decade ago.

“They bought it for Rs 1.5 lakh in Bangalore from a thief and had come to Mumbai to sell it. They met a rich guy and the deal was fixed for Rs 90 lakh but we got to know of it and then the buyer-to-be fled,’’ a police officer recalled. The two idols that were seized weighing 7 kg and 5 kg have been deposited in the court and the next hearing of this case is scheduled on March 28.

The case, although three years old, is illustrative of the manner in which Mumbai draws both buyers and sellers in the illegal antique business. The city, home to Bollywood and the nation’s commercial capital, has scores of collectors willing to pay handsome amounts for a rare painting, an idol or even a book. The metropolis provides channels connected to an underground international market for such goods.

Antiques are even sold legally across the city by licenced dealers, who offer an interesting mix of artefacts: statues, utensils, currencies, jewellery, weaponry, costumes, etc. And these are shops which draw a constant stream of visitors.

The illegal business, on the other hand, depends on a network of agents
who are connected to art smugglers and organised gangs who pillage archaeological sites around the country.

DRI officials and the crime branch say such operators keep getting queries from US, UK and Singapore. “Most idols are sent to US and UK via Singapore because the end buyer does not prefer buying antiques directly from Indian dealers, fearing they may land up with fakes,’’ said an officer.

In a recent case too, investigating agencies arrested two persons at Sahar airport and seized antiques worth Rs one crore headed for Singapore. The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) found the consignment, which was being sent by courier, contained three Ganesha and Parvati idols dating back to 12th century AD. “From Singapore, the idols were supposed to be delivered to an antique dealer in the US,’’ said an officer.


The Times of India, March 24, 2007

Rubina, the housewife, earned nickname Pathan

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: Rubina Siraj Sayyed, the 39-year-old housewife from Nagpada who’s been found guilty of running a support system for the Chhota Shakeel gang, had used her ‘mehndi’ business as a front for illegal activities.

A mother of two, Rubina ran the beauty business initially to supplement the family income. Her husband Siraj Sayyed was a civil contractor. Rubina would earn between Rs 15,000 and Rs 25,000 a month and was even a regular income tax payer.

Her two-room residence located in an old building on Duncan Road near Nagpada was modestly furnished. The family owned a car. While her 16-year-old son worked with his uncle Mohammed Jaffer at a garment shop, her daughter is in class X at a reputed south Mumbai school.

Well-built and fair-complexioned, Rubina was nicknamed Pathan for the toughness she exuded in her dealings. “She first came in touch with the Dawood gang through
her cousin Obaid, who got a life term in a murder case,’’ said a police officer who investigated the case. Rubina was subsequently initiated into the business of tracking hawala channels for distribution of funds to support the legal expenses incurred by jailed gangsters.

Police had recorded at least 24 conversations between Rubina and gangsters Chhota Shakeel and Faheem Machmach, who are based overseas. The transcripts indicate the manner in which she was used as a underworld conduit over a span of two years.

Even after her arrest, Rubina seemingly remained unrepentant. As an undertrial at the Byculla women’s prison, she was known to bully fellow inmates and flaunt her links to the world of organised crime. Insiders were scared of Rubina, who was also known as Heroine and Aapa in prison.

“Rubina had thrashed an inmate in the past when she refused to massage her. I was in jail last year and have seen her. She was always surrounded by her supporters and enjoys royal treatment,’’ said a woman undertrial.

Sources said a few months back Rubina had also got into an argument with the wife of an underworld don and had threatened her. “She is very good to those who respect her. But, if you don’t show respect to her, she will abuse you and make your life miserable,’’ alleged another undertrial from the women’s prison.

With her arrest and conviction, Rubina now becomes the second woman in Mumbai to be sentenced on charges of aiding gangsters.

The Times of India, March 24, 2007

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Police yet to zero in on foreign accused



8 MONTHS AFTER 7/11


Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: Eight months after cracking the sensational 7/11 train blasts case, the anti-terrorism squad (ATS) is struggling to get “useful information’’ about the six accused based in Nepal and the nine wanted Pakistanis involved in the case.

Specific information—like an accused’s real name, his possible location in a foreign country and role in a crime—is a must to issue a red-corner notice against him\her.

Recently, the Interpol issued red-corner notices against only two of the 15 wanted accused in the case: Raheel Ataur Rehman Shaikh, based in Birmingham, UK, and Rizwan Dawrey, currently in Dubai.

The notices were issued following specific information about their residential addresses in Thane and Pune, their photographs, role in the blasts case and location in the foreign countries. The two have been accused of routing hawala money from Pakistan to London and from
there to Dubai.

Dawrey is said to have routed this money from Dubai to Mumbai through hawala channels. However, hawala cases come under the Foreign Exchange Management Act, 1999. The two accused are also accused of “aiding and abetting’’ the blasts. India has an extradition treaty with the UK and Dubai. “Once Shaikh and Dawrey are located by the In
terpol, they will be extradited,’’ said an ATS officer.

“We don’t have the real name and addresses of the accused in Pakistan and Nepal. We are still collecting information about them. The names which we got during interrogation could be wrong,’’ said an ATS officer. The documents prepared by the ATS were sent to the city crime branch and later to the CBI. The
ATS also has no clue about the two ‘wanted’ bombers who had planted the explosives in the local trains.

The ATS in its chargesheet claimed it has got five bombers—Faisal Shaikh, Kamal Ansari, Naved Hussain, Ehtesham Siddiqui and Asif Bashir Khan alias Junaid—who had planted the bombs in five local trains. “The identity of those who
planted bombs in two other trains is yet to be established,’’ said the officer.

Investigators had told the court that each planter was accompanied by a Pakistani and got down after keeping the bomb in the train. But they are still in the dark about the identity of the two planters who stayed in Mumbai for several weeks, travelled with the co-accused and went to plant the bombs, sources said.

“The two planters were Indians but we are yet to establish their identity as they have escaped,’’ said an officer.

When asked whether the socalled Lashkar-e-Taiba’s western India commander, Fasial Shaikh, had provided information about the two planters, the officer preferred not to comment.

The police said that the Pakistanis had come to Mumbai stayed at Thane and Govandi and manufactured the bombs but their Indian accomplices were unaware about the Pakistanis’ addresses. What they knew was just their names.

mateen.hafeez@timesgroup.com


The Times of India, March 21, 2007

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Mind games





Faced With Allegations of Torture, Mumbai Police Is Increasingly Using Forensic Tests To Unravel Crimes. The Results Are A Mixed Bag, But No One’s Complaining


Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: Suspected serial killer Ravindra Kantrulu eased back and opened up. “I killed seven, I like the colour red...,” he murmured to his interrogators, “Most of them were homosexuals, I killed them because homosexuality is against Islam.’’ It was a startling confession but Kantrulu alias Abdur Raheem was not in the lock-up. Instead, he was strapped to a bed at Victoria Hospital in Bangalore undergoing narco-analysis.

Welcome to the world of forensic science. Unable to secure convictions and faced with
a vigilant human rights establishment, Mumbai police is now increasingly relying on scientific procedures to solve cases. All it takes is a shot of sodium pentathol or connectivity to an electrode, and the suspect apparently reveals all that he would otherwise take three months in detention as well as some third-degree to admit.

The effectiveness is un
clear but the police are using these chemical and biological processes to tackle virtually every kind of crime. Unlike earlier when they reserved its use for significant cases like the 7/11 blasts or the Telgi scam, Mumbai’s law-enforcers are employing these methods to even go into the mind of a bank robber or a suspected roadside killer. Thane (rural) police, for instance, recent ly subjected three persons accused of stealing Rs 19,000 to brain-mapping tests.

“In many cases, the accused contacts his lawyer or some human rights cell saying he is being tortured in police custody. It’s becoming difficult to use the so-called third degree method. So, we prefer doing these forensic tests which give us a clear picture of motives, details about evidence,’’ said a crime branch officer.

The tests range from DNA fingerprinting to ballistic tests, narco-analysis to brain
scanning, lie-detection and analysis of voice data. Equipment used include scanners, blood pressure monitors and ECGs, all deployed to piece together various elements connected to the crime. Rukmini Krishnamurthy, te director of the state forensic science lab at Kalina, says, “The results are good. We get many secrets which policemen are usually unaware of.’’

On the downside, some of the procedures yield data that would not hold up in a court of law. Narco-analysis which involves injecting the accused with a truth serum and then conducting an interrogation while he
hovers close to subconsciousness, is too suspect to enjoy legal standing. In the UK and US, such procedures are not considered valid as they induce a translevel state in which the subject has little control over what he says.

Plus, the costs involved far exceed those connected to good old detection work. In the past, before the forensic lab at Kalina was upgraded, subjects had to be
taken by air to Bangalore or Chandigarh, escorted by four policemen. The overall cost for each such trip would go beyond Rs 50,000.

However, the use of such methods are becoming increasingly acceptable as they are seen to be vital tools to achieve a breakthrough in any probe. Krish Pal Raghuvanshi, who led the team investigating the 7/11 train bombings, said, “These tests give indications and directions to the probe. The reports of brain-mapping and polygraph is admissible in the court. We have got help in many cases after the suspects were subjected to these tests,’’ said Raghuvanshi.

To add to his delight, union home minister Shivraj Patil has announced that amendments will be made in the law to make data from such tests admissible in court. Mind-reading appears to have taken on a new meaning.

Results of lie-detection and brain-mapping can be presented as legal evidence. However, narco-analysis, which involves sustained interrogation of a suspect under the influence of sodium pentathol, remains outside the ambit of the law. All the following procedures require prior permission of the court and consent of the suspect.

NARCO ANALYSIS
The test is conducted in an operation theatre where the subject is administered sodium amytal or pentothal (known as truth serum) to relax his defences. An anaesthetist, psychiatrist, psychologist and nurses have to be present during the procedure.

The subject hovers between a conscious and unconscious state, in which questions are put to him by a psychologist. The questionnaire is, however, prepared by the investigators. The test lasts three to five hours and the entire process is videographed and the conversation recorded.

Most of what the subject says tends to be irrelevant or unpredictable as he has no control over his mind. According to forensic experts, it often becomes difficult to differentiate between truth and lies. And hence, the test is not admissible in a court; in US and UK, investigators prefer using lie-detectors and pyschological profiling methods instead.

BRAIN ELECTRICAL OSCILLATION SIGNATURE (BEOS) PROFILING
This is a non-invasive technique which involves monitoring the response of the subject’s mind
to various stimuli such as sound and images connected to a crime. Electrodes are placed on the head to map brainwaves while the suspect is shown video tapes — the scene of the crime, photographs of co-accused, weapons used, etc — or made to listen to the voice of an accomplice or a person connected to the crime.

The brain automatically produces a distinct response if the subject has prior knowledge of the images/sounds he’s exposed to. This test takes one and half to two hours and is done in the presence of bio-instrumentation experts and psychologists. This test leaves no side effect and is usually not admissible in court. However, in Gujarat, in a case of
rape, the results of this test were admitted by the judge.

POLYGRAPH (LIE-DETECTOR)
It involves ascertaining whether the subject is telling the truth based on the monitoring of the body’s response when questions regarding the crime are asked.

When a person takes a polygraph test, four to six sensors are attached to his body. The polygraph is a machine in which multiple (poly) signals from sensors are recorded on a single strip of moving paper (graph). The sensors record the subject’s breathing rate, pulse, blood pressure and perspiration. In many cases, a polygraph also records arm and leg movement.

When the polygraph test starts, the questioner asks three or four simple questions to calm the subject’s mind. Then the real tough ones start coming. Throughout the questioning, the subject’s signals are recorded on the moving paper for experts to verify whether his pulse, blood pressure, etc are consistent with his physical and mental state.

It normally takes one to two hours and has no side effects. This test is admissible in court and is used to corroborate evidence.

PSYCHOLOGICAL PROFILING
This test comprises discussion between the subject and experts. The psychologist tries to make the subject speak on various issues connected to his life. The process depends on the skill of the expert.

Psychological profiling is said to be a better option than narco-analysis. The experts can profile the personality learn about his background and his motivation for committing a crime. Legally, videography of this test is not required, but the procedure gets videographed at Kalina Forensic Science Lab (FSL).



FIGHTING CRIME IN THE LAB

BANGALORE
The Karnataka state CID has sent five persons for brain mapping in the last six months. Two of them were suspects in murder cases and the others were accused in anti-state activities. Some of them were also referred for narco analysis; sleuths were able to pin down the culprit in only one of the cases. In the other two, results proved negative.


DELHI
The New Delhi Police has sent less than 5 cases for brainmapping and narco-analysis in the last one year. Delhi Police additional commissioner Dependra Pathak says, “Narcoanalysis and brain-mapping are modern methods of investigation. They help in revelation of important details, help corroborate statements and clear up contradictory statements made by accused.”


HYDERABAD
Narcoanalysis and brainmapping have not really caught on with Hyderabad police. Andhra police, which subjected Krushi Bank scamster P Venkateshwara Rao to a liedetector test at the Andhra Pradesh Forensic Science Laboratory after getting him extradited from Bangkok, has tried to do a narcoanalysis on him, but he has refused to grant consent.


The Times of India, March 20, 2007

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Man held for duping AP youths





Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: Twenty youths from Andhra Pradesh were duped by a city-based agent who had promised them jobs in Western Railway but later fled with their money. The agent, Ramesh Pandey, has been arrested by the economic offences wing (EOW).

All the victims, who are from Tirupati, had either sold their properties or taken loans to pay Rs 1.25 lakh each to the agent.

“In September last year, the complainant Anthony Muttu, (30), had appeared in Western Railway class IV examination conducted in Andhra Pradesh. After completing the exam, Muthy met a 60-yearold man, who identified himself as Krishnamurthy, outside the
exam centre. He told him that his friend, Ramesh Pandey, from Mumbai knew many ministers and could help him get a job if he paid Rs 1.25 lakh,’’ said sub-inspector Madhvi Kelgndre of the EOW.

“Muttu and several others have been asked not to enter their houses by their parents since they have committed a mistake. One of the victims had postponed his wedding and paid the money meant for it to Pandey while another sold
his auto,’’ the police said.
Pandey (30), lives near the Nehru Science Centre at Worli. The police conducted a search at his residence but could not recover anything. They are likely to send a letter to ICICI Bank asking it to freeze Pandey’s account.

According to the police, Muttu told his friends about Pandey and Krishnamurthy and 20 youths came to Mumbai. “Pandey arranged their accommodation at Hotel Johnson near Minerva cinema at Grant Road. They stayed there for three days and were taken to Bhabha Hospital for med
ical check-ups and fitness tests. They were charged Rs 25,000 each for the medical tests. “No written examination or interview was conducted and the victims were cleared in the medical check-up. When they asked about the written exam, Pandey told them he had spoken to several ministers and that an exam was not needed for them,’’ police sources said. Pandey then gave letters of appointment to all the 20 youths and asked them to go to Rajkot and meet the divisional railway manager (DRM) who would give them a posting during their probation period.

“When the victims went to the DRM’s office, they were kicked out. An official from the Rajkot railway station, K Nageshwar Rao, then wrote a letter to the Mumbai economic offences wing (EOW) and directed the victims to lodge a complaint,’’ police said. Pandey has been sent to police custody till March 20 and the police are looking for Krishnamurthy.

mateen.hafeez@timesgroup.com


The Times of India, March 18, 2007

Friday, March 16, 2007

19 constables shunted out

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: While thousands of constables have been waiting for transfers for the past seven to eight years, 19 constables, including a woman, were on Tuesday transferred from the Computer Cell to the Local Arms Division. The transferred constables were allegedly threatened with “departmental action’’ if they refused to receive their transfer orders. Most of the constables have not completed their general five-year terms.

“The maximum period in this cell is five years and they can be transferred any time. The constables were on deputation to the Crime Branch which found they were not performing up to the mark and that’s why they were transferred.’’

The Times of India, March 16, 2007

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Click to alert cops on terrorists



Police Plan To Use MMS And GPS To Track Suspicious Persons


Mateen Hafeez I TNN

Mumbai: If you see a suspicious person, now in addition to just informing the police about it, you can also click a picture of the person with your cellphone and send it via MMS to the police control room. The cops will then zero in on the person and take necessary action. The MMS-GPS technology is soon to be the police’s latest tool to nab terrorists.

“After the 7/11 train bombings, policemen have been asking citizens to be more alert and various projects including ‘Unbreakable Mumbai’ were introduced as part of an awareness campaign,’’ said an officer working on the MMS project. “With this facility we can aim to prevent crime and terrorism.’’

The police have some patrol ve
hicles with the GPS system, which gives the exact location of a police vehicle, and plan to install GPS in at least 150 vehicles in the next one month. “On many occasions, an accused or a suspect is caught based on information passed on by a responsible citizen. With this new system, we can alert the nearest police patrol team to catch a suspect once we get an MMS (containing location and photograph) of a suspicious man,’’ said a police officer. “We are in the process of improving facilities and will install GPS in at least 150 patrol vehicles and some other police vehicles too,’’ he added.

The MMSes could be sent from any part of the city and from any vehicle except the local trains. They will be received at the control room at the police headquarters. The control room has a server which shows details of the city’s roads, railway stations, important junctions, highways, vital installations, monuments etc. Once an MMS is received, the police personnel there will find out the lo
cation from where the MMS was sent through the mobile number and immediately alert the nearest patrol vehicle. A description of the person will also be dispatched to help the team trace the person and question him/her. The department is also in the process of installing screens in police vehicles where the MMS containing the photograph could be forwarded, an officer said.

At present, the control room receives over 15,000 phone calls at the call centre in the police commissioner’s office compound every day including many phone calls alerting policemen about suspicious persons or suspicious activities. Such calls are received on a telephone line called Dial 100 for emergencies and distress situations.

mateen.hafeez@timesgroup.com


The Times of India, March 14, 2007

Monday, March 12, 2007

Real estate boom lures underworld



GUNNING FOR LAND

It Has Pumped Crores Into Many Projects



Mateen Hafeez & S Ahmed Ali I TNN

Mumbai: The arrest of four hitmen who wanted to eliminate a city-based builder has once again brought the builder-underworld nexus into the spotlight.

In the past, builders were arrested for using the underworld to either get a plot of land vacated or to grab property. Now with the real estate boom, the underworld has directly entered the construction business and is learnt to have invested crores of rupees in various projects, said a crime branch officer.

Gangster Ashwin Naik, currently lodged at the Kalyan jail and wheelchair bound, is among those trying to resurface; he is learnt to have contacted a few developers in the city, in the hope of a stake.

Growing involvement of the underworld also came to light through a Rs 500-crore plot dispute at Parel in which, the police said, Baba Udaynath Maharaj tried to have a builder killed. The Maharaj who ran a math at Satara, came to Mumbai a decade ago and stayed at Kalachowkie. Hundreds of policemen, politicians, a section of developers, struggling film actors and models were said to be in touch with him.

“He told us that he was kidnapped on the instructions of Rashmikant Shah, head of Vijay group of developers, in the second week of January this year. He was taken to Kalyan jail where Maharaj was forced to meet jailed gangster Ashwin Naik. The gangster warned Maharaj to give up a redevelopment project. Upset with the threat, Maharaj gave
a supari to kill Shah,’’ the accused have told the police.

Maharaj then allegedly contacted Vijay Warkar, NCP Mumbai’s vice-president, and hatched a conspiracy to kill Shah in the first week of February. Warkar, now behind bars, was provided with a photograph of Shah. Warkar is allegedly associated with the Chhota Rajan gang and ac
cording to the Juhu police he had hired the shooters. There are allegations that another builder had also taken help from Chhota Rajan in this case. The probe is on.

The shooters were caught on February 25 when they were waiting for Shah to come out of Hotel Holiday Inn. Warkar’s brother Sanjay, also a Chhota Rajan gangster, was gunned down in an encounter in Chennai three years ago. Sanjay was said to be known to several developers in the city. The police suspect that the investigation of this land dispute could provide vital information about the buildermafia connections.

“On many occasions, gangsters call up builders either to threaten them or to do a project together. A section of builders is also using the underworld to stop their rivals. The crime branch is therefore probing all new projects, developers, and possible link of the underworld in any project,’’ said a senior police official. Several slum rehab schemes are among those being investigated by the police.

Elusive don Chhota Rajan’s wife Sujata and his brother Prakash Nikhalje have already been arrested for threatening developers in Chembur and using their company, Khushi Constructions, to expand into real estate. Similarly, Dawood Ibrahim’s brothers are alleged to have funded construction of the Sara-Sahara shopping complex at Crawford Market.

Joint commissioner of police (law and order) Arup Patnaik said, “We will definitely take action if we find any underworld-builder nexus.’’

mateen.hafeez@timesgroup.com
ahmed.ali@timesgroup.com


The Times of India, March 12, 2007

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Cops rack brains to keep Kantrulu in jail

Serial Killer? Ravindta Kantrulu


SERIAL KILLING CASE


Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: Faced with the possibility of a dead end in the probe into the serial killings in south Mumbai since last October, the police are working on a strategy to keep prime suspect Ravindra Kantrulu in their custody as long as possible.

The reformed robber was picked up by police and first booked on a charge of theft. The police later booked him for two murders when they recovered a blood-stained shirt and a chopper from where he lived. Kantrulu (36) is now lodged at the Arthur Road jail.

A few investigating team officials, in the initial days after his arrest, were happy to divulge information about the interrogation and the various tests conducted on him (like brain-mapping, polygraph, brain-electrical oscillation signature, psychological profiling and electro-einspallowgraphy). But they clammed up when other murders took place near railway tracks after Kantrulu was arrested.

Officials then surmised the murders were the handiwork of Kantrulu’s associates, in
cluding a taxi driver, a tour operator and a tantrik. But all efforts to solve these murders failed. At least three more murders have taken place after Kantrulu was picked up. Another drug addict, Salam
Shaikh, was arrested for one of those murders. But no link has been established between Kantrulu and Shaikh yet. Investigators have failed to recover any weapon or evidence or pick up any of Kantrulu’s “associates’’ and are yet to establish the identity of six of the seven victims supposedly killed by Kantrulu.


“None of his associates has been arrested yet and we can’t tell anything about the investigation at this juncture,’’ said deputy commissioner of police Brijesh Singh, who is heading a special team probing the case.

Though the court has sent Kantrulu to judicial custody till March 20, the police may again book Kantrulu on Thursday for a third murder to make sure that they again get his custody for some more time. He was likely to be booked for a murder that took place on December 25 near Rukhsana Apartment, in the jurisdiction of the Azad Maidan police, officials said. The unidentified man was stoned to death and also had multiple stab injuries.

Officials said Kantrulu’s brain-mapping report was positive and this was admissible in court. They also claimed Kantrulu spoke about his modus operandi during the narco-analysis test and also why he killed people and selected his targets. But investigators are yet to connect the murders and recover weapons used to kill at least seven persons.

mateen.hafeez@timesgroup.com


The Times of India, March 8, 2007

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Police chief may review suspensions


Police commissioner D N Jadhav

TOP PRIORITY


Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: Newly-appointed police commissioner D N Jadhav is likely to order the review the suspension of over 400 police personnel in Mumbai. Those who have been under suspension for over two years for minor default could be reinstated.

Jadhav who took charge on March 2 is learnt to have taken the case history of suspended police personnel and would ask for a report from the competent authorities. “A lot of policemen are under suspension. I will take review of the suspended policemen’ tenure in suspension, nature of default and the report of departmental inquiry in their cases,’’ said Jadhav.

Police sources said that the competent authority has power to revoke the suspension of a policeman. Those who have power to suspend police personnel include police commissioner, joint commissioner, additional commissioners and deputy commissioners. An assistant commissioner of police can reprimand a policeman, but cannot suspend him.

At present around 400 police personnel are under suspension and are entitled to get 50% of their salaries. Recently, assistant inspector Tushar Kadam of the Kherwadi police station was suspended for flying to North India on an air ticket of the Kingfisher airline. The ticket was said to be one of the 15,255 tickets allegedly booked fraudulently by a group of over a dozen people who have been arrested by the Economic Offences Wing (EOW). Another example is that of inspector Sudhakar Pujari of the Khar police station who was suspended for approaching the Supreme Court without “prior permission’’ of his superiors. Pujari has played a vital role in the multi-crore MPSC scam.


A major number of suspended police personnel is that of “corrupt police personnel’’ arrested by the anticorruption bureau. Last year itself, as many as 29 policemen were arrested on corruption charges and suspended. However, the reinstatement of such police personnel can be done only after their case is over. While the anti-corruption bureau needs prior permission of a competent authority to prosecute a corrupt government employee, the procedure is lengthy enough and takes time to be sanctioned. As a result, number of policemen suspended on corruption charges is increasing since hundreds of them are still waiting for their cases to be over.

According to Jadhav, the grounds of suspension of cops will also be in the review report. “We will see the ground on which a policeman was suspended, the seriousness of the charge, the status of departmental inquiry and take any decision,’’ added Jadhav.

mateen.hafeez@timesgroup.com


The Times of India, March 7, 2007

Monday, March 5, 2007

Suspect had been detained in January

GRANT ROAD MURDERS


Mateen Hafeez I TNN

Mumbai: Abdul Salam A h i y ya Shaikh, the suspect in four murder and one att e m p t - t o - murder cases, was detained by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) probing the south Mumbai serial killings two months ago. However, the SIT gave Shaikh a clean chit and released him.

Shaikh, 25, who hails from Vardhaman Nagar, West Bengal, has been booked in one murder.
Police sources said bookings in the other three will follow. These cases are separate from the seven south Mumbai murders that Ravindra Kantrulu, who is alleged to be a serial killer, is a suspect in. Shaikh has been booked for killing a youth, whose body was found on February 25 with at least half-a-dozen injuries near the railway tracks at Grant Road station.


Four days later, a 20-yearold migrant from Lucknow, Raju Pappu Gupta, was stabbed by an unidentified man near the tracks at Grant Road, but he survived. The next day, the D B Marg police picked up Shaikh from near the Baba Bahauddin dargah next to Bombay Hospital.

Shaikh, a Class IV dropout, came to Mumbai in 1999 for a job. He visited the dargah near Bombay Hospital and used to have the free food distributed to the poor there. Kantrulu was also a frequent visitor to the dargah. Later, Shaikh
worked for a catering company on a temporary basis. However, this job had no steady income as he would be called only when there was any order to cook for a wedding. He then started hanging out with drug addicts near the dargah and started doing drugs.

“He has not admitted his involvement in the crime. We arrested him on the basis of an eyewitness’s statement. He will be booked in three other murder cases,’’ said an officer from the D B Marg police station. The other cases include the murder of an unidentified man in his early 30s who was found dead near the railway tracks on January 13, and the

murder of a man in his mid-20s whose decomposed body was found in a nullah with stab injuries. BMC sweepers found the body while cleaning the nullah near Grant Road.

The third case is the murder of a drug addict, whose body was found on the premises of a school adjacent to Grant Road railway tracks on July 7, 2006. The body had at least 18 stab injuries.

The SIT, while probing the seven south Mumbai killings, had picked up over 250 drug addicts, including Shaikh, in January. All of them had been subsequently released. Shaikh had been detained for two days. Finally, on February 6, the SIT booked Kantrulu in one of the seven murders.

mateen.hafeez@timesgroup.com


The Times of india, March 5, 2007

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Youth picked up for attack on migrant

R Kantrulu


Mateen Hafeez I TNN

Mumbai: The police on Friday picked up a 25-yearold drug addict who they suspect is responsible for the recent attack on a migrant near the railway tracks at Grant Road station on Thursday and for killing two others in the vicinity, police sources said.

The accused, Abdul Salam Shaikh, will formally be arrested on Saturday on charges of murder and attempt to murder. “We picked up Shaikh from near Baba Bahauddin’s dargah next
to Bombay Hospital. A witness identified him and later he was taken into custody,’’ said senior police inspector Rajan Katdare of the DB Marg police station.

Two bodies with at least half a dozen stab injuries were found near the railway tracks at Grant Road railway station on January 14 and February 24.


The migrant from Lucknow, Raju Gupta, (20), was also found with stab injuries lying on the tracks in the same area. These incidents took place after the arrest of suspected serial killer Ravindra Kantrulu and hence raised questions about the police’s claims that Kantrulu
was the serial killer. Kantrulu has been booked in two of the seven streetside murder cases that took place near Churchgate and Marine Drive between October 2006 and January this year.

“We are yet to bring Shaikh in front of Gupta. Then we will know for sure that he is the man who attacked him. But the witness has told us that he had seen Shaikh attacking a person on Sunday morning,’’ an officer said. Before lapsing into unconsciousness, Gupta gave the police a description of the man who had lured him to a secluded spot on the tracks and then stabbed him.

The attacker, according to Gupta, was in his mid-20s, five-and-a-half feet tall, wore a Nehru kurta and blue trousers and had a thin moustache.

Gupta was admitted to the Nair Hospital and the doctors attending on him said he was out of danger.

mateen.hafeez@timesgroup.com


The Times of India, March 3, 2007

Friday, March 2, 2007

Grant Road murders add twist to serial killer case

CRIME ZONE: Policemen inspect the spot besides the railway tracks near the Grant Road station where Raju Gupta was attacked

Crimes After Kantrulu’s Arrest Have Police Wondering If Other Gangs Are At Work



Mateen Hafeez I TNN

Mumbai: Is there more than one person or gang behind the serial killings in south Mumbai? This is the question investigators are asking after the last three cases—the January 14 murder of a vagrant, the murder of a drug addict on Sunday and the stabbing of a jobless youth on Thursday, all near Grant Road station.

After the narco-analysis tests on arrested suspect Ravindra Kantrulu, a reformed robber who was picked up on January 14, the police were sure that he had killed at least seven people. But with cases cropping up after his arrest, the police are looking into the possibility of Kantrulu having associates or there being more than one killer or gang.

The police formed a 450-member special investigation team (SIT) to crack seven undetected murders that took place at Marine Drive and Churchgate from October 2006 to January this year. On Thursday, the railway police formed five teams of five officers. “The victims found on January 13 and February 24 were found lying near railway tracks and had stab injuries on the neck, abdomen and chest, which were similar to that of the south Mumbai serial killer’s trademark.
One of the two deceased was also a passive homosexual,’’ revealed an officer.

The SIT, during its combing operation, night search and the round-the-clock patrolling, picked up around 1,000 drug addicts, beggars and history sheeters in connection with the seven murders in which most of the victims were homosexuals. They zeroed in on the 36-yearold Kantrulu, also a drug addict. Unsure of his involvement in the serial killings, Kantrulu was subjected to brain mapping, polygraph and narco-analysis tests twice. The police said Kantrulu admitted his role in the serial murders.
“Kantrulu said he killed homosexuals since it was against Islam. Kantrulu had converted to Islam six years back,’’ said an officer from SIT.

On February 21, he was again subjected to a Brain Electrical Oscillation signature, psychological profiling, polygraph and electro einspallography. All the four tests were conducted at the Kalina forensic lab to corroborate the information collected from him during a series of tests at the Bangalore lab. He is the first man who was subjected to so many tests in a serial killing. Kantrulu has so far been booked in two murders out of a series of seven.
While Thursday’s victim, Raju Gupta, was accompanied by his attacker to the Baba Bahauddin dargah near Bom
bay Hospital for dinner, Kantrulu used to also have his dinner at the dargah.

After dinner, the attacker lured Gupta to Grant Road. Gupta told the cops that at around 12.20am, the accused moved away on the pretext of answering nature’s call. He returned after 15-20 minutes and attacked the dozing Gupta with a sharp weapon. Gupta sustained injuries on his head, left palm, fingers, abdomen and thighs. Most of the serial killer’s victims were also killed shortly after having their dinner. It is still not clear whether the attacker was a homosexual and had forced Gupta to have sex before attacking him. “We are yet to record Gupta’s statement and can’t say about the homosexuality angle,’’ said an officer.

mateen.hafeez@timesgroup.com



The Times of India, March 2, 2007