Thursday, June 26, 2008

False notes gain currency

Cops Busted Two Big Fake Currency Rackets In The Last Seven Days. But, For Every Bust, There May Be Millions Of Forged Notes In Circulation

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Altaf Hussain did not even bother to look at the four Rs-100 notes that he got on Saturday evening from his neighbourhood cigarette seller. The next morning, however, the Nagpada resident realised he should have been more careful. His milkman refused to accept one of the notes. “Yeh note bekar hai, nahin chalega (This note is a fake, no one will accept it),’’ the milkman said.
Hussain is not the only Mumbaikar to have been fooled by forged notes recently. Mumbai Police and state intelligence officials say there has been a sudden spurt in the volume of fake notes in circulation. The “quality of forgery’’ has also improved “remarkably’’ and it is difficult for the untrained eye to tell them from the ones that come out of government mints.

But there is something much more sinister — than you being short-changed — about the current inflow of fake notes. Crime Branch chief Rakesh Maria is sure the masterminds are none other than
Pakistan-resident don Dawood Ibrahim and his associate, Aftab Batki. “They are running this business from Pakistan. The duo get fake notes printed and smuggle it into India via Bangladesh. The motive is to destabilise our economy,’’ he said.

“What is happening is basically financial terrorism. Fake notes used to be smuggled in mostly by Pakistani nationals earlier but now it is now down more by Bangladeshis,’’ another official said, giving the instance of an Indian minting machine seized in Bangladesh recently.

“But, once the notes are in India, it is Indians who are entrusted with the task of circulating them,’’ he added.

The Crime Branch on June 19 arrested five fruit sellers and seized fake currency, which could have been worth Rs 8 lakh, from them. All the notes were of Rs-500 and Rs-1,000 denomination. The money, investigations revealed, was sent by someone called Jamal Malik from Bangladesh and the local distributor was to get a huge commission (about 40 per cent of Rs 8 lakh).

Bangladesh’s emergence as the origin of much of the counterfeit now in circulation
in India has been helped by the lax border in West Bengal, say officials. Some distributors of fake notes in India got one of their carriers to open an account with a private bank at Habra, a small Bengal town close to the border. He was then asked to deposit the money that he got as change while using the fake notes. The carrier got a commission of 20 per cent on what he “earned’’.

“We arrested two persons who came here from Dubai last year. They were given free tickets to India and the
fake notes, ‘amounting’ to Rs 19 lakh, were kept in a refrigerator. The masterminds use the real money they get after circulating the fake notes to pay their employees and purchase weapons,’’ Maria said.

The Times of India, June 26, 2008

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

One more in ATS net for Vashi bomb scare

Mumbai: The anti-terrorism squad (ATS) on Sunday arrested Dr Hemant Chalke, a sympathiser of Sanatan Sanstha, for doing the recce of Vashi’s Bhave theatre where a bomb was found on May 31.

Chalke was produced before the
Mazgaon court and sent to police custody till June 24. He is the sixth accused to be arrested in this case.

Chalke is a member of Sanatan Sanshta, a revivalist group run by the Hindu Janjagruti Samiti in Panvel. “He had done a recce to check everything and had suggest the place to plant the bomb. We are questioning him and expect to get more information from him,’’ said an officer.

The ATS is probing the bomb blasts at a Thane theatre and at a cinema hall in Panvel. A group of Sevaks has been arrested in this connection and the police seized 19 gelatin sticks, 20 detonators, two timers and three circuits, which were dumped at Balganga river in Pen. From another accused, Mangesh Nikam’s Satara residence, the police seized six batteries, one timer and half-a-dozen detonators. TNN

The Times of India, June 24, 2008

Sunday, June 22, 2008

ATS grills man who did recce on Vashi theatre

Mateen Hafeez I TNN
Mumbai: The anti-terrorism squad (ATS) on Saturday questioned Dr Hemant Chalke, a sympathiser of Sanatan Sanstha, a revivalist group run by Hindu Janjagruti Samiti, about a survey that he had conducted at Vashi’s Bhave auditorium before a bomb was planted there last month.

Chalke’s name cropped up while the police questioned the accused, Mangesh Nikam, Ramesh Gadkari, Santosh Angre and Vikram Bhave, who were arrested for their alleged role in the Thane, Vashi and Panvel blasts. They are all reportedly sevaks of Sanatan Sanstha.

An electro-homeopath from Indra Gandhi Institute in Ban
dra, Chalke stopped practising after the medical course was de-recognised by the Medical Council of India. A resident of Chiplun, Chalke was arrested along with eight others, for being involved in a bomb blast in Ratnagiri. However, he was acquitted on April 17.

“He had conducted a sur
vey before a bomb was planted at Vashi’s Bhave theatre where the play Amhi Pachpute was being staged. We are questioning him now,’’ said inspector B B Rathor.

The police now plan to question the staff of Thane’s Gadkari Rangayatan theatre where the CCTV intalled in the parking lot—the blast site—was switched off between 1.30 pm and 4 pm. The explosion occurred around 4.10 pm. “The manager of the theatre said the CCTV was switched off against his order and they are conducting an internal inquiry,’’ said ATS chief Hemant Karkare. The metal door detector at Vashi’s theatre was also switched off on the day a bomb was found there.

The Times of India, June 22, 2008

Saturday, June 21, 2008

ATS men find detonators, gelatin sticks in Pen river


Mateen Hafeez I TNN
Mumbai: The anti-terrorism squad (ATS), probing the Thane theatre bomb blast, on Friday recovered a large number of gelatin sticks, detonators, timers and circuits from a river in Pen. These had been dumped by an employee of Vikram Bhave’s father, who
runs an ayurvedic factory in Pen. Bhave has been held for his alleged role in the blast.

The ATS on Friday detained Hari Divekar (35), also a police ‘patil’, whose name cropped up during the interrogation of Bhave. Divekar has been brought to Mumbai and is being questioned by the ATS. He is likely to be arrested on charges of destruction of evidence.
Bhave (26) along with three others, Ramesh Gadkari (50), Mangesh Nikam (34) and Santosh Angre (26), all sevaks of Sanatan Sanstha, was arrested earlier his week in connection with the Thane, Panvel and Vashi hall cases.

An ATS team arrived in Satara on Thursday midnight and searched Nikam’s house. The police claimed to have recovered six batteries, one timer and half-a-dozen detonators from a place near Nikam’s house. The seizure was hidden after Gadkari informed Nikam about his interrogation by the police in Mumbai. The police are yet to corroborate whether it was buried by Nikam or someone else did the job for him.

In another search conducted early on Friday morning at Pen, the ATS first detained Divekar, who led them to the places where he had dumped 19 gelatin sticks, timers, 20 detonators, seven circuits and 12 batteries. “Divekar, a police ‘patil’ in Pen, had done this job. He is a manager at a factory owned by Bhave’s father,’’ said additional commissioner of police Param Bir Singh. “I have been told that some detonators and batteries were thrown in the river to destroy evidence,’’ said ATS chief Hemant Karkare. An officer said the seizure more arrests were likely in the case.

The Times of India, June 21, 2008

Thursday, June 19, 2008

They spent savings to blast theatres

Sevaks Used Rs 20K For Making Five Bombs

Mateen Hafeez I TNN
Mumbai: The sevaks of Sanatan Sanstha, a Hindu revivalist group, arrested for their alleged role in the recent bomb blasts, on Wednesday said that they had collected the money for making bombs from their own savings and spent around Rs 20,000 on making five bombs.

The sevaks, Ramesh Hanumant Gadkari (50), Mangesh Nikam (34), Santosh Angre (26) and Vikram Bhave (26) were booked for their alleged role in the Thane, Vashi and Panvel blasts.

“Gadkari, Bhave and Nikam knew how to make bombs. They were all present when the bombs were being manufactured. We are questioning them on who taught them, ‘’ said an officer. Moreover, the accused told the police that they did not take anyone’s financial help for making the bombs. “During the interrogation, the accused said that they had collected the money from their savings. We are questioning them and trying to find out who was the brain behind the blasts,’’ said the officer.

“We want to find out which channel is funding them and their support system. Our teams have reached Satara and Ratnagiri and we are hopeful of getting some evidence from there,’’ anti-terrorism squad chief Hemant Karkare said.

The accused had bought shrapnel from Panvel, eight timers from Lohar Chawl for
Rs 550 each and asked for a 5% discount. “The batteries were bought from a shop at Grant Road. We will now record the statements of the employees of these shops and their owners,’’ the police said. The circuits for the bombs were made by Gadkari who holds a diploma in Electronics Engineering. Detonators, gelatin sticks and ammonium nitrate were obtained from the city. The ATS is likely to subject the accused to narco analysis and lie-detector tests as their statements are not matchig. For instance, Gadkari initially told the police that his wife, Neela, a sevika, was with him when he went to plant a bomb at Thane’s Gadkari Rangayatan hall. Later, he changed his statement saying Bhave was with him.

While Nikam was involved in a bomb blast case at Ratnagiri in 2006 and was acquitted for it, Bhave was booked for an assault case by the Navi Mumbai police. According to sources, a girl who had left her house and decided to stay at Sanatan Ashram had refused to go home, when her relatives came to take her. A fight broke out between her relatives and some sevaks, Bhave was involved. The ATS said that they were waiting for case papers to arrive from Navi Mumbai.

While Gadkari and Angre stayed at Sanatan Ashram at Devat near Panvel, Nikam was arrested from Satara and Bhave was picked up from Wadala. The bombs were manufactured at Bhave’s house.

Gadkari and Bhave had told the police that they had planted a bomb outside a mosque on Pen highway to check its intensity on Diwali, last year. “They said it was a mosque or dargah but it was, in fact, a qabrastan (cemetery). They had planted the bomb outside the qabrastan to test it,’’ said an officer. (Most e Muslim cemeteries have a mosque where namaz is offered for the dead).

We shun violence, say Sanatan sevaks

Navi Mumbai: Sahil (name changed) is a regular ‘sadhak’ (disciple) at the Panvel Sanatan Sanstha at Devad village, which is currently in the news in connection with bomb blasts during the staging of a Marathi play in Thane.

Sahil said that like most of the 150 sadhaks and sadhikas (inmates) at the Sanstha, he too is shocked by the arrest of persons associated with the organization. “I am an engineering topper from a prominent Mumbai college, and have been coming here for meditation for the last eight years as I quite like this place. It is meant for peace and spiritual growth, and not to propagate violence, such as bomb blasts,’’ said Sahil.

The spokesperson for the Sanstha, Abhay Vartak, condemned the recent acts of violence. He, however, added that they also condemn the cheap and demeaning portrayal of Hindu deities, and misrepresentation of mythology in certain films and plays. “The English film Love Guru, for example, makes a mockery of our Indian values. Though I have personally not seen Jodha Akbar, I have been told that they have fabricated history to show a Rajput king willingly marrying his daughter to the Mughal king.’’

But Varkat added that such bad portrayals in the media still do not call for bombings or any other form of violence. “Our Sanstha completely believes in peace and spiritual
growth. We believe in peaceful forms of protests if something hurts us; which is why the recent arrests have totally shocked us,’’ he reasoned.

A regular day for sadhaks and sadhikas here begins at 6.30 am with half-hour of Yoga. At 7 pm, they freshen up, and begin ‘chanting meditation for 30 minutes till 8 am. From 8.10 am to 8.30 am, they offer aarti to the gods, and then proceed for breakfast.

“From 9 am onwards, they begin their regular duties, which include work at the fabrication workshop, some prefer vehicle repairs at our inhouse garage, while other sadhaks and sadhikas do office accounting work or any job assigned to them,’’ said Vartak.

Television is switched on mainly to watch news channels. Lunch is served at 12.30 am,At 5 pm, it’s time for tea and snacks. At 6 pm they again perform aarti, and by 10 pm they go to sleep. “There is no compulsion for them to stay; anyone can walk out at free will. Sometimes we also receive international visitors who want to learn about Indian spirituality,’’ said Vartak.

Adding that the have fully cooperated with the ATS, leading to the recent arrests, Vartak reiterated that there is no place for violence in their abode. “In a recent comical play, Lord Krishna is shown coming down on earth and mouthing the dialogue that he wanted to pee. Such acts are very disrespectful, cheap and bad comedy, but we protest legally,’’ he said.

The Times of India, June 19, 2008

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Sevaks planted bomb outside mosque last Diwali

SINISTER PLOT: The sevaks had planted bombs in halls at Thane (picture above) and Vashi

Mateen Hafeez I TNN

Mumbai: The sevaks of Hindu revivalist group Sanatan Sanstha, who were arrested for allegedly being involved in some recent blasts , told the police that they had planted a bomb outside a mosque/dargah on the Pen highway last Diwali. They apparently wanted to check the intensity of the bomb, but it did not explode.

The confession came on Tuesday after the anti-terrorism squad (ATS) arrested two more sevaks, Santosh Angre (26) and Vikram Bhave (26), who reportedly planted the bombs at the Bhave auditorium in Vashi
and Thane’s Gadkari Rangayatan. Seven persons were injured in the Thane blast on June 4.

The police made a breakthrough by arresting Ramesh Hanumant Gadkari (50) and Mangesh Nikam (34). The four accused have been sent to police custody till June 24. While Gadkari stayed at Sanatan Ashram in Devat near Panvel, Nikam belongs to Satara.

According to the accused, they had manufactured at least five bombs. While three of them were planted in Panvel, Vashi and Thane, one was planted in a dustbin at Pen but it did not go off. “Gadkari and Bhave said they had planted a bomb
outside a mosque or dargah on the Pen highway. Our teams are verifying the claim,’’ said investigating officer B B Rathor.

With this revelation, the ATS is now going through the records of those arrested for the Jalana, Porna and Parbhani mosque blasts to find if there is any connection between the two groups.

While an officer said the bombs were made at Bhave’s house, an ATS team had been camping at Sanatan Ashram, trying to
get evidence.

Angre, who stayed at Sanatan’s Ashram, was picked up from there and Bhave, a resident of Pen near Ratnagiri, was arrested from Wadala where he was hiding at his in-law’s house.

“The accused had bought around eight timers, which were to be used in the bombs. While five timers were used, the other three were thrown away near a nullah in Panvel,’’ said the officer.

Angre, a school dropout, was in the business of preparing and selling ayurvedic medicines. He left home and stayed at the ashram. Two motorcycles used by the accused and
Ashram’s logbook have been seized.

According to police, the accused did not regret their act. “We are proud of what we did to deter those who were trying to show our gods and goddesses in poor light,’’ the accused told the invesigators.

On Tuesday, Gadkari, an engineering diploma-holder, told the court, “The police are putting pressure on my family and not considering my statement. They want a statement according to their will.’’ However, he did not complain about any physical torture.
“This is an allegation,’’ said ATS chief Hemant Karkare.

The Times of India, June 18, 2008

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

This businessman shut shop to become a sevak

NABBED: The ATS squad takes Ramesh Gadkari (C) and Mangesh Nikam (in white shirt) to the Mazgaon court on Monday

Mateen Hafeez | TNN
Mumbai: Ramesh Gadkari, a sevak of the Hindu Janjagruti Samiti, a religious organisation, arrested in connection with the Thane and Vashi theatre blasts, was so convinced with the Samiti’s preaching that he sold his electronics shop a few years ago and started living at the organisation’s hostel near Panvel.

The 50-year-old diploma-holder in electronics engineering was arrested on Monday along with another sevak, Mangesh Nikam. He was booked under various charges of the Indian Penal Code and the Explosive Act.

“Gadkari had an electronics shop, Umresh Electricals, at Andheri between 1981 and 2000 and the shop was doing well. During that time he came in touch with the sevaks of the Samiti and was so convinced by its preaching that he decided to become one,” said inspector B B Rathor. “He sold his shop and deposited the money in a bank. The family lives on the interest earned through this deposit. Three years ago, he left his Sangli residence and
shifted to Sanatan Sanstha near Panvel.’’

Gadkari’s wife Neela also became a sevika, says Rathor. “Even his two son-inlaws are also sevaks of Sanatan. He would take part in the organisation’s activities and had also opposed the play Amhi Pachpute. The Samiti had earlier said the play had shown Hindu gods and goddesses in poor light and they had protested against
it,’’ added Rathor.

The ATS said Gadkari along with Nikam conspired to avenge the humiliation. “Nikam, a resident of Satara, had learnt how to make bombs from a welldigger. He used to come to Sanatan and befriended Gadkari. During the recent protest, the duo decided to take the initiative and Nikam brought detonators, explosive, shrapnel, ammonium nitrate and other ingredients and made the bomb in a room at Sanatan’s hostel,’’ said an
officer. One more person identified as Dave was present while the bomb was being made.

Another bomb was made at Dave’s residence in Ratnagiri. Nikam had taught Gadkari, Dave and three others how to make bombs. “The accused hatched the bomb blast conspiracy in the last week of January,’’ said an officer. Gadkari had kept some detonators and explosives at Nikam’s residence and asked him to destroy it after he was summoned for questioning.

“Nikam was arrested along with eight others for planting a bomb outside the door of one Ashok Chavan at Shanti Nagar Nachne in Ratnagiri. A Christian missionary, preaching to Chavan and Nikam, felt that Chavan would be converted. The police arrested all the nine accused but they were acquitted by the court on April 17 this year,’’ said the officer.

The bombs were manufactured just six to eight hours in advance from the time fixed on the timer.

“Gadkari had rode out on a motorcycle from the hostel to plant the bomb and its registration number was recorded at the hostel’s entry gate. The same motorcycle was parked at the Thane theatre’s parking lot and there also the number was registered. Gadkari left the parking lot after planting the bomb on June 4. On that day he rode around 150 km before returning,’’ added an officer.

The Times of India, June 17, 2008

2 of religious group held for Thane blast



Mumbai: Two sevaks (followers) of Sanatan Sanstha, a religious group run by the revivalist Hindu Janjagruti Samiti, were arrested on Monday morning by the anti-terrorism squad (ATS) for their alleged role in planting bombs at theatres in Thane and Vashi.

Seven persons were injured when a bomb went off in the parking lot of the Thane theatre on June 4. The motive behind the blasts was to deter the producer of the farce, Amhi Pachpute, from staging the play. Both the theatres were staging the play. The Sanstha had earlier objected to the play, saying that Hindu mythological figures were being shown in poor light.

Religious group unaware of duo’s role
Mumbai: Ramesh Hanumant Gadkari (50) and Mangesh Nikam (34), the two persons arrested for the blasts at theatres in Thane and Vashi, were produced before the Mazgaon court and sent to police custody till June 24.

While Gadkari stayed at the Sanatan Sanstha’s ashram at Devat near Panvel, Nikam belongs to Satara. Later in the evening, Abhay Vartak, Sanatan spokesperson, said that they had no knowledge of the duo’s activities and that they had done it on their own. “We condemn the blasts. There is no place for violence in our organisation.’’

“We have arrested the duo for their role in the blasts and have got documentary evidence to
prove their involvement in the blasts. Gadkari had planted the bomb at Thane’s Gadkari Rangayatan hall in which seven persons were injured.

The play, Amhi Pachpute was to be staged there on June 4 afternoon when the bomb went off,’’ said ATS Hemant Karkare said. He added that the police was looking for those who funded the

bomb blasts and what was the source of this money. The police could not seize any thing from Gadkari’s room in the Ashram.

“The office bearers of the Hindu Janjagruti Samiti had written to the Thane police commissioner protesting the play. They said that the Hindu God and Goddess were shown in poor light and that permission to stage the play should not be granted. Gadkari and his accomplices then decid
ed to take revenge and planted bombs,’’ added Karkare.

On May 31, the Bomb Detection and Disposal Squad (BDDS) defused a bomb found in a plastic carry bag at Vashi’s auditorium. It contained batteries, gelatin sticks, detonators and ammonium nitrate.

The play Amhi Pachpute was to be staged here too. On February 20, a similar bomb was planted in at Panvel’s Cineraj cinema during the screening of Jodhha Akbar. The bomb created no more damage than a small fire cracker and went unnoticed till the end of the show.

The ATS has indicated that more arrests are likely to follow in this case. “Gadkari and Nikam are full-time sevaks for Sanatan for the last three years. Their links with any terror outfit is yet to be established. Nikam taught Gadkari about bomb-making and one of the two bombs was manufactured within the premises of
Sanatan Ashram,’’ said investigating officer B B Rathor. Nikam had provided a detonator and explosives to make the bomb.

The police got the clues from the number of the motorcycle used by the bombers. The licence number was entered in the log book of the Thane theatre’s parking lot. “We have got evidence of their involvement and are looking for at least half a dozen accused in this case,’’ said Param Bir Singh, additional commissioner of ATS.

The police, however, do not have the close circuit television footage of Gadkari while parking the bike at Thane theatre since the close circuit television was switched off between 1.30 pm to 4 pm on that day. The police, however, has got the log record of the bike that Gadkari had used. The bike was the property of Grukrupa Pratishthan, which runs the ashram.

The Times of India, June 17, 2008