Sunday, January 31, 2010

Deceased PSI Shinde was family’s sole breadwinner

ON CRASH COURSE

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: There is little consolation for the family of the deceased PSI, Dina Nath Shinde (41). The traffic sub-inspector with the Kalbadevi station, was the sole earning member of his family.

He is survived by his wife, Devyani (40), college-going daughter Dipti (16) and 12-year-old son, Siddhesh, who is studying in Std VII. Shinde joined the traffic police department two years ago after he was transferred from the Local Arms unit in Naigaon. Shinde had earlier worked with the Pydhonie police station. “He was always punctual and was respected by everyone,” said one of his colleagues. Another colleague remembers him as “a great officer, a good colleague and brother to us all’’.


Shinde’s relatives learnt about the accident early on Saturday. “We were shocked to see his condition. He sustained severe head injuries,’’ said Subhash Shinde, a relative. He died at Bombay Hospital.

Devyani said, “This incident is similar to the Salman Khan case. The accused should be punished.”

The second victim, biker Afzal Ibrahim (36), who had been stopped by the traffic police for a breathalyser test, died on the way to Saifee Hospital. The Kurla resident hails from a middle-class family and had recently opened a restaurant, Mezbaan, in his neighbourhood. He is survived by his wife and a four-year-old daughter.

His friend, who was riding pillion, managed to escape unscathed. He said they had gone on an impromptu ride to south Mumbai after a long day’s work.

The Times of India, January 31, 2010

Deceased PSI Shinde was family’s sole breadwinner

ON CRASH COURSE

Deceased PSI Shinde was family’s sole breadwinner

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: There is little consolation for the family of the deceased PSI, Dina Nath Shinde (41). The traffic sub-inspector with the Kalbadevi station, was the sole earning member of his family.

He is survived by his wife, Devyani (40), college-going daughter Dipti (16) and 12-year-old son, Siddhesh, who is studying in Std VII. Shinde joined the traffic police department two years ago after he was transferred from the Local Arms unit in Naigaon. Shinde had earlier worked with the Pydhonie police station. “He was always punctual and was respected by everyone,” said one of his colleagues. Another colleague remembers him as “a great officer, a good colleague and brother to us all’’.


Shinde’s relatives learnt about the accident early on Saturday. “We were shocked to see his condition. He sustained severe head injuries,’’ said Subhash Shinde, a relative. He died at Bombay Hospital.

Devyani said, “This incident is similar to the Salman Khan case. The accused should be punished.”

The second victim, biker Afzal Ibrahim (36), who had been stopped by the traffic police for a breathalyser test, died on the way to Saifee Hospital. The Kurla resident hails from a middle-class family and had recently opened a restaurant, Mezbaan, in his neighbourhood. He is survived by his wife and a four-year-old daughter.

His friend, who was riding pillion, managed to escape unscathed. He said they had gone on an impromptu ride to south Mumbai after a long day’s work.

The Times of India, January 31, 2010

Drunk woman rams SUV into cops at Marine Lines, kills two



BLACK DAY: Nooria Haveliwala being taken to a police station early on Saturday; (below) Her smashed Honda CRV

Policemen Were On Anti-Alcohol Drive, Biker Among Dead

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: A sub-inspector on duty and a biker were killed and four constables injured when a 27-year-old drunk woman lost control over her speeding SUV near Marine Lines station and slammed into them at 12.20 am on Saturday.

In a tragic irony, the policemen were on an anti-drunk driving mission.The subinspector were conducting a breathalyser test on the killed biker when Nooria Haveliwala, a stylist staying with her parents in Colaba, ploughed into them, apparently at a speed of over 120 km/hr. Haveliwala, back recently from the US, was returning from a friend’s house in Breach Candy.

Her blood tests showed that the alcohol content was way over the legal
limit. “We have detected 457 ml alcohol content in her blood samples. The permissible limit for driving after drinking is 30 ml,’’ said Nandkumar Chaugale, DCP (traffic). The police also suspect that she was under the influence of drugs. “A team from the anti-narcotic cell has been called in,’’ said an officer.

The two killed are sub-inspector Dina Nath Shinde (41) of the Kalbadevi traffic division and Afzal Ibrahim (36), a Kurla restaurant owner.

Himanshu Roy, joint commissioner (law and order), said: “She lost control of the car and first collided with a passing taxi which spun out of control and smashed into Ibrahim’s bike. With the impact, his body was flung aside. Shinde, who was with Ibrahim, was also hit. Haveliwala’s speeding car then hit the traffic police’s Qualis.”


DEATH ARRIVED ON FOUR WHEELS
* Nooria Haveliwala, 27, had a few drinks at her friend’s place and was driving back to her Colaba home when she slammed into a police check point
* Her car, zipping at 120 km/hr, banged a taxi and ploughed into a PSI conducting a breathalyser test on a biker. Both killed. Four cops injured
* Haveliwala, a stylist, had returned from LA in 2009. Unopened beer cans found in car. 457 ml of alcohol in her blood against limit of 30 ml. Police suspect she had done drugs too
* Haveliwala arrested on charges of causing death by negligence, which can fetch her a maximum sentence of two years, a fine or both. Also booked for causing grievous hurt, rash and negligent driving

‘She made no attempt to flee’
Mumbai: According to joint police chief (law and order), Himanshu Roy, Colaba resident Nooria Haveliwala, whose drunken driving resulted in the death of two persons early on Saturday, made no attempt to flee the scene as she was in condition to do so.

Deputy commissioner of police, Sanjay Mohite, concurred. “PSI Dina Nath Shinde was questioning Afzal Ibrahim who was taking a breathalyser test at the time of the incident,’’ he said.

The pillion rider, a friend of Ibrahim, recalled seeing a big black car headed towards them. “I jumped and ran in the opposite direction,’’ he said.

Preliminary investigations have revealed that Haveliwala left her apartment on the 18th floor of Sagar Sangeet building in Colaba around 10 pm. She visited her friend at Breach Candy and drank, said the police, who found three unopened beer cans in the car. “The cans will be sent for a chemical analysis. We have found some alcohol on the seats as well,’’ said an officer.

Haveliwala has been arrested on charges of causing death by negligence (maximum punishment up to two years or fine or both), grievous hurt, rash and negligent driving and was also booked under various sections of the Motor Vehicles Act. She was
produced in court on Saturday and remanded to police custody till February 5. Her lawyer, Renuka Laxmeshwar, refused to comment.

According to the police, the accused had a valid driving licence. “The Honda CRV is registered in the name of Haveliwala’s father,’’ said a police officer.

Sub-inspector Shinde, who was critically injured, died in Bombay Hospital, while Ibrahim succumbed to injuries before he reached
Saifi Hospital. The four injured policemen have been identified as Shailesh Jadhav (40), Magan Gaikwad (51), Ashok Shinde (41) and Shivram Shinde (52). While Shivram and Ashok have been discharged, the other two are still in hospital.
“People should realise the serious consequences of driving under the influence of alcohol. We will request the government to make laws for drunk driving more stringent,’’ said Roy.


PSI Shinde, who was posted in the traffic department two years ago, is survived by his wife Devyani (40), daughter Dipti and a 12-year-old son, Siddhesh, a Std VII student. Shinde was the sole earning member in his family.

State home minister R R Patil and police commissioner D Sivanandhan visited the injured constables and the family of Shinde at Bombay Hospital on Saturday.
mateen.hafiz@timesgroup.com

l Nov 12, 2006: Alistair Pereira’s Corolla spun out of control and ran over 15 persons on Carter Road. 7 died. Pereira, 21, was drunk
l Case status: Bombay HC sent him to jail for three years. His appeal is pending in SC. He is out on bail

l July 27, 2006: Drunk Oman-based psychologist Asma Mada (33) held for crushing 2 persons on a Cadell Road pavement. She fled, but was tracked down to her house in Juhu
l Status of the case: Trial pending

l Jan 20, 2008: Sanket Sonawane, son of a civil engineer, booked for killing two people when he rammed his car into a group at BKC
l Case status: Trial pending. He was caught driving drunk in 2005 and fined Rs 1,000

THE VICTIMS
l PSI Dina Nath Shinde, 41, (left) was the only earning member of his family. He is survived by his wife, college-going daughter and younger son l Biker Afzal Ibrahim, 36, ran a restaurant in Kurla. He is survived by his wife and a 4-month-old daughter



STEERING INTO DISASTER: The mangled remains of the car that Nooria Haveliwala was driving

The Times of India, January 31, 2010

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Police has been most corrupt govt dept for 10 years: ACB




Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: Is khaki the colour of corruption in the city? The city police has consistently been the most corrupt government department over the last decade, reveal anti-corruption bureau (ACB) figures. The BMC pipped it only once — in 2008 — and exactly 251 cops have been arrested in corruption cases over the past 10 years.

If we go by ACB records, the maximum number of policemen charged with corruption came in 2003 — a total of 60 cops. “Policemen are more visible and they have more contacts with the public than personnel from other departments. So, there are more complaints against them,’’ an ACB officer said.

A senior Mumbai police officer refused to comment, saying it was “not a positive thing
to comment on’’. The city police, he added, had installed banners at almost all police stations explaining that both offering and accepting bribe were offences. “But all this is not yielding any results.’’

The only change came in 2008, when the BMC topped the corruption list with 26 of its personnel being investigated for corruption allegations. The number of police
men suspected to be involved in corruption in 2008 was 19.

And the ACB cases not only relate to those in which cops were trapped while accepting a bribe. There have been numerous cases when policemen have been caught forcing small-time businessmen to cough up money from ATMs. There have also been cases of policemen found to possess assets disproportionate to their
official income. Suspended encounter specialist Daya Nayak was arrested in such a case a few years ago. “But it becomes difficult to prove these cases,’’ an officer said.

Former IPS officer-turnedlawyer Y P Singh, who has written a book, Carnage by Angels, focusing on the corruption in the police department, said, “Corruption comes to notice more often in the police force as they take bribes from innocent people who then complain to the ACB. In other cases of corruption, like between a builder and the BMC or between a tax evader and a tax officer, both parties gain and hence no one files a formal complaint. That is the reason why the ACB should pursue more such cases. That only will tackle the problem of collusive corruption being practised by high-level politicians and bureaucrats.’’

The Times of India, January 30, 2010

Goa rapist nabbed from Kurla slum

Mateen Hafeez & Andrew Pereira | TNN

Mumbai/Panaji: A Goa police team on Friday arrested Aman Bharadwaj, prime suspect in the rape of a nine-year-old Russian girl, from a slum in Nehru Nagar, Kurla, on Friday evening. The rape had taken place at Arambol beach in north Goa on the evening of January 26 where the girl was holidaying with her mother.

Goa DIG Ravindra Yadav told TOI, “We learnt about Bharadwaj’s hideout in Mumbai through an informer who is a friend of his. We will be able to give more details about it after we question him thoroughly.’’ Bharadwaj’s accomplice, Anil Raghuvanshi, too was arrested earlier in the day. Anil was trying to flee to Bangalore. He was arrested when he arrived at Panaji bus stand.


Tip-off given by accomplice helped police nab rapist

Mumbai/Panaji: An official from Intech Pharma, the firm where both accused in the Russian girl’s rape case, were employed, had arrived in Goa and was co-operating with the police. “The firm’s manager and I called up Anil Raghuvanshi and told him to return and help us in the probe,’’ deputy IGP Ravindra Yadav said. Raghuvanshi was picked up from Panaji bus depot.

Police officials said investigators got Aman Bharadwaj’s cellphone number from Raghuvanshi, which helped them track his location. “Raghuvanshi had mentioned a Mumbai address where Bharadwaj could go,’’ said an officer. The rape had taken place between 5.30 pm and 6 pm on Republic Day after Bharadwaj and his friend struck up a conversation with the girl’s mother on the beach. Bharadwaj ventured into the sea with the girl and later took her to an isolated spot on the beach and raped her as his pal chatted up the mother, officials said. A medical examination confirmed rape.

Raghvanshi was presented before the judicial magistrate first class, Pernem, on Friday evening where he was remanded to seven days in judicial custody. Police also asked the court to facilitate the identification parade of the accused as early as possible. “Though both accused worked together, they lived in separate accommodations,’’ Yadav said. Bharadwaj was employed in the company as a machine operator while Raghuvanshi worked at a supervisory level, the DIG said.

According to sources, Bharadwaj came to Goa two years ago when the company asked their equipment suppliers to arrange personnel to operate their machines.

The Times of India, January 30, 2010

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Delivery boy knocks down senior citizen

Mateen Hafeez I TNN

Mumbai: A delivery boy employed with a fast-food giant knocked down a 65-year-old man near Badhwar Park, Cuffe Parade, around 10.15 pm on Monday while rushing to deliver a snacks parcel to a home in south Mumbai. The victim, Tukaram Pawar, succumbed to his injuries two days later.

The biker, Kamlesh Gupta (21), was initially booked for rash and negligent
driving. He was later released on a surety of Rs 5,000.

According to the police, Gupta took Pawar to St George Hospital in Fort. “Gupta was speeding. He lost control over his vehicle and rammed into Pawar, who was crossing the road,” said an officer of the Cuffe Parade police station. “Immediately af
ter the accident, Gupta picked up an unconscious Pawar and brought him to hospital.”

Gupta’s medical examination revealed that he was not drunk at the time of the mishap. Gupta told police that he could not see Pawar crossing the road as it was dark.
In the meantime, Pawar’s grandson Sandeep
approached the Cuffe Parade police stating that Pawar was missing. “We took Sandeep to the hospital where he identified Pawar,’’ said the officer.

Gupta has now been booked for culpable homicide not amounting to murder. The police said that Pawar’s family had recently shifted to Badhwar Park and not many people knew them. “As a result, it took us a while to ascertain the identity of the victim,” the officer added.

The Times of India, January 28, 2010

Statements of three policemen recorded in gangster bash

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: Statements of assistant commissioner of police Prakash Wani of the crime branch and two other policemen have been recorded in connection with a Christmas party allegedly organised by the underworld and attended by five police personnel.

Police commissioner D Sivanandan on Wednesday said that deputy police commissioner Milind Bharambhe was making an inquiry. “Statements of policemen have been recorded and if some were found to be involved in it, an additional commissioner will conduct a departmental inquiry,’’ said Sivanandan. Five policemen allegedly partied with Chhota Rajan gang members D K Rao, Farid Tanasha and several others in a Chembur pub. All the five policemen, including deputy commissioner of police V N Salve, have been suspended. Salve is in charge of the intelligence unit of the Mumbai police’s Special Branch.

“There is no rule that policemen should go and attend such parties for intelligence purposes. We have other means of collecting information. If someone is found guilty in this case, stern action will be taken,’’ Sivanandan said.

The Times of India, January 28, 2010

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

High security in city for safe R-Day celebration

Mateen Hafeez & Yogesh Naik | TNN

Mumbai: Mumbai will celebrate the diamond jubilee of the Indian republic under massive security cover. Paragliding within Mumbai limits is prohibited for the next 15 days, as are low-flying aircraft and helicopters and unmanned aeromodels. High-rise buildings have been asked to keep their terraces locked for a fortnight so that no outsiders have entry.

Additional chief secretary (home) Chandra Iyengar said, “Conforming to the Union government’s directives, lowflying aircraft and helicopters and paragliding have been banned for the next few days in view of a security threat.’’ Another senior police officer said unmanned aeromodels would also be grounded for a few days.

Local police stations are also checking on people who have paragliding equipment that can be folded and trans
ported. “It’s difficult to spot a paraglider on the radar if it’s at a low height,’’ an official explained.

Police commissioner D Sivanandhan said there was no perception of a threat, “but we’re leaving no stone unturned to ensure security. The police are ready for any situation and we promise citizens a peaceful Republic Day,’’ he said. All leave has been cancelled.

Joint commissioner of po
lice (law and order) Himanshu Roy said the police had some inputs about the use of paragliders as a possible threat. Security in coastal areas has been beefed up. The Coast Guard, police and navy held a high-level meeting on Friday to discuss security threats. The city police has called in 21 platoons of the State Reserve Police Force. Riot Control Police and Quick Response Teams will patrol the streets round the clock.

Traffic curbs for parade
The traffic police have announced road restrictions for the Republic Day parade to be held at Shivaji Park from 6 am to 12 noon on Tuesday. Keluskar Road will be closed to vehicles between Lady Jamsetji Road and Keluskar Road (South and North) junctions. Keluskar Road (South) will be one-way between Veer Savarkar Road and Keluskar Road (North). Keluskar Road (North) will be one-way between Keluskar Road (South) and Veer Savarkar Road. S K Bole road will be one-way from the Siddhivinayak junction up to Hanuman Temple. SVS Marg will be closed to traffic from Siddhivinayak Junction to Hinduja Hospital. Parking will not be permitted between 6 am and noon on Keluskar Road (Main, South and North), Shivaji Park Road No 2, and a few other roads in the area. TNN

The Times of India, January 26, 2010

Monday, January 25, 2010

2009 saw 140 terror alerts



Cops Claim None Of The Intelligence Inputs Was Actionable

Mateen Hafeez I TNN

Mumbai: A deluge of intelligence inputs about possible attacks and threat calls kept our men in khakhi busy for most part of 2009, leaving them with little time to do routine policing work.

Last year, the officials of the city police received 140 terror inputs from the Intelligence Bureau (IB), the state intelligence department and the special branch, about possible terror strikes in the city. However, none of the inputs was “actionable’’, sources said.

In addition to this, the bomb detection and disposal squad (BDDS) received an overwhelming 1,426 calls. Of these, 1,067 were about movement of VIPs in the city while the remaining 359 were
threat calls, show statistics available with the TOI. If that’s not all, officials also had to look into 25 threat emails, which are currently being probed by the cyber crime investigation cell. Two other threats e-mails were forwarded to the anti-terrorism squad (ATS).

Sources in the security establishments opined that
such alerts are never specific since the preliminary information is passed on to the concerned security agencies.

For instance, an alert sent out by the IB to Mumbai police warned about the resurfacing of the Dawood Ibrahim gang in interior Maharashtra. Another alert by the IB listed eight sites, including a few railway stations, a
private bank and an iconic building, as possible sites for an attack by a group of Pakistan-based terrorists. Last year, the intelligence agencies also issued an alert about a possible fidayeen attack. The input stated that trained women pilots had entered the country. “However, this information too proved not actionable,” said a senior police officer.

Senior police officials said that such alerts can’t be ignored, but some cops termed the alerts as a “waste of time and man power’’. “In the absence of specific information, where are we supposed to deploy our men? Also, most officers have to attend to routine policing work and are not inclined to work on such intelligence inputs,’’ the officer added.

The Times of India, January 25, 2010

This activist fights to get justice for innocent

FOR A CAUSE: Farid Shaikh (right) with Haj House imam Gulam Yahya Illahi Bakhsh

Mateen Hafeez I TNN

Mumbai: Farid Shaikh, chairman of the Mumbai Aman Committee, was the main force behind the successful defence of Maharashtra’s first POTA accused, Mohammed Afroz, as well as the recent acquittal of Haj House imam Gulam Yahya Illahi Bakhsh from a terror case.

Bakhsh is the first person to be booked under the amended unlawful activities (prevention) act (UAPA) by the state anti-terrorism squad.

Said Shaikh (45), the sports director of Anjuman-I-Islam, “I strive to get justice for those who I believe have been wrongly framed by the police.’’

Talking about the case of Afroz, who was arrested in 2001 on suspicion of being an al-Qai
da operative, he said, “I have known Afroz since he was in school and knew that he had nothing to do with the crime he was accused of.’’

Shaikh alleged that he was threatened by the senior police officials for taking up cases of suspected terrorists. “But nothing can stop me from fighting for the innocent,” he said.


The Times of India, January 25, 2010

Friday, January 22, 2010

25 ‘terrorists’ held in 36-hour mock drill

Mateen Hafeez & Vijay V Singh | TNN

Mumbai: A total of 25 “terrorists’’ were caught in 36 hours near the Gateway, Yellow Gate, Hotel J W Marriot and Madh Island during the city’s largest mock terror drill. Seventy commandos from the navy, Coast Guard and the police were assigned the job to breach security at coast and enter the city to check the preparedness of the security agencies.

“It was a successful exercise and we got a good response. The ‘suspects’ were given a code so that there was no accidental firing. In the last 36 hours, the police and other agencies were able to trace and catch 25 suspects. We will do an analysis of the mock drill soon,’’ said JCP Himanshu Roy.

The coastal police scored nearly complete success by nabbing three teams of ‘terrorists’. While the city police— in three separate operations—caught eight ‘suspects’, the fisheries department’s response to the terror mock drill has been termed as the poorest.

The plan for a ‘terror mock drill’ was chalked out in the
first week of January. A team of ‘terrorists’—all belonging to navy, police and Coast Guard—were given a Yellow code while the security agencies and the teams working to identify and catch them were awarded Blue code.

Named as ‘Operation Sagar Kavach’, the drill was completed on Thursday evening. “A temporary control room for Customs, Central Industrial Security Force, navy, Coast Guard, fisheries, Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust, Mumbai Port Trust, Mumbai Maritime Board, state intelligence department and statelevel administrative department was set up at navy’s area in Colaba and repre
sentatives of all the agencies were asked to monitor the situation,’’ said a senior official, adding that there was a common team, common response and a “very favourable’’ result. “Not only have we learnt several new things, but have also understood how to go about such issues,’’ the source said.

The cops nailed three more ‘suspects’ after they had entered the city through the western coastline. The trio had hired a car to reach their destination. But they were nailed soon after they tried to enter a suburban five-star hotel. The police later confirmed the trio was part of the mock-drill.

Force One must train for chemical, nuclear warfare: Home minister
Mumbai: Home minister R R Patil asked Force One officials to submit a proposal for setting up a Chemical, Biological and Nuclear Warfare Unit in a meeting of the police and the Force One officials on Thursday. Patil said the force must recognise threat from such materials being used in warfare. Senior officers like DGP A N Roy, police commissioner D Sivanandhan, State intelligence commissioner K L Prasad and Konkan Range IG Parambir Singh attended the meeting. Patil said he was ready to send Force One officials abroad for training. —Yogesh Naik | TNN



The Times of India, January 22, 2010

Cops ignored letter about fake doctor

MUNIR KHAN CASE

Mateen Hafeez I TNN

Mumbai: Elusive conman Munir Khan could have been arrested around three years ago had the Versova police acted on a letter by Rashid Oomer, a chartered accountant and managing trustee of Jaffer Suleman Musafirkhana Trust. The trust runs many charitable hospitals and students’ hostels across the city.

Khan, who posed as a scientist, would claim to cure cancer with a medicine worth Rs 15,000. Investigations reveal he was not only selling fake drugs but had also hired fake doctors. The police have found out that one of the six women doctors arrested from his clinic was actually a dancer working with a bar in Chembur.

In his letter dated April 16, 2007, Oomer said that hospitals run by the trust had come across some patients who were undergoing treatment by Munir. “He claims to cure cancer, kidney failure and other diseases in a few days. He is not a qualified doctor who can practise,’’ the letter said. “He (Khan) is cheating poor people and taking money from them under false pretences. He is playing with their lives,’’ Oomer stated in the letter.

Speaking to TOI, Oomer said, “Some of our patients informed me that they were
planning to take treatment from Khan, which would cost them just Rs 15,000. When I called him up and enquired about his degrees, Khan started abusing me. Then I informed the police through a letter that he was a bogus doctor. However, the police did not take any action.’’

In fact, Oomer’s staff went to Versova police station thrice but the police ignored their complaint. “Had the police acted on our complaint, Khan would have been arrested three years ago,’’ said Oomer. A police official said, “The officials of the time ha
ve since been transferred. A case has been registered.’’

Khan’s victims are now coming forward to lodge complaints. Besides an FIR, at least 60 more complaints have been registered against Khan at the Versova police station in November last year. And though police did not take cognisance of the April 2007 letter written by Oomer, it was finally forced to register a case against Khan in November, almost two-anda-half years later.

Khan is wanted by the Versova police in three cases, two of cheating and another of violating the Drugs and Magical Remedies Act, 1954.

The Times of India, January 21, 2010

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Mega terror drill has city in tizzy



First Joint Op Between Cops, Navy & Coast Guard Leads To Traffic Jams

Nitasha Natu & Mateen Hafeez I TNN


Three terrorists were caught trying to hijack a fishing trawler close to the city’s shore on Wednesday. The trio carried rexine bags and route maps, and were dressed like Pakistani terrorist Ajmal Kasab and his aides.

Mumbai: This wasn’t a repeat of the 26/11 terror attack; only an exercise to test the preparedness of security forces. The three terrorists in question were actually navy officials, part of a group of 35 mock terrorists planted in a large boat, 35 km from the shore. They also carried dummy arms and ammunition. Security forces were assigned
the task of nabbing them and preventing them from carrying out their activities.

Titled ‘Operation Sagar Kavach,’ the exercise was the first joint mock drill between the city police, the navy and the coast guard. The anti-terrorism squad was appointed as observer for the operation, which kickstarted at 6 am on Wednesday and will continue till 6 pm on Thursday, where the remaining terrorists will continue to enter the city and the security forces will try to nab them. Around 3 pm, two more mock terrorists were caught, sources said. The mock drill led to traffic jams on both the highways.

On Wednesday, real-time nakabandis and checks were conducted on land. Surprise
checks were planned at hotels and guest houses at night as the mock terrorists were supposed to enter the city after dusk in sets of 8-10.

The three navy officials “nabbed’’ were brought to the Yellow Gate police station. They displayed their navy Icards and their personal details were recorded. They were then struck off from the operation and all police stations were informed.


Major places of worship were fixed as “targets.’’ If any mock terrorist succeeded in entering these places, he would inform the rest of his team about it. The local police concerned would then be pulled up.

“The mock terrorists caught would also be quizzed about the route they had taken to reach a particular spot. Security personnel would then be held responsible,’’ an
official said. The police were provided with the terrorists’ description. The operation would span the 720-km shoreline of Maharashtra up to Goa. The mock terrorists were provided with small boats to reach the city shore. The team which nabbed the mock terrorists would be rewarded.

“For the first time, BEST buses were checked. We were instructed that every vehicle plying in the city should be inspected,’’ said the official. There was police presence at every junction, vital installations, nodal railway stations and subways. Autos, cabs and cars were checked. Those who appeared suspicious were frisked.

The traffic police clamped down on speedsters and riders without helmets. Habitual criminals were picked up and quizzed. People, who were unaware of the mock drill, were left confused.

The Times of India, January 21, 2010

‘If you fail, the world doesn’t end’

MAKING HIS CASE: R Javanjal took 18 tries to pass his law exams


Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: “Nothing is more precious than your life. If you fail in one exam or do not score up to the mark, the world does not end there,’’ says 50-year-old advocate Rajendra Javanjal. He should know. It took him 18 attempts and nine years to pass his three-year LLB course. Today, Javanjal is credited with getting over 100 acquittals in court.

A day after TOI reported about Prakash Karekar, a railway peon who passed the SSC in his 44th attempt, Javanjal’s story has come to light. Javanjal’s wife, a graudate who holds a diploma in taxation law, supported him. “She would even prepare notes for me. My mother,
Suman, was my biggest strength,’’ says the advocate.

“Whenever I would check the result, I would have failed in some subject or the other. I did not lose courage and tried hard to achieve my goal. I wanted to become a lawyer and did not give up,’’ says Javanjal, who now argues cases of murder, attempt to murder, dacoity, extortion and so on.

Originally hailing from Sangli, Javanjal studied law at New Law College, Matunga. In his first exam in 1981, he failed in all subjects. In his next attempt, he passed only one subject, Mohammedan law, and in the next attempt he cleared crime law. “I completed my law course in nine years, appearing for exams 18 times. I also got support from my
advocate friends, Sameer Tendulkar and Anup Mehta, who would encourage me a lot and sit with me while preparing for exams,’’ adds Javanjal.

Javanjal says, “You should try hard to achieve your goal. There is no short cut to getting success. I had to study nine years to become a lawyer.’’

Javanjal’s elder daughter passed her law degree course in the first attempt and secured a first class. His younger daughter is in the first year of junior college. “I don’t put pressure on my children over studies. However, I regularly interact with them about their exams and encourage them. In such times, when students are more prone to ending their lives, parents should not discuss their expectations in front of the children,’’ he added.

The Times of India, January 21, 2010

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Never-say-die peon passed SSC at 44th try


LESSONS IN LIFE: Karekar is now a peon

Mateen Hafeez | TIMES NEWS NETWORK

Mumbai: A peon with the city railway commissionerate has a lesson or two for those Mumbaikars for whom one failure is enough to push them over the brink. Prakash Karekar, who is 50 years old and has completed 29 years of life as a peon, has passed his Class 10 examination in—believe it or not—his 44th attempt, and knows much more about failure, he says, than any other Mumbaikar.

“Look at me. The first time I appeared for the examination was in 1977 and I finally passed it in 2003,’’ Karekar told TOI on Tuesday. The eternal optimist, who now has his sights set on a promotion and a new life as a clerk, could serve as a role model for suicidal youngsters whose ranks are growing alarmingly. In the last three months, over a hundred students have committed suicide across Maharashtra, prompting much soul-searching among worried parents, academics, psychiatrists and even the state government. The Maharashtra police has already formed a 15-member team to probe the reasons for the spurt in suicides and suggest preventive measures.

KEEPING HIS SPIRITS UP ‘Mother encouraged me all she could’
Mumbai: Prakash Karekar, currently working with the city railway commissionerate for a monthly salary of Rs 14,000, said he had a simple formula that helped him pull through all the years of ignominy. “I was never worried and never felt insulted despite failing the exam without fail. I only knew that I had to fight again and again till I succeeded,’’ he said. “I got a job as a peon on the basis of my Class 9 marksheet. But I wanted to become a clerk
and knew that somehow I had to do my Class 10 and so did not give up.’’

The peon’s journey
to an SSC certificate is illuminating. He failed in all six subjects in 1977. The first subject he passed was Marathi, after which he gradually conquered Hindi, science and English. Mathematics proved the toughest nut to crack. “But I never lost hope,’’ he said.

However, Karekar admitted that he bore a heavy load through all the years of failure. “Even my mother was fed up with my continuous failures but at least
she would not ridicule me. On the contrary, she did all she could to encourage me,’’ he said, adding that other parents should follow his mother’s example and never put pressure on their children.

“People should think of the anguish of their loved ones, who they will be leaving behind before they even think of suicide,’’ he concludes. “Anyway, we have no right to kill ourselves. Our life is a gift from God, and only He can take it away.’’
mateen.hafeez@timesgroup.com


The Times of India, January 20, 2010

ATS arrests Naxal suspect in city

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: The anti-terrorism squad on Monday night arrested a suspected Naxalite from the city. ATS officials claimed that the accused, Surya Devra Prabhakar, was a “hard-core preacher” and his name had cropped up during the interrogation of other Naxals in 2007.

According to officials, a police team led by inspector Ravindra Doiphode picked up Prabhakar from his MMRDA transit camp residence in Kanjurmarg. “A bag containing objectionable literature of CPI (Maoist) and PWG, a CPU, a pen drive, a cellphone and other in
criminating material have been seized from his house. Prabhakar has been remanded to police custody till January 28,” an official said. “We are still probing the case and trying to find out if he had a role to play in other cases. We cannot say anything at this juncture,” said DCP Pradip Sawant.

Investigators said Prabhakar managed to dodge the police for years due to his aliases. “We arrested him after being tipped off about his activities and whereabouts,” an officer said.

“Prabhakar, a commerce graduate from Warangal district in Andhra Pradesh, has been trying to bring Naxal sleeper cells under one umbrella. He has been actively taking part in Naxal meetings in Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and now he was trying to make Mumbai his base,” the officer said.

“He has admitted to his connections with the Naxals and has been working for them since 1978 and spreading Maowadi thoughts.”

The Times of India, January 20, 2010

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Imam ensured Hindu-Muslim harmony in jail

FREE AT LAST: Imam Gulam Yahya Illahi Bakhsh

Freed Of Terror Charges, Maulana Recalls Dark Days In Arthur Rd Jail

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: Imam Gulam Yahya Illahi Bakhsh, acquitted of all terror charges in the first case handled by the state anti-terrorism squad, did not sit idle during the four years he spent in prison as an undertrial. It was he who ensured that there was no fight among the Hindus and Muslims there, especially when members of the two communities would offer their daily prayers.

Bakhsh was released from jail on Sunday afternoon, a little more than four years after he entered prison (on January 13, 2006), after a Sewree fast-track court acquitted him of terror charges.


“When I was taken to jail, they first kept me in an isolated cell called ‘anda’ cell meant for hardened criminals and terrorists. Later, they shifted me to a barrack where most of the inmates were accused of murder. There were Hindus, Muslims and Christians in the barrack. But there was some
problem as the timings for Hindu prayers and the namaz clashed,’’ he recounted. “When I requested my Hindu brothers to time their prayers just before or after the namaz, they readily agreed. Everything went off smoothly after that,’’ he added.

“Even in the cell, I continued leading namaz. I was happy that I was an imam even though I was in jail,’’ said Bakhsh, who has been leading namaz at various mosques in the city for around 24 years.


According to Bakhsh, he got a lot of emotional support from Hindu inmates during his days in prison. “There were times when I was completely shattered but several Hindu inmates would sit next to me and console me. They said I would be released if I had not done anything wrong,’’ a tearful Bakhsh said.


Another VIP prisoner at the same prison was police officer, Saji Mohan, now under scanner in a drugs case. “He would prefer to keep himself busy reading the Bible and his legal papers. He hardly spoke to other inmates but, whenever we met, he would talk to me very politely and console me,’’ the Imam said.

The Times of India, January 19, 2010

Imam ensured Hindu-Muslim harmony in jail



Freed Of Terror Charges, Maulana Recalls Dark Days In Arthur Rd Jail

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: Imam Gulam Yahya Illahi Bakhsh, acquitted of all terror charges in the first case handled by the state anti-terrorism squad, did not sit idle during the four years he spent in prison as an undertrial. It was he who ensured that there was no fight among the Hindus and Muslims there, especially when members of the two communities would offer their daily prayers.

Bakhsh was released from jail on Sunday afternoon, a little more than four years after he entered prison (on January 13, 2006), after a Sewree fast-track court acquitted him of terror charges.


“When I was taken to jail, they first kept me in an isolated cell called ‘anda’ cell meant for hardened criminals and terrorists. Later, they shifted me to a barrack where most of the inmates were accused of murder. There were Hindus, Muslims and Christians in the barrack. But there was some
problem as the timings for Hindu prayers and the namaz clashed,’’ he recounted. “When I requested my Hindu brothers to time their prayers just before or after the namaz, they readily agreed. Everything went off smoothly after that,’’ he added.

“Even in the cell, I continued leading namaz. I was happy that I was an imam even though I was in jail,’’ said Bakhsh, who has been leading namaz at various mosques in the city for around 24 years.


According to Bakhsh, he got a lot of emotional support from Hindu inmates during his days in prison. “There were times when I was completely shattered but several Hindu inmates would sit next to me and console me. They said I would be released if I had not done anything wrong,’’ a tearful Bakhsh said.


Another VIP prisoner at the same prison was police officer, Saji Mohan, now under scanner in a drugs case. “He would prefer to keep himself busy reading the Bible and his legal papers. He hardly spoke to other inmates but, whenever we met, he would talk to me very politely and console me,’’ the Imam said.

The Times of India, January 19, 2010

Police team to study suicides

Mumbai: The state police have formed a team of IPS officers to analyse the reasons for the number of suicides and come up with possible solutions. In the last two-and-a-half months, over 60 students have committed suicide across the state, sources said.

The team has been formed by P P Srivastav, additional D-G (law and order). It comprises special IG (law and order) Rashmi Shukla, DIG Naval Bajaj, Mumbai additional commissioner (crime) D Bharti and others. The team has to submit a report to Srivastav by January 31.

There have been around 24 suicides in Mumbai in the past month, with most of them being students. The police team will study the nature of the suicides and also analyse suicides at different levels of education, like school, college and so on.

“The report will be submitted to Srivastav after thorough research and it will later be submitted to the state,’’ said a senior police official.
—Mateen Hafeez | TNN
Helpline: 2570-6000

The Times of India, January 19, 2010

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Imam acquitted of terror charges -- 3 Kashmiris Sent To Seven Years In Prison

RELIEVED: Haj House Imam Gulam Illahi Yahya Bakhsh was set free for lack of evidence

Haj House Case

Mateen Hafeez I TNN

Mumbai: Sewree fast-track sessions court judge V P Patkar on Saturday acquitted the imam of Mumbai’s Haj House, Gulam Illahi Yahya Bakhsh, of all terror charges but sentenced three Kashmiris to seven years’ rigorous imprisonment for possessing firearms.

The state Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) had claimed to have busted a Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) sleeper cell.

The three Kashmiris, Khursheed Gani Lone alias Lala (35), Arshad Gulam Hussain (31) and Ramzan Wahab Qazi (64), were arrested from Nagpada on January 6, 2006. The ATS claimed to have seized a foreign-make .32-bore pistol, 20 detonators, five timers and six live cartridges from them. Bakhsh was arrested a week later for harbouring terrorists, facilitating financial transactions and having association with a banned outfit.

Bakhsh was booked under sections 16 (conniving), 18
(conspiring) and 19 (harbouring terrorists) of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). The judge told Bakhsh, “Maulana, there is no witness against you. You are being acquitted for lack of evidence.’’ Bakhsh, in a white kurta pyjama, smiled and thanked the judge. Shortly, he offered namaz in the court corridor in the presence of around a dozen policemen.

However, when it came to the Kashmiris, the judge said, “The prosecution has proved that the three had detonators and firearms in their posses
sion. They have been sentenced to seven-year rigorous imprisonment.’’

The ATS had said the accused were planning to strike on Republic Day. “We had received intelligence that some terrorists from Jammu and Kashmir might have slipped into the city. Accordingly, policemen had been deployed at all bus depots and railway stations,’’ the then police commissioner A N Roy had said after the arrests. The ATS had claimed that Imam Bakhsh had received around Rs 40 lakh through hawala and arranged for the accommodation of Lala, Hussain and Qazi.

The judge was also not convinced by the police’s claim that the funds were collected by the Kashmiri suspects for terror activities. “There is no evidence to show that they were members of any outfit,’’ the judge said. He also did not agree with the police’s claim that a witness had heard the three in Hyderabad, talking about a terror strike in Mumbai.

Bakhsh told TOI, “I am happy that justice has been delivered. How can the police prove anything when I was not involved at all?’’ Bakhsh’s wife, Mufeeda Khatoon, said she had been praying all night.

The Times of India, January 17, 2010

Inmates ordered 6 kg of cake for don’s bash

CHHOTA RAJAN’S BIRTHDAY TREAT

Mateen Hafeez I TNN

Mumbai: Investigations into the seizure of liquor at the gate of Arthur Road jail on January 13 have revealed that members of the Chhota Rajan gang had been planning Rajan’s birthday bash for the last 15 days.

Over a period of time, several inmates approached jail authorities, saying they wanted to celebrate their birthdays and needed cakes. At the end of it all, the inmates had collectively pla
ced orders for six kg of cake.

“The jail authorities were surprised that so many inmates wanted to celebrate their birthdays on the same day,’’ said an officer. “When officials found out that January 13 is Rajan’s birthday, they refused to order cakes and returned the inmates’ money,” the official added.

“Upset, inmates then approached their associate Yusuf Bachkana, who threatened to go on a hunger strike if the cakes were not ordered,’’ the office said. The gang members backed out on learning that jail officials were planning to shift them to other prisons.

The Times of India, January 17, 2010

Friday, January 15, 2010

Diocesan secy held for funds fraud

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: The Azad Maidan police on Thursday arrested 81-year-old P B Amolik, secretary of Bombay Diocesan Trust Association (BDTA), for misappropriation of funds. He has been remanded to police custody till January 17.

The BDTA has huge properties and is responsible for taking care of them. “They have to pay a 2% contribution fee from profits made through these properties to the charity commissioner. But the accused has not paid these taxes between 1994 and 2009. Moreover, in the balance sheet, he and another accused have shown losses. The accused used Rs 4.90 lakh for themselves which was to be deposited with the BDTA,’’ said an officer. Earlier, police arrested treasurer of the BDTA, Olive Rajendram, in this case. The accused allegedly gave several properties on lease without BDTA’s permission, said cops.

The Times of India, January 15, 2010

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Common plot in all encounters



Police Report In Nine Cases Say All Criminals Were Shot Dead, Aides Fled

Mateen Hafeez I TNN

Mumbai: Many of the encounters carried out by senior inspector Pradip Suryavanshi—currently under the scanner in the Ramnarayan Gupta “encounter’’ case—have several common threads tying them together, say investigators of the current case.

At least, nine encounters led by Suryavanshi, all of which took place between January 2005 and February 2006, saw one standard line in the police reports. “One criminal was killed but his accomplice managed to escape,’’ the reports said, besides the other standard one-liner for encounters: “The gangster opened fire and the police retaliated.’’

So all the nine encounters saw the criminal being killed after he came to the spot with one associate. But another even stranger common point unites all these nine encounters: the police have bever been able to trace or identify a single “escaped accom
plice’’ in the past four years. All the operations, state police records, took place between 11 pm and 2 am. In every case, the accused would ride into the police trap either on a motorbike or in an autorickshaw.

No senior police official volunteered any comment on the coinci
dences and Suryavanshi’s phone has been out of reach for some time.

But the coincidences have not gone unnoticed. Officials said personnel from at least four police stations would participate in every encounter to nab the accused. An official asked, “Can you tell me how a person can escape from the spot where more than 10 police officers are working together in an operation?’’

Suryavanshi is a wanted accused in the alleged staged encounter of Ramnarayan Gupta alias Lakhan Bhaiyya, who was shot dead in Versova on 11 November 2006. Suryavanshi is currently on sick leave but three of his colleagues, including encounter specialist Pradeep Sharma, are behind bars. The last of the nine encounters took place in the first week of February 2006. Aslam Meraj Shaikh, a robber of the Taliban gang, was killed at the Lotus Junction in JVPD on February 8.

SOME OF THE GREAT ESCAPES

July 7, 2005:
Pandav Putra gang chief Sandeep Deshmukh is shot dead near Bandra Reclamation; his associate flees

August 25, 2005:
Robber Irshad Shaikh is killed in Oshiwara; his aide escapes

Sept 14, 2005:
Alleged Chhota Rajan gangster Sanjay Nirmal is killed on Mahakali Caves Road in Andheri; his aide slips away

Oct 5, 2005: Robber Nisar Ahmed Shaikh alias Munna is killed in Juhu; his accomplice flees.

Dec 6, 2005:
Robber Mangesh Sawant is killed in an encounter; his accomplice flees


The Times of India, January 2010

Man caught trying to smuggle liquor in jail



Undertrial Planned to ‘Celebrate’ Rajan’s Birthday

Mateen Hafeez I TNN

Mumbai: A robber, allegedly belonging to the Chhota Rajan gang, was caught at the gate of Arthur Road jail on Tuesday evening while trying to smuggle in a liquor bottle and cake. Sources said the suspect,Devendra Naidu (40),was carrying the stuff to celebrate Rajan’s birthday in the jail.

Earlier, the crime branch has seized mobile phones, chargers and SIM cards that were smuggled into the jail to be used by Rajan’s gang member, D K Rao. The jail authorities are now planning to instal a metal detector at the entrance of the prison gate to avoid the smuggling of harmful material inside.

Devendra was admitted to Arthur Road jail on June
30, 2009. Since then, he has been kept in the Anda cell, which is meant for sensitive offenders. “We got a call from the Arthur Road jail authorities about this issue. We are probing the case,’’ said senior inspector Vasant Tajane.

According to Tajne, the incident took place around 6.30 pm. Devendra was taken to the Dindoshi sessions court earlier in the day. “After the
court session when Devendra was entering the jail again, the guards found him carrying a bottle. When they asked him about it, he said it was water. However, when they asked him to show it to them, he refused, raising their suspicion. They took the bottle from him and found that it contained liquor,’’ said Tajne.

He added that the police was trying to verify Devendra’s statement and was looking for the mystery man who provided him with the liquor. The N M Joshi Marg police has registered a case under the Prohibition Act.

“When questioned, he told the policemen that a former inmate, who was released from jail recently, had offered him a water bottle and the cake,’’ an officer said.


The Times of India, January 14, 2010

Man held in Andheri with Rs 4.2 lakh fake currency

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: The Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) on Tuesday arrested Ainul Wajid Shaikh (25) from Andheri and recovered fake Indian currency totalling Rs 4.24 lakh from him. The notes, the police suspect, were printed outside the country.

“Shaikh was carrying fake currency in the denominations of Rs 1,000 and Rs 500. His gang members are still at large,’’ said an officer. In the last one year, the ATS and the city police have arrested around 18 people, of whom 15 are from Jharkhand.

A police team comprising inspectors Sanjeev Tonapi, Vijay Kadam and API Sunil Mane nabbed the accused who had come to Mumbai for the second time. “He would work on a 40% commission and the gang would send the genuine
currency back to their bosses through taka system,’’ said an officer, adding that in the taka system, one deducts his or her commission from the payment received and sends the rest of the money home through an acquaintance,’’ said an officer.

Shaikh hails from Malda district, which is located near the Indo-Bangladesh border in West Bengal. The current arrest points to trans-border
trafficking of fake currency, the police said. “The seized fake notes are so good in quality that it would impossible for a layman to notice any difference. The racketeers have now started manufacturing fake notes with signatures of former RBI governor Y V Reddy. The latest security features incorporated while designing the notes are meticulously replicated,’’ added an officer.

Since 2003, the ATS has so far seized fake currency amounting to Rs 61 lakh and arrested 80 persons, including 21 Bangladeshis. “The National Investigation Agency has taken samples of currency notes from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal as well as the fake ones and found that they have one thing in common—the paper used in all of them is made in Germany,’’ said an officer.

The Times of India, January 14, 2010

Man held in Andheri with Rs 4.2 lakh fake currency

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: The Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) on Tuesday arrested Ainul Wajid Shaikh (25) from Andheri and recovered fake Indian currency totalling Rs 4.24 lakh from him. The notes, the police suspect, were printed outside the country.

“Shaikh was carrying fake currency in the denominations of Rs 1,000 and Rs 500. His gang members are still at large,’’ said an officer. In the last one year, the ATS and the city police have arrested around 18 people, of whom 15 are from Jharkhand.

A police team comprising inspectors Sanjeev Tonapi, Vijay Kadam and API Sunil Mane nabbed the accused who had come to Mumbai for the second time. “He would work on a 40% commission and the gang would send the genuine
currency back to their bosses through taka system,’’ said an officer, adding that in the taka system, one deducts his or her commission from the payment received and sends the rest of the money home through an acquaintance,’’ said an officer.

Shaikh hails from Malda district, which is located near the Indo-Bangladesh border in West Bengal. The current arrest points to trans-border
trafficking of fake currency, the police said. “The seized fake notes are so good in quality that it would impossible for a layman to notice any difference. The racketeers have now started manufacturing fake notes with signatures of former RBI governor Y V Reddy. The latest security features incorporated while designing the notes are meticulously replicated,’’ added an officer.

Since 2003, the ATS has so far seized fake currency amounting to Rs 61 lakh and arrested 80 persons, including 21 Bangladeshis. “The National Investigation Agency has taken samples of currency notes from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal as well as the fake ones and found that they have one thing in common—the paper used in all of them is made in Germany,’’ said an officer.

The Times of India, January 14, 2010

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Ex-armyman held with live grenades in Aurangabad

Mateen Hafeez

Mumbai: The Kannad police in Aurangabad on Saturday night arrested a 38-year-old ex-armyman with grenades, aluminum wires, daggers and some prohibited chemicals. Gulabrao Ramrao Sonawane had procured the grenades four years ago and kept it at his house, said the police.

An ATS team reached Kannad, 55 km from Aurangabad and is busy interrogating Sonawane. The police said the source of bombs were still not known and Sonawane had been giving them evasive replies about it. “We are yet to establish his connection with any terror outfit. However, we are not satisfied with his answers,’’ said inspector Abhiman Pawar.

The Times of India, January 12, 2010

Monday, January 11, 2010

Too much ado over INFORMATION - Sometimes, Informers Hide Much More Than They Reveal



Mateen Hafeez | TNN

It was perhaps a first-ofits-kind press conference held by police informers at Nagpada, the birthplace of Mumbai’s underworld. On a bright sunny day in 2009, an SMS floated among crime reporters informing them of a press conference called by police informers, to ‘reveal’ the murderers of their mentor.



Around 100 journalists from the print, electronic and web media descended upon a dingy, overcrowded and congested chawl, curious to find out if the nameless, faceless informers would finally blow their cover. But the curiosity was short-lived. The informers did arrive, their faces covered by hoods or handkerchiefs.


“The Dawood Ibrahim gang is behind this murder,” said one into the microphone. We were shocked, as he made the statement just 500 metres from where Dawood’s sister, Haseena Parkar, stayed. “He (Dawood) had plotted this murder since we were after his gang,’’ the informer added in a speech scripted from a Bollywood blockbuster. The informer claimed how his clan endangered their lives to serve the country. Unlike a common man’s life, their lives were shrouded in secrecy. And he signed off ominously: “We know our lives are in danger but if the police don’t act immediately against the person we suspect, around 300 informers
in the city will go on strike.”

Soon after the “press conference” was over, an informer, whom I knew for a couple of years, offered me a cup of tea. Finally, I thought, here was a perfect chance to get the real story, and accepted his offer read
ily. In his late 20s, the informer is an Arts graduate from a reputed college and is associated with several small-time politicians. He took me to a restaurant. A group of half-a-dozen informers were already there, the first time I saw them up close, their faces uncovered. “Janab, yeh apne patrakar dost hain,’’ he introduced me to them.

Meanwhile, a Chevrolet followed by a Honda City and two Taveras appeared near the restaurant. The informer who got down from the
Chevrolet went by the code of Black Zero, named after an adventure novel character. Black Zero looked at me and exclaimed, “Arre bhai, it’s been ages since I saw you. Where are you nowadays?” he asked while pulling up a chair.

Black Zero’s association with the police went back to over a decade. First, he was arrested for assaulting his classmate in college. Later, he befriended policemen and helped them in several raids. Dressed in a crisp, white shirt and blue jeans, Black Zero
sported Ray Ban glasses, a diamond studded wrist watch and Nike shoes. “So did you convey everything to the media what we discussed earlier?” he asked one of the informers while lighting up a cigarette. “I want those crooks behind bars. I am still alive. I won’t sit quietly until the murderers are arrested,” he added dramatically.

I was getting closer to my story, or so I believed. “Last week, the Dawood gang attacked one of our colleagues but the police is not doing anything as they get their hafta from the gang,’’ he said while his cronies nodded their heads in unison.


“Bhai, a businessman is creating trouble over a property dispute. He was long ago associated with a gangster’s brother-in-law. Can we ask our ‘contacts’ (policemen) to summon him for questioning,’’ one informer asked Black Zero. “How much cut we can get?” a young informer asked agitatedly. “I will talk to senior officers,” said Black Zero. “The Lal Topis (another group of informers) in Grant Road had given a tip-off, settled an issue with the police and also took lots of money from the suspect. Can’t we rake up this issue in the media?’’ he looked askance at me. No, I told him, growing impatient about when the real ‘information’ I was waiting for would come.


But the conversation instead turned to how a senior cop was ‘meherbaan’ over a rival group of informers. “They are making money and the hafta is going right up to the top. We will have to do something to divert that officer’s attention,’’ Black Zero said.

Realising that I had to find a way out of the circus, I made an excuse to slip out and return to office. The press conference, I realised, was more a show of strength by the informers to pressurise the police into action, than for giving any real information about the killer’s identity.

The Times of India, January 11, 2010

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Sharma spends sleepless night in lock-up


CLOSE ENCOUNTER: Pradeep Sharma at Bandra police station on Friday

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: The Bandra police station witnessed hectic activity on Friday. The toilets were cleaned while the sweepers made the lock-up more habitable before dismissed encounter specialist Pradeep Sharma was sent to a 10x10 cell for allegedly gunning down a suspected gangster Ramnarayan Gupta alias Lakhan Bhaiyya.

Sharma (49), infamous for 107 encounters, is facing the charge of a fake encounter killing. It is alleged that he had killed Ramnarayan Gupta on 11 November 2006 in Versova in a staged encounter. Sharma has featured on the cover of Time magazine and three Hindi movies have been made on his life.

“Soon after the court allowed him home-made food, an acquaintance brought Sharma a tiffin on Friday night. The tiffin was checked by the senior officials at the Bandra police station before being sent to Sharma’s cell,’’ said a police officer.

The cell, where Sharma has been lodged, does not have a fan. “Though there is no light in the cell, a tube
light, hanging in the corridor, covers three cells. Sharma has been kept alone in the cell,’’ informed an officer from the Bandra police station. “He had told the court that there was a threat to his life and so we kept him alone and the two other policemen and two informers arrested along with him were kept in the other cells,’’ the officer said. Soon after he was taken to the police station at around 6 pm, a constable offered him tea. “He was questioned about the case for around 30 minutes and then sent to his cell,’’ the official said.

In the lock-up, Sharma looked restless and did not speak to the guards posted outside the corridor. “He was
awake till 4 am and slept on the floor later. He got up at 7 am and used a bathroom meant for common inmates,’’ the officer said. He was given breakfast around 8 am. “Sharma did not ask for any newspaper and, even if he asked, we could not have provided it without the court’s permission,’’ said an officer. Sharma was taken to Bhabha Hospital around 11 am for a medical check-up. His report was normal, officials said.

Post-lunch, Sharma was again questioned by senior police officials. “He does not talk to the policemen much and prefers to keep quiet, but has not complained about anything so far,’’ one of the officials said.


Encounter specialists were encouraged when the judicial system started failing. If proceedings take long, people get fed up. There’s a lot of pressure from the middle class to get quick justice. They support the system of encounter specialists. There is pressure on politicians who in turn put pressure on the police force. No civilised society can have something like an encounter specialist. It’s high time we did away with such a system. It is a complete breakdown of discipline. The word ‘encounter’ means meeting someone suddenly. How could there be a specialist in encounters?
Julio Ribeiro | EX-POLICE COMMISSIONER

The arrests, are a welcome step from the point of view of human rights. Nobody can take the law in their hands. Encounter specialists were giving death penalties on mere suspicion. It was killing without a judicial trial, impermissible in any country governed by the rule of law. Encounter specialists came up because of the protection granted to them by their seniors in the late 1990s. In the current case, Ramprasad Gupta, the brother of the victim, has done an exceptional job. I have gone through his papers; he has done the work of an ace detective.
Y P Singh | IPS OFFICER-TURNED-LAWYER

The Times of India, January 10, 2010

Sharma spends sleepless night in lock-up



CLOSE ENCOUNTER: Pradeep Sharma at Bandra police station on Friday

Mateen Hafeez | TNN


Mumbai: The Bandra police station witnessed hectic activity on Friday. The toilets were cleaned while the sweepers made the lock-up more habitable before dismissed encounter specialist Pradeep Sharma was sent to a 10x10 cell for allegedly gunning down a suspected gangster Ramnarayan Gupta alias Lakhan Bhaiyya.

Sharma (49), infamous for 107 encounters, is facing the charge of a fake encounter killing. It is alleged that he had killed Ramnarayan Gupta on 11 November 2006 in Versova in a staged encounter. Sharma has featured on the cover of Time magazine and three Hindi movies have been made on his life.

“Soon after the court allowed him home-made food, an acquaintance brought Sharma a tiffin on Friday night. The tiffin was checked by the senior officials at the Bandra police station before being sent to Sharma’s cell,’’ said a police officer.

The cell, where Sharma has been lodged, does not have a fan. “Though there is no light in the cell, a tube
light, hanging in the corridor, covers three cells. Sharma has been kept alone in the cell,’’ informed an officer from the Bandra police station. “He had told the court that there was a threat to his life and so we kept him alone and the two other policemen and two informers arrested along with him were kept in the other cells,’’ the officer said. Soon after he was taken to the police station at around 6 pm, a constable offered him tea. “He was questioned about the case for around 30 minutes and then sent to his cell,’’ the official said.

In the lock-up, Sharma looked restless and did not speak to the guards posted outside the corridor. “He was
awake till 4 am and slept on the floor later. He got up at 7 am and used a bathroom meant for common inmates,’’ the officer said. He was given breakfast around 8 am. “Sharma did not ask for any newspaper and, even if he asked, we could not have provided it without the court’s permission,’’ said an officer. Sharma was taken to Bhabha Hospital around 11 am for a medical check-up. His report was normal, officials said.

Post-lunch, Sharma was again questioned by senior police officials. “He does not talk to the policemen much and prefers to keep quiet, but has not complained about anything so far,’’ one of the officials said.



Encounter specialists were encouraged when the judicial system started failing. If proceedings take long, people get fed up. There’s a lot of pressure from the middle class to get quick justice. They support the system of encounter specialists. There is pressure on politicians who in turn put pressure on the police force. No civilised society can have something like an encounter specialist. It’s high time we did away with such a system. It is a complete breakdown of discipline. The word ‘encounter’ means meeting someone suddenly. How could there be a specialist in encounters?
Julio Ribeiro | EX-POLICE COMMISSIONER



The arrests, are a welcome step from the point of view of human rights. Nobody can take the law in their hands. Encounter specialists were giving death penalties on mere suspicion. It was killing without a judicial trial, impermissible in any country governed by the rule of law. Encounter specialists came up because of the protection granted to them by their seniors in the late 1990s. In the current case, Ramprasad Gupta, the brother of the victim, has done an exceptional job. I have gone through his papers; he has done the work of an ace detective.
Y P Singh | IPS OFFICER-TURNED-LAWYER

The Times of India, January 10, 2010

Cops round up suspects as activists condemn attack



GREEN WARRIORS: (From left) Citispace members Neera Punj, Nayana Kathpalia, Gerson da Cunha and Meher Rafaat have been fighting for open spaces in the city

Mateen Hafeez & Bella Jaisinghani I TNN

Mumbai: The city crime branch and Marine Drive police, in a joint investigation, have questioned around 30 people in connection with the shootout at the residence of Citispace co-convenor Nayana Kathpalia in Churchgate on Friday morning. Meanwhile, activists are outraged that social workers should be made a violent target for merely ensuring the welfare of the city, a role the citizens expect their government to play.

On Friday, unidentified miscreants opened fire at Kathpalia’s residence at Churchgate, injuring her domestic help. Later in the day, Citispace convenor Neera Punj received a call asking her to withdraw a PIL against development of SRA buildings on reserved open spaces.


“We have questioned a dozen people. There is no concrete evidence as yet,’’ said a crime branch officer. Meanwhile, Iqbal Shaikh, assistant inspector (Colaba division), said that the police was working round the clock to nab the attackers. “We are yet to make an arrest,’’ he said.

Investigators have also picked up several dealers of factory-made weapons to investigate who had purchased the recovered revolver. The weapon was made in a north Indian state. “Several persons who were caught in weapon smuggling
cases in the past and other suspects are being questioned. We will crack the case soon,’’ said a crime branch officer.

Meanwhile, activists are shocked at the attempt to muzzle the voice of Citispace, and by implication, other NGOs. Raising pertinent questions about the need to protect public spaces from developers and land mafia, they point to instances ranging from the Crawford market revamp bid to rampant encroachment by builders and land sharks, let alone hawkers, to buttress their point.


“However modest such efforts by various NGOs may be, the truth remains that they are making a difference,’’ said former chief secretary D M Sukhtankar. “Were it not for their efforts, the city’s infrastructure would have collapsed under the combined weight of the FSI-granting politician, builder and land mafia. To cite one example, even without a poor monsoon, Mumbai would have suffered such a water crisis years ago had people like Nayana and Neera not intervened to check reckless development.’’

The Times of India, January 10, 2010

Cops round up suspects as activists condemn attack



GREEN WARRIORS: (From left) Citispace members Neera Punj, Nayana Kathpalia, Gerson da Cunha and Meher Rafaat have been fighting for open spaces in the city

Mateen Hafeez & Bella Jaisinghani I TNN

Mumbai: The city crime branch and Marine Drive police, in a joint investigation, have questioned around 30 people in connection with the shootout at the residence of Citispace co-convenor Nayana Kathpalia in Churchgate on Friday morning. Meanwhile, activists are outraged that social workers should be made a violent target for merely ensuring the welfare of the city, a role the citizens expect their government to play.

On Friday, unidentified miscreants opened fire at Kathpalia’s residence at Churchgate, injuring her domestic help. Later in the day, Citispace convenor Neera Punj received a call asking her to withdraw a PIL against development of SRA buildings on reserved open spaces.


“We have questioned a dozen people. There is no concrete evidence as yet,’’ said a crime branch officer. Meanwhile, Iqbal Shaikh, assistant inspector (Colaba division), said that the police was working round the clock to nab the attackers. “We are yet to make an arrest,’’ he said.

Investigators have also picked up several dealers of factory-made weapons to investigate who had purchased the recovered revolver. The weapon was made in a north Indian state. “Several persons who were caught in weapon smuggling
cases in the past and other suspects are being questioned. We will crack the case soon,’’ said a crime branch officer.

Meanwhile, activists are shocked at the attempt to muzzle the voice of Citispace, and by implication, other NGOs. Raising pertinent questions about the need to protect public spaces from developers and land mafia, they point to instances ranging from the Crawford market revamp bid to rampant encroachment by builders and land sharks, let alone hawkers, to buttress their point.


“However modest such efforts by various NGOs may be, the truth remains that they are making a difference,’’ said former chief secretary D M Sukhtankar. “Were it not for their efforts, the city’s infrastructure would have collapsed under the combined weight of the FSI-granting politician, builder and land mafia. To cite one example, even without a poor monsoon, Mumbai would have suffered such a water crisis years ago had people like Nayana and Neera not intervened to check reckless development.’’

The Times of India, January 10, 2010

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Gunmen target civic activist at Churchgate



Policemen guard the home of Citispace co-convenor Nayana Kathpalia (inset). Two unidentified men shot through the door’s iron grille. The attack was apparently intended to warn the NGO to stop its campaign to save the city's open spaces and withdraw cases against builders and hawkers. Kathpalia’s maid suffered minor burn injuries in the incident

Bella Jaisinghani & Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: Unidentified gunmen fired into the Churchgate home of leading civic activist Nayana Kathpalia early on Friday morning. The 66-yearold co-convenor of the voluntary organisation, Citispace, escaped unharmed although her maid, who answered the door, suffered minor injuries.

A few hours later, another Citispace co-convenor, Neera Punj, who has received threats to her life earlier, was warned over the telephone to withdraw an old public interest litigation Citispace had filed against SRA construction on reserved open spaces. The incident has shocked and angered citizens and activists since Citispace has been leading the battle to save the city’s open spaces from being usurped by builders and hawkers alike for the last 11 years.

The shooting occurred in the prime south Mumbai locality where both Kathpalia and Punj live in a common neighbourhood across Oval Maidan.


Timing of attack puzzles activist

Mumbai: Civic activist Nayana Kathpalia’s Churchgate home was the target of a gun attack on Friday morning.

“Kathpalia’s maidservant, Soma Sinha, answered the doorbell of the first-floor apartment in Swastik Court around 6.45 am, believing it was the errand boy who washed their car. Luckily, she did not open the outer safety door,’’ said an officer of Marine Drive police station. “Outside stood two men dressed fully in white, who enquired about her mistress. Before she could answer, one of them shot through the iron grille. The bullet ricocheted off a metal bar that fell into the house.’’

Although she re
ceived burn injuries from the explosion, the maid responded fast by slamming the inner wooden door shut. The attackers fled, abandoning their country-made revolver near the building entrance. Police commissioner D Sivanandan and other senior officials visited the site. Investigations are under way, and both Kathpalia and Punj have been provided police protection.

The police have seized the firearm and the bullet, and will despatch both to the forensic science laboratory for a ballistic analysis. Although they are yet to establish the motive, they feel that the attack could be to “scare’’ Kathpalia. However, officials added that she has not reported receiving any threat before.

Reasonably composed in her
apartment on Friday evening, Kathpalia said she would issue a formal statement later. Her son and daughter, who live in Singapore and New Delhi respectively, will return on Sunday.

Punj, meanwhile, said that an un
known caller telephoned her husband on his cellphone around noon to say, “Kathpalia has been eliminated. Now withdraw the 11/52 case or we shall get you too.’’ The 11/52 PIL opposes the government policy to allow construction on reserved open spaces and is not targeted at any particular developer.

“Inexplicably, the shooting and threat came at a time when the issue was actually being settled on a caseto-case basis in the Bombay high court. In 2009, the high court granted permission to several developers to go ahead and construct SRA buildings on public land, once they showed their willingness to rehabilitate slum-dwellers and return adequate open space to the city after completing their projects,’’ Punj said.

Activists across Mumbai have rallied behind the duo with several signing a common statement to condemn the incident and pledge their support. Gerson da Cunha, Adolf D’- Souza, Ashad Mehta, B Srikrishna, D M Sukthankar and several others released a note to say, “The attack is further evidence of the link between criminals and the wrongdoing that is ruining Mumbai’s quality of life. Increasingly, people tackling the city’s problems are having to face the underworld. But such miscreants and their masters must be warned that public-spirited individuals like Kathpalia will not be cowed. She and other leaders in city causes are the public face of several hundred others. Let this attack inspire all citizens to join the fight to save our great city.’’


A COMMON STATEMENT RELEASED BY CITY ACTIVISTS
Increasingly, people tackling the city’s problems are having to face the underworld. But such miscreants must be warned that public-spirited individuals like Kathpalia will not be cowed. Let this attack inspire all citizens to join the fight to save our great city
A joint statement by activists
I am horrified. Women who have been working for the cause of the common man are being targeted by the politicianbuilder nexus. Those who serve the city selflessly are falling victim to the greed of people in authority
Sharada Dwivedi |
HISTORIAN
Let criminals be warned that hundreds of people are backing public-spirited individuals like Kathpalia and Punj. We are committed to ridding Mumbai’s governance of the nexus between power and crime
Gerson da
Cunha | ACTIVIST
It is despicable that citizens who are standing up for our right to open spaces are being targeted and threatened to keep silent. Nayana and Neera are fighting a battle for you and me, not for themselves
A N Lambah |
HERITAGE
ACTIVIST

The Times of India, January 9, 2010