Tuesday, March 30, 2010

‘No info leak in sensitive cases’

Rakesh Maria


Mateen Hafeez I TNN

Mumbai: One of the first directives that new anti-terrorism squad chief Rakesh Maria issued to his officers, after taking over his new posting on Monday, was that they should not leak any information about ongoing investigations in sensitive cases.

Officials have said Maria’s predecessor in ATS, K P Raghuvanshi (now additional DGP, law and order), earned Union home minister P Chidambaram’s displeasure for talking about the probe in the ONGC terror plot to the media.

Maria (53), a 1981-batch IPS officer, took charge around 11 am on Monday and started his first meeting with his officers within half-an-hour of taking charge. The meeting was attended by over 30 officers of
the ATS. “Our biggest challenge is to prevent terror cases and foil such conspiracies,’’ Maria said, adding that tackling terrorism was a task that needed secrecy. He hinted to officers that there should not be any leakage of information that might hamper investigations.

Rubbishing media reports that he wanted to induct his so-called “own men’’ from the crime branch, Maria was said to have stated, “Vacancies will be filled in accordance with requirements and you people (officers) can also suggest names of hard-working personnel.’’


Rajnish takes charge
Rajnish Seth, deputy inspector general of prisons, took charge as city’s joint commissioner of police (law and order) and replaced Himanshu Roy who in turn has taken charge as crime branch chief.


The Times of India, March 30, 2010

‘No info leak in sensitive cases’

Rakesh Maria

Mateen Hafeez I TNN

Mumbai: One of the first directives that new anti-terrorism squad chief Rakesh Maria issued to his officers, after taking over his new posting on Monday, was that they should not leak any information about ongoing investigations in sensitive cases.

Officials have said Maria’s predecessor in ATS, K P Raghuvanshi (now additional DGP, law and order), earned Union home minister P Chidambaram’s displeasure for talking about the probe in the ONGC terror plot to the media.

Maria (53), a 1981-batch IPS officer, took charge around 11 am on Monday and started his first meeting with his officers within half-an-hour of taking charge. The meeting was attended by over 30 officers of
the ATS. “Our biggest challenge is to prevent terror cases and foil such conspiracies,’’ Maria said, adding that tackling terrorism was a task that needed secrecy. He hinted to officers that there should not be any leakage of information that might hamper investigations.

Rubbishing media reports that he wanted to induct his so-called “own men’’ from the crime branch, Maria was said to have stated, “Vacancies will be filled in accordance with requirements and you people (officers) can also suggest names of hard-working personnel.’’


Rajnish takes charge
Rajnish Seth, deputy inspector general of prisons, took charge as city’s joint commissioner of police (law and order) and replaced Himanshu Roy who in turn has taken charge as crime branch chief.


The Times of India, March 30, 2010

‘No info leak in sensitive cases’

Rakesh Maria


Mateen Hafeez I TNN

Mumbai: One of the first directives that new anti-terrorism squad chief Rakesh Maria issued to his officers, after taking over his new posting on Monday, was that they should not leak any information about ongoing investigations in sensitive cases.

Officials have said Maria’s predecessor in ATS, K P Raghuvanshi (now additional DGP, law and order), earned Union home minister P Chidambaram’s displeasure for talking about the probe in the ONGC terror plot to the media.

Maria (53), a 1981-batch IPS officer, took charge around 11 am on Monday and started his first meeting with his officers within half-an-hour of taking charge. The meeting was attended by over 30 officers of
the ATS. “Our biggest challenge is to prevent terror cases and foil such conspiracies,’’ Maria said, adding that tackling terrorism was a task that needed secrecy. He hinted to officers that there should not be any leakage of information that might hamper investigations.

Rubbishing media reports that he wanted to induct his so-called “own men’’ from the crime branch, Maria was said to have stated, “Vacancies will be filled in accordance with requirements and you people (officers) can also suggest names of hard-working personnel.’’


Rajnish takes charge
Rajnish Seth, deputy inspector general of prisons, took charge as city’s joint commissioner of police (law and order) and replaced Himanshu Roy who in turn has taken charge as crime branch chief.


The Times of India, March 30, 2010

Duo planning ONGC fire had purchased 10 litres of petrol

Mateen Hafeez I TNN

Mumbai: The two suspects, who were allegedly planning to set the ONGC’s Bandra headquarters on fire, had purchased 10 litres petrol which was to be used in the terror operation.

Abdul Latif (29) and Riyaz Imtiyaz (22), who are Bandra and Dahisar residents respectively, were arrested by the ATS on March 14. Sources said that 10 litres of petrol, which the accused had hidden somewhere, was seized a few days after their arrest. However, sources were
tightlipped when asked from where the recovery was made.

The two suspects were assigned the task to set the ONGC office on fire and they had done a recce of the place and even befriended an ONGC employee for the purpose. They have been booked under various sections of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

“The suspects were instructed by their Pakistani handler, one ‘Uncle’, to set the ONGC headquarters on fire and commit terrorist activity
at Mangaldas Market in south Mumbai, Borivli’s Thakkar Mall, the G7 cinemaplex in Bandra (W) and a chawl near Thakkar Mall,’’ an official said.

“The accused had surveyed the G7 multiplex when they had gone to watch movies there,’’ an official said. ‘Uncle’, who is suspected to be Bashir Khan, a fugitive accused in the 1993 serial blasts, had reportedly promised to train the duo in operating firearms. The two accused have been remanded to police custody till April 1.

The Times of India, March 30, 2010

Duo planning ONGC fire had purchased 10 litres of petrol

Mateen Hafeez I TNN

Mumbai: The two suspects, who were allegedly planning to set the ONGC’s Bandra headquarters on fire, had purchased 10 litres petrol which was to be used in the terror operation.

Abdul Latif (29) and Riyaz Imtiyaz (22), who are Bandra and Dahisar residents respectively, were arrested by the ATS on March 14. Sources said that 10 litres of petrol, which the accused had hidden somewhere, was seized a few days after their arrest. However, sources were
tightlipped when asked from where the recovery was made.

The two suspects were assigned the task to set the ONGC office on fire and they had done a recce of the place and even befriended an ONGC employee for the purpose. They have been booked under various sections of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

“The suspects were instructed by their Pakistani handler, one ‘Uncle’, to set the ONGC headquarters on fire and commit terrorist activity
at Mangaldas Market in south Mumbai, Borivli’s Thakkar Mall, the G7 cinemaplex in Bandra (W) and a chawl near Thakkar Mall,’’ an official said.

“The accused had surveyed the G7 multiplex when they had gone to watch movies there,’’ an official said. ‘Uncle’, who is suspected to be Bashir Khan, a fugitive accused in the 1993 serial blasts, had reportedly promised to train the duo in operating firearms. The two accused have been remanded to police custody till April 1.

The Times of India, March 30, 2010

Sunday, March 28, 2010

RPI man murdered, motive may be extortion

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: A 40-year-old Rep u bl i c a n Party of India member was stabbed to death by two unidentified assailants on Saturday morning while he was cleaning his scooter. The incident took place in the Kumbharwada near V P Road police station.

The deceased was identified as Vijay Nagvekar, a ward pramukh of the Ramdas Athavale-led RPI and used to work as a real estate agent. Initially, he was sitting in his office with two of his friends and then decided to go somewhere. “He was cleaning his scooter when the incident took place,’’ said DCP Sanjay Mohite. The police are probing if the assailants came on a bike or if they walked to the spot. “There are different versions and we are verifying them,’’ he added. Nagvekar was stabbed in his stomach.

Amid reports that Nagvekar was shot dead, Mohite said a chopper was used to kill him. Nagvekar was rushed to JJ Hospital where he was declared dead.

Nagvekar had lodged a complaint at the D B Marg police station in 2008 against members of the Pandav Putra gang for demanding money from him. The crime branch had arrested some members of the gang who were booked under the MCOCA. The gang members were recently released from jail. There are two cases of rioting registered against Nagvekar. Two persons are being interrogated in the murder case. Nagvekar stayed in Chira Bazaar. He was being harassed with extortion demands. He is survived by his 14-year-old son and wife.

The Times of India, March 28, 2010

Saturday, March 27, 2010

‘Terror duo had set sights on Bandra theatre’



The accused — Abdul Latif and Riyas Ali Imtiyaz — were produced before the Mazgaon court on Friday


POLICE CUSTODY EXTENDED TILL APR 11

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: Investigations into the arrest of two suspects, who were allegedly planning to set the ONGC’s Bandra headquarters on fire, revealed they were also planning a terror strike at two more places, including Bandra’s G7 cinema complex, officials told TOI on Friday.

The Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) arrested two sus
pects, Abdul Latif (29) and Riyaz Ali Imtiyaz (22), who are Bandra and Dahisar residents, respectively, on March 14. They were produced before the Mazgaon court on Friday and their police custody was extended till April 1. They have been booked under the various sections of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).

“The suspects were instructed by their Pakistani handler, one ‘Uncle’, to set the ONGC headquarters on fire and commit terrorist activity at Mangaldas Market in south Mumbai, Borivli’s Thakkar Mall, the G7 cinemaplex in Bandra (West) and a chawl near Thakkar Mall,’’ an official said. G7
houses seven cinema halls with an approximate sitting capacity of 2,000 people. “The accused had gone to watch movies and they surveyed the multiplex. We are still in the process of interrogation,’’ an official said.

The remand application on Friday stated that the ATS wanted the duo’s custody to ascertain how many more persons were to go to Pakistan for training. The two sus
pects were a l l e g e d ly promised a training in o p e at i n g firearms by the Indian fugitive, “Uncle’’, who is suspected to be a 1993 Mumbai serial bomb blast absconding accused, Bashir Khan. The police have got the recorded conversation between “Uncle’’ and the two suspects. They were allegedly talking to “Uncle’’ for the last twoand-a-half months.

The duo were directed by the handler to recruit young boys and arrange for them to be sent to Pakistan for training and to carry out terror attacks in India. Magistrate B S Chavan remanded the two to further police custody till April 1.
mateen.hafeez@timesgroup.com

The Times of India, March 27, 2010

Friday, March 26, 2010

State ATS chief shunted out for terror tattle



POWERFUL HANDSHAKE: Revenue minister Narayan Rane congratulates Rakesh Maria after he was named the new ATS chief

S Ahmed Ali & Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai:Chief minister Ashok Chavan on Thursday shunted out anti-terrorism squad (ATS) head Krish Pal Raghuvanshi after the Union home ministry sent a fresh reminder to the Maharashtra government on taking action against him. Raghuvanshi will be replaced by crime branch chief Rakesh Maria.

Known as an efficient and honest IPS officer, Raghuvanshi will be the new additional director general of police (law and order) in place of Sanjeev Dayal, who has taken over as ADG (special operations).

A week ago, Chidambaram had come down heavily on Raghuvanshi for disclosing
more information than necessary to the media on the arrest of two suspected terrorists, who had drafted a plan to attack sensitive installations in Mumbai. Raghuvanshi had referred to someone called ‘Uncle’ in Pakistan who had trained the terrorists.

PC had dubbed the ATS chief’s talk irresponsible
Mumbai: Union home minister P Chidambaram’s contention was that ATS chief K P Raghuvanshi’s reference was irresponsible, since it had an adverse impact on the ongoing probe and also alerted a section of terrorists.

Chidambaram had expressed strong displeasure over the manner in which Raghuvanshi dealt with the case and had expected suitable action to be taken against him. However, as nothing happened even after the home minister’s stringent observations, the Union home ministry on Wednesday asked the state government what action it had taken against Raghuvanshi. “In view of a fresh reminder, a proposal to shunt out Raghuvanshi was approved by Chavan,’’ a senior home department official said.

JCP (law & order) Himanshu Roy will replace Rakesh Maria, while Inspector General of Prisons Rajneesh Seth will succeed Roy.

The biggest challenge for
Maria as ATS chief will be the investigation into Pune’s German Bakery bomb blast that killed 17 people on February 13 this year. Maria was the chief investigating officer in the 26/11 terror attack case.

When asked what his priority would be, Maria said, “Let me take charge. I will do the best I can.’’ At the crime branch Maria handled several cases, including the arrests of underworld don-turned-politician
Arun Gawli and NCP leader Padamsingh Patil and the murder case of Congress leader Pawanraje Nimbalkar.

However, handling the 7/11 train blasts case could be tough for Maria. The officer had arrested Indian Mujahideen operatives in 2008 and stated that they were responsible. However, the ATS had been insisting that the 13 SIMI members arrested in 2007 were the real culprits.

OUT: Krish Pal Raghuvanshi


IN: Rakesh Maria

The Times of India, March 26, 2010

Now, EOW probes Rs 4cr cheating case

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: The Economic Offences Wing (EOW) is probing a case of cheating registered against the directors of M/s Beautiful Diamonds Ltd. The amount in question is more than Rs 4.21 crore.

An FIR was registered at the Colaba police station and the case was transferred to the EOW for further investigation. The complainant, Rashid Oomer, managing director of Al-Baraka finance company, stated that in September 1999, a short-term loan facility was provided to Symphony Gems Ltd in Belgium through its England branch. “In this loan facility, two city-based businessmen stood as guarantors. The loan was availed to purchase diamonds. The diamonds were to be sold to Beautiful Diamonds (Mumbai),’’ said Oomer.

Jaiprakash Jindal, one of the directors of Beautiful Diamonds, said, “We don’t know if there is any case against us. We deny all the allegations. There was no dealing with Al-Baraka nor was there any transaction with them.’’ Jindal added that they did not pledge a share to Al-Baraka nor did they ever obtain a loan from the complainant’s firm. “Do they have any documents to show that our shares were pledged to Al-Baraka?,’’ said Jindal. An EOW official said, “Our investigation is on and we cannot say anything at this juncture.’’

The complainant said Symphony Gems was provided a loan of $12 million (Rs 55 crore). Beautiful Diamonds reportedly pledged 11.40 lakh shares of M/s HEG Ltd (collectively val
ued at Rs 4.21 crore) with Al-Baraka as security. “A Symphony Gems official said they required this loan to purchase raw and polished diamonds. The diamonds were later sold to Beautiful Diamonds in June 2000 and payment to Al-Baraka was to be made in 180 days. Beautiful Diamonds defaulted in the payment and no information is available on what happened to the money,’’ added Oomer. The FIR stated that the suspects later said that the shares had been lost and requested the share company to provide duplicate share certificates. “It’s true that we took duplicate shares only after our original shares went missing from our office premises,’’ Jindal said.

“However, they were aware that the shares were pledged to Al-Baraka. The duplicate shares were subsequently sold in the open market,’’ added Oomer. He added that the suspects carried out the fraud, knowing that they got the loan by pledging the shares to Al-Baraka and later they procured duplicate shares, which they sold to earn money. The matter was also reported to the Belgium police.

The Times of India, March 26, 2010

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Moneylender murdered, robbed in Marine Lines

WHODUNIT? Policemen at the scene of the crime

Mateen Hafeez I TNN

Mumbai: A 32-year-old moneylender was killed by unidentified persons who robbed him of cash and jewellery collectively valued at Rs 10 lakh before fleeing from the spot. The incident took place on Tuesday afternoon in the Second Marine Lines Lane near Metro Cinema. The police suspect that the killer was not a stranger for the deceased.

According to the Azad Maidan police, the deceased, Alpesh Jain, was alone at his first floor office when the incident took place. “His two elder brothers, Jitu and Bharat, who also sit in the same office, had gone out for lunch. The incident took place between 1.30 pm and 2.30 pm. We are making inquiries and suspect that someone known to Jain could be involved in the crime,’’ the police source said.


Jain’s body was taken to Bombay Hospital. A carpenter’s tool was used to hit Jain’s head. His hands and legs were tied with a rope and a handkerchief put in his mouth so that he could not scream for help.

According to neighbours, the Jains are into moneylending for the last 50 years and the shop was run by the three brothers. The Jains stay near the office in Aidun building. “On Tuesday afternoon, Jain’s wife called on his mobile phone several times but there was no response. Suspecting some foul play, she informed her relatives who later reached the spot. Jain’s wife and relatives found the body,’’ said a neighbour.


The Times of India, March 24, 2010

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Realty company dupes investors of Rs 40 crore



Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: The economic offences wing (EOW) has registered a case against a realty firm for allegedly cheating over 3,000 investors after promising them high returns. The firm, M/s Aurum Realty Ltd, the police say, may have swindled people all over the state and the fraud is to the tune of Rs 40 crore.

According to an EOW official, Amrish Patankar, a Customs House clearing agent, lodged a complaint on March 15 stating that the company had floated two schemes at Kasara and Karjat and promised to construct “dream houses” there. “The company promised the unsuspecting victims very high returns on the amount they invested till the project came up. The firm even assured that the investors will be the tentative owners of the one-acre land at Karjat,’’ a police officer said.

“The company has two offices in Mumbai; one in Mulund and the other at Senapati Bapat Marg. The Parel office was, in fact, rented on a monthly payment of Rs 1.84 lakh. But the offices are shut now,’’ said the officer, adding that more than 35 investors had approached the police. “We suspect the number of those duped is more than 3,000,’’ he said. The company has its other offices at Nashik, Aurangabad and Pune.

Investigators said the company floated the scheme in January 2009 and placed huge advertisements in newspapers. The advertisements read: “Change your life. Be Rich. Get wealthy by investing in land.’’ The company had two schemes: Nature Valley and Astra Hills. The investors were promised
that their money will be doubled in a year. Now, the police suspect that the land at Karjat, for which advertisements were placed, does not even belong to the company. “Directors of the company were careful in disbursing the returns till March, after which it stopped. Now, the investors have started approaching the police,’’ another officer said.

According to the scheme, if a person invested Rs 51,000, he was supposed to get a monthly return of Rs 8,160 for one year. Those who invested Rs 7.25 lakh were to get a monthly return of Rs 1.30 lakh. “In its brochure, Aurum stated that it’s ISO certified and had promised customers high-rises with a host of amenities. But since one year the plot has been lying vacant,’’ a senior police officer said.


PLOT SOURS
In 2009, M/s Aurum Realty Ltd floats schemes at Kasara and Karjat
They promise to construct “dream houses”, and seek investment
Investors are promised high returns
They stop getting cheques in March

The Times of India, March 23, 2010

Realty company dupes investors of Rs 40 crore



Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: The economic offences wing (EOW) has registered a case against a realty firm for allegedly cheating over 3,000 investors after promising them high returns. The firm, M/s Aurum Realty Ltd, the police say, may have swindled people all over the state and the fraud is to the tune of Rs 40 crore.

According to an EOW official, Amrish Patankar, a Customs House clearing agent, lodged a complaint on March 15 stating that the company had floated two schemes at Kasara and Karjat and promised to construct “dream houses” there. “The company promised the unsuspecting victims very high returns on the amount they invested till the project came up. The firm even assured that the investors will be the tentative owners of the one-acre land at Karjat,’’ a police officer said.

“The company has two offices in Mumbai; one in Mulund and the other at Senapati Bapat Marg. The Parel office was, in fact, rented on a monthly payment of Rs 1.84 lakh. But the offices are shut now,’’ said the officer, adding that more than 35 investors had approached the police. “We suspect the number of those duped is more than 3,000,’’ he said. The company has its other offices at Nashik, Aurangabad and Pune.

Investigators said the company floated the scheme in January 2009 and placed huge advertisements in newspapers. The advertisements read: “Change your life. Be Rich. Get wealthy by investing in land.’’ The company had two schemes: Nature Valley and Astra Hills. The investors were promised
that their money will be doubled in a year. Now, the police suspect that the land at Karjat, for which advertisements were placed, does not even belong to the company. “Directors of the company were careful in disbursing the returns till March, after which it stopped. Now, the investors have started approaching the police,’’ another officer said.

According to the scheme, if a person invested Rs 51,000, he was supposed to get a monthly return of Rs 8,160 for one year. Those who invested Rs 7.25 lakh were to get a monthly return of Rs 1.30 lakh. “In its brochure, Aurum stated that it’s ISO certified and had promised customers high-rises with a host of amenities. But since one year the plot has been lying vacant,’’ a senior police officer said.


PLOT SOURS
In 2009, M/s Aurum Realty Ltd floats schemes at Kasara and Karjat
They promise to construct “dream houses”, and seek investment
Investors are promised high returns
They stop getting cheques in March

The Times of India, March 23, 2010

New terror tactics make tracking suspects harder

ON THE INSIDE: Riyaz Ali Imtiaz, one of the men arrested for plotting attacks in the city, worked at Thakkar Mall, one of the terror targets

Focus Is On Youths Most Likely To Be Overlooked By Police

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: The new strategies being used by terror bosses across the border have the state Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) and Mumbai police worried, because tracking local suspects is becoming harder.

One of the new modus operandi appears to be using people who have never before travelled to Pakistan or the Middle East. The latest arrests—Abdul Latif Rashid, 29, and Riyaz Ali Imtiaz, 23—were allegedly told that they would be taken to Pakistan after they committed acts of terror in Mumbai.

Another strategy appears to involve enlisting people already employed at targeted locations, so that getting past security becomes easier. While Latif worked in the vicinity of Mangaldas Market in Kalbadevi, one of the alleged targets, Riyaz worked at Thakkar Mall in Borivli, another target. The duo had also allegedly wanted to access the ONGC headquarters at Bandra (East) with the help of a Class IV worker employed there.

Latif and his brother-in-law Riyaz were held by the ATS on March 13 for conspiring to set fires at sites across the city. “Latif was working near Mangaldas Market and Riyaz was working at Thakkar Mall. The duo had also wanted to take the help of an ONGC employee to enter the firm’s premises. The handlers are now focussing on people who have easy access to targeted locations,’’ said an officer.

Not long ago, any terror probe would start with cops swooping down on people with a history of travelling to Pakistan or the Middle East, especially Dubai. Now, things are not so easy. “The handlers are looking at youths who have not travelled to any country and don’t have a police record. Our job is getting more difficult,’’ said the officer.

Sources in the security establishment said that the police are struggling to contact the grassroots of terror modules. “In this case, the men arrested did not have any prior criminal record. The other six who were offered training in Pakistan also did not have a record,’’ said the officer.

Officers are banking on help from youths who decline terror jobs and offers to travel to Pakistan. In the present case, two such youths have already given statements to the police. “We were lucky that one of these boys approached a police contact and alerted us about the plan,’’ said an officer.

The police also cannot afford to alienate an entire community by detaining people at will. An officer said, “We don’t know whom to put under surveillance. We cannot just summon hundreds of people for questioning. We have decided that we will convince youths not to take up extremism, but to help us. It is most important that the police reach such youths beforehand and ask them to be moderate.’’

An officer involved in the investigation said, “The handlers had sent money to make passports and lured Latif by saying he would be paid Rs 5 lakh for five youths. They had also spoken about the route the youths would take to Pakistan. They would first fly to Dubai.”


Recruiting Strategy:
Terror bosses approach men who have never before been to Pakistan or the Middle East

They enlist men already working in targeted locations, so they can get past security easily

They recruit youths without prior police records

They recruit men from poor backgrounds who can be easily lured with promises of money


The Times of India, March 22, 2010

New terror tactics make tracking suspects harder



Focus Is On Youths Most Likely To Be Overlooked By Police

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: The new strategies being used by terror bosses across the border have the state Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) and Mumbai police worried, because tracking local suspects is becoming harder.

One of the new modus operandi appears to be using people who have never before travelled to Pakistan or the Middle East. The latest arrests—Abdul Latif Rashid, 29, and Riyaz Ali Imtiaz, 23—were allegedly told that they would be taken to Pakistan after they committed acts of terror in Mumbai.

Another strategy appears to involve enlisting people already employed at targeted locations, so that getting past security becomes easier. While Latif worked in the vicinity of Mangaldas Market in Kalbadevi, one of the alleged targets, Riyaz worked at Thakkar Mall in Borivli, another target. The duo had also allegedly wanted to access the ONGC headquarters at Bandra (East) with the help of a Class IV worker employed there.

Latif and his brother-in-law Riyaz were held by the ATS on March 13 for conspiring to set fires at sites across the city. “Latif was working near Mangaldas Market and Riyaz was working at Thakkar Mall. The duo had also wanted to take the help of an ONGC employee to enter the firm’s premises. The handlers are now focussing on people who have easy access to targeted locations,’’ said an officer.

Not long ago, any terror probe would start with cops swooping down on people with a history of travelling to Pakistan or the Middle East, especially Dubai. Now, things are not so easy. “The handlers are looking at youths who have not travelled to any country and don’t have a police record. Our job is getting more difficult,’’ said the officer.

Sources in the security establishment said that the police are struggling to contact the grassroots of terror modules. “In this case, the men arrested did not have any prior criminal record. The other six who were offered training in Pakistan also did not have a record,’’ said the officer.

Officers are banking on help from youths who decline terror jobs and offers to travel to Pakistan. In the present case, two such youths have already given statements to the police. “We were lucky that one of these boys approached a police contact and alerted us about the plan,’’ said an officer.

The police also cannot afford to alienate an entire community by detaining people at will. An officer said, “We don’t know whom to put under surveillance. We cannot just summon hundreds of people for questioning. We have decided that we will convince youths not to take up extremism, but to help us. It is most important that the police reach such youths beforehand and ask them to be moderate.’’

An officer involved in the investigation said, “The handlers had sent money to make passports and lured Latif by saying he would be paid Rs 5 lakh for five youths. They had also spoken about the route the youths would take to Pakistan. They would first fly to Dubai.”


Recruiting Strategy:
Terror bosses approach men who have never before been to Pakistan or the Middle East

They enlist men already working in targeted locations, so they can get past security easily

They recruit youths without prior police records

They recruit men from poor backgrounds who can be easily lured with promises of money


The Times of India, March 22, 2010

Monday, March 22, 2010

Headley confession leads to release call

DEADLY VISITOR: David Headley

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: After CIA double agent David Headley confessed to participating in the conspiracy to plot the 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai, Yasmeen Ansari, wife of Faheem Ansari, who is on trial in the 26/11 case, has said that her husband should be released. Headley has confessed to having done recces of the five targets. A total of 166 people, including five Americans, were killed in the November 2008 attack.

“When the conspiracy has been disclosed by Headley in the USA, why is my husband not being released? The police had accused him of doing recces and preparing maps, but Headley has simultaneously confessed to having shot videos of the targets,’’ said Yasmeen, who has been visiting the Arthur Road jail to attend the 26/11 trial hearings.
Ten Pakistani terrorists had entered Mumbai on ships and committed the 26/11 killings. One of those men, Ajmal Kasab, is standing trial along with two others, including Faheem.

In his confession, Headley, a CIA agent who shifted loyalties to the terror outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba, stated that he made five trips to Mumbai before the 26/11 attacks—in September 2006, February and September 2007, and April and July 2008—each time making videotapes of various potential targets, including the Taj and Oberoi hotels, Leopold Cafe, Chabad House and Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus. “I just want to say that my husband is not involved in the terror case he is accused of,’’ said Yasmeen.


According to Headley, before the April 2008 surveillance trip, Headley met with co-conspirators in Pakistan and discussed potential landing sites in Mumbai for a team of attackers who would arrive by sea. Headley returned to Mumbai with a Global Positioning System and took boat trips around the Mumbai harbour and entered various locations into the device.


The Times of India, March 22, 2010

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Malegaon voters’ list will soon be in Urdu too

A FIRST IN STATE

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: Malegaon’s 2.38 lakh voters will soon have their names in the voters’ list in Urdu. With this, Malegaon will become the first city in Maharashtra to have the voters’ list in Urdu. This step has been taken to avoid mistakes in names and addresses.

Officials said this was the brainchild of Ajay More, sub-divisional magistrate, who has been conducting meetings with the citizens and political parties. Malegaon, which has a 6 lakh
plus population at present, is divided into east and west by a river, Mausam. The eastern side of the town has 100% Urdu-speaking population. Officials said that several mistakes in the voters’ list were brought to the notice of the election commission officials.

It is learnt that educated unemployed youths would be hired to conduct a survey and correct the names, besides compiling them in Urdu. According to an estimate, 1,080 youths will be assigned the job for survey in the 72 municipal corporation constituencies in Malegaon.

The Times of India, March 20, 2010

Terror duo was promised ‘promotions’

IN COP NET: Abdul Latif and Riyaz Shaikh were arrested on March 13

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: Investigations into the arrest of two Mumbai youths, who were arrested for allegedly planning terror strikes at three places, have revealed that they were promised by their Pakistani handlers they would be promoted as “recruiting chiefs’’ once they executed an operation successfully and completed their training.
The ATS on March 13 arrested two persons, Abdul Latif (29) and Riyaz Shaikh (23), for allegedly planning to carry out terror strikes at the ONGC headquarters in Bandra, Thakkar Mall in Borivli and Mangaldas Market. The duo will be in police custody till March 26. The two, claimed police, had also identified some youths to send to Pakistan.

“The suspects were asked to execute only one operation and were to leave for Pakistan via Dubai.
They were also told that they will be promoted as recruiting chief and will not have to do a ‘field job’ once they complete their training,’’ sources in the security forces said.

The Pakistani handlers had also promised the suspects a remuneration of Rs 1 lakh for getting each recruit. “They were told that their job will be limited to coordinate with their mentors, identifying boys, making all the arrangements for new recruits’ trip to Pakistan and later taking care of their activities,’’ a source said.

Initially, it was said that the two had procured their passports. However, families of the suspects said that the passport applications of the duo were rejected. “They were sent Rs 10,000 via hawala to prepare passports through the tatkal scheme,’’ a source said.

Latif ’s family admitted that Bashir Khan, who is Latif ’s distant relative, started speaking to the former six months ago. However, the family members said they were unware of what the converstions were about. “He worked for Rs 200 a day. It was difficult for him to run his own family. Why would he indulge in such an activity?’’ asked Abdur Rasheed, Latif ’s father.


The Times of India, March 20, 2010

Friday, March 19, 2010

‘Goa blast may have motivated nabbed duo’

LONG WAIT: Relatives of Latif and Riyaz outside the court


ONGC, MALL TERROR PLOT

Mateen Hafeez I TNN

Mumbai: The two persons caught on March 13 for allegedly planning to set the ONGC headquarters on fire could have been motivated by their Pakistani handlers who would have referred to the Goa blast, where the involvement of Hindu organisation Sanatan Sanstha is suspected.

According to a security agency source, the two suspects could have been brainwashed by instilling fear in them of right-wing organisations becoming stronger.

The suspects, Abdul Latif Rashid alias Guddu (29) and his brother-in-law Riyaz Ali Imtiyaz alias Rehan (23), were produced in a Mazgaon court on Thursday when they were remanded in police custody till March 26. They were charged under the UAPA for planning a terror strike on the ONGC headquarters in Bandra, Mangaldas market near Crawford Ma
rket and Thakkar Mall in Borivli. The police suspect that the two were targeting two other areas in the city but refused to divulge more.

While seeking their custody, the police said they wanted to establish the identity of a person referred to as “chacha” in phone conversations. “Chacha” spoke to them from Pakistan. According to the security agency source, the police
have the records of an over 120-minute conversation between the two suspects and the uncle. “They had been speaking to uncle for six months,’’ said the source. The uncle is suspected to be one Bashir Khan, an absconder in the 1993 blasts case, and now staying in Karachi.

Security personnel said that the two may have been lured to terrorist activities by the promise of easy mon
ey. However, initially they could also have been motivated by repeated references to the Goa blast that claimed four lives. ATS officials were tight-lipped about the probe.

On Thursday, Latif and Riyaz’s families waited to meet them outside the ATS Kalachowki unit but they were not allowed to do so. They finally left around 4.30 pm when Latif’s wife, Nusrat, fainted.

The Times of India, March 19, 2010

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Info gap saved day for ONGC

MAKING A POINT: A delegation of Muslim leaders met ATS chief K P Raghuvanshi and expressed a desire to meet the suspects


Duo Couldn’t Understand Instructions

Mateen Hafeez I TNN

Mumbai: Miscommunication between the arrested terrorists and their handlers in Pakistan probably saved the city from another bloodbath. Investigations have revealed that the arrested suspects——Abdul Latif Rashid alias Guddu (29) and Riyaz Ali Imtiaz alias Rehan (22)—failed to carry out the attack on the ONGC headquarters as they couldn’t comprehend the instructions issued by their Pakistani handlers.

The telephonic conversations recorded by the security agencies show that the Pakistani “Uncle’’ had been instigating the duo to set the ONGC’s office on fire, but the two didn’t know how to carry the fuel needed for the op
eration inside the building.

The Anti-Terrorism Squad on Wednesday recorded the statements of a shop owner from Mangaldas Market,where Latif had been working for the last eight months. But not too many significant details came out of it. The employer described Latif as a “hard-working” man and said that he paid Latif Rs 4,000 a month.


The ATS said that Latif, along with his brother in-law Riyaz Ali alias Rehan, wanted to carry out terror attacks at three places: Mangaldas Market, ONGC headquarters and Thakkar Mall in Borivli, where Riyaz worked.

The police have also grilled Latif to find out if he had done a recce of the Mumbai Police headquarters,
which is located opposite to the Mangaldas Market. This place was earlier visited by arrested Lashkar-e-Taiba suspect Faheem Ansari three years ago. The ATS has not yet given clean chit to the ONGC employee whom the duo had befriended and wanted to execute the operation.

‘We want to meet the duo’
A delegation comprising Muslim community leaders met ATS chief Krish Pal Raghuvanshi on Wednesday and expressed their wish to meet the two suspects.

Farid Batatawala of Muslim Front stated that the intention of this meeting was to clarify facts. “We do not support any culprit. But, if these boys are innocent, they should be released,’’ he said. Raghuvanshi said that the ATS was working in the right direction and that they had not arrested any innocent person. “We will show the evidence in the court. No innocent will be arrested,’’ he said.


The Times of India, March 18, 2010

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Pak again using mafia links for terror strikes

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: Saturday’s arrests of the two terror suspects in Mumbai who wanted to set fires at three locations across the city shows that Pakistani planners are now returning to their old ally, the underworld, to plot terrorist acts.

In the recent case, Abdul Latif Rashid alias Guddu, 29, and Riyaz Ali Imtiaz alias Rehan, 22, were arrested for conspiring to set fires at the ONGC office in Bandra (East), Mangaldas Market in Kalbadevi and Thakkar Mall in Borivli. Latif ’s uncle, Abdul Bashir Khan, is an absconding accused in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts, which was plotted and executed by underworld don Dawood Ibrahim, who is now living in Karachi. Khan is currently living with Dawood in the latter’s Karachi flat and works as his assistant.

The security establishment in India has been claiming that the D-gang is handin-glove with Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) in the execution of conspir
acies in India.

In the 11/7 Mumbai train blasts case, the police arrested a doctor, two engineers and a software programmer who did not have any prior criminal record. However, the recent case points to the in-depth involvement of the D-gang. “The two accused were in touch with a D-gang member who had asked them to identify youths for terror training in Pakistan,’’ said the source.


The Pak call
After picking up Abdul Latif Rashid and Riyaz Imtiaz Ali over the weekend, ATS officials found a Pakistani number in their cellphone. Cops found it suspicious that the men who live in slums would have a Pakistani number. The police then asked Latif and Riyaz to call the number and were able to verify that the duo was in touch with someone in Pakistan.

P 5
Have cops delinked mafia from terror?
Mumbai: Officials in the security forces said Pakistan’s terror bosses may have returned to the underworld because the police have mentally delinked the underworld from terror. “The police seem to have formed an opinion that gangsterism is entirely different from terrorism and they do not pay heed to gangsters when it comes to probing terror cases nowadays. This could be one of the reasons why the Pakistani terror handlers are focusing on the use of the underworld,’’ the security source said.

“In 1993, the underworld had first participated in a terror strike. Later, the modus operandi changed and the handlers started recruiting young people with no criminal records as
the underworld was already on the police list,’’ said a security establishment official.

In the 2001 Parliament attack, new faces who were neither in the police list nor connected to the underworld were recruited. In the post-2001 modus operandi, the use of educated youths from the Muslim community was seen.

Software engineer Mansoor
Peerbhoy, a Pune resident, who had a job with a Rs 19-lakh-ayear salary, was arrested by the Mumbai Crime Branch in 2008 for being part of the Indian Mujahideen. He was accused of sending terror emails.

Earlier, in a string of post-2001 terror-related cases in Mumbai, an MBBS, an MBA, three civil engineers, four mechanical engineers, two chemical engineers, a pilot and a professor working for the NDA, Pune, had been arrested. While the police had focused on these men, most of them were later acquitted by the court or discharged by the central Pota review committee. Absconding IM operative, Riyaz Bhatkal, also suspected to be in Pakistan, was connected to the Fazlur Rehman gang before he formed his own extortion outfit. Bhatkal later took to terrorism.

The Times of India, March 17, 2010

Pak number found in terror suspects’ phone

Mateen Hafeez I TNN

Mumbai: An Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) official has revealed that police established a connection between the two Mumbai men recently arrested for plotting terror and a Pakistani contact by making the duo call a number found in a cell phone they were using.
After the police picked up Abdul Latif Rashid alias Guddu, 29, and Riyaz Imtiaz Ali alias Rehan, 22, over the weekend, they went through the phone and found the number which appeared Pakistani. The ATS official said that the cops found it suspicious that two men who lived in slums would have a Pakistani number in their phone.


The police then asked Latif and Riyaz to call the number and were able to verify that the duo were in touch with someone in Pakistan. However, the ATS official, with his department already under fire from central agencies for leaking information, refused to divulge information about the content of the conversation between the duo and the Pakistani contact.

The suspects, police have alleged, were in touch with a 1993 serial blasts absconder, Abdul Bashir Khan. It is believed that Khan, who is Latif’s
uncle, instructed them to commit acts of terror and then visit Pakistan for training. “The suspects wanted to go to Pakistan so that they could earn some money as well. They were promised a ‘stipend’ for undertaking the training, but we are yet to establish the exact amount,’’ an officer said.
Fire & Explosions?
Interrogations have revealed that the duo had planned to start a fire in the room at the Bandra (East) ONGC headquarters which contained the electric meters and fuseboxes.

“The room has a lot of electricity meters and a fire could have even caused explosions. However, the suspects were yet to take a decision on how to execute their plan,’’ said a senior ATS official. The accused did not have a blueprint of the
building nor any idea of which fuel to use. “They were arrested on March 13, two days prior to the date they had to execute the plan. We arrested them in a hurry to stop them causing any damage,’’ said the officer. Latif and Riyaz, brothers-in-law from Bandra (East) and Dahisar, respectively, are accused of plotting terror strikes at the ONGC administrative office, Thakkar Mall in Borivili and Mangaldas Market in Kalbadevi.

Meanwhile, the ATS is still questioning Bandra resident Shahnawaz Shaikh, who is also a suspect in the case. Shaikh was detained by the ATS on Saturday. The police are recording the statements of three men who were asked to prepare passports to go to Pakistan via Dubai. Four teams have been formed to trace down suspects.


Centre for action against ‘erring’ ATS men
New Delhi:
A day after pulling up Maharashtra’s Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) for revealing too much on the busted terror module, the Centre asked the state government to identify and initiate action against the “erring” officials for going public with evidence of the cross-border terror links of the two arrested terrorists. Sources in the home ministry said on Tuesday that the state has been told how the trail to the Pakistani handler—identified as ‘Uncle’ in phone intercepts—went cold as soon as the ATS gave details of its operation. The state has been asked to ensure that action is taken against officials so that such incidents can be avoided in future, added the source. TNN

The Times of India, March 16, 2010

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

1993 absconder may be ‘Chacha’ in Pak

HOMING IN FOR ANSWERS: The lane to Haji Chawl in Behrampada, Bandra (East), where Abdul Latif Rashid resides

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: Investigators are busy trying to unravel the identity of the mysterious ‘Chacha’ in Pakistan who the arrested duo, Abdul Latif Rashid and Riyaz Imtiaz Ali, allegedly received instructions from via the phone.

While sources in the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) say the finger of suspicion points to Abdul Bashir Khan, an absconder in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts case who is believed to be holed up in Pakistan, sources in the security establishment say the possibility of ‘Chacha’ being the trainer of the 26/11 terrorists, as revealed by gunman Ajmal Kasab, has not been ruled out.

Khan is the maternal uncle of Latif. He fled to Pakistan after the 1993 blasts and is believed to be staying with underworld don Dawood Ibrahim at the latter’s bungalow while working as the don’s assistant. ‘Chacha’ had promised the two arrested men a meeting with Dawood, said ATS officials.

“Khan fled the country after the police started arresting suspects in the 1993 serial blasts case,’’ said a Mumbai crime branch officer.

The ATS, has mentioned ‘Uncle’ in the
remand application as being the instructor of the two arrested Mumbai men. “Uncle instigated the suspects to come to Pakistan and commit some terrorist activity before they leave India,’’ reads the remand application.

“Latif would try to impress people in his locality by saying that he could talk to Dawood Ibrahim and meet him anytime he wanted,’’ said the officer.


The Times of India, March 16, 2010

Terror averted in city in the nick of time



CITY ON ALERT:
(Top left) Policemen on guard at Thakkar Mall in Borivli (West), where the arrested Riyaz Imtiaz worked and which police said was a terror target. (Above) A bag being searched at Thakkar Mall. (Left) Mangaldas Market in Kalbadevi, where the arrested Abdul Latif worked, was also a target.

Arrested Duo Planned To Set Fire At ONGC Headquarters In Bandra By Entering With The Help Of A Staffer, Say Anti-Terror Cops

Mateen Hafeez and S Ahmed Ali | TNN

Aterror strike appears to have been averted in the city in the nick of time. The two terror suspects arrested over the weekend planned to set fire to the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) office at Bandra (East) on Monday, according to state Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) officials.

Abdul Latif Rashid alias Guddu, 29, a resident of Haji Chawl, Behrampada, Bandra (East), and Riyaz Ali Imtiaz alias Rehan, 23, a resident of Koyla Bhavan Chawl, Ratan Nagar, Dahisar, planned to enter the ONGC premises, known as Vasudhara Bhavan, with the help of an ONGC Class IV employee, said ATS officials.

When asked how they intended to set fire to the building, the ATS said they were still interrogating the two brothers-inlaw. Sources said they were held while going to a petrol pump to arrange for fuel. The police are issuing a warning to all pumps not to sell loose fuel to any customers, especially those who don’t have vehicles, and to inform the authorities of anyone trying to buy such fuel.

Senior officials were tightlipped about the identity of the ONGC employee, but plan to make him a witness for the prosecution. “The two suspects befriended him and wanted to get some support from him. We are questioning him, but it’s too difficult to say at this stage whether he was part of the conspiracy or unaware of the plot,’’ an ATS officer said.

According to the remand application, attacks were planned on ONGC, Thakkar Mall in Borivli, where Riyaz worked, and Mangaldas Market in Kalbadevi, where Latif worked. Gujarati Chawl, near the Borivli mall, was also targeted. Cops said fire was to be set at these places before the suspects went to Pakistan.

PAKISTAN TRIP
Latif had allegedly asked six men, aside from himself and Riyaz, to apply for passports and go to Pakistan free of cost for terror training. Two of those youths refused to go, saying the plot was anti-national. “One of those two youths told a police informant about the plot and we put all the eight under surveillance,’’ said the officer. Both youths who refused to go to Pakistan have been questioned by the police.

Of the other four, two have been questioned and two cannot be found. While some sources said the four who applied for passports may be arrested soon, other sources said the ATS is
looking for as many as 10 associates of the arrested duo.

Police said the arrested duo had befriended an ONGC employee over the period of a month. “The duo wanted to set the ONGC headquarters, Vasudhara Bhavan in Bandra, on fire, and not oil tanks,’’ said a senior ATS officer. No maps, firearms or petrol was recovered from the suspects.

16 PHONE CALLS
Latif was in touch with a certain ‘Chacha’ in Karachi. “Latif’s maternal uncle is an absconding accused in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts,” said an ATS official. But it is not known conclusively if ‘Chacha’ and Latif’s uncle are the same person. The ATS official said, “Chacha had asked Latif to go to Pakistan and sent Rs 10,000 to help him get a passport through tatkal.”

Latif’s and Riyaz’s passports have been seized by the police. “More than 16 calls were made
and received by the duo to a Pakistani number. Their phones will be sent for analyses,’’ said the ATS source. The police are looking for the hawala operator through whom the money was sent to Latif.

“Latif, who loved going to the gym, was also known as a bodybuilder in his locality. He was promised Rs 5 lakh for sending five boys to Pakistan for train
ing,’’ said another officer, adding that Latif ’s basic motive was money. “He never raised any voice for jihad or complained about violence against Muslims. He just wanted to earn quick money,’’ said the ATS source.

Sources said the ATS had also received specific information from the Intelligence Bureau (IB). “As soon as the media flashed the news, some others in
the plot got scared, switched their phones off and went underground,’’ said a source.

The ATS has asked the Trombay police to look for two men in the Cheetah Camp area, which is a few kilometres from the sensitive Baba Atomic Research Centre. The ATS has also asked the Gujarat police to look for men missing from villages near Surat and other places in the state.

Mangaldas Market and Thakkar Mall are frequented by Gujarati people. “The accused were planning to carry out a major fire in Thakkar Mall through Gujarati Chawl, which is situated next-door. “During interrogations, they revealed their plan was to pour fuel near the electric box and near the lift to cause a huge fire and panic among the shoppers,’’ said an officer. “The ‘Chahcha’ had assured all financial assistance and shelter in Pakistan, provided they successfully executed the plot,’’ added the officer.


The ONGC headquarters in Bandra (East), where the accused wanted to start a fire on Monday

The Times of India, March 16, 2010

ONGC terror date was set for Monday

Mateen Hafeez & S Ahmed Ali | TNN


Mumbai: The two men arrested on Saturday for plotting terror in Mumbai had planned to set fire to the ONGC HQ in Bandra (East) on Monday (March 15) by entering the premises with the help of a Class IV ONGC employee, said ATS officials. It is not known if the employee was part of the conspiracy.

The police have also questioned four other men, two of whom allegedly agreed to go to Pakistan for terror training. Another two men who planned to make the trip are missing.

Abdul Latif Rashid, 29, of Bandra, and Riyaz Ali Imtiaz, 23, of Dahisar, were booked under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act and sent to police custody till March 18.

The Times of India, March 16, 2010

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Chhota Shakeel man gunned down by cops



Mateen Hafeez I TNN

Mumbai: A 30-year-old suspected member of the Chhota Shakeel gang was gunned down by the crime branch early just after midnight on Friday at Deonar near Govandi. The gangster, Sunil Mandal alias Sunil Bangali, was accused in 14 cases, including murder, said the police.

According to crime branch chief Rakesh Maria, the encounter took place around 12.30 am on Saturday near Sambhaji Nagar Ujjwal Cooperative Housing Society. “We received a tip-off that Bangali would be coming to the spot to meet his associates. Our police team laid a trap and on spotting him, ordered him to surrender. However, Bangali fired four rounds at the police team from his 7.65 mm pistol. In retaliation, the policemen also shot four rounds at Bangali, who fell to the ground. A bleeding Bangali was taken to Rajawadi Hospital where the doctors pronounced him dead,’’ said Maria.

Incidentally, currently, two police officers, inspectors Pradip
Sharma and Pradip Suryavanshi, are facing the charges of killing Ramnarayan Gupta, allegedly a Chhota Rajan aide, in a fake encounter.

According to Maria, Bangali worked for the Chhota Shakeel gang. “He was first arrested in 2003 in connection with an assault case.
While in prison, he came in touch with Chhota Shakeel gang members and started working for them. His primary job was to threaten people and collect extortion money,’’ said Maria.

“He entered the crime world as a petty goon and later graduated to become an extortionist and a
sharp shooter,’’ an officer said. He would take orders from Chhota Shakeel and contact “targets’’ to extort money from them.

“In 2006, Bangali was arrested for killing a person with a firearm. Besides, a rioting case, three attempt-to-murder and three extortion cases have been registered

against him in the various police stations,’’ said a crime branch officer. Bangali, the police said, was wanted in a case of kidnapping for ransom and also arrested in a case under the Arms Act. However, in most cases, he would get released on bail.
mateen.hafeez@timesgroup.com


The Times of India, March 14, 2010

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Cops may crack German Bakery case in few days


PUNE BLAST

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: A month after the Pune’s German Bakery bomb blast in which 17 persons were killed, the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) has claimed that it is close to solving the case. Highly placed sources said the ATS would solve the case within three to four days.

Though a senior official in the security establishment confirmed the development, he remained tightlipped about the identity of the group behind the attack or the suspects in the case. Last week, Pune police commissioner Satya Pal Singh had claimed that the perpetrators of the blast had been identified, but ATS chief Krish Pal Raghuvanshi remained non-committal. Sources said that the latest development was purely based on human intelligence.

“Our investigation is transparent. You will see the breakthrough soon, but we cannot divulge anything as of now,’’ Raghuvanshi said. After examining over 50 suspects associated with the banned outfits like SIMI, Indian Mujahideen, Jaish-e-Mohammed and Lashkar-e-Taiba, the police is now turning its investigation towards hardline rightwing organisations. A senior ATS official in Pune said that they were looking for a few members of the Sanatan Sanstha and the Abhinav Bharat group, besides those involved in the Pune’s terror training camp
held in 2003. “We have not caught any of the suspects who were trained in bomb making at Sinhgarh in 2003,’’ said the official.

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) and Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) have joined hands in the probe as the information provided by the state intelligence department and the intelligence bureau has not helped much. “Over 500 suspects have been questioned. The investigation

is at a crucial stage. We don’t want to jump to a conclusion yet,’’ said R G Kadam, deputy inspector general of the ATS.

Over two dozen phone calls made and received from Pakistani numbers were under surveillance since the Pune blast on February 13. However, examination of the owners of the phones did not help the investigators. They failed to find any leads about the perpetrators of the blast from a cellphone found at the blast site.


The Times of India, March 13, 2010

Friday, March 12, 2010

I get threat calls, Farhan tells cops

WHO COULD IT BE? The caller claims to be an associate of Kasab, says Farhan Azmi

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: City Samajwadi Party’s chief Abu Asim Azmi’s son, Farhan, has lodged a complaint with the police that he has received threat calls from someone who claims to be the associate of captured Pakistani terrorist Ajmal Kasab. The caller, who identifed himself as Afzan Khan and also claimed to be close to Lashkar-e-Taiba commanders Abu Hamza and Abu Sufiyan, demanded Rs 55 lakh and an AK-47 assault rifle from Farhan.

Farhan has given a complaint in writing to the police commissioner D Sivanandhan, crime branch chief Rakesh Maria and the Colaba police station. “The calls began around 12 to 13 days ago. The caller initially said that his family was trapped across the border and he needed to pay Rs 55 lakh and demanded AK-37 rifles so that he could get his family released after
paying this ransome. I thought someone was joking, but later I took it seriously when he threatened to bump off one of my employees just to prove that he was not joking,’’ Farhan told TOI. He claimed to have receiving around eight to nine calls so far. “The last calls was made on Wednesday night (from cellphone number 9322562441). I have given this number to the policemen, but they do not seem to be very active in the probe,’’ complained Farhan.

The caller, said Farhan, claimed to have got his number from Bhiwandi where Farhan lost his assembly elections recently. The caller had once called up from an ISD number begining with +55 (Brazil’s ISD code) and sometimes uses PCOs, said Farhan and added, “The caller had said he and his three accomplices were hiding in Bhiwandi and one of them had sustained a bullet injury. It seems he is trying to put his words in my mouth knowing that my phone is being tapped.’’

Maria said, “We have received a complaint from Farhan and our teams are probing the case.’’ He refused to divulge more, but said that most calls were made from different parts of Maharashtra.

Farhan said that someone was trying to wrongly implicate him and his father. “A few days ago, the media reported that one Shehzad (Indian Mujahideen’s suspected operative caught in Delhi) had told police that he met my father in Mumbai. My father even does not know who this person is,’’ he added.


The Times of India, March 12, 2010

Monday, March 8, 2010

Life improves for city prison inmates




Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: At the city’s only women’s prison in Byculla, Women’s Day is not a day-long event. The prison, whose cells house 346 women offenders including 19 foreigners, is getting a major facelift for the last three to four months now. A fresh coat of paint, more fans, lights and television sets, a modernised nursery school being run by Walt Disney Pvt Ltd on the premises for inmates’ children, better medical facilities and improved food—to ensure jail terms are a bit more bearable.

“The food is as good as home-made. There is enough clean water for inmates. We are providing all facilities to women inmates
and there has not been a single complaint about the food or water here,’’ said jail superintendent Sudhir Kingre. However, the prison is overpopulated compared to its official capacity of 262. To look after the 346 inmates, there is a staff of just 17 women constables and three women jailors, suprvised by two senior officers.

Some of the more famous inmates in this jail include aspiring actress Maria Susairaj and India-born US national Nooria Haveliwala.

There are around 20 murder suspects jailed here. “The number of Bangladeshi women in this prison is the highest. A total of 147 Bangladeshi
women have been jailed under Passport Act. We are taking care of their 59 children as well,’’ said woman jailor S M Tadvi.

Jail authorities said they conduct regular medical camps, eye-check ups, and invite reputed doctors for check-ups on cancer, asthma etc. “We conduct awareness programmes on AIDS. Besides, programmes are also conducted on Women’s Day.
From January 2009 to February 2010, we conducted 53 programmes including some medical camps and entertainment shows for the inmates,’’ added Kingre. He added to help make the inmates independent, several courses like computer, mehndi, sewing and embroidery have been started, in addition to adult literacy.


***PRISON MENU
Poha, upma, 100 ml of milk and a cup of tea is served to the inmates for breakfast at 7 am daily
Lunch comprises dal, roti, rice and vegetables and is delivered at the inmates' doorstep at 10 am
Dinner, usually a vegetarian affair, is served at 3.30 pm sharp

BOX:
Inmates' capacity- 262
Inmates kept there - 346
Foreign prisoners - 19
Murder suspects - 20
Bangladeshi inmates - 147
Total kids with their mothers in the jail - 67
Students in the jail school - 44
Jail staff - sanctioned 26, currently 17 posted
women jailors- Three
Jail warders - Three (serving life sentence, promoted to warder)
(*** Not printed in the paper)


The Times of India, March 8, 2010

Life improves for city prison inmates




Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: At the city’s only women’s prison in Byculla, Women’s Day is not a day-long event. The prison, whose cells house 346 women offenders including 19 foreigners, is getting a major facelift for the last three to four months now. A fresh coat of paint, more fans, lights and television sets, a modernised nursery school being run by Walt Disney Pvt Ltd on the premises for inmates’ children, better medical facilities and improved food—to ensure jail terms are a bit more bearable.

“The food is as good as home-made. There is enough clean water for inmates. We are providing all facilities to women inmates
and there has not been a single complaint about the food or water here,’’ said jail superintendent Sudhir Kingre. However, the prison is overpopulated compared to its official capacity of 262. To look after the 346 inmates, there is a staff of just 17 women constables and three women jailors, suprvised by two senior officers.

Some of the more famous inmates in this jail include aspiring actress Maria Susairaj and India-born US national Nooria Haveliwala.

There are around 20 murder suspects jailed here. “The number of Bangladeshi women in this prison is the highest. A total of 147 Bangladeshi
women have been jailed under Passport Act. We are taking care of their 59 children as well,’’ said woman jailor S M Tadvi.

Jail authorities said they conduct regular medical camps, eye-check ups, and invite reputed doctors for check-ups on cancer, asthma etc. “We conduct awareness programmes on AIDS. Besides, programmes are also conducted on Women’s Day.
From January 2009 to February 2010, we conducted 53 programmes including some medical camps and entertainment shows for the inmates,’’ added Kingre. He added to help make the inmates independent, several courses like computer, mehndi, sewing and embroidery have been started, in addition to adult literacy.


The Times of India, March 8, 2010

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Cops scan 1,000 people from CCTV footage

PUNE BAKERY EXPLOSION

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: Almost a month after the bomb blast at German Bakery in Pune, the investigating agencies are hoping for a breakthrough using the images of the nearly 1,000 people caught on closed-circuit television. Seventeen persons died and 40 more were injured in the February 13 blast at the bakery located in Koregaon Park.

The officials are scanning the footage from three CCTVs installed in and around German Bakery. “We are in the process of scanning the footage to identify the suspected planters,’’ an official said.

The ATS was taking the help of the Pune cyber crime investigation cell, the Intelligence Bureau’s technical unit and the State Forensic Laboratory at Kalina to scan the images, they said. “The footage being examined was captured between afternoon of February 13 and midnight. Most of the grab is blurred or captured from a distance and it is difficult to reach
a conclusion,’’ an official said. Some persons have already been identified and questioned.

Last year, the forensic laboratory had installed new software, using which images taken from a distance of 200 m or blurred images could be viewed clearly. “Experts at the
laboratory are helping with the probe,’’ an official said.

Security establishment insiders said they were on the right track and hoped to achieve a breakthrough soon. ATS chief K P Raghuvanshi refused to elaborate on the investigations. “We are examining each piece of information,’’ he told TOI.


Cong leader let off after questioning
Thane: Arif Pathan, a Congress functionary from Kalyan, detained by the Pune police in the German Bakery blast case, was released on Friday evening.

After his release, Pathan (51) was tight-lipped on why he was picked up. “I do not want to talk about it (the interrogation). They made their inquiries and I answered,’’ he said. Pathan is a former personal assistant of Congress MLC Sanjay Dutt. “I have nothing to do with Pathan anymore. My rivals are trying to drag my name in the case. This is dirty politics,’’ Dutt told TOI.

Pathan was picked up from the office of local Congress leader Sachin Pote.

Nitin Yeshwantrao | TNN

The Times of India, March 7, 2010

Friday, March 5, 2010

New route lands notes in Jharkhand



ACCESS POINT

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: The route financial terrorism has been taking into India has changed.

Earlier, fake currency was smuggled in through the Bangladesh-Kolkata route (via North 24 Parganas) or the Nepal-Gorakhpur or Nepal-Bihar routes. But these are no longer the most notorious routes for smuggling fake currency into India. Now, Jharkhand’s Sahibganj district has emerged as the main landing spot for fake currency from across the border.

“The Bihar, UP and Kolkata
routes are not being used as frequently. These routes have been replaced by the Jharkhand one. Peerpur village in Sahibganj district has emerged as a prime landing spot. It is 35 km from the Bangladesh border,’’ said a police officer.

In November 2009, the Pydhonie police arrested six youths from Jharkhand and seized fake Indian currency worth Rs 5 lakh. The notes were of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 denomination. The accused would get a commission of 50% for circulating the fake currency. Each note bore fake signatures of former RBI governor Y V Reddy.

Similarly, in April last year, the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) arrest
ed six people and seized fake currency worth Rs 4 lakh. Again, the youths belonged to Jharkhand. In September last year, two youths were caught and they were also Jharkhand residents.

Investigators said the name of one Tahoor Ali has cropped up during investigations into several fake currency cases. Ali, an Indian citizen, was detained by the Peerpur police in August 2009, but let off after a routine inquiry.

Police sources said that Birganj, the biggest town in Nepal’s Terai region, was earlier the main transit point for almost all the fake currency entering India. The Pakistan em
bassy in Kathmandu was suspected to be the nerve centre for fake currency operations. It was suspected that K Mehmood, a senior ISI officer working in the embassy’s education department, ran the network with the help of another ISI officer, Jamil Alam. The other routes for smuggling fake currency were through Beherwa village and from Birganj to Biratnagar, all places on the Nepal border.

“However, due to India and Nepal agreeing to fight the menace of fake currency together, the printers are now using Jharkhand as the transit point. There are allegations that the police in Jharkhand are lenient towards the accused,’’ said an officer.

FORGING A NEW TRAIL

EARLIER, the prime route for getting fake notes into India was to smuggle them from Bangladesh to North 24 Parganas district in West Bengal

NOW, an increasing number of cases are being detected in which the notes are sent from Bangladesh to the Sahibganj district in Jharkhand
The smuggling of notes from Nepal to Bihar has declined


COSTLY FAKES
In April 2009, the Anti-Terrorism Squad seized fake Rs 1,000 notes that were of a very high quality. It would cost as much as Rs 450 to print such notes, the police said It was the first fake currency case in which the notes were suspected to have been printed in a government press. The police suspect they were printed at the government press in Quetta, Pakistan The notes had Optically Variable Ink, but the RBI said it was not of very good quality They had the latent image of the numeral ‘1000’ on the right side, but the ink was too light The letters ‘RBI’ and numeral ‘1000’ could be seen with a magnifying glass between the Mahatma Gandhi portrait and the vertical band, but ‘RBI’ and ‘1000’ were written fewer times The case was handed over to the National Investigation Agency


The Times of India, March 5, 2010

Financial terror’s tentacles grow




The State Police Lodged 386 Fake Currency Cases In 2009. Officials Say The Trail Leads Across The Border

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: In just a single year, the Maharashtra police lodged 386 cases involving fake Indian currency notes. That amounts to more than a case a day.

The police say this would be just the tip of the iceberg with respect to how much fake Indian currency was circulated in the state in 2009. The problem is acute enough that any person could be carrying fake Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 notes and not know it.

“In Mumbai alone, there were as many as 60 cases registered in 2009,’’ said a police official.

Most of the fake notes seized—3,369—were of Rs 1,000 denomination, while 7,500 notes were of Rs 500 denomination. This amounted to Rs 71.19 lakh in seized fake currency. Police said a huge chunk of counterfeit notes remain undetected in and outside Maharashtra.

While security agencies say they are not leaving any stone unturned in the bid to stop the influx of fake currency into the country, they admit that the quality of the fakes is getting better by the day, which makes it even more difficult to detect them. The printers of the counterfeit notes are spending a lot of money on creating them because they aren’t interested so much in the money as they are in financial terrorism, or “destabilising the
Indian economy’’, said the official.

“Last year, 153 people were arrested for carrying and circulating fake currency. Interestingly, all the notes seized by the security agencies are suspected to have been printed in government printing presses outside the country,’’ said the official. Security establishment officials suspect all the notes to have originated in Pakistan, though they may have been routed through Bangladesh or Nepal.

Police officials suspect that fake cur
re n cy amounting to crores of rupees has been pumped into the market. These notes may be of several denominations, which the police are reluctant to reveal. “It would create fear among people and they would avoid using these denominations. We do not want this to happen,’’ the officer said.

“Detection takes place through human intelligence and machines. Machine detection results in fewer seizures, while human intel
ligence and police action results in lakhs being seized at a time,’’ said another officer.

When fake currency is detected, it is sent to the RBI and a case is registered with the police. In 2009, the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) was made the main agency to

deal with such cases.

The counterfeiters use the same imported paper used by the Indian government to print notes. “Around 95% of the features in the new fake notes are similar to those in the genuine notes. The paper quality is the same, colour and ink are same and the counterfeiters are now trying to meticulously copy the microlettering, which are significant features in detecting a fake,’’ said the officer.

Maharashtra’s security agencies believe that fake notes seized by them in April 2009 were printed in a government printing press at Quetta, Pakistan. Notes of the same series were detected in Uttar Pradesh and the UP Special Task Force suspected that most of those notes were printed in the security press at Malir Cantonment, Karachi, and three other printing presses in Pakistan.






The Times of India, March 5, 2010