Friday, May 28, 2010

ATS looks to link Samad to Pune blast

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: Investigations into the arrest of Abdul Samad Zarar alias Samad Bhatkal in a nine-month-old case have revealed that Bhatkal has hardly been questioned about the arms haul case for which he has been booked. Sleuths from the anti-terrorism squad (ATS) are mostly focusing their questioning around Pune’s German Bakery blast case.

Sources in the ATS said that he was grilled repeatedly about his whereabouts on February 13, when a powerful bomb went off in the bakery, killing 17. However, Bhatkal’s answers were “not satisfactory’’. The ATS, which arrested Bhatkal for possessing three revolvers, is still not sure what to do with the case. While Union home ministry has announced the
“arrest’’ of the prime suspect in the Pune blast, on the other hand, the police are finding it difficult to make a breakthrough. “We are trying to corroborate Bhatkal’s statement with that of other witnesses. However, most of the time he is giving evasive replies. He will be arrested in the Pune blast case only when his role is confirmed,’’ said the source.

Meanwhile, two delegations of Muslim activists met ATS chief Rakesh Maria and complained about the ‘unnecessary harassment’ to the Muslim boys. Maria, in turn, told the activists not to pay heed on media reports and that he had not arrested Bhatkal for the Pune blast. Maria added that his team had arrested Bhatkal in an arms case.

A senior ATS official, trying to calm down the activists, sent an SMS to an activist, stating, “Please don’t believe in rumour mongering and also don’t cast aspersions on the ATS without ascertaining facts. I will never arrest an innocent person in a terror case. We have arrested Samad in the Arms Act case and not in the Pune case. Let the press and oth
ers say anything—without definite and cogent proof, no one would be arrested. At least have faith in the ATS till proved otherwise.’’

The Times of India, May 28, 2010

Thursday, May 27, 2010

‘Cashier, waiter are star witnesses in Pune blast’

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: Investigators of Pune’s German Bakery blast case said on Wednesday that a cashier and a waiter employed with the eatery would be the star witnesses against suspected bomb planter Abdul Samad Zarar alias Samad Bhatkal. The 23-year-old suspect was arrested soon after he landed at Bajpe airport in Mangalore from Dubai on Monday.

“Bhatkal was not speaking initially but gradually gave in,” an official said. ATS chief Rakesh Maria questioned him on Wednesday. It is also learnt that one more person was rounded up but his identity was not disclosed.

Bhatkal, a commerce graduate, is the younger brother
of Ahmed Mohammed Zarar alias Yaseen Bhatkal of the banned outfit Indian Mujahideen. Bhatkal was arrested on charges of supplying imported firearms to three suspected Chhota Shakeel gang members in Mumbai. He had left the country 14 days after the Pune blast and was arrested soon after the UAE authorities deported him.

“German Bakery waiter Paras Rimal and cashier Pravin Pant will be the star witnesses against Bhatkal,’’ an official said.

An RDX bomb went off inside the bakery on February 13, killing 17 people and injuring over 60.

Officials in the security establishment said Bhatkal was identified as the bomb planter 20 days after the blast. “But he had left the country by then. We wanted to arrest the planter first and that’s why his arrest took time. A red-corner notice was issued against him in an arms case as we did not want him or the media to get any hint before his arrest; otherwise he could have fled to any other country,’’ an official said.

‘SAMAD IS INNOCENT’
An uncle of Abdul Samad has claimed that he was busy with preparations of a marriage in the family when the Pune blast happened. “Abdul was with us on February 13. He has nothing to do with blast or arms smuggling,’’ Mohammed Yakub told TOI. TNN

The Times of India, May 27, 2010

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

ATS had Bhatkal lead in Mar


Suspected image of Abdul Samad Zarar alias Samad Bhatkal

PUNE EXPLOSION

Kept It Secret To Avoid Alerting Accused Who Had Fled India

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: Two Research and Analysis Wing officials were on the same Air India flight that brought Pune German Bakery blast prime suspect Abdul Samad Zarar alias Samad Bhatkal from UAE to Mangalore on Monday.

According to officials in the security establishment, Bhatkal was identified as the planter of the explosives just 20 days after the February 13 blast. “We wanted to nab the planter first and that’s why this arrest took time. Other suspects are already under our surveillance,’’ said an ATS officer. At least five more
persons, including two men from Pune, are likely to be arrested in the case soon.

“Bhatkal was first identified as a college student—who had come down to Pune from Bhatkal village in Karnataka—in the CCTV footage. That set us off on his trail,’’ an official said.

Bhatkal, who was arrested by the Maharashtra ATS at Bajpe airport in
Mangalore on May 23 morning, was brought to Mumbai and booked in a nine-month old case of supplying imported arms to three suspected gangsters. “He will be shown as an accused in the Pune blast case when the time is right,’’ an ATS official said, adding that the blast was the work of the Indian Mujahideen (IM) and a cellphone was used to trigger the blast.

Bhatkal was produced before a court in Mazgaon on Tuesday and remanded in police custody till June 1. When the court asked him if he wanted a state-appointed lawyer to defend him, he said, “No, I will appoint a lawyer for myself later.’’


Meanwhile, ATS officials credited former ATS chief Krish Pal Raghuvanshi for the initial spadework that led to Bhatkal’s arrest. “The ATS zeroed in on Bhatkal within three weeks of the blast but he had already left the country by then,’’ an officer said, adding that the CCTV footage showing a person keeping the bag had to be
“reconstructed’’ in a forensic laboratory because of extensive damages to the footage. An ATS officer said Bhatkal’s phone records were also checked and it proved that he was in Pune on the day of blast. “At least 15 calls were exchanged between Bhatkal and other accused involved in the blast,’’ he added.

“After getting the footage from the blast site, we summoned all those who visited German Bakery eight hours before the blast. We asked where they were sitting and we zeroed in on one seat very close to the blast spot,’’ the official said. “The photo of the man sitting there was sent to various jails and inmates belonging to IM and other groups were asked to identify the person. Pictures were also sent to groups of informers in Goa, Kerala and Karnataka and the first clue we got was that the man in the footage could be a student from a Bhatkal college. The police teams even went to that college and the photo was shown to several staff members and students and they confirmed it was Bhatkal’s. But he had fled the country by then,’’ the officer said.



The Times of India, May 26, 2010

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Pune blast suspect Bhatkal’s brother held

Asseem Shaikh, Mihir Tanksale & Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Pune/Mumbai: Abdul Samad Bhatkal, younger brother of Pune German Bakery blast prime suspect and Indian Mujahideen (IM) operative Yaseen Bhatkal, was picked up by the Maharashtra anti-terrorism squad (ATS) on Monday morning, ostensibly for his alleged involvement in a little-known case of preparing for a supari killing.

Despite the official reason for his arrest, senior police officials told TOI that the 25-year-old native of Karnataka was suspected of having planted the bomb at Pune’s German Bakery on February 13.

Bhatkal’s arrest came 102 days after the devastating blast, which killed 17 persons. He was held soon after he
landed on Monday at Mangalore’s Bajpe airport, the same airport that saw the devastating mishap on Saturday morning; he was returning from Dubai.

No senior official would come on record linking Bhatkal with the German Bakery blast, but ATS insiders said the arrest followed a lookout notice — issued following the blast — at airports across the country. This is the first high-profile arrest the ATS has made in connection with the blast.

Bhatkal was on board Air India flight XI 812 and first noticed by immigration officials, who alerted the ATS. ATS officers then whisked Bhatkal to an undisclosed location.

Batkal had left for Dubai 12 days after the Pune blast and returned after his visa expired. His father owns several properties in Goa, Mangalore
and Dubai.

Officials said Bhatkal’s name cropped up in the case when investigators were probing the closedciruit television camera footage from the German Bakery; a man in his
mid-20s was seen walking into the bakery and keeping some bags.

The police suspected it was Bhatkal on the footage and compared the images to the photo on Bhatkal’s passport. The officer told
TOI that the person seen in the footage was smartly dressed, wearing a cap and walked into the bakery with two bags; but he later walked out of the bakery with only one bag. Officials said investigators had scanned photographs of nine or 10 suspects from Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh and Hyderabad before they zeroed in on Bhatkal. The ATS had launched a massive search operation across the country to trace Bhatkal since he left for Dubai, an officer said.

Bhatkal, suspected to be the member of IM, was never on any airport’s look-out notice prior to the Pune blast. His brother, Yaseen, is a wanted accused in the Delhi and Ahmedabad serial bomb blasts. TOI had earlier reported about Yaseen’s suspected role in the Pune blast.



‘He Will Be Booked In A Nine-Month-Old Case’

Abdul Samad Bhatkal completed his schooling from Bhatkal village and studied up to the higher secondary level in Bangalore. His rich businessman father constructed a mosque in Goa.

Bhatkal is believed to be relative of Riyaz Bhatkal, an IM founder member. Bhatkal is suspected to have visited Pakistan during 2008 as well.

A senior ATS official told TOI, “Bhaktal will be booked in the case of
last year’s preparation for a supari killing in which three persons were arrested. Bhatkal had supplied them with firearms, which were smuggled from China.’’ The ATS on August 5, 2009, arrested three alleged Chhota Shakeel gang members, Haji Imran (29), Suleiman Mehmood alias Katela (25) and Afzal Shaikh alias Lala (38).

Haji Imran is brother in-law of Aarif Baig who helped gangster Firoz Konkani escape from Mumbai’s J J Hospital.

The Times of India, May 2010

Pune bakery blast: Bhatkal brother held

Asseem Shaikh, Mihir Tanksale & Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Pune/Mumbai: In a significant step in the German Bakery blast case, Abdul Samad Bhatkal, younger brother of prime suspect Yaseen Bhatkal, was picked up by the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad on Monday morning.

He was arrested in a littleknown case of contract killing, but senior officials told TOI the 25-year-old was suspected of having planted the bomb at the Pune bakery on February 13 that killed 17 persons.

Abdul Samad was held soon after he landed on Monday at Mangalore’s Bajpe airport, which saw the air crash
on Saturday morning, on his return from Dubai.

The Times of India, May 25, 2010

Pune bakery blast: Bhatkal brother held

Asseem Shaikh, Mihir Tanksale & Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Pune/Mumbai: In a significant step in the German Bakery blast case, Abdul Samad Bhatkal, younger brother of prime suspect Yaseen Bhatkal, was picked up by the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad on Monday morning.

He was arrested in a littleknown case of contract killing, but senior officials told TOI the 25-year-old was suspected of having planted the bomb at the Pune bakery on February 13 that killed 17 persons.

Abdul Samad was held soon after he landed on Monday at Mangalore’s Bajpe airport, which saw the air crash
on Saturday morning, on his return from Dubai.

The Times of India, May 25, 2010

Monday, May 24, 2010

75 army bullets stolen from express train

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: As many as 75 bullets belonging to the military were stolen from the Guwahati Express on Saturday. The theft was discovered after the train arrived at the Kurla terminus.

Eight army jawans, who were taking these bullets to Pune for testing, found that they had gone missing from the luggage compartment. The Kurla government railway police (GRP) registered a case of theft against the unidentified accused late on Saturday.


“Soon after the train (5646) arrived at Kurla Terminus, the army jawans approached the police, stating that 75 bullets kept in three boxes were missing from the luggage compartment,’’ said a police officer from the Kurla railway police. The train had arrived at the station at 10.30 pm. The jawans, said the police, are attached to the Assam regiment of the army.

“These jawans had kept the boxes in the luggage compartment while they sat in the general bogies. They should not have done this since there was no one to take care of such an
important consignment,’’ said an officer, adding that other things kept with the stolen boxes were fuse wires and signal wires, but only bullets were stolen. “We are worried as to how boxes containing bullets were stolen. The boxes had no mark or signature and nobody knew which box contained what. We are recording the statements of the jawans. We will soon reach a conclusion,’’ the officer said.

The policemen opined that the theft must have taken place somewhere near Itarsi railway station in Madhya Pradesh where the train halted for a long time. Investigators say that they are sure the theft did not take place in Mumbai. “We can’t
understand why the boxes containing sensitive stuff were kept in the luggage compartment. Had it been kept along with the jawans’ belongings, theft could not have taken place,’’ the officer said, adding “During the long journey, the jawans did not go to the luggage compartment to check if the boxes were kept properly.’’

“We have informed all railway stations where the train halted and also flashed wireless messages about the theft. The bullets were being taken for testing in Pune along with other stuff,’’ the officer stated.

The Times of India, May 24, 2010

75 army bullets stolen from express train

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: As many as 75 bullets belonging to the military were stolen from the Guwahati Express on Saturday. The theft was discovered after the train arrived at the Kurla terminus.

Eight army jawans, who were taking these bullets to Pune for testing, found that they had gone missing from the luggage compartment. The Kurla government railway police (GRP) registered a case of theft against the unidentified accused late on Saturday.


“Soon after the train (5646) arrived at Kurla Terminus, the army jawans approached the police, stating that 75 bullets kept in three boxes were missing from the luggage compartment,’’ said a police officer from the Kurla railway police. The train had arrived at the station at 10.30 pm. The jawans, said the police, are attached to the Assam regiment of the army.

“These jawans had kept the boxes in the luggage compartment while they sat in the general bogies. They should not have done this since there was no one to take care of such an
important consignment,’’ said an officer, adding that other things kept with the stolen boxes were fuse wires and signal wires, but only bullets were stolen. “We are worried as to how boxes containing bullets were stolen. The boxes had no mark or signature and nobody knew which box contained what. We are recording the statements of the jawans. We will soon reach a conclusion,’’ the officer said.

The policemen opined that the theft must have taken place somewhere near Itarsi railway station in Madhya Pradesh where the train halted for a long time. Investigators say that they are sure the theft did not take place in Mumbai. “We can’t
understand why the boxes containing sensitive stuff were kept in the luggage compartment. Had it been kept along with the jawans’ belongings, theft could not have taken place,’’ the officer said, adding “During the long journey, the jawans did not go to the luggage compartment to check if the boxes were kept properly.’’

“We have informed all railway stations where the train halted and also flashed wireless messages about the theft. The bullets were being taken for testing in Pune along with other stuff,’’ the officer stated.

The Times of India, May 24, 2010

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Lucknow man held in city for trying to sell firearms

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: The anti-terrorism squad on Thursday arrested a 29-year-old Lucknow resident who had come to the city allegedly for selling firearms. The police claimed to have seized two pistols, three revolvers and 12 live cartridges from him.

Deputy commissioner of police Pradip Sawant identi
fied the arrested suspect as Irshad Halwai. “He was staying in a rented room at Shivaji Nagar in a north-eastern suburb. Our men worked on a tipoff and arrested Halwai. During the search, the police found the firearms. The weapons will be sent for ballistic analysis.”

The Times of India, May 22, 2010

Friday, May 21, 2010

Do you recognise Arthur Rd’s QAIDI NO C-7096?




Ajmal Kasab Allotted Number, Wears Murder Convict Garb

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: India’s most high profile prisoner, the 23-year-old Ajmal Kasab who is convicted for his role in the 26/11 terror strike, has become ‘Qaidi Number C-7096’ in the Arthur Road jail after the prison department allotted this number to him last week. Unlike other convicts, though, he won’t have to work as a shoe maker, carpenter, handloom operator, cook or tailor. That’s because, he has been awarded the death penalty by a special court.

As a murder convict, he can also no longer sport a T-shirt and jeans. He must wear a white outfit with black stripes and a white cap (topi). Ramesh Dhamane, superintendent of the Arthur Road jail, said, “Kasab has been given a convict’s dress and the clothes which he was wearing earlier have been taken from him.’’ Kasab will have to wash and dry the two sets of convict’s clothes he has been handed since he does not have money to pay for getting them washed.

After the trial is over, what will become of his clothes. “The clothes seized from Kasab are his property. After he is hanged, they will be given to his relatives, if they approach the authorities,’’ said crime branch chief, Himanshu Roy.

“The convict number helps jail authorities maintain their record. Now, Kasab will be known by his convict number. In the record, he will be mostly referred by his qaidi number,’’ said an official.

Jail officials have noticed a considerable change in Kasab’s demeanour following the conviction. “Now, he spends most of the time sitting near the iron doors. Sometimes, he tries speaking to the constables posted there for security,’’ said an official. “There is no fan in his cell. To beat the heat, he often takes off his kurta and sits in one corner or the other in his cell. Earlier, he would go to the court and see several people there, but now, his feeling of loneliness is evident from his gestures,’’ the
official said.

Inmates convicted for any offence up to an imprisonment of three months are given any number beginning with the alphabet ‘A’ while those who are convicted for a period between three months and five years are given the ‘B’ series. Those convicted for the most heinous crimes such as murder are enrolled under the ‘C’ series.

Convicts who get rigorous imprisonment are offered jobs such as carpentry and making carpets, which may end up in government offices. They may help
prepare food, which is also served to their fellow inmates. Earlier, convicts had to break stones. Now, they have to work inside the four walls of the jail premises.

Kasab, though, will not have to work since he has been awarded the capital punishment. “A murder convict does not have to work, which is why Kasab too will not be given any job,’’ said a jail official. According to the jail manual, unskilled convicts are paid Rs 12.75 a day, semi-skilled convicts Rs 17 and skilled convicts Rs 25.50 as remuneration.



A Day In His Life

Ajmal Kasab wakes up at 7 am. Since he is not allowed to step out, he is served breakfast in
his cell itself at 7.30 am. He, though, sits down to eat only around 9 am. After breakfast, he stands near the cell’s iron bars and tries to strike a conversation with constables in an effort to fight loneliness. At 11 am, he is served lunch, which he has around 1 pm. He spends his afternoons pacing the cell and taking breaks by resting in some corner. He looks frustrated and disturbed. By 3.30 pm, constables deliver him his dinner. He sits down for it after 6 pm. He goes to sleep some time after 11 pm
Kasab’s Diet

Breakfast
Poha, upma, 100 ml of milk and a cup of tea

Lunch
Dal, roti, rice and vegetables

Dinner
Again, a vegetarian affair


Work
Considering that Kasab has been awarded the death penalty, he has not been allotted any task

Sleeves
(Left) A murder convict wears black cuffs on his sleeves. Others don’t

Cap
A murder convict wears a plain cap. Others don caps with yellow & black stripes

The Times of India, May 21, 2010

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Ajmer blast suspects had no link with Malegaon case: ATS

Mateen Hafeez I TNN

Mumbai: The Maharashtra anti-terrorism squad (ATS) team that visited Rajasthan to quiz the suspects held for the blast at the Ajmer shrine have given them a clean chit in the 2008 Malegaon blast. One of the accused, arrested by the Rajasthan police, was in touch with Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur prior to the Malegaon blast, said sources in the ATS.

According to police, Ajmer shrine blast suspect, Devendra Gupta, a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) pracharak, was in touch with Sadhvi Thakur prior to the Malegaon blast in September 2009. However, the source said, they did not discuss any terror strike. Gupta was introduced to the sadhvi by the latter’s boyfriend, Sunil Joshi of Indore. Joshi was shot down in December 2007.

“The suspects in the Ajmer blast were quizzed thoroughly but we did not find any evidence to show that they had any links with the Malegaon blast which killed six and injured 101. It is true that Gupta knew sad
hvi but there is no evidence to show that the Ajmer blast suspects played any role in the Malegaon blast. Therefore, we did not arrest them,’’ said an officer.

A bomb kept outside the shrine of sufi Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti went off on October 11, 2007, killing three and injuring 30.

The Maharashtra police also questioned shrine blast suspect, Vishnu Patidra, an Abhinav Bharat member, but did not find any evidence of his involvement in the Malegaon blast too. “Our visit to Rajasthan was fruitful. We got much more information on many things than we expected but as of now, we can say that no link between Ajmer and Malegaon blast has been established,’’ the source said.

Meanwhile, the Maharashtra ATS is still hunting for three suspects, wanted in the Malegaon blast case.



The Times of India, May 20, 2010

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

11 Hindu activists charged in Goa blast, outfit may be let off

MARGAO | Oct 16, 2009

Panaji: The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Monday filed charges in a court against 11 activists of a Hindu right-wing organisation for the 2009 Diwali-eve blasts that killed two people in Goa’s Margao town.

However, the organisation itself has been given a clean chit, its top official claimed, noting that it has not been named as a conspirator. All the 11 people named in the chargesheet are members of Sanatan Sanstha, whose members were also linked to several low-intensity explosions in Maharashtra some years ago.

They face charges of conspiring and collecting arms for waging a war against the state and mischief. They have also been charged under the Explosive Substance Act and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

The chargesheet, running into about 3,000 pages, was filed before sessions judge U V Bakre. The investigating agency also listed among the accused two Sanatan members who were killed in the blast that took place while they were ferrying the explosives to a festival gathering in Margao on October 16, 2009.

The two accused who died in the blast were Malgonda Patil of Sangli and Yogesh Naik of Talaulim-Ponda.

Four others—Vinay D Talekar, 28, and Vinayak P Patil, 29, both of Pon
da, Dhananjay K Ashtekar, 28, of Ratnagiri and Dilip G Malgaonkar, 39, of Sangli—are in NIA’s custody. The remaining five—Rudra Patil of Sangli, Sarang Ankolekar of Pune, and Jayprakash alias Anna, Prashant Ashtekar and Prashant Juvekar, all from Ratnagiri—are absconding.

When contacted, Sanatan Sanstha spokesperson Abhay Vartak said: “We can’t comment until we see the chargesheet. However, we have trust in the judiciary and respect the judicial process.” Another top Sanatan official said that nowhere in the chargesheet had the NIA named it as a conspirator. The chargesheet names 250 witnesses, who are likely to be examined by the local court during the trial.

The NIA chargesheet said that the sanstha is an organization showing extreme interest in matters of the Hindu religion and that it organizes marshall training in their property at Damshe-Valpoi. It also points out that ten of the accused used a building owned by Laxmikant Naik, another brother of Yogesh Naik to conspire, assemble the IEDs and for blast meetings. The hillock behind Naik’s house at Talaulim-Ponda was used to test the IEDs prepared by using a gelatin stick on August 24 and 25, 2009. TNN AND AGENCIES


Hindu Terror Comes To Fore?
National Investigation Agency names 11 members of Hindu outfit Sanatan Sanstha as accused in Margao blast in 2009

Chargesheet running into about 3,000 pages also names two men who were killed in an accidental blast while ferrying explosives to Margao


Accused named are Vinay Talekar, Vinayak Patil, Dhananjay Ashtekar and Dilip Mangaonkar, all of whom are in jail

Ashtekar is accused of rigging 12 detonator circuits in Pune, of which five were set aside for the
Goa blast. Test IED was prepared with gelatin sticks and exploded in the jungles adjoining Talaulim village on August 24-25, 2009

Accused charged with criminal conspiracy, waging war against state, mischief and under explosives act and UAPA

LENS ON SANATAN SANSTHA
Set up in 1990 by Jayant Bal Athavale with the blessings of Bhaktaraj Maharaj, the outfit aimes at spreading scientific outlook on spirituality
With a chain of centres in India and abroad, the organization
conducts discourses, rallies and campaigns to “create awareness of righteousness”
Several parties have sought a ban on the outfit, whose name has surfaced in many attacks and is linked to Malegaon blast accused Sadhvi Pragya Thakur


The Times of India, May 18, 2010

11 Hindu activists charged in Goa blast, outfit may be let off



Panaji: The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Monday filed charges in a court against 11 activists of a Hindu right-wing organisation for the 2009 Diwali-eve blasts that killed two people in Goa’s Margao town.
However, the organisation itself has been given a clean chit, its top official claimed, noting that it has not been named as a conspirator. All the 11 people named in the chargesheet are members of Sanatan Sanstha, whose members were also linked to several low-intensity explosions in Maharashtra some years ago.
They face charges of conspiring and collecting arms for waging a war against the state and mischief. They have also been charged under the Explosive Substance Act and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
The chargesheet, running into about 3,000 pages, was filed before sessions judge U V Bakre. The investigating agency also listed among the accused two Sanatan members who were killed in the blast that took place while they were ferrying the explosives to a festival gathering in Margao on October 16, 2009.
The two accused who died in the blast were Malgonda Patil of Sangli and Yogesh Naik of Talaulim-Ponda.
Four others—Vinay D Talekar, 28, and Vinayak P Patil, 29, both of Pon
da, Dhananjay K Ashtekar, 28, of Ratnagiri and Dilip G Malgaonkar, 39, of Sangli—are in NIA’s custody. The remaining five—Rudra Patil of Sangli, Sarang Ankolekar of Pune, and Jayprakash alias Anna, Prashant Ashtekar and Prashant Juvekar, all from Ratnagiri—are absconding.
When contacted, Sanatan Sanstha spokesperson Abhay Vartak said: “We can’t comment until we see the chargesheet. However, we have trust in the judiciary and respect the judicial process.” Another top Sanatan official said that nowhere in the chargesheet had the NIA named it as a conspirator. The chargesheet names 250 witnesses, who are likely to be examined by the local court during the trial.
The NIA chargesheet said that the sanstha is an organization showing extreme interest in matters of the Hindu religion and that it organizes marshall training in their property at Damshe-Valpoi. It also points out that ten of the accused used a building owned by Laxmikant Naik, another brother of Yogesh Naik to conspire, assemble the IEDs and for blast meetings. The hillock behind Naik’s house at Talaulim-Ponda was used to test the IEDs prepared by using a gelatin stick on August 24 and 25, 2009. TNN AND AGENCIES
Hindu Terror Comes To Fore?
National Investigation Agency names 11 members of Hindu outfit Sanatan Sanstha as accused in Margao blast in 2009
Chargesheet running into about 3,000 pages also names two men who were killed in an accidental blast while ferrying explosives to Margao
Accused named are Vinay Talekar, Vinayak Patil, Dhananjay Ashtekar and Dilip Mangaonkar, all of whom are in jail Ashtekar is accused of rigging 12 detonator circuits in Pune, of which five were set aside for the Goa blast. Test IED was prepared with gelatin sticks and exploded in the jungles adjoining Talaulim village on August 24-25, 2009 Accused charged with criminal conspiracy, waging war against state, mischief and under explosives act and UAPA

LENS ON SANATAN SANSTHA
Set up in 1990 by Jayant Bal Athavale with the blessings of Bhaktaraj Maharaj, the outfit aimes at spreading scientific outlook on spirituality
With a chain of centres in India and abroad, the organization
conducts discourses, rallies and campaigns to “create awareness of righteousness”
Several parties have sought a ban on the outfit, whose name has surfaced in many attacks and is linked to Malegaon blast accused Sadhvi Pragya Thakur


The Times of India, May 18, 2010

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Two arrested for assault, kidnap

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: The Byculla police on Saturday arrested two persons for allegedly assaulting and kidnapping a 50-year-old real estate agent while he had gone to offer prayers at a cemetery for one of his deceased relatives. The victim, Haseem Bhattacharya, was rescued by the police.

The accused have been identified as Imran Patel (28) and Fareeda Shaikh (32). Bhattacharya had gone to offer prayers to Nariyalwadi Muslim Cemetery along with a relative around 6.45 am on Friday when the accused allegedly assaulted him. “The accused then
forced Bhattacharya into a cab and took him to another place and demanded money from him,’’ said the police. The accused told the police that Bhattacharya’s relative, Akhtari, who died a few days ago, owed them Rs 15 lakh and they wanted Bhattacharya to pay up.

Saima Ansari, the daughter of Akhtari, said, “Bhattacharya had gone to the cemetery with my brother Shoaib when the accused intercepted. They first beat up Shoaib and then kidnapped Bhattacharya.’’

She alleged that the accused demanded Rs 2 crore from Bhattacharya and even stole important property documents. “They took me to Dongri, tore my clothes and abused me. The police were not keen on taking down the complaint,’’ she added.

The Times of India, May 16, 2010

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Cyber sleuths will alert common man



Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: After a three-year break, the city police and Nasscom have organised a Cyber Safety Week from May 24 to May 28. During this period, sleuths from the cyber crime investigation cell (CCIC) will visit housing societies to create awareness amongst residents about unsecured WiFi network and misuse of computers.

The Mumbai police was handed over around 598 complaints of cyber crime in 2008 and 553 in 2009.


Police commissioner D Sivanandhan on Friday stated that the programme began in 2003 and continued till 2006, but after a break of three years, the police was ready to celebrate cyber safety week this month. “The terror organisation, Indian Mujahideen, on two occasions used the unsecured WiFi network and sent terror emails. Our intention is to make the net users about the misuse of such equipments. Our personnel will conduct lec
tures, discussions and programmes for the masses,’’ said the police chief. The other partner in the programme is Data Security Council of India and it will be supported by the ministry of information technology.

The programme will include
a discussion amongst doctors, professionals and policemen, use of technology in data mining, analysis and integration for use in financial fraud investigation, interactive kiosks, what Mumbai thinks of cyber crime, cyber safety for social and corporate citizens, cyber terrorism, e-commerce security for travel industry and so on. These programmes will be organised at the Bombay Stock Exchange, police gymkhana, housing societies, various malls, Azad Maidan police hall, Welingkar’s Institute of Management and Y B Chavan auditorium.

Vijay Mukhi of Nasscom said, “Our target is reaching out to the younger generation and informing them about the do’s and don’ts of computers.”


The Times of India, May 15, 2010

Friday, May 14, 2010

Chargesheet in Azmi case runs into 1,220 pages


Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: The crime branch on Thursday filed a 1,220-page chargesheet against the killers of advocate Shahid Azmi. The chargesheet, which stated that six accused are yet to
be arrested, was filed before a special Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) court.

Advocate Azmi (32) was shot dead at his Kurla Taximen’s colony office on February 11. At the time of his death, he was handling
around 120 terror suspects across the country. Azmi was also representing an accused, Faheem Ansari (now acquitted), in the 26/11 trial.

The chargesheet mentioned 95 witnesses, including three eyewitnesses. The crime branch on February 16 had said that Azmi was a victim of rivalry between gangster Chhota Rajan and his ex-aide Bharat Nepali. Nepali reportedly gave a supari of Rs 1 lakh to three shooters to gun down Azmi as he was defending a terror accused.

Among the four arrested was a 32-year-old software professional, Vinod Yashwant Vichare, who was employed as a supervisor with a data processing firm at Nariman Point. The other arrested accused were identified as Devendra Baburao Jagtap alias JD (28), Pinto Devram Dagle (25) and Hashmukh Shankar Solanki alias Rohit (30). Police said that Nepali wanted to gain publicity by killing Azmi. Jagtap and Dagle were the shooters in the case.

Two 7.62 mm pistols, a revolver and three cellphones were recovered from the accused. They were booked under the MCOCA.


The Times of India, May 14, 2010

Pradeep Sharma ‘aide’ Suryavanshi’s bail plea rejected

GUPTA ENCOUNTER CASE

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: A sessions court on Thursday rejected the bail applications of suspended senior police inspector Pradeep Suryavanshi and three others in the Ramnarayan Gupta encounter case. Suryavanshi and five other police officers have been arrested for allegedly killing Gupta in a fake encounter at Andheri in November 2006.

The six arrested police officers include erstwhile encounter specialist Pradeep Sharma. Sharma too has sought bail and the court has reserved the order on his application.

The encounter team had alleged that Gup
ta was a close aide of gangster Chhota Rajan and working on behalf of the fugitive don. Gupta’s brother, advocate R V Gupta, after the encounter, moved the Bombay high court, stating that the encounter was staged and that he had informed the then police commissioner and other police officials through fax that Gupta was picked up by the police. The high court then asked the state to set up a special investigation team (SIT) to probe the matter.

Court also rejected the bail applications of Shailendra Pande, Aqueel Khan and Mannu Mohan Raj. According to Gupta’s brother, the three were Pradip Sharma’s informers who picked up his brother on the day of alleged fake encounter and handed him over to Sharma’s team.

The Times of India, May 14, 2010

Pradeep Sharma ‘aide’ Suryavanshi’s bail plea rejected

GUPTA ENCOUNTER CASE

Pradeep Sharma ‘aide’ Suryavanshi’s bail plea rejected

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: A sessions court on Thursday rejected the bail applications of suspended senior police inspector Pradeep Suryavanshi and three others in the Ramnarayan Gupta encounter case. Suryavanshi and five other police officers have been arrested for allegedly killing Gupta in a fake encounter at Andheri in November 2006.

The six arrested police officers include erstwhile encounter specialist Pradeep Sharma. Sharma too has sought bail and the court has reserved the order on his application.

The encounter team had alleged that Gup
ta was a close aide of gangster Chhota Rajan and working on behalf of the fugitive don. Gupta’s brother, advocate R V Gupta, after the encounter, moved the Bombay high court, stating that the encounter was staged and that he had informed the then police commissioner and other police officials through fax that Gupta was picked up by the police. The high court then asked the state to set up a special investigation team (SIT) to probe the matter.

Court also rejected the bail applications of Shailendra Pande, Aqueel Khan and Mannu Mohan Raj. According to Gupta’s brother, the three were Pradip Sharma’s informers who picked up his brother on the day of alleged fake encounter and handed him over to Sharma’s team.

The Times of India, May 14, 2010

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Lt Col received awards for military stints



CHILD PORN CASE

Gets Bail After Six Days

Mateen Hafeez I TNN

Mumbai: Indian Army’s Lieutenant Colonel Jagmohan Singh, arrested for downloading child pornography videos and uploading them on a German website, had been awarded thrice for participating in various military operations during his stint in Punjab, Arunachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir.

Singh (42), who originally belongs to Mohali in Chandigarh, was posted in Western

Command in Mumbai at the time of his arrest on May 6. He was granted bail on Wednesday on a personal bond of Rs 25,000. Singh, who worked in army’s supply and transport section in the military was arrested by the cyber crime investigation cell (CCIC) of the city crime branch. The police seized two hard disks of 80 GB each, full of child pornographic material.

“Singh was considered to be a good officer among his col
leagues. He is also said to be disciplined and hard working,’’ said a source. The army has sought the details of Singh’s case from the city police,so that an inquiry under the Army Act could be initiated against him. “While he was posted in Arunachal Pradesh in 2001, he was conferred with a medal for participating in Operation Rhino (Oprhino). Oprhino was conducted during the Afghanistan war. In 2002, he was given a service medal and later the same year, Singh was again conferred with the OP Parakram medal during his stint at Jalandhar in Punjab,’’ said a source. OP Parakram was the longest Indo-Pak standoff operation after the December 13, 2001, Parliament attack.

After his posting in Punjab, Singh was transferred to Jammu and Kashmir in 2002,where he served for the next three years. “During this tenure, Singh was conferred with another medal—Operation Rakshak in 2005,’’the source added.

Singh was posted in Jammu and Kashmir after the Kargil war when most of the armed forces were deployed on the border. A commerce graduate, Singh joined the Indian Military Academy in 1989 as second lieutenant. This is not the first time an armyman has been arrested in connection with a cyber crime. Earlier, in 2005,the cyber crime police had picked up retired Major Ramesh Upaddhyay for uploading a Mumbai-based woman’s profile on the net claiming that she was a call girl.

If convicted, Singh faces maximum seven years in jail and a fine of Rs 10 lakh.


The Times of India, May 13, 2010

State ATS team grills Ajmer blast suspects

RAJASTHAN VISIT ‘FRUITFUL’

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: A Maharashtra antiterrorism squad (ATS) team has returned from Rajasthan after questioning the four suspects arrested for the Ajmer shrine blast. The ATS visited Rajasthan to ascertain if the arrested had any links with the 2008 Malegaon blast. While the ATS team termed the visit as “fruitful,’’ a decision on whether the Ajmer blast accused would be brought to Mumbai is yet to be taken.

The Rajasthan ATS on April 28 arrested a Rashtriya Swaymsevak Sangh (RSS) member, Devendra Gupta, for his alleged role in the Ajmer blast case. Three others were arrested by the Rajasthan police. Soon after, the Maharashtra police learned that Gupta knew Male
gaon blast accused, Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur. “Our team questioned the suspects in Rajasthan and we have got the report. A decision on whether to bring the suspect to Maharshtra or not is yet to be taken,’’ said an officer.

A source said the ATS team
questioned Gupta and his associates about their relationship with Thakur and how many times they spoke to each other. The state ATS has not made any arrests since November 2008. It has now emerged that slain RSS member Sunil Joshi, who is also said to be Thakur’s boyfriend, had introduced Gupta to her.

The Times of India, May 13, 2010

Mulund blast accused was paid Rs 4 lakh for operation

USED THE MONEY TO SET UP BIZ

Mateen Hafeez I TNN

Mumbai: Mulund blast accused, Wajhul Qamar Khan alias Murtuza Chaudhry alias Babu Bhai (44), was paid the maximum amount of Rs 4 lakh to engineer the 2003 train blast, which killed 11 people and left 82 injured. Khan was paid the entire amount before the blast. He later used this money to set up his own business.

According to anti-terrorism squad chief, Rakesh Maria, Khan was arrested on May 10 from LBS Marg in Kurla. There were reports that Khan had an account in the State Bank of India. Between February 2002 and March 2003, money was deposited in
Khan’s account four times. “However, he told his mentors that he had used it for terror purpose only,’’ an officer said. Khan will remain in police custody till May 20.

Investigators said that after the blast on March 13, 2002, Khan fled to Uttar Pradesh and then to Madhya Pradesh. “He started an embroidery unit in Dharavi in 2006 and currently stays in Thane with his wife and five children,’’ said Maria. He stated that a Pota court had issued a non-bailable warrant against Khan. “He has five employees working in his shop. It is difficult to believe that such a workaholic man took part in a bomb blast conspiracy. However, we are gathering evidence against him,’’ said an officer.


Khan was not the only suspect to be paid money for the blast. Maria, while probing the Mulund blast case as additional commissioner of police in 2003, had said that all the members of this group were paid between Rs 5,000 and Rs 50,000 for “various jobs’’.

The Times of India, May 13, 2010

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Lt Col will not be extradited to Germany: Cops

CHILD PORN CASE

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: Indian Army’s Lieutenant Colonel Jagmohan Singh, arrested for downloading child pornography videos and uploading them to a German website, would not be extradited to Germany, said the Mumbai police on Tuesday.

Singh (42), who worked in Indian Army’s supply and transport section at the Western Command in Mumbai, was arrested from his residence on May 6 by the cyber crime investigation cell (CCIC) of the city crime branch. The police seized two hard disks of 80 GB

each, full of pornographic material involving children and animals. He has been remanded in police custody till May 12.

“The German Federad Police first noticed that pornographic material was being uploaded to the German website. They inquired and found that the Internet Protocol (IP) address belonged to India and they sent a request to investigate the case. A case was registered in Germany too,’’ said a senior police official. Singh, the father of two teenaged children, stayed in Colaba with his wife.

“We have not received any request through Interpol to ex
tradite Singh to Germany. Before arresting him here, we registered an offence. He cannot be arrested twice for one offence,’’ an officer said. India and Germany have an extradition treaty.

A commerce graduate, Singh joined the Indian Military Academy in 1989 as second lieutenant. This is not the first time an army man has been arrested in connection with a cyber crime. Earlier, in 2005, the cyber crime police had picked up retired major Ramesh Upaddhyay for uploading a Mumbai-based woman’s profile on the net claiming that she was a call girl.

Police officials working on this case were surprised after seeing the porn clips saved by Singh. “It took several days to scan and download all the videos saved by him,’’ the official said.


Singh, who is attached with the Western Command of the army that covers Maharashtra and Gujarat, has been booked under Information Technology Act 2000. If convicted, he faces maximum seven years in jail and a fine of Rs 10 lakh.

Hailing from Mohali in Chandigarh, Singh had joined the army as he was inspired by his father. He had been posted twice in J&K and had also served in Ulfa-controlled areas in Assam. He started surfing child porn while he was posted in Assam.

The Times of India, May 11, 2010

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

ATS nabs key Mulund blast conspirator


Mateen Hafeez I TNN

Mumbai: Seven years after a bomb ripped through the first class ladies’ compartment of a local train at the Mulund station in 2003, killing 11 and injuring 82, the anti-terrorism squad (ATS) claimed to have arrested a key conspirator.

The arrested person is alleged to have been a close associate of Indian Mujahideen’s key operative Iqbal Bhatkal and his brother Riyaz Bhatkal.

The suspect was identified as Wajhul Qamar Khan alias Murtuza Chaudhry alias Babu Bhai (44), a resident of Wagle Estate in Thane. He is the 17th person to be arrested in the Mulund blast case. “We arrested Khan from LBS Marg in Kurla. We have also recovered a 7.65-mm pistol from him. He had taken part in the conspiracy of Mulund blast, Vile Parle blast and the explosion at a McDonald’s unit at Mumbai Central. Khan was present at all times—from as
sembling the bombs to transporting them,’’ claimed ATS chief Rakesh Maria.

The police have clubbed the three blasts cases—Mulund, Vile Parle and Mumbai Central. Sixteen persons were arrested, including SIMI member Saquib Nachan, civil engineer Muzammil Ansari and Sikandar Hayat who is said to be associated with Aftab Ansari, a suspect in the attack on the American Centre in Kolkata.

An ATS team, led by inspector Rajan Ghule, Anil Hunrao and Prakash Patil had received information that Khan would be coming to LBS Marg in Kurla. “Khan is a martial arts champion and used to run a karate class in Kurla as well.But for the last three years, he had been running an embroidery unit in Dharavi,’’ added an officer. “He had taken part in the conspiracy, was present during the bomb-making process and helped transport them to the target sites,’’ said Maria.


According to police, after the blast, Khan fled to Uttar Pradesh and then to Madhya Pradesh. “He started an embroidery unit in Dharavi in 2006 and currently stays in Thane with his wife and five children,’’ said Maria. He stated that a Pota court had issued a non-bailable warrant against Khan.

There were reports that Khan had an account in SBI. From February 2002 to March 2003, money was deposited in Khan’s account four times. “He told his mentors that he had used it for terror purpose only,’’ an officer said. Khan has been sent to police custody till May 20.


The Times of India, May 11, 2010

Sunday, May 9, 2010

‘Lt Colonel started surfing child porn during Assam stint’

‘BOREDOM’ DROVE HIM TO CRIME

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: The 42-year-old Lieutenant Colonel of the Indian Army, Jagmohan Balbir Singh, arrested by the cyber crime investigation cell (CCIC) of the Mumbai Police on Thursday for allegedly uploading obscene pictures of children on the internet, told police that he started surfing child pornography and video clippings during his posting in Assam in 2007.

“I was frustrated and started collecting CDs of chi
ld porn movies,’’ Singh is learnt to have told the police.

“Several of my friends and I would watch porn movies during our posting in Assam; this fired my curiosity about child porn and I started downloading the same. I had no intention to harm anyone,’’ Singh told the police. Investigators have so far found around 250 such clippings on Singh’s hard disks. They are taking the help of computer experts and hackers to get the details of Singh’s comput
ers. The children in the clippings—as tagged in the titles—fall in the age group of three to 15 years.

Singh, who worked in the supply and transport wing of the army, was questioned for hours on Saturday. He will remain in police custody till May 12.

A commerce graduate, Singh joined the Indian Military Academy in 1989, and was awarded the nine-year service medal in 1998. Singh was just a few months from receiving the 21-year service medal.

After joining the military, Singh was posted in Agra as Second Lieutenant in 1990.
Later he worked in Bangalore, militancy affected areas in Jammu and Kashmir, Dhara in Madhya Pradesh, Gwalior, Bangalore military training centre, Arunachal Pradesh, Jalandhar in Punjab and various Ultra-affected divisions in Assam. He was posted as a Lieutenant Colonel in western command head quarters in Mumbai before he was arrested.

If convicted, Singh faces up to seven years in jail and a fine of Rs 10 lakh.


Cops probe if Lt Col posted porn for cash

Mumbai: Cyber crime investigation cell (CCIC) officials are now exploring if Lieutenant Colonel Jagamohan Singh published and transmitted child pornography on a German website for monetary gain.

Singh, attached to the Western command of the Indian Army, was arrested on Thursday.
Police officials have also taken Singh’s account number and will soon check his financial transactions. “We will be going through his bank records and monetary transactions soon,’’ said an official. “In some cases, money is paid by some websites for uploading such obscene images. We just want to find out if Singh was doing it for money or for pleasure,’’ an officer said.


Though Singh has admitted to his crime, the police are not taking any chances. “We are collecting the evidence to produce in court,’’ an official said, adding that Singh, who was not very tech-savvy, would commit the crime from his residence.

The Times of India, May 9, 2010

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Lt Col in cyber cop net for child porn




Mateen Hafeez and S Ahmed Ali | TNN

Mumbai: A 42-year-old lieutenant colonel of the Indian Army was arrested by the cyber crime investigation cell (CCIC) of the Mumbai police on Thursday for allegedly posting obscene pictures of children on an international web site.

The accused, Jagmohan Balbir Singh, who worked in the supply and transport wing of the army, has been remanded in police custody till May 12. A commerce graduate, Singh joined the Indian Military Academy in 1989 as second lieutenant.

The investigation had its origin in Germany. While probing a complaint against minor’s pornography in September, 2009, the German Federal Police found that the objectionable pictures were being uploaded from a computer the Internet Protocol (IP) address of which was in India. The German police alerted the Interpol, which through CBI, forwarded the case to the Mumbai police.

“We caught Singh downloading porn clippings red-handed as we entered Singh’s government flat at Namdar Manzil in Colaba. Eeven as we questioned him at his home for four and a half hours, the downloading continued. We have also taken printouts of the pictures so that we can use it as evidence in court,’’ said an officer.

The police claimed to have seized the hard disk of Singh’s personal computer, which contained lots of pornographic material, as well as his two cellphones that also had objectionable clippings. The children in the clippings—as tagged in the title—fall in the age group of three to 15 years. Singh, who is not very techsavvy, would commit this crime from his residence.

“Singh was acting difficult. To make him confess to the
crime, the police asked if his two sons were involved in the uploading and downloading of obscene clippings. Sacred that his sons would be implicated, Singh admitted that he was responsible for the crime,’’ said a source. During the interrogation, neither Singh’s wife nor his two sons came in the room. Singh told the police that he would download obscene clippings from various sites and then upload them on a specific site.

From one of the two hard disks, the cyber police have got 157 obscene clippings (files) and porn movies. The police will now obtain the mirror image of the two hard disks before it is sent for cyber analysis.

Singh, who is attached with the Western Command of the army that covers Maharashtra and Gujarat, has been booked under Information Technology Act 2000. If convicted, Singh can be sentenced to a maximum seven years in jail and also fined Rs 10 lakh.


Crime branch chief Himanshu Roy said, “He was not doing it for commercial purpose. We have secured his custody and will question him.’’ The police are also scanning Singh’s email account to check if he would send/receive such stuff to and from other persons.

Captain N Nambiar, chief public relation officer (Defence), said details were being ascertained from the police. “An application seeking his bail has been moved so that the case can be dealt with by the army authorities,’’ Nambiar said.

Originally from Mohali in Chandigarh, Singh had joined the army as he was inspired by his father who was also in the military. He had been posted twice in Jammu and Kashmir and Bangalore and had also served in Ulfa-controlled areas in Assasm.

Singh told the police that he had been on leave since June 2009 to complete his study on Labour Law.


Lost Innocence
Jagmohan Balbir Singh (42)
Designation | Lieutenant Colonel, Western Command (Maharashtra and Goa)
Crime | Singh allegedly uploaded and downloaded clippings of child pornography on internet sites
How was he caught | The German Federal Police alerted the Interpol about the case. The Interpol got in touch with the Indian agencies through CBI

Current status | Singh has been booked under Section 67 B of IT Act for publishing or transmitting material depicting children in sexually explicit act, etc, in electronic form

Anybody arrested under this Act can be sentenced to a maximum period of seven years in jail and fined up to Rs 10 lakh


The Times of India, May 8, 2010

Thursday, May 6, 2010

ATS knew of Purohit’s role in Hyd blast

Prasad Purohit


Mateen Hafeez I TNN

Mumbai: Investigations into the 2007 blast in Hyderabad’s Mecca Masjid are now pointing to the involvement of r i g h t - w i n g Hindu outfits. However, Mah a r a s h t r a anti-terrorism squad (ATS) had in November 2008 discovered the link between Lt Col. Prasad Purohit, an accused in the 2008 Malegaon blast, and the explosion in Hyderabad. The ATS officials were instructed to not make it public as the suspects belonging to the Harkat-ul-Jihad-e-Islami (HuJI) were already in jail for the Hyderabad blast, said senior police officials. The investigating agencies then believed that the same group was behind the Ajmer blast as well.

Purohit, during his interrogation, had told the ATS sleuths that he had provided the RDX used in the Mecca Masjid blast. A member of right-wing Hindu outfit Abhinav Bharat, Purohit is believed to have played a key role in the Ajmer blast as well. The Rajasthan ATS recently arrested two persons in
connection with the 2007 Ajmer shrine blast that killed three and injured 30.

The Rajasthan ATS is probing the links between the arrested suspects—Devendra Gupta and Chandra Shekhar—
and Abhinav Bharat members held in connection with the 2008 Malegaon blast. Gupta is said to be a member of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).

The 350-year-old Mecca mosque was built by Mughal emperor Aurangzeb. A blast triggered through a mobile phone killed 12 persons on May 18, 2007. “The Maharashtra ATS had told the Hyderabad police about Purohit’s suspected involvement in the blast, but the Hyderabad police did not show interest in seeking Purohit’s custody,’’ said an officer who was part of Maharashtra ATS team that probed the Malegaon blast case. “We had also recovered RDX from Purohit’s Pune home. It was then that Purohit admitted to keeping RDX at his place,’’ the officer added.

It has now emerged that slain RSS member Sunil Joshi, who is also said to be Malegaon blast accused Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur’s boyfriend, had introduced Gupta to Thakur. The sadhvi, currently in a Nashik jail, had floated Jai Vande Matram Kalyani Samiti in 2007.

Soon after the Mecca Masjid blast, the Hyderabad police had arrested four Muslim boys, including an MBA. All the four were acquitted by a Hyderabad court. The Maharashtra ATS had submitted a CD in the court which allegedly showed Purohit saying that his group had executed two more operations in the country. Sleuths believe that Purohit was referring to the blasts in Ajmer and Hyderabad.


The Times of India, May 6, 2010

Kasab reads book on Tipu Sultan’s life before D-Day




Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: As guards monitored Ajmal Amir Kasab’s special cell at Arthur Road Jail through close-circuit television cameras on Wednesday, they could help but wonder what was going through the mind of the 23-year-old terrorist who will be sentenced today. Kasab was found guilty on 80 counts for the role he played during the 26/11 terror strike in
Mumbai.


Clad in a kurta and pair of trousers, Kasab did not seem to be overly disturbed or worried about his fate, said an official, adding that he spent the better part of Wednesday reading the book, ‘Aur Talwar Toot Gayee’ (And the Sword is Broken) by Pakistani author Sharif Husain, who wrote under the pseudonym Naseem Hijazi.

Hijazi, who was born at Wazirabad in Pre-Partition India, spent the better part of his life in Pakistan, and passed away in 1996. ‘Aur talwar...’ is set in the time of Tipu Sultan, where the protagonist, Muazzam Ali, finds success in Tipu’s fight against the East India Company. It also delves into Tipu Sultan’s life and his betrayal by the people he was close to.


According to officials, Kasab had demanded a few specific books, which had been provided to him. “He has kept this particular book in his cell all through the trial, and reads it from time to time,’’ an official said. At no point did Kasab engage in conversation with the guards posted outside his cell. “At times, he would just sit still, as if he was thinking deeply about something. He is very reserved,’’ the official added. Guards have been forbidden from talking to Kasab unless it is an emergency.


The Times of India, May 6, 2010

‘Truth serum’ crucial in most terror probes

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: The ‘truth serum’ has made many a terror accused reveal more than what he ever intended to, breathing breakthroughs into dead-ends. But the Supreme Court order making narco-analysis unconstitutional may leave investigators literally at their wits’ end, as they find themselves up against terrorists trained to resist most forms of interrogation.

The anti-terrorism squad (ATS) had regularly used narco
tests to build watertight cases. The April 6, 2006, Nanded bomb blasts, where narco tests helped establish the ‘larger conspiracy’, is a case in point. Police say the tests help them avoid using the third degree. Others however caution that “you cannot take everything the accused speaks during this test since his mind is not in his control and he may go on speaking irrelevant things.’’

Narco-analysis is a scientific procedure to obtain information
from an individual in a natural sleep-like state induced by intravenously administering the injection thiopentone, also known as ‘truth serum,’ in the operation theatre. The individual then has little control over his mind andreplies to the questions in a semiconscious state.

Narco-analysis again came in handy for the ATS during the 7/11 probe. It conducted the tests on most of the blast suspects, gleaning important information, even though the test results cannot be
used as evidence in court. The 2006 Malegaon blast accused were also subjected to narco-analysis and the ATS claimed it helped unearth a larger conspiracy. Again, the 2008 Malegaon blast suspects including Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur and Lt. Col. Prasad Purohit were also subjected to narco tests, though at one poin the ATS stated Purohit had lied during the narco tests.

The last accused in a terror case to be subjected to a narco test was suspected Indian Mujahideen
operative Sadiq Shaikh. The crime branch insisted Shaikh was behind 7/11 too. However, the ATS put him to the narco test and claimed he had “nothing to do with the 7/11 blasts.’’

While police have increasingly used the test as an investigative tool, defence lawyers have been arguing that it violates Article 20 (3) of the Constitution that says an accused cannot be forced to be a witness against himself. The courts, though, have held that Article 20 (3) is not absolute.

The Times of India, May 6, 2010

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

It is an honourable acquittal, says Faheem Ansari’s wife

Faheem Ansari's wife, Yasmin


Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: Faheem Ansari’s acquittal in the 26/11 case has come as a breather for his grass widow. “On the morning of November 11, I met Ansari for the first time after his arrest (in the CRPF attack case). We met him in a Rampur jail. The next morning, when we were heading for Lucknow in the train, we learnt about the terror attack in Mumbai,’’ said Ansari’s 32-year-old wife, Yasmin.

Shortly before heading to meet him in prison on Tuesday afternoon, Yasmin was bracing herself to face another spell alone for he would be taken to Rampur in connection in the case involving the attack on the CRPF camp.

The 26/11 morning was not unusual for her. “I was meet
ing my husband on that morning after eight months of his arrest,’’ she said, adding that she met him for a second time when he was brought to Mumbai in connection with the terror attack. “Ansari told me that the policemen were saying he will not be arrested in the Mumbai terror attack case.’’

Yasmin rises to her husband’s defence as soon as it is pointed out that Judge Tahaliyani discharged Faheem Ans
ari merely for lack of evidence. “In my eyes, it is an honourable acquittal because even the evidence that was found on him was planted by the crime branch police. Why didn’t they accuse him of providing maps to the attackers at the first instance instead of waiting for the fourth or fifth remand?’’ asks Yasmin holding her dupatta over her mouth for the most part of the conversation given the presence of male journalists.

Apart from the odd grouse over policewomen unbraiding her hair for security reasons, Yasmin does not allege mistreatment by the authorities.

Yasmin, who lives in Goregaon, is currently staying with her parents at their BIT chawl home in Mominpura, a floor above the residence of Dr Tanveer Ansari who was implicated for his involvement in the 7/11 serial train blasts, in the building opposite that of Dr Jalees Ansari, another terror convict. “I must say my neighbours have been a strong source of support,’’ says Yasmin. “I would sometimes stitch clothes to supplement the family income.” However, the non-Muslim clientele who provided contracts to her husband’s envelope-making workshop shied away.


The Times of India, May 5, 2010

12 held for supplying fake certs to seafarers

IN THE DOCK

Mateen Hafeez I TNN

Mumbai: The Yellowgate police arrested 12 persons and busted a fake Continuous Discharge Certificate (CDC), an identity document for seafarers. The group would charge between Rs 50,000 and Rs 60,000 for a fake CDC.

Immigration authorities, while verifying CDCs issued to sailors aboard Uniglory Ship, detected a fraud in January this year when came across some fake certificates. They alerted the Yellowgate police, who arrested Binit Pawar. “After sustained interrogation, Pawar spilled the beans on other agents, print
ers and suppliers involved in the racket,” said R K Padmanabhan, additional commissioner of police.

Among those arrested, Anil Rajput, a printer by profession, is said to be the mastermind. According to the police, he has been involved in the scam since 1994.

CDC is issued by the Ministry of Shipping through the Directorate General of Shipping to those who have cleared the pre-sea test and the Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (or STCW) exam from an authorised institution.

The police are now planning to meet shipping officials to prevent such rackets. “We will suggest that the CDC bear the expiry date,’’ said Padmanabhan. “It has been found that many people also used fake CDCs to travel abroad illegally’’ said Padmanabhan.

The Times of India, May 5, 2010

State has learnt lessons in security

Post 26/11, Govt Invested In Intelligence, Arms & Training

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: The Maharashtra police appears to have learnt some lessons from the 26/11 terror strike.

Soon after the attack, which was termed as an intelligence failure, the state government, for instance, announced an examination to recruit personnel for a dedicated intelligence wing in the state police.

In 2009, the Maharashtra Public Service Commission (MPSC), which conducts examination for recruiting police personnel, inducted 950 police personnel for the state intelligence department (SID). Their primary task involves intelligence gathering across Maharashtra.

Before this drive, the SID had only one thousand personnel across the state, a number which was grossly inadequate for the state’s population of 10 crores.

“The recruits have been asked to learn at least one foreign or a state language other than English and Marathi,’’ revealed an official from the security forces.


Before the 26/11 attacks, the Intelligence Bureau had received information about 35 mobile SIM cards which were sent to Pakistan in 2008. It, however, could not monitor these numbers — four of which were used by the 10 Pakistani terrorists during the attacks.

In order to avoid such serious lapses, a senior police officer said that recently, another plan for an intelligence coordination system has been introduced in the city. “In every police sta
tion, a policeman has been entrusted with the job of coordinating with the anti-terrorism squad (ATS) and the crime branch in terms of getting inputs about terror-related cases.’’

Earlier, few policemen would practise firing at a firing range. Post 26/11, though, the policemen from all the 90 police stations, specialised branches, side branches, protection unit and armed forces are regularly sent for firing practice. The older weapons have been replaced with advanced and sophisticated ones. The city police purchased an arms and explosive detecting vehicle, fire-proof vehicles and is in the process of purchasing a robot which could fight terrorists at such places where entry for policemen may be difficult.

“Post 26/11, the city police has formed a quick response team (QRT) squad in all the five regions and mock drills are being conducted on a regular basis so that they get familiarised with the areas and reach in the shortest time in case there is an untoward incident,’’ said the officer.

TERROR BOAT: The seized dinghy used by the terrorists kept at the Cuffe Parade police station

The Times of India, May 5, 2010

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Acquittal is our victory, says Faheem’s wife


JUBILANT: Faheem Ansari’s wife Yasmin and his brother at the Jamiat-ul-Ulema office on Monday. (Left) Sabauddin Ahmed’s lawyer Ejaz Naqvi


Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: “The crime branch’s tall claims have fallen short,’’ said Yasmin Ansari, wife of Faheem Ansari, who was acquitted of all charges in the 26/11 trial on Monday. Yasmin was speaking at the Bhendi Bazaar office of the Jamiat-ul-Ulema, a socio-religious organisation.

After judge M L Tahaliyani acquitted Faheem of all charges, Yasmin reiterated her earlier statement that her 35-year-old husband had been falsely implicated in the case. Yasmin added, “I am relieved now. We were right to have faith in the judiciary, because the court was fair and did not buy the police theory about my husband’s involvement.’’

Faheem had been in the custody of the Uttar Pradesh police at the time of 26/11 terror attack in November 2008. The crime branch, then headed by Rakesh Maria, arrested him on charges of conspiracy and preparing maps of targeted sites. Along with Ansari, a Bihar youth, Sabauddin Ahmed Shaikh, was also arrested. Both were acquitted on Monday.

Yasmin said she got up at around 4am on Monday and offered Tahajjud Namaz (a pre-dawn prayer) for her husband. The mother of eight-year-old Iqra, Yasmin has consistently been following the 26/11 trial since the beginning in April 2009.

“The acquittal is our victory. The credit goes to Shahid Azmi and the Jamiat-ul-Ulema, who helped us at every stage of the trial,’’ said a jubilant Yasmin. Faheem’s first defence lawyer Shahid was killed in an unrelated case during the trial and his brother Khalid had to take over the case.


Yasmin would attend the court hearings in burqa and befriended several journalists during that time. “While the police were lying all these days, our friends and family stood by us during this crisis,’’ she added.

Yasmin would coordinate with lawyers, discuss the case with the legal cell of the Jamiat, take care of her
family and help her daughter study. She would get help in the court case from Ansari’s elder brother, Usman.

Yasmin alleged, “When we asked the police why Ansari had been arrested, they said there was media pressure on them to act.’’

Recalling the days after Ansari was arrested, Yasmin said, “We met several lawyers but they said that the case was very sensitive and there was no chance of Ansari being acquitted or discharged. Some of them were ready to take the case, but demanded huge amounts of money, which we couldn’t pay. Shahid was the first person who said Ansari had been framed and would be acquitted.’’
mateen.hafeez@timesgroup.com
Advocate Ejaz Naavi
The Times of India, May 4, 2010

Monday, May 3, 2010

Maha ATS team to grill Ajmer blast suspects

MALEGAON BLAST CASE

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: A Maharashtra ATS team has left for Rajasthan to interrogate the three right-wing suspects caught for their alleged role in the 2007 Ajmer shrine blast. The ATS is probing the links between the arrested trio—Devendra Gupta, Chandra Shekhar and Vishnu Prasad—and Abhinav Bharat members held in connection with the 2008 Malegaon blast. Gupta is said to be a RSS member.

According to the Rajasthan ATS, the trio used a mobile phone to trigger a bomb at the 800-year-old shrine in Ajmer on October 11, 2007. Initially, the Ajmer police had claimed that Bangladesh’s banned outfit Harkat-ul-Jihad-e-Islami (HuJI) was behind the blast.

Maharashtra textile and minority affairs minister Arif Naseem Khan said, “I have spoken to the ATS chief Rakesh

Maria and he is sending his teams to question the suspects in Ajmer. The suspects could have links with Abhinav Bharat members, 11 of whom are lodged in our jails.’’ Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur and Lt Col Prasad Purohit are among those arrested for their alleged roles in the Malegaon blast.

The Maharashtra ATS had submitted a video CD in which Lt Col Prasad Purohit can allegedly be seen saying that his group had executed two more operations in the country. Sleuths believe that Purohit was referring to the blasts in Ajmer shrine and Hyderabad’s Mecca mosque. “The Hyderabad police had announced the name of HuJI man as a suspect in the Mecca mosque blast. It was for this reason that other security agencies kept quiet on Purohit’s role in the Hyderabad blast,’’ said a source in the ATS.

The Times of India, May 3, 2010

Wary chawl irked by Ansari spotlight



Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: Residents of Batatawala chawl near Grant Road railway station are wary of Monday. That it is judgment day for the 26/11 accused is of little consequence to them. What bothers them is that irrespective of the verdict, their chawl will be in unwanted spotlight. For it was here that Mumbai-based 26/11 suspect Faheem Ansari is accused of renting a flat, an infamy that returns time and again to haunt the otherwise nondescript two-storey chawl.

The crime branch claimed that Ansari was initially hunting for a room near Badhwar Park at Cuffe Parade but when he did not get any, he rented one in this congested chawl to store arms and ammunition. Ansari is accused of drawing maps of some of the sites targetted during 26/11 by
the Pakistani terrorists.

This correspondent’s enquiries at the chawl about room number 14 and its infamous former occupant drew the attention of a group of youths chatting nearby. “Who is Ansari? Is he an MLA that we should remember him?’’ asked
one, even as two others asked him who was Ansari. “That terrorist caught along with Kasab,’’ the first replied. The conversation drew the attention of several others around. “Ansari never stayed here. You go back,’’ they cautioned. “The room which Ansari had rented is locked. The landlord is fed up with these things and she has gone to Kolhapur,’’ said another youth, refusing to let this correspondent even enter the chawl.

The residents’ fear is not without reason. The 60-year-old chawl made headlines several years ago when a woman was killed there.

Within a couple of minutes, several other boys gathered on the spot and started abusing Ansari and the media, resisting attempts to take photographs of the room where Ansari stayed. “Why are you people defaming our chawl? Why don’t you go to Ansari’s Goregaon residence and enquire there?’’ a resident said. Another was more vocal: “Why doesn’t the media understand these things? You people write anything about our chawl. What does this chawl have to do with Ansari?’’


The Times of India, May 3, 2010

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Jail turns fortress ahead of 26/11 verdict




Mateen Hafeez I TNN

Mumbai: The city police is leaving no stone unturned to ensure that no untoward incident takes place on May 3—the day of final judgment. With the special court conducting 26/11 trial all set to pronounce its verdict on Monday, security in and around the high-security cell housing Pakistani gunman Ajmal Kasab has been stepped up.

For the last one-and-a-half year, Kasab (22)—the lone 26/11 terrorist to be captured alive—has been lodged at the Arthur Road jail. “We have received some intelligence alerts, but they are not specific,’’ said a senior police official. While one can see the deployment
of Indo-Tibetan Boarder Police (ITBP) around the Arthur Road jail, the security for the judgment day will be increased, confirmed the official.

Restrictions were imposed on the movement of traffic around the jail after Kasab was moved there. “We have no special plan to stop traffic on the same route on Monday, but we are analysing the situation,’’ said the official.

Commandos from the Quick Response Team (QRT) have been deployed around all the four walls of the prison and local are being frisked regularly. Cops from the N M Joshi Marg, Byculla and several other police stations as well as personnel from the armed forces are on round-the-clock bandobast duty outside the jail. “Maintaining law and order is top priority. The whole wold would be watching the trial,’’ said the official.


The Times of India, May 1, 2010