Wednesday, June 30, 2010

‘Is sporting a beard in the city a crime?’


Civil Engineer Mohammed Saleem who was detained by the police


Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: A 42-year-old Muslim civil engineer was on Monday bundled off to a police station, detained and grilled about his identity for over four hours and then let off with an advice not to sport “such a long beard’’. He was picked up for his “suspicious movement’’ in front of the Israeli consulate.

Mohammad Saleem not only had to spend more than four hours at the police station and take two havaldars to his residence by taxi—to get his identity proof documents—and treat them to soft drinks and tea, but also answer “extremely humiliating’’ questions.

Saleem, working for a pri
vate construction firm, had gone to the Earnest House I-T office to submit some files on his employer’s behalf. He finished his work and came out of the building and was looking up some numbers on his new cellphone when his troubles started. Saleem did not know that the neighbouring building housed the Israeli consulate. “I was checking my new phone when a person came up to me and asked me who I was. He was joined by others who took me back to the I-T office to check if what I had said was true,’’ he added.

It was only later that he realised that the persons who had got hold of him were from the Israeli consulate. “An Israeli, too, was there and security staff took my cellphone to check if I had clicked any photographs,’’ Saleem said.

But, despite nothing amiss being found, the security staff called up the Marine Drive
cops, who took Saleem to the police station. It was here that Saleem learnt that sporting “such a long beard’’ in the vicinity of the Israeli consulate was something that could land an Indian citizen in trouble.

“I repeatedly requested the policemen to allow me to make a call, but they did not pay any heed to my request. They recorded my statement, took my residential address, my office address and then allowed me to make one call to my employer who spoke to the cops on my behalf,’’ Saleem added. “What was more of
fensive was that an official from the Israeli consulate and a security guard abused me in front of the police officers,’’ he said.

Israeli consulate-general Orna Sagiv was in Bangalore and said she did not know of the case. “The cops will possibly be able to give you more details,’’ she added.

Two cops then took Saleem to his residence in a cab to check if he really stayed in Mumbai and it was only after they returned to the police station and gave him a clean chit that he was allowed
to leave.

Additional police commissioner R K Padmanabhan said, “If required, I will ask for an inquiry into it.’’

The Times of India, June 30, 2010

Bearded citizen ‘hounded’ near Israeli mission

Mateen Hafeez | TNN
Mumbai: Civil engineer Mohammed Saleem could not have imagined he would be humiliated because of his beard.

On Tuesday, the 42-year-old Muslim who works for a private construction company had gone to the Earnest House Income Tax office to submit some files. He came out and was looking at his cellphone, when he was bundled off to the Marine Drive police station for “suspicious movement’’ and grilled for hours, all on account of his long beard—and because the Israeli consulate is next door. The cops even accompanied him home to check his identity proof.

While at the police station, a constable told him: “Itna lamba dadhi rakhke udhar ghumne ki zaroorat kya hai? Udhar Israeli consulate hai.’’ P 2

The Times of India, June 30, 2010

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Aurangabad arms haul case: Trial resumes today



Mateen Hafeez I TNN

Mumbai: The trial in the Aurangabad arms haul case will resume on Tuesday, twoand-a-half years after it was stayed. The anti-terrorism squad (ATS), which had seized 43 kg of RDX, 50 hand grenades, 16 AK-47 rifles and 3,200 live bullets, disposed of the explosives at Ghatkopar Firing range on July 7, 2006. The trial will begin in the court of judge Y D Shinde.

The ATS, between May 8 and May 12, 2006, claimed to have seized a huge quantity of arms and ammunition from Chandaud, Aurangabad and various other places in the state. As many as 21 suspects are facing trial under the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) in this case.

ATS officials said that they destroyed the seized explosives only after taking permission from the court. “Officers of the ATS, bomb detection and disposal squad (BDDS) and panchas were present and the entire exercise was conducted after taking all relevant court orders,’’ said Rakesh Maria, ATS chief.

The trials of this case as
well as that of the 7/11 serial train blasts and the 2006 Malegaon blasts were stayed for two-and-a-half years after an accused challenged the constitutional validity of certain provisions of MCOCA. Zameer Latifur Rehman, an accused in the train blast case, had moved the Bombay high court contending that Section 2(e) of MCOCA, which deals with promoting insurgency, be struck down as the matter is covered under the Unlawful Activities Prevention (Amendment) Act. He said that Article 254 of the Constitution of India states that if there is any conflict between a state law and a central law, the latter will prevail. When the high court did not rule in his favour, Rehman appealed in the Supreme Court, which upheld the high court’s order. The apex court also directed that the trial in the case resume.

Gulzar Azmi, general secretary of Jamiat-ul-Uleama (the NGO has taken up cases of many accused in the arms haul case), in a press release stated that the Jamiat has nominated a group of advocates, including Sudeep Pasbhole, Perkash Shetti, Abdul Wahab Khan, R B Mokashi, Khalid Azmi, Denesh Patenkar and Amrish Solanke, to represent the accused.


Huge Catch
In May 2006, the ATS seized 43 kg of RDX, 50 hand grenades, 16 AK-47 rifles and 3,200 live bullets from Chandaud, Aurangabad and various other places in the state As many as 21 suspects are facing trial under the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) in this case The trial was stayed for twoand-a-half years after an accused challenged the constitutional validity of certain provisions of MCOCA The ATS disposed of the seized explosives on July 7, 2006


The Times of India, June 29, 2010

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Citizens panic as cops ‘search for terrorists’

COMBAT-READY: City police personnel and QRT commandos at Oberoi Mall in Goregaon on Saturday


Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: Traffic sign boards on Saturday urged citizens not to panic if, all of a sudden, they saw commandos taking position at vital installations across the city, hunting for ‘terrorists’. It was merely the city police personnel and the Quick Response Team (QRT) commandos hard at work during a series of mock drills at various locations.

On Saturday, the city police conducted mock drills at sensitive sites like the World Trade Centre in Cuffe Parade, Oberoi Mall in Goregaon, Siddhivinayak temple at Dadar and Andheri railway station.


The LED sign boards were flashing the message, “Mock drill is going in the city. No need to panic. Please cooperate’’. Joint police commissioner (Law and Order), Rajnish Seth, said there was no fresh terror threat to the city.

The Mumbai cops have managed to bring down their response time to an emergency call from the earlier 12-15 minutes to five-six minutes. Officials say the mock drills that they have been organising for the last several months have started yielding results. “We have succeeded in reducing the response time by more than half. During an attack, it is extremely important that security personnel, armed to the teeth, reach the spot in the shortest time. We have been working on that aspect,’’ a senior po
lice official said.

There was extensive nakabandi on all the main roads in the city. Citizens were seen calling up their friends, offices and relatives wanting to know if there was any “terror attack’’ in the city.

“I did not know about the mock drill. I saw a large number of policemen armed with their service weapons. It was only when I called home that I learnt about the mock drills in progress,’’ Amit Hindolkar, a student from Bandra said.

Traffic was affected by the nakabandis. All the major roads were jammed. Traffic cops were seen at all the major signals trying to streamline vehicular movement.

Explaining how a drill is conducted, an official said,
“A team gets a call from the control room, telling the personnel where the mock drill will be held. The team has to reach there within a stipulated time and, as soon it arrives at the spot, officials check if the personnel have the right communication equipment, arms and ammunition and bullet-proof jackets. However, there is no terrorist to fight but this exercise has helped the cops become alert, punctual and get familiar with the layouts of vital installations.’’

The mock drill teams comprise 50 to 75 personnel each and members are chosen from units like the QRT, the Delta Police, the bomb detection and disposal squad and the SRPF.


The Times of India, June 27, 2010

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Slum lord, brother-in-law held for possessing firearms

THE HAUL: Rakesh Maria and the ATS team display the seized firearms

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: A 64-year-old slum lord, Ali Hasan Quraishi, and his brother-in-law were arrested on Thursday evening for possessing around a dozen fire arms, including a sten gun. The suspects, said police, were trying to re-organise the Dawood Ibrahim gang in the city.

An anti-terrorism squad (ATS) team received a tip-off on Wednesday about a possible arms delivery on Thursday near Shreyas cinema in Ghatkopar West. Two joint teams led by inspector Ravindra Doiphode, assistant inspector Bhushan Belnekar and sub-inspector Sunil Mane led the trap and caught a 35-year-old auto driver, Nasir Ahmed Shaikh, who was carrying a bag. The police found seven pistols, a gun machine and 74 live cartridges in the bag. “Shaikh told us that he was to deliver this haul on the instructions of his brother in-law, Quraishi, a his
tory-sheeter. When we searched Quraishi’s residence in Jogeshwari, we found four more pistols and 29 live cartridges,’’ said ATS chief Rakesh Maria. All the weapons were country-made. It is still not clear whether the firearms were brought to the city for using in the gang wars. The two suspects were produced before the court and remanded to police custody till June 28.

Maria said that prima facie, the accused belong to the Dawood gang. “No link of terrorism has come to our knowledge so far. We are still questioning them,’’ he added. ATS officials said that Quraishi and his brother-in-law were trying to reorganise the Dawood-gang in the city. “They were in the process of recruiting new boys for the gang,’’ added Maria. However, he was tightlipped about how many boys were recruited in the gang so far. The Dawood gang was crippled in the past two decade during which over 100 members of the gang were shot down in police encounters.

An ATS source said that Quraishi is having nexus with the D-company since a long time. “He came in touch with the D-gang members in the jail for committing various offences,’’ said the officer. They added that Quraishi has been into crime since 1973.


The Times of India, June 26, 2010

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Actress’ email id hacked


Meghna Naidu


Mateen Hafeez I TNN

Mumbai: Actress Meghna Naidu, who shot to fame with the Kaliyon Ka Chaman video, has complained to the crime branch that her email account was hacked into on Tuesday. The hacker allegedly tried to malign her by telling her friends on chat that she was pregnant and abused three other actors.

Meghna told TOI that she got suspicious when some of her friends called her up to ask if she was chatting with them at a specific time. “A friend of mine said that he was taken aback when I abused three Bollywood actors on chat and even said that I was pregnant. However, my
friends soon realised that my account was hacked and informed me.’’ “The hacker chatted
through my account with three of my friends for two
hours. These friends are not from Bollywood,’’ she said.

Meghna approached the Cyber Crime Investigation Cell (CCIC) of the crime branch and
submitted an application. No FIR has been registered yet. “Three other email accounts, operated by her assistant Dale Bhagwagar, were also hacked into. She said the hacker had changed her password and she was unable to access her account,’’ said inspector Mukund Pawar, in-charge of the CCIC.

The CCIC has written to the US-based email service, asking the company to provide them details about the places this email ID was accessed from in the past few of days and the user’s Internet Protocol (IP) address. The CCIC has not received any response yet.


WHAT HAPPENED
Actress Meghna Naidu’s email account is hacked into. The hacker chats up her friends and allegedly tells them that Meghna is pregnant
Three other email accounts, operated by her assistant Dale Bhagwagar, are also hacked into
She claims the hacker changed her password and she was unable to access her account

WHAT THE POLICE WILL DO
After getting IP address details, the cops will contact the Internet Service Provider to get information about the person/user to whom the IP address is allotted
The cops will visit the place the IP address is traced to. They will instal a software in the computer to check if it was the one used to hack Meghna’s account. The cops may also take hard disk of Meghna’s PC


The Times of India, June 24, 2010

ATS points to Sanatan role in state blasts

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: Anti-terrorism squad chief Rakesh Maria on Tuesday said that members of Hindu hardline outfit, Sanatan Sanstha, were involved in the blast cases in Maharashtra. He said that the Sanstha had sought information about the involvement of Sanatan Prabhat in the blast case.

“We have given a reply that Sanatan Prabhat is not involved in the Malegaon blast case. But, the members of the Sanatan Sanstha are involved in other blast cases,’’ said Maria. ATS had arrested six persons, including two Sanatan Sanstha members, for their alleged role in Thane, Panvel and Vashi blasts of 2008. Sanatan members were agitating against a play, Aamhi Pachpute.


Sanatan Sanstha spokesperson, Abhay Vartak, recently told a press conference that the ATS had given a clean chit to Sanatan Sanstha. “The information was sought about Sanatan Prabhat and not Sanatan Sanstha. We have arrested members of the Sanstha in our cases.’’

The Times of India, June 24, 2010

‘Third victim may have been killed, then raped’

Mateen Hafeez & V Narayan | TNN

Mumbai: In another twist to the Nehru Nagar serial rapes and murders, investigators say the latest incident could be a case of homicidal paedophile necrophilia. They say preliminary forensic reports indicate the killer could have murdered the nineyear-old girl, Nusrat Shaikh, before raping her.

Shaikh had gone missing from outside her house in Kurla on June 6 around 6.30 pm. Her body was found in an empty house June 19. Incidentally, a poster looking for the missing girl had been put up on another house less than 20 metres away in the same lane. Initial reports showed she had been raped. “As per the primary report, it seems that the killer had killed the minor girl first and then raped the body,’’ said a senior police official.

The other two victims were raped and then murdered — in February it was five-year-old Saniya Shaikh and then in March the body of Anjali Jaiswal was found.

“The DNA in the first two cases show that it was the handiwork of one person. We are waiting for the DNA report of the third case and suspect that it could be the same psychopath,’’ the official said.

Shaikh’s father had identified her decomposed body that was found dumped on the mezzanine floor in a slum pocket in Vatsala Tai Nagar, Kurla (East).

“We feel that it is the handiwork of a youth from the same locality,’’ the official added.

The Times of India, June 24, 2010

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Hyd blast suspects wanted in Malegaon case, says CBI

STRONG LINKS

Mateen Hafeez I TNN

Mumbai: A clear link has emerged between the suspects of the Hyderabad Mecca Masjid bomb blast and those involved in the 2008 Malegaon blast. The CBI has arrested two persons for the Mecca mosque blast and says two more, Sandeep Dange and Ramji Kalangsara, are absconding. They are also wanted in the Malegaon blast, which killed six in September 2008.

TOI had earlier written about a link between the 2008 Malegaon blast, the Ajmer shrine blast and the Mecca Masjid blast case. Members of some saffron
hardline outfits have been arrested in these cases. The CBI has announced a reward of Rs 10 lakh each for giving information about the whereabouts of Dange and Kalangsara.

In the Malegaon blast case, Kalangsara has been
mentioned as the bomb planter by the police. Lieutenant colonel Prasad Purohit was arrested in this case. Dange is said to have helped in assembling the bomb and also attended several conspiracy meetings.

The CBI on June 18, three
years after a bomb rocked the 300-year-old Mecca Masjid killing nine, arrested RSS member Devendra Gupta and his associate, Lokesh Sharma. The CBI mentioned that Dange and Kalangsara were bomb manufacturers and had stayed in Hyderabad before the blast. Gupta has been remanded in police custody for 10 days.

When asked about the CBI’s statement on Dange and Kalangasara’s role in the mosque blast case and whether the accused will be brought to Mumbai, ATS chief Rakesh Maria said, “We don’t know what the CBI has said in its remand paper. We are probing the case.’’

The Times of India, June 23, 2010

Cops raid home of Babbar Khalsa man


Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: In a joint operation with the Punjab counter-intelligence team, the state Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) on Tuesday raided the agricultural land and house of Nishant Singh (27), member of the Sikh terrorist outfit, Babbar Khalsa International (BKI). They recovered an AK-47, four other fire arms and 128 live cartridges.

Singh, who was arrested on Saturday by the ATS in Chembur, had been on the run after firing at Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) officials in Punjab on December 27, 2009. Singh was arrested soon after he arrived in the city from Nanded with his five associates, who were all given a clean chit.


“In Delke village in Tarantaran district, the police teams recovered an AK-47 with 110 rounds, a 0.30 Chinese pistol, a 9mm Belgium-made pistol with eight rounds, a 0.32 French pistol and a 0.32 Kanpur Ordinance Factory made pistol with 10 rounds,’’ said ATS chief Rakesh Maria. “His father, Karamsingh Joginder (55) and uncle Gurbakhsh Singh (35) were arrested in 1991 for carrying one kg heroine and jailed for 10 years. In 2007, the duo was caught for carrying two kg heroine and jailed for 10 years,’’ he added.

Singh’s father owns a 13-acre agricultural land in Punjab. “Singh has told us that he procured the weapons from across the border. We are still probing the case,’’ added Maria. Singh, in the last few years, has traded in 150 kg of heroine, Maria added.

On Saturday, the police had seized a 12 bore rifle with 24 rounds, two 0.32 pistols and a Toyota Innova. Singh has been remanded in police custody till June 28.

Singh, who was a sepoy in the army, had served in Kargil, Siachen and Jammu & Kashmir. He has not reported to duty for the past four years.



THE CATCH: The police seized a rifle, two pistols and 24 rounds from the accused on Saturday

The Times of India, June 23, 2010

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

US man found dead at Colaba guesthouse

Mateen Hafeez I TNN


Mumbai: A US national, Thomas William David, was found dead in a Colaba guesthouse on Sunday night. David was found bleeding and the doctors who examined him at the St George’s Hospital declared him dead. The police suspect that he died of a drug overdose. A packet of ganja was found in the room. The police said David was to leave for the US the same night.

According to Colaba police, which has registered a case of accidental death, David had checked in at Volga-II guesthouse, next to Leopold Cafe on June 16.

On Sunday, the police got a call from the
g u e s t h o u s e about a foreigner not opening the door. ‘‘We used the duplicate key to open the door,’’ said sub-inspector S u k h d ev Kadam. David, who was wearing only shorts, was found lying on the floor and the police found he was bleeding.

The police suspect David might have taken drugs and fallen off the cot. “We are waiting for the post-mortem report,’’ said Kadam. David had come to India on a tourist visa. He underwent some treatment at the St George’s Hospital between June 9 and June 14. The US embassy officials were informed about the death and they were trying to get in touch with David’s family in the US.

A doctor at St George’s Hospital said that David was a drug addict. “Earlier, he was staying at a hostel in Colaba and was brought to the hospital in an unconscious state. He was discharged on June 14,’’ a
source said.

OVERDOSE? Ganja was found in the room where David was staying

The Times of India, June 22, 2010

Monday, June 21, 2010

ATS men framed me, claims ONGC terror accused

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: Abdul Latif Rashid, who, along with Riyaz Ali Imtiyaz, was arrested in March for allegedly planning to set the ONGC headquarters at Bandra on fire, has written to the Mazgaon court that he was tortured and framed in the case by his interrogators.

This allegation against the ATS comes at a time when the squad is already facing criticism

for the arrest of Samad Bhatkal and the Pune blast probe fiasco.

In his two-page letter in Marathi, Rashid said the anti-terrorism squad (ATS) had given him a pre-written phone conversation and asked him to repeat the contents to an unknown person. “On the night of March 12, ATS officials met me on the pretext of getting information on my brother in-law, Imtiyaz. They then took me to Dahisar. But on March 14, they told the media that Imtiyaz and I were
planning to carry out terror attacks,’’ Rashid said in his letter.

“I was tortured and told that if I did not read out the telephonic conversation, my family members will also be arrested. Following the threat, I was made to speak to someone for two days and the conversation was recorded by the ATS,’’ the letter stated.

Rashid and Imtiyaz were arrested under the various sections of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) for attempting to carry out terror strikes at the ONGC headquarters and a theatre in Bandra, a mall in Borivli and Mangaldas Market. While briefing the media, the ATS told them that they did not recover any kind of explosive or IED from the suspects. Instead, the officials said that they wanted to use petrol to set the targeted areas on fire. A copy of the letter is with TOI.


Latif said he was a hawker and sold flowers and clothes. He also pleaded the he should be released on bail, but his petition was rejected.

The ATS had said that the two suspects were instructed by their Pakistani handler, ‘Chacha’, to set the ONGC headquarters on fire before they were called to Pakistan for terror training. ‘Chacha’ is a suspect in the 1993 Mumbai serial bomb blasts, Bashir Khan. The ATS claimed to have got the recorded conversation between ‘Chacha’ and the two suspects.

ATS chief Rakesh Maria was not available for comment.

‘PHONEY’ CLAIM
In his two-page letter in Marathi to the Mazgaon court, Abdul Latif Rashid said officials of the anti-terrorism squad (ATS) had given him a pre-written phone conversation and asked him to repeat the contents to an unknown person. He claimed that he was tortured and told that if he did not read out the conversation, his family members would also be arrested.

The Times of India, June 21, 2010

Saturday, June 19, 2010

3 days after bail, Bhatkal brother still in jail


Abdul Samad in a wedding in Bhatkal

Mateen Hafeez I TNN

Mumbai: Three days after a sessions court granted bail to Abdul Samad Zarar in a 2009 arms seizure case, the 23-year-old is still languishing in Arthur Road jail. That is because the process of police verification for his bail surety is still on.

Samad—the younger brother of suspected Indian Mujahideen member Ahmed Zarar who is also known as Yasin Bhatkal— was granted bail on Tuesday on a sure
ty of Rs 25,000. The Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS), which had initially made tall claims about Samad’s involvement in the February 13 blast at Pune’s German Bakery, caught flak after the Karnataka native was granted bail. The ATS never named Samad as an accused in the Pune blast case.

Director-general of police D Sivanandhan said that the ATS should have taken its probe into the Pune blast case in the right direction.

“According to rules, a police verification is mandatory in cases where an accused is granted bail on a surety of more than Rs 15,000,” said a source close to Samad’s family. “The documents have been submitted and the police verification is on,’’ he added.

As Samad’s family hails from Bhatkal village in Kar
nataka, they had trouble finding relatives in Mumbai who could stand surety for him. “We have got a surety and are hoping that the police verification will be completed soon,’’ said another source close to the family.

Once the police clears the surety, it will be submitted in the court, following which Samad will be allowed to walk out of the Arthur Road jail.

Samad was arrested on May 24 after he landed at Karnataka’s Bajpe airport upon his return from Dubai.


The Times of India, June 19, 2010

Friday, June 18, 2010

Police foil plan to kill Dawood’s brother


Dawood Ibrahim's younger brother, Iqbal Kaskar

‘GANG WARS AVERTED’

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: An attempt to eliminate fugitive underworld don Dawood Ibrahim’s younger brother Iqbal Kaskar was foiled by a joint team of the city police and the crime branch last month.

According to sources, the conspiracy was masterminded by Dawood’s rival Chhota Rajan. “If the hitmen had been successful in ac
complishing their mission, Mumbai would have found itself in the centre of a bloody gang war,’’ sources added.

The plan was to bump off the 48-year-old during his Friday visits to Baba Bahauddin Shrine near Bombay Hospital, for which the suspects carried out a recce of the area for a month. “They kept a watch on the route used by Kaskar and also gathered information about his bodyguards so that they could kill him near the shrine itself,’’ a senior police officer said.

“Kaskar travels in a car from his Pakmodia street residence
near Bhendi Bazaar to the shrine along with his two bodyguards and a driver every Friday. After reaching there, he offers prayers and then leaves in the car for home.

When we got a tip-off, we alerted our men to monitor Kaskar’s movements. The following Friday, when Kaskar reached the dargah (shrine), our men spotted four suspicious men roaming near the shrine. However, they realised that they were being watched and melt
ed in the crowd. We could not open fire as there was a huge crowd in the vicinity,’’ the officer added.

Unaware about the development, Kaskar and his associates left for home after offering prayers. During investigations, the police realised that the four were Rajan gang’s members. “Rajan is considered close to the Indian security establishment and is also at loggerheads with Dawood,’’ another officer said.

Incidentally, Kaskar, later through his own network, came to know about the conspiracy. Two police vans, cops in uniform as well as in mufti from the JJ Marg police station were then stationed outside Kaskar’s residence to prevent any untoward incident. “Kaskar too has become wary. He is not going out anywhere nowadays. In fact, there were two weddings involving close members of his family—one at Khed in Ratnagiri and the other at Dongri—but Kaskar preferred not to attend the functions. Now, it seems he even has his food checked before eating,’’ a source said.

Kaskar was deported from the UAE in 2003. He faced a murder charge and was booked for being involved in illegal constructions. In the Sara-Sahara shopping complex case, he was booked under the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act. However, in both the cases, he was acquitted for lack of evidence. Since 2007, he is a free man.

mateen.hafeez@timesgroup.com


The Times of India, June 18, 2010

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Cops quiz Tanasha’s bodyguard

RAJAN AIDE’S MURDER

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: Interrogation of slain gangster Farid Tanasha’s bodyguard has revealed that he did not flee the city after the killing but had gone to drop his mother off to their hometown in UP. The crime branch is probing the case. Tanasha, a Chhota Rajan aide, was shot down on June 2.

According to sources,Manoj Rajbhar (32), was picked up
from Bhusawal station. Rajbhar had been working for Tanasha for the past eight years. “He says he was on leave and had gone to his hometown with his mother. We are questioning him about why he did not return after hearing about his employer’s death,’’ said an official. “So far, our probe has not revealed anything suspicious about him, but we are not taking chances,’’ he added.

The Times of India, June 17, 2010

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

CBI arrests ex-IAF staff in fraud case

(Clockwise from top) Helkar, Jain and Reddy

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: The CBI arrested three persons, including an ex-Indian Air Force employee for cheating a chartered accountant of more than Rs 75 lakh on the pretext of helping him to sell his products and getting some of his projects pending with the government cleared.

Those arrested are Prasanna Mehta alias S K Jain, Suryakant Helkar alias Captain and courier agent Shashank Abu. Jain owns two companies, Mehta Pharmaceuticals and Mehta Life Sciences and Research, while Helkar owns Carrugataded Boxers and Packing Material, Vikram Coropack Industries, Aero Head Packaging and Vikram Enterprises. The police is now looking for the gang leader, Venkta Reddy alias Srinivas Naidu alias Kalu alias Anna alias Dr Rao.


The arrested accused and Reddy also made a movie, Om Shanti, which is yet to release. Narrating the modus operandi, Rishi Raj Singh, joint director, CBI,said the complainant,S Suresh, a CA, would help IT firms sell their products. The gang learnt about Suresh’s plan to sell one such product which he found difficult to sell, considering some of his companies’ projects were stuck in red tape.

“Reddy and Suresh got in touch through phone. Suresh asked Reddy whether his company could help him sell the product, for which he would have to pay Rs 75 lakh. Suresh agreed to pay and Jain received the full amount through hawala,’’ said Singh, adding that when Suresh did not receive
any help, he tried to contact Reddy, but in vain. Meanwhile, he came in touch with Jain who said he would help him get his money. “But Jain threatened Suresh that the Rs 75 lakh he paid was disputed in the company’s account and demanded Rs 15 lakh to settle the matter since the CBI had got information about the previous transaction,’’ added Singh.

The next day, Helkar called up Suresh posing as inspector Ram Singh of CBI, Mumbai, and demanded Rs 15 lakh bribe to settle the matter. Helkar had earlier worked with the Indi
an Air Force. After negotiation, Suresh agreed to pay Rs 4 lakh as the first installment. The money was paid to Helkar in Mumbai through a hawala operator in Hyderabad. “We were working on this case after the complaint for 20 days and first got hold of the courier agent of the hawala operator, Shashank Abu. After his arrest, Helkar and Jain were also arrested. Our six teams, two in Pune, two in Mumbai, one in Aurangabad and one in Hyderbad; were camping to arrest the suspects,’’ said the officials. The trio has confessed to their crime which they had been involved in for four years.


The Times of India, June 15, 2010

Kashmiri doc who topped IAS to be honoured today

Dr Shah Faisal

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: The Federation of Minorities, an NGO, will felicitate Dr Shah Faisal, who topped the civil services exam this year, at Anjuman-i-Islam, near CST, on Tuesday.

The 27-year-old doctor is the first Kashmiri to top this examination.

Dr Azimuddin, coordinator for the Federation of Minorities, said that
Faisal was the fourth from the minority community to top the exam and it was an honour for his family as well as the country.

“We will felicitate him
and that will inspire students from the community. Civil services aspirants have also been called. They will be able to interact with Faisal and ask him about the preparation for the exams. Faisal will also explain his method of study,’’ Azimuddin added.
State directorgeneral of police D Sivanandhan and city police commissioner Sanjeev Dayal will also attend
the function as guests.

Faisal’s father was shot down in 2002 just three days prior to his pre-medical exams because he refused shelter to militants. He has nev
er been to any coaching classes and has studied on his own.

Describing himself as a victim of conflict, Faisal said, “I have watched the bloodshed in Jammu and Kashmir very closely. I was devastated when my father, Ghulam Rasool Shah, was gunned down. It is him that I miss the most today. He used to dote on me and taught me English and Maths when I studied in school.’’

Faisal, who did his MBBS from Srinagar’s Sher-i-Kashmir Medical College, said he was confident of qualifying but never imagined he would end up at the top of the heap.

mateen.hafeez@timesgroup.com


The Times of India, June 15, 2010

Samad unlikely to be booked for Pune blasts

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: A week after Union home minister P Chidambaram congratulated the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad and the Pune Police for arresting the ‘prime suspect’ in the Pune blast, ATS officials indicated the suspect, Abdul Samad Zarar, might not be booked in the case.

But ATS on Thursday opposed the bail plea of Samad arrested in a 2009 illegal arms seizure case. Samad, sent to a 14-day judicial custody, had approached the sessions court seeking bail in connection with the arms case on the grounds that there
were no serious allegations against him. The court will hear arguments on the bail plea on June 9.

‘‘The remaining three accused in the arms case are out on bail. So, on grounds of parity, even Samad should be granted bail. Moreover, if his name had figured in the case last year itself, why did ATS
wait for a year before arresting him? He has been falsely implicated,’’ Samad’s lawyer Mubin Solkar said.

Samad (22) was arrested on May 25 at Bajpe airprot in Mangalore soon after he landed from Dubai. The ATS then leaked the information to the media that he was prime suspect
in the blast. The ATS went to the extent saying he was the bomb planter who was captured in CCTV footage of German Bakery on February 13. The bomb had killed 17 and injured 65.

Countering the police claim, Samad’s family produced video tapes proving he was in Karnataka on the day of the blast.

The Times of India, June 4, 2010

Friday, June 4, 2010

Samad unlikely to be booked for Pune blasts

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: A week after Union home minister P Chidambaram congratulated the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad and the Pune Police for arresting the ‘prime suspect’ in the Pune blast, ATS officials indicated the suspect, Abdul Samad Zarar, might not be booked in the case.

But ATS on Thursday opposed the bail plea of Samad arrested in a 2009 illegal arms seizure case. Samad, sent to a 14-day judicial custody, had approached the sessions court seeking bail in connection with the arms case on the grounds that there
were no serious allegations against him. The court will hear arguments on the bail plea on June 9.

‘‘The remaining three accused in the arms case are out on bail. So, on grounds of parity, even Samad should be granted bail. Moreover, if his name had figured in the case last year itself, why did ATS
wait for a year before arresting him? He has been falsely implicated,’’ Samad’s lawyer Mubin Solkar said.

Samad (22) was arrested on May 25 at Bajpe airprot in Mangalore soon after he landed from Dubai. The ATS then leaked the information to the media that he was prime suspect
in the blast. The ATS went to the extent saying he was the bomb planter who was captured in CCTV footage of German Bakery on February 13. The bomb had killed 17 and injured 65.

Countering the police claim, Samad’s family produced video tapes proving he was in Karnataka on the day of the blast.

The Times of India, June 4, 2010

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Samad’s court visit shrouded in mystery

COP COVER: Samad being taken to Arthur Road Jail

Gets 14-Day Judicial Custody

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: Abdul Samad Zarar alias Samad Bhatkal, a suspect in the Pune German Bakery blast, was on Tuesday remanded in 14 days’ judicial custody by the Mazgaon metropolitan magistrate’s court in an arms haul case. Surprisingly, Samad’s face was covered with a black cloth inside the court room.

Samad (22), a resident of Bhatkal village in Karnataka, was arrested on May 24 for ‘allegedly’ supplying imported arms to some Chhota Shakeel gang members in August 2009. He was arrested at Bajpe airport in Mangalore soon after he landed from Dubai.

“The Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) has taken him into custody, suspecting him to be a prime accused in Pune’s February 13 bomb blast case, which killed 17 and injured over 60 others,’’ an official said.


Samad was brought to the court in a jeep at around 10.30 am. Wearing a t-shirt and trousers, Samad was barefoot. His face was covered with a burqa. The burqa was not removed from his face in the court room and his face was not shown even to the magistrate M V Morale. The judge asked him if he had any complaint against the police of illtreatment, Samad said, “No complaint.’’

Samad was surrounded by ATS officers Vijay Vakurdekar, Sachin Kadam, Suvarna Shinde, Kedar Pawar, Subash Dudhgaonkar and constables, all in plainclothes. He was not allowed to speak to his relatives who had arrived in court.


While probing the Pune blast case, the ATS zeroed in on the CCTV image of a person, suspected to be a bomb planter, who resembled Samad. A red-corner notice was issued against Samad and he was arrested at the airport when he landed there. ATS officials suspected that he had
planted the bomb while his family had been denying all the charges, saying he was in Karnataka on the day of the blast.

The ATS did not seek his custody and told the court that Samad should be sent to judicial custody. Although ATS has not named Samad in the February 13 Pune blast case, Union home minister P C Chidambaram had soon after his arrest said that he was a prime suspect in the attack.

Soon after Samad was remanded in judicial custody, he sought bail on the grounds that no serious allegations were levelled against him and the three other accused, who were arrested in the arms case last year, are already out on bail. The court, however, rejected

the bail application, saying that investigations were still in progress and releasing the accused now, would not be safe.

Mubin Solkar, Samad’s defence lawyer, said, “I spoke to Samad for a few minutes and he told me that the ATS had questioned him about the Pune blast and his whereabouts on February 13. Samad is insisting that he was in Karnataka at that time. He is not involved in the Pune blast.’’ Solkar praised ATS chief Rakesh Maria saying, “Despite facing so much media pressure, they did not book him for the blast.’’ Samad will be in judicial custody till June 14.


The Times of India, June 2, 2010

Samad’s court visit shrouded in mystery



Gets 14-Day Judicial Custody

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: Abdul Samad Zarar alias Samad Bhatkal, a suspect in the Pune German Bakery blast, was on Tuesday remanded in 14 days’ judicial custody by the Mazgaon metropolitan magistrate’s court in an arms haul case. Surprisingly, Samad’s face was covered with a black cloth inside the court room.

Samad (22), a resident of Bhatkal village in Karnataka, was arrested on May 24 for ‘allegedly’ supplying imported arms to some Chhota Shakeel gang members in August 2009. He was arrested at Bajpe airport in Mangalore soon after he landed from Dubai.

“The Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) has taken him into custody, suspecting him to be a prime accused in Pune’s February 13 bomb blast case, which killed 17 and injured over 60 others,’’ an official said.


Samad was brought to the court in a jeep at around 10.30 am. Wearing a t-shirt and trousers, Samad was barefoot. His face was covered with a burqa. The burqa was not removed from his face in the court room and his face was not shown even to the magistrate M V Morale. The judge asked him if he had any complaint against the police of illtreatment, Samad said, “No complaint.’’

Samad was surrounded by ATS officers Vijay Vakurdekar, Sachin Kadam, Suvarna Shinde, Kedar Pawar, Subash Dudhgaonkar and constables, all in plainclothes. He was not allowed to speak to his relatives who had arrived in court.


While probing the Pune blast case, the ATS zeroed in on the CCTV image of a person, suspected to be a bomb planter, who resembled Samad. A red-corner notice was issued against Samad and he was arrested at the airport when he landed there. ATS officials suspected that he had
planted the bomb while his family had been denying all the charges, saying he was in Karnataka on the day of the blast.

The ATS did not seek his custody and told the court that Samad should be sent to judicial custody. Although ATS has not named Samad in the February 13 Pune blast case, Union home minister P C Chidambaram had soon after his arrest said that he was a prime suspect in the attack.

Soon after Samad was remanded in judicial custody, he sought bail on the grounds that no serious allegations were levelled against him and the three other accused, who were arrested in the arms case last year, are already out on bail. The court, however, rejected

the bail application, saying that investigations were still in progress and releasing the accused now, would not be safe.

Mubin Solkar, Samad’s defence lawyer, said, “I spoke to Samad for a few minutes and he told me that the ATS had questioned him about the Pune blast and his whereabouts on February 13. Samad is insisting that he was in Karnataka at that time. He is not involved in the Pune blast.’’ Solkar praised ATS chief Rakesh Maria saying, “Despite facing so much media pressure, they did not book him for the blast.’’ Samad will be in judicial custody till June 14.


The Times of India, June 2, 2010