Saturday, December 31, 2011

No encounter stains on khaki in 2011

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

The year ends on a positive note for Mumbai Police: it is the first year since 1991 without any ‘encounters’.

The absence of even a single encounter death in 2011 is in sharp contrast to the situation a decade ago when 94 encounter killings took place.

Since 2001, the city police gunned down 272 suspected gangsters and terrorists. The Chhota Rajan gang was crippled as 97 of its members were killed in encounters, the Dawood Ibrahim gang lost 46. Police records show only seven gangsters were killed in 2010. “As most dreaded gangsters have either been killed or fled the city, there is no need for stern action (like encounters) against petty criminals,” said a senior crime branch official.

But a major reason why 2011 has been encounter-free is because encounter specialists had their wings clipped as the courts took a tough stand against such killings. Over the years, mumbai Police lost several cops responsible for the infamous killings. Three inspectors — Vijay Salaskar, Pradip Sharma and Praful Bhosale — were credited with 99% of the encounter killings. But while Salaskar was killed during 26/11, Sharma was arrested in connection with a staged encounter and Bhosale held for the suspected en
counter killing of blast accused Khwaja Yunus. Bhosale, though, was later cleared of charges and reinstated. Two other cops were not so lucky. Sachin Waze was suspended and later resigned from the force, while senior inspector Arun Borude, on the run after being accused of a minor’s rape, allegedly committed suicide in December 2010.

“During the 90s and early 2000, the underworld had forced the police to take the ex
treme step of killing them. Dozens of businessmen, developers and film personalities were killed for extortion and the gangsters tried to create panic among everyone. However, timely police action crippled the gangs,” said a policeman. A senior officer added, “Encounters are not pre-planned. At least four suspects who were injured in encounters were rushed to hospitals and were saved.”

While encounters have been on every year since 1991, the decade began with the killing of four youths in their early 20s, near Patwardhan Garden, Bandra. Police claimed they were planning to kill Ashutosh Gowarikar, director of Lagaan which released that year, and the film’s lead actor Aamir Khan, at the behest of gangster Abu Salem.

The most controversial recent encounter was of Ramnarayan Gupta alias Lakhan Bhaiyya, in 2006. Senior inspector Pradip Suryavanshi is in jail in the case.

In 2008, an 18-year-old youth, Mohammed Imran, was killed in an encounter in Powai along with one Chandrakant Sahni. The crime branch claimed the duo was planning to kill a developer. Imran’s family said he was mentally challenged, but the crime branch claimed it had “recordings” of his conversation with Sahni, who they said was a gangster.

The Times of India, December 31, 2011

Friday, December 30, 2011

ATS sleuths double as paanwallahs


Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: The anti-terrorism squad (ATS) is hopeful of making a breakthrough in the 13/7 serial blasts case. The sleuths have started keeping round-theclock watch on two persons from Govandi and one from Mumbra for their suspected involvement in the blasts.

It is learnt that following a tip-off by some informants, ATS sleuths—disguised as p a a n-b i d i shop owners—are monitoring the trio’s activities closely. Three RDX bombs exploded at Opera House, Zaveri Bazar and near Dadar station on July 13 this year, claiming 27 lives and injuring over 100.

The ATS officers were tightlipped about the move. “We are close to making a breakthrough in the case. Commenting on it at this juncture may ruin our probe,” said an officer. Sources said that one of the two persons from Govandi is a class XII dropout while another is an under
graduate. Sources avoided any sharing of information about the Mumbra resident.

It is learnt that the suspects’ phones are being tapped while their movement and the people they are meeting are also being examined. They have previous criminal records, said a source. A police team has also taken a room on rent in Govandi near the suspects’ residences to monitor their activities.

This is the second time the agency is hoping to crack the case. Earlier, after it found that the scooter used to plant a bomb at Zaveri Bazar was stolen, the ATS had activated all its informants to trace the bike thieves. However, after several weeks of restless probe, the ATS could not find the thieves. In case of the Ahmedabad blasts in 2008, the Mumbai crime branch had made a breakthrough by arresting a car thief, Afzal Usmani from Govandi. Usmani was suspected to have stolen four cars from Navi Mumbai which were later used to plant explosives in Ahmedabad and Surat. Usmani’s arrest was followed by the arrest of the 20 others whom the police claimed were Indian Mujahideen members.

The Times of India, December 30, 2011

Thursday, December 29, 2011

11 excise squads to curb smuggling of illicit liquor

Mateen Hafeez| TNN

Mumbai: The state excise department has arrested 50 people over the past 20 days for manufacturing and selling spurious liquors worth Rs 40 lakh. In a bid to rein in such people and to keep the smuggling of spurious liquor at bay, the department has formed 11 special squads to keep a hawk’s eye before the New Year’s Eve.

“We are working hard to gather intelligence and have activated our informants’ network as well. The department is monitoring the activities of suspected spurious drug/liquor manufacturers as well as sellers,” said Mohan Varde, superintendent of state excise. “Our staff is also gathering details on history sheeters and suppliers on the Goa, Daman and Diu borders.” Talking about a recent raid at Grant Road, Varde said, “We have recently seized 84,000 litre spurious imported liquor. They were being smuggled into
the city and sold as imported liquors.” The department is also scanning the records of bootleggers and if they are found involved in making spurious liquor, they will be booked under the Bombay Prohibition Act, 1949.

Though they are working overtime, Varde added, the department was plagued by the shortage in manpower, which posed a great hurdle in conducting raids. “We have only 66 personnel to cover half the city. Sometimes, it becomes difficult to gather information about illicit drugs, medicines, narcotics or liquor being smuggled and sold in the city,” admitted Varde.

150 booked for drunk driving
On Wednesday night, the traffic police booked 150 motorists for drunk driving. Of them, 63 have been sentenced to simple imprisonment. A special crackdown against drunk drivers, which started on Christmas Eve, will end on the New Year’s Eve. This December 31, the local police will also assist the traffic cops in the drive. TNN

The Times of India, December 29, 2011

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Cops may go soft on jail stir

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: The state government is not keen on taking action against protesters who are part of the Anna Hazare campaign. Senior police officials say that arresting protesters may create a problem as most of them are students or are employed. “A police case could create a problem for them in future,” said an officer.

On December 24, TOI had reported that the police planned to detain and release the protesters. “Until they do not commit a crime, why would we arrest them?” asked Rajnish Seth, joint commissioner of police (law & order). Seth said they had deployed police personnel in and around the MMRDA grounds
to handle the situation.

The anti-corruption activist urged people across the country to court arrest on December 30 if the government
doesn’t pass a strong bill.

If the protesters insist on a jail bharo, they could be taken to the police ground at Kalina or the nearest police station. “Converting the MMRDA grounds into a police prison could be difficult since there will be a problem of food and other things as well,” said an officer. There is a plan to convert the MMRDA ground into a prison. However, a decision on this has not yet been taken. Under the Bombay Police Act, the police can declare any area as a jail and detain people there. “Protesters could be detained and their names, addresses and other details will be taken before they are released,” said the officer. So far, 17,646 people have registered for the jail bharo agitation.

Section 68: A person is bound to conform to the reasonable directions of the police
Section 69:
It gives the police powers to restrain and remove anyone for reasons of security and law & order

Bomb detection and disposal squad teams | 2
Emergency exits | 6
Fire extinguishers | 16
Metal detectors | 16
Round-the-clock ambulances services

The Times of India, December 28, 2011

Monday, December 26, 2011

Fraud firm spent 100cr on realty, cars

Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: Office bearers of alleged fraud firm Speak-Asia had invested around Rs 100 crore in commercial galas at prominent shopping malls in the city, flats in posh buildings and cars. This was revealed during the probe on the firm across across several nations.

An officer from the economic offences wing (EOW) of the Mumbai police said that the properties were bought over the past one year. “We have identified the properties in over a dozen buildings and shopping malls. In some buildings, the flats cost over Rs 12-13 crore. The accused also used the money to buy costly vehicles. Two Mercedes cars have been seized and we are planning to seize more,” the
officer said.

The police say that they don’t want to disclose the properties at this stage. “We are securing these properties. Once the process is completed, we will request the court to attach them,” the officer added. The officer was reluctant to talk about the locations and names of the buildings and malls where Speak Asia of
fice bearers own properties.

The EOW, which is probing the alleged multi-crore fraud case, said that a red corner notice had been issued against Manoj Kumar Sharma, the Indian chief of the firm. “We received information that Sharma had transferred huge sums of money from India to the United Bank of Singapore, and from there to Latin
America,” said Rajvardhan Sinha, additional police commissioner, EOW.

While nine persons were taken into custody by the police of various districts and states in the country, the company’s chief operating officer (COO), Tarak Bajpai, managed to jump bail and has disappeared. “Bajpai is still at large,” said Sinha.
Bajpai told police he was
a flight lieutenant before joining the multi-level marketing business in 2004. Police sources said that some of the accused still pretend to be victims and had even filed writ petitions in the Bombay High Court and Supreme Court stating that their business was completely legal.

“However, we have informed the court that a case has been registered against the company and that they have duped lakhs of people,” said Shelke. The police said that the alleged fraud took place between March 2010 and May 2011.

A police officer said that in such cases, the investors can also be booked under the Prize Chits and Money Circulation Schemes (Banning) Act, 1978 since they are essentially gambling.

Online Fraud On A Bigger Scale
Private firm Speak Asia started an online service under which each investor (panelist) would be given two surveys a week to complete on an annual fee of Rs 11,000. If the investor successfully completed all the surveys, he or she would be entitled to Rs 52,000 a year.

The fraud took place between March 2010 and May 2011. During this period, the company had duped over 24 lakh investors. The amount that investors were scammed out of has gone up to Rs 2,276 crore. Red corner notices have been issued against the office-bearers of the company.

The Times of India, December 26, 2011

Malegaon suspect filed 702 RTI queries in 5 yrs

Farog Makhdoomi (centre) got 50 lakh pages of RTI answers

Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: Unani doctor Farog Makhdoomi, a 2006 Malegaon bomb blasts suspect, had filed 702 right to Information (RTI) applications during his fiveyear imprisonment in various jails in the state. Makhdoomi, now 38, was released on bail along with six other accused last month. He received 50 lakh pages of RTI answers and references while in jail.

The anti-terrorism squad (ATS) had claimed that Makhdoomi, son of a schoolteacher, was one of the prime conspirators in the blast conspiracy. However, claims by the ATS fell short during the course of investigation after Swami Aseemanand, member of a right wing outfit, confessed to his involvement in the blasts. A medical practitioner by profession, Makhdoomi kept fil
ing RTI applications on various issues like food in the jails, Islamic banking, reservation for Muslims, Sachar commission, Mishra commission, the Indian system of medicine, distant education, etc.

Makhdoomi said, “My first RTI application was about the jail canteen’s food. Edibles worth Rs 40 were being sold for Rs 140. When I tried exposing the corruption in the Arthur Road jail, the then superintendent made our lives miserable.” He added that he did not receive a reply when he asked for the procedure followed for filling up the vacancies at the Malegaon civil hospital. The residents of Malegaon had been demanding that victims of the blasts should be given preference
when there are vacancies at the hospital. He has also obtained the records of the detention of a co-accused “which prove that he was detained and kept in custody illegally”.

In February this year, Makhdoomi appeared for the PhD Entrance Test. Having completed his Bachelor of Unani Medicine degree in 1997, Makhdoomi studied for his MA in Urdu while in custody in 2009. He has been securing a first class so far and passed the PhD entrance as well. While in prison, he did his post graduate diploma in disaster management through IGNOU. He was also appointed the coordinator for distant education by the jail authorities and helped 80 inmates appear for various examinations.

Speaking about his applications, he said, “The state textile ministry, with funds of Rs 1,100 crore, announced plans for textile parks in 11 cities but ignored Malegaon, which is the second largest textile centre in the state. I realized this through my applications.”

The Times of India, December 26, 2011

Saturday, December 24, 2011

166 ‘Hajis’ go missing in Saudi Arabia - Part Of Begging Racket?

Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: As many as 166 pilgrims, who went to Saudi Arabia on pretext of Haj, are missing. These 166 are suspected to be Indian beggars who go to the holy city for begging in the guise of Haj pilgrims. Their mastermind, Sharful Haque, a resident of West Bengal, was arrested earlier by the Kolkata police.

The disappearance was reported to the Central Haj Committee of India when the 166 pilgrims did not report to the airport in Jeddah. “They are suspected to be beggars and part of a huge racket,” said Dr Shakir Husain, chief executive officer of the Central Haj Committee. He added there was no information about the whereabouts of the 166 pilgrims who belonged to Murshidabad in West Bengal.

“We have written to the head of the West Bengal Haj Committee, asking about the approval of these beggars’ applications. Our office has informed the chief secretary of West Bengal,” added Husain. Sources said the doctors who issued medical certificates to such beggars could be grilled during the
police probe. An inquiry has begun in the Haj Committee of India. Husain said these beggars go do not even stay in the quarters allotted to Haj pilgrims in Mecca and Madinah. “It was the duty of the State Haj Committee to identify such people and stop them,” said Husain.

Three months ago, the Haj Committee officials found at least a dozen people who had used different photographs on the passports but their names were the same on the previous passports. Some of them had new passport numbers as well. “When a few beggars were detained in Saudi Arabia, they spilled the beans about the racket and mastermind Haque. The Council General passed on this information to the Haj Committee and Haque was arrested in Kolkata while trying to board a flight,” said sources.

BS Mubarak, Consul Haj in Jeddah, said whoever is identified staying in Saudi Arabia illegally is sent to their respective countries. “We have identified around 30 people who were involved in activities that are not fit for Haj pilgrims and sent them back to India.”

The Times of India, December 24, 2011

Friday, December 23, 2011

MLA’s ‘aide’ held for duping trader of 34L

Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: The L T Marg police on Thursday arrested a 39-yearold man for posing as Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) MLA Bala Nandgaonkar’s personal assistant and cheating a diamond trader of over Rs34lakh.

The accused,Kailash Singh, told the complainant that the MLA’s daughter was getting married and he wanted to buy diamond jewellery. The MLA’s daughter is nine years’ old.

“Singh had worked with some jewellers and knew many of them. In this case, he approached one of his acquaintances, Naresh Jain, and told him that Nandgaonkar’s daughter was to marry and he wanted to buy some diamond ornaments for her. Jain took Singh to another diamond trader, Viman Jain, at Opera House. Viman gave diamond ornaments worth over Rs 2 crore. A few days later, Singh returned the jewellery except a diamond necklace worth Rs 28 lakh,” said the officer. He added that Singh later took diamond-studdedbanglesworthRs6.53lakh.

When Singh did not return, thetrader triedcalling him,but Singh did not pick up his calls. Later, Singh told him that Nandgaonkar was busy with the wedding and the payment would be made only after the ceremony.

Nandgaonkar said, “I don’t knowwho Singhis.Heis not my PA.Moreover,thetrader should have verified Singh’s credentials with me or the police before handing him over jewellery worthcroresof rupees.”

The Times of India, December 223, 2011

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Fraudsters use ACP’s ID to buy SIM card

Mateen Hafeez I TNN

Mumbai: An assistant commissioner of police (ACP) recently found that his documents had been wrongly used for a cellphone connection. The officer, who is currently attached to the city crime branch’s computer and data wing, learnt about the fraud when a mobile bill was delivered at his residence.

“The bill amount (Rs 86) was not high. However, it’s a serious offence as someone used my documents to procure the SIM card,” the ACP who did not wish to be named said.

According to the officer, he received a call last month from a girl who identified herself as Sapna and informed him about some schemes on internet connection. “A few days later, someone came to my house and collected my photo and a copy of my identification
proof. I paid Rs 500 to avail of the scheme,” said the ACP.

The bill showed that at least 63 calls were made till December 8. “The bill had my name and address printed on it. I called up on the number printed on the bill and found that it belonged to a businessman in Kandivli who identified himself as Kothari. He told me that he has been using the number and had submitted his documents,” the officer said.

Last year, the city police found that around 28,000 SIM cards, belonging to various mobile companies, were issued on fake documents.

The Times of India, December 22, 2011

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Ishrat case: CBI team to visit Malegaon

Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: The CBI team probing the Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case will soon visit Malegaon. After shooting Ishrat and three others, the Gujarat police in 2004 claimed that the 18-year-old along with another deceased had stayed at a Malegaon hotel and they were part of a Lashkar-e-Taiba module.

The Gujarat police had then said that Ishrat and another deceased Javed Shaikh alias Pranesh Pillai had stayed in Hotel Radhika where they hatched plans for anti-national activities. The police had alleged that those killed in the encounter were on a mission to eliminate Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi.

It will take some time to
decide on the arrest of the suspects. “The special investigation team inquired into the case for almost two-and-ahalf years. We have got some papers from them. However, we have to start our investigation afresh and ascertain everyone’s role,” said a police source. “The initial documents are in Gujarati. We have to translate them to understand and then fix a direction for the investigation as per the evidence,” the officer said.

“First we have to see why the police personnel believed that Ishrat was a terrorist. Did they have any reliable information about her involvement anywhere? Once we get answers of all these questions, we will decide the further course of action,” the officer added.

The Times of India, December 21, 2011

Monday, December 19, 2011

Squad to tackle minorities’ plaints

Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: The Maharashtra police have formed special squads in all districts to deal with the minority community. The squads will compile reports on the minority community’s problems, alleged atrocities and pay more attention to its complaints.

State police sources said the squad will co-ordinate with the inspector (community) in all police stations in a district on a daily basis for complaints of harassment or atrocities. The squads, said sources, are now collecting reports of such cases. “These are being updated on a daily basis and will be sent to state police headquarters on a monthly basis,” said a police
source. Police sources said the move follows repeated complaints of illegal detentions and harassment of suspects’ families. It is also learnt that the reports will be sent to the central government for reference since complainants at times approach the Union government as well. “These reports will then be forwarded to the state minorities commission,” said a policeman.

The special squad is also in charge of preparing reports on ill-treatment of children and women. “Though there are several helplines for children and women, this system will definitely benefit them,” said the officer.

In many cases, members
of the minority community have alleged police atrocities. For instance, after the 13/7 blasts in the city this year, Faiz Usmani, a Govandi grocery shop owner detained by the crime branch, died in police custody. While police said he was suffering from blood pressure and other health-related problems, his wife alleged police torture. A state CID team is probing the case.

“Even during riot-like situations, the minority community complains of bias in maintaining law and order. Such complaints will be taken on record and a proper report will be compiled,” the source said. However, no decision has been taken regarding action against cops accused by the minority community.

The Times of India, December 19, 2011

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Man held for cheating developer of 6.5cr

Rajshri Mehta & Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: The economic offences wing (EOW) of the Mumbai police on Friday arrested Fortbased developer Homi Patrawala for allegedly duping suburban developer Ashok Mohanani of the Ekta Group of Rs 6.5 crore over the purchase of a bungalow plot at Khar. Police investigations revealed that Patrawala allegedly misrepresented the identity of the original plot owner and siphoned the money from the Fort branch of a co-operative bank.

In his complaint to the Kherwadi police, Mohanani said he was approached by Patrawala, owner, Snowgold Constructions Pvt Ltd, with an offer for a 202 sq m plot ‘Arun Bhavan’ belonging to one Sushila Jadhav (75) with whom he claimed to have signed
a letter of intent to transfer and assign the property. In September, Mohanani reached an agreement with Patrawala, involving purchase of shares of Patrawala’s company for Rs 1.93 crore and paying Rs 6 crore when the property was transferred in his name.

A preoccupied Mohanani signed an agreement to sub-lease the property in April without the family being present, as Patrawala told him he had given the family a pay order for Rs 6 crore.

Patrawala kept delaying the registration of the deed, saying the Jadhavs wanted time to vacate. Mohanani happened to meet Jadhav and asked her what the issue was, and Jadhav said she had no agreement with Patrawala’s company. Worried, she filed a case against Mohanani, who then complained to joint police commissioner Himanshu Roy.

The Times of India, December 17, 2011

Friday, December 16, 2011

Group for legal aid to 11/ 7 suspects

Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: After securing bail for the 2006 Malegaon blasts suspects, a Malegaonbased group is planning to provide legal assistance to suspects in the 11/7 train blasts and the 2006 Aurangabad arms haul cases.

“We believe that those arrested in the arms haul case have been framed by the police,” said advocate Irfana Hamdani, one of the legal cell members of the Kul-Jamaati Tanzeem.

“Several 11/7 train blasts accused asked us to provide legal help,” he added. T h e g r o u p was formed in 2006 after the anti-terrorism squad (ATS) picked up seven youngsters from Malegaon for allegedly executing
four bomb blasts in the powerloom town.

In May 2006, the Maharashtra ATS claimed to have seized RDX, 16 AK-47 rifles, 3,200 live cartridges, 50 grenades and other ammunition near Aurangabad, Malegaon and Ankai village. The police arrested 21 people and said they belonged to the outlawed SIMI.

Similarly, the ATS probe into the 11/7 train blasts caseisfacing questions.The ATS arrested 13 persons alleging they belonged to SIMI and plantedseven bombs in local trains on July 11, 2006. However, two years later the Mumbai crime branch claimed the Indian Mujahideen was behind the blasts and arrested 21 suspected members.

The Times of India, December 16, 2011

Thursday, November 17, 2011

‘My father is not a conspirator’


Mateen Hafeez & Rebecca Samervel | TNN

Mumbai: “All our relatives have gathered back home in Malegaon to welcome my son. We are just waiting to take him back as soon as he comes out,” said Iqbal Makhdoomi, a senior citizen and father of Dr Farog Makhdoomi, waiting for the gates of the Arthur Road jail to open up on Wednesday.

His son was one of the seven 2006 Malegaon blasts accused who walked out of the Arthur
Road and Byculla prisons on Wednesday after being granted bail on November 5.

The seven men came out of the two jails around 5.30pm, much to the delight and relief of the scores of people who had gathered outside. The area around the Arthur Road jail was particularly crowded, with family members of the accused jostling for space with media personnel and curious passersby.

The families had been per
sistently making the 300-km trip from Malegaon to Mumbai to attend court hearings, never losing faith. On Wednesday, too, that persistence showed as the 63-year-old Iqbal waited outside the jail. Iqbal, a retired schoolteacher, has spent most of his of
provident fund money and pension fighting for his son’s release.

Taking time off from school, 13-year-old Osama, who was only eight when his father Raees Ahmed was arrested in 2006, jumped with joy on seeing his father and hugged him. “Our family members have been offering namaaz since morning and my mother has cooked lots and lots of special food.” “No one in our hometown sees my father as a conspirator and I believe he has been falsely implicated by the police,” he added.

Jamil Masiullah, brother of Shabbir Ahmed, said: “We have
renovated our house, changed carpets and installed huge lights. We are excited and very happy.”

Fighting off tears, Masood Ahmed, brother of another accused, Dr Salman Farsi, said: “The residents of our town stood by us. We are thankful to the people of Malegaon.”

The Times of India, November 17, 2011

5 yrs on, 7 walk out of jail

WHIFF OF FREEDOM: The seven blasts accused were greeted with hugs, tears, smiles and sweets by family members, friends and other well-wishers on Wednesday evening

FREE FOR NOW, BUT LONG WAY TO GO: We Want Our Dignity & Five Years Back, Say 2006 Malegaon Blasts Accused After Being Released On Bail

Mateen Hafeez & Rebecca Samervel | TNN

Wednesday, 5.30pm. Seven men walk out of two Mumbai jails after having spent five years in dark, dingy cells. Free for now, the seven are greeted with hugs, tears, smiles and sweets, as the wait finally ends for them as well as the dozens of people who have lined up to meet them outside the prison gates.

The seven, arrested in 2006 after being accused of planning and executing the Malegaon serial bomb blasts, were recently granted bail by a MCOCA court. “We were framed. We want our dignity and five years back,” a statement by the released men said. The anger at the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) was also evident, with the seven men later alleging that the agency had been biased in its probe.

On September 8, 2006, four bombs went off in Malegaon, killing 31 people and injuring 297.

On Wednesday, six of the accused—Salman Farsi, Mohammed Zahid, Raees Ali, Shabbir Masiullah, Noor-ul-Huda and Dr Farog Makhdoomi—were released from the Arthur Road prison, while Abrar Ahmed stepped out of the Byculla jail.

Two other persons—Mohd Ali Shaikh and Asif Bashir Khan alias Junai—were also granted bail by the MCOCA court, but they would continue to remain behind bars as they are also accused in the 11/7 serial train blasts.

Following their release, all
seven men were keen to reach home. But they also knew that the battle was far from over. “I am happy that we have been released. But I will find peace only after I am discharged from the case,” said Farsi, tears in his eyes.

“We want our dignity back. We want an answer as to why the police framed us,” maintained Raees Ali. Zahid said, “The police showed me as a planter, but I was 500 km away from Malegaon. The truth is coming out now.”

“I will be relieved when we are acquitted,” said Masiullah.

One of the key questions raised was regarding the ATS’s claims on the involvement of Za
hid, an imam from a Yavatmal mosque. The ATS said he planted a bomb in Malegaon and left for Yavatmal the same day. “The distance between the two towns is around 1,000 km. How can you travel 1,000 km in just 12 hours on a state transport bus? The ATS said Zahid was in Malegaon that day and planted the bomb, while more than 250 Yavatmal residents filed affidavits saying Zahid was in Yavatmal on September 8, the day of the blasts,” argued a resident.

Around 500 residents of Malegaon, including politicians, religious leaders, activists, friends
and family members of the accused, had been waiting outside the jails, especially Arthur Road, since Wednesday morning. The area around Arthur Road jail witnessed traffic snarls after Jamiat Ulama-E-Maharashtra members assembled to welcome the freed men. Personnel from the N M Joshi Marg police station and the crime branch were called in for bandobast duty even as two armoured vehicles were stationed outside the jail.

Soon after their release, the seven men were taken to the jamiat’s office near Bhendi Bazar. “I am thankful to Allah for this success,” said Gulzar Azmi, general secretary, of the jamiat’s legal cell. “Innocent youths were framed by the ATS
and kept in prison for five years.” He also announced that compensation would be sought for the time spent behind bars.

The ATS, then headed by Krish Pal Raghuvanshi, had initially investigated the case and the CBI later took over the probe. The ATS had arrested the nine men claiming that they belonged to the banned SIMI and aided a Pakistani in executing the blasts. The case was transferred to the National Investigation Agency after the probe took a dramatic turn following Swami Aseemanand’s confession that a saffron group was behind the blasts.

The jamiat said it was waiting for the NIA’s progress report.

Minority affairs minister Arif Naseem Khan and Malegaon’s Kul Jamaati Tanzeem had been meeting P Chidambaram and Sonia Gandhi, demanding the release of the nine accused.

SEPT 8, 2006 | Four RDX bombs go off in Malegaon, killing 31 people and injuring 297
DEC 21, 2006 |
ATS files a 4,500-page chargesheet. Case is handed over to CBI the same day
NOV 5, 2011 | MCOCA court grants bail to nine accused
NOV 16, 2011 |
Seven walk free, while two others remain in jail as they are accused in 11/7 blasts

Noor-ul-Huda 24
Shabbir Masiullah 34
Raees Ahmed Rajjab Ali 35
Salman Farsi 40
Farog Makhdoomi 40
Mohd Zahid Abdul Majeed 35
Abrar Ahmed Saeed 35

Mohd Ali Shaikh 45 and Asif Bashir Khan alias Junai 40

*Both were earlier arrested in the 11/7 train blasts case

The Times of India, November 17, 2011

Monday, November 14, 2011

RTI: ATS cop sent money to Malegaon blast accused

Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: A police constable attached to the Nashik unit of the anti-terrorism squad (ATS) had sent money on three occasions to one of the accused in the 2006 Malegaon bomb blasts in Byculla jail, a RTI query showed. The blast accused, Abrar Ahmed, had turned approver when he received the money but later turned hostile.

Gulzar Azmi, general secretary (legal cell), Jamiat-ul-Ulema, a socio-religious orga
nization, had filed the RTI. In their reply, Byculla jail authorities said that constable Sadashiv Abhimanyu Patil had sent Rs 1,000 each three times between August and November 2008. The trial concerning the blasts that killed 31 people is underway in court.

The Byculla jail authorities in their reply mentioned Patil’s address as 14/501, police headquarters, Gangapur Road, Nashik, from where the money order was sent to the blast accused. Patil disconnected the telephone line when this correspondent disclosed his identity.

Ahmed’s bro complained to court about constable

Mumbai: The state antiterrorism squad’s Nashik unit had investigated the Malegaon blasts case initially and submitted a chargesheet against nine accused. A CBI team which took over the probe also endorsed the ATS findings.

Following petitions by Malegaon residents, another CBI team began the probe afresh and indicated that those arrested may not be involved. By then the National Investigating Agency (NIA) took over and recently told the court that it has no objection in granting them bail.

The court ordered their release on November 5 once they fulfilled the bail conditions. Abrar Ahmed, now 42, had mysteriously disappeared after the September 8, 2006 bomb blasts outside a mosque and in a residential area. Four bombs, made of RDX, were planted on bicycles in Malegaon. After his disappearance, Ahmed’s el
der brother, advocate Jaleel Ansari, filed a habeas corpus plea in the special MCOCA court. On the court’s order, the Nashik police produced Ahmed before the court in December 2006. Ahmed, who owned a battery and inverter shop, is accused of conspiracy, assembling and planting the bombs.

Abrar, in an affidavit, in 2009, alleged that he was offered lakhs of rupees to become an approver. “As family members, Ahmed’s relatives would send money to him through money order. But why was a constable, attached to the ATS
sending money? For the ATS Ahmed was a terror suspect, so why would the police send money to a man who has been termed as a conspirator, a bomb maker and a planter? A thorough inquiry should be done in this matter to find out who exactly was behind this?” said Azmi, the RTI applicant.

The then ATS chief, K P Raghuvanshi, said he wasn’t aware of the development.

Advocate Ansari said he had earlier complained to the court about Patil. “This constable would come to meet my brother in jail. After Ahmed turned hostile, Patil met him in jail and threatened him with dire consequences.”

He added, “After I complained to the court, an inquiry was set up and the jail authorities were instructed not to allow Patil to meet Ahmed,” said Ansari. A senior police officer said he was not aware about the outcome of this inquiry.

The Times of India, November 14, 2011

Saturday, November 12, 2011

2 accused stay in custody over train blasts case


S Ahmed Ali & Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: Although the nine suspects arrested in connection with the 2006 Malegaon blast case were granted bail by the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) earlier this week, the Mumbai crime branch on Friday said two of the suspects — Mohammed Ali Aslam
Shaikh Aziz and Asif Khan —would remain in custody as they are wanted in another terror related case. Ali and Khan are also accused in the 11\7 Mumbai serial train blasts case.

Ali is an active member of SIMI and in 2005 and 2006, had sent few SIMI members to Pakistan for arms training. “We had arrested two persons Shabbir Mushirullah and Nafiz Ahmed Ansari, residents of Malegaon in Nashik and Govandi in Eastern suburbs in this case. Moreover, they were associates of Indian Mujaheedin founder member Riyaz Bhatkal,” said the police.

The Times of India, November 12, 2011

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Bribery-accused top postal officer suspended again

M S Bali

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: Manjit Singh Bali, who was appointed as chief postmaster general of West Bengal on November 4 after an 18-month suspension, was suspended on Tuesday by the department of telecommunications (DoT).

In February 2010, Bali (59), then the chief postmaster general of Goa and Maharashtra, was suspended after he was caught by the CBI for accepting a bribe of Rs 2 crore.

“A departmental inquiry has begun against Bali (a 1978 batch Indian Postal Ser
vice officer). DoT issued his suspension order at 2 pm on Tuesday,” said a source from the general post office.

The order stated: “He (Bali) shall not leave the Kolkata headquarters without obtaining prior permission from the competent authority.”

Bali had challenged his February 2010 suspension at the central administrative tribunal (CAT), which ordered his reinstatement on November 4 this year.

The government is likely to challenge the tribunal’s order in court.

An officer of the Central Bureau of Investigation said: “We had told the tribunal that he would influence witnesses and so opposed his reinstatement.”

According to the CBI, former Mira-Bhayandar corporator Rita Shah had approached Bali on behalf of a builder in January 2010 for an NOC to develop a 2,000 sq mt Thane plot worth Rs 4 crore. Bali’s NOC was required as 25% of the land was to be used for a post office.

A CBI officer said that Shah got a call from Arun and Harsh Dalmiya of the Watermark Financial Consultancy, Nariman Point, asking her to meet them at their office. “There they demanded bribe on Bali’s behalf. When Shah met Bali again, he confirmed the demand. Shah then approached us (the CBI), which recorded on camera Bali’s visit to the plot accompanied by the Dalmiyas.

“When Shah went to the Dalmiyas’ office with the money, we apprehended the father-son duo accepting it. At the same time, we told them to play along till Bali was trapped. So, Harsh Dalmiya called up Bali and told him that the money had been received. Bali asked him to hand over the money at a restaurant at Badhwar Park in Cuffe Parade. We caught Bali red-handed accepting the money stuffed in a black bag.”

CBI Caught M S Bali Accepting 2 Crore

FEB 24, 2010 | M S Bali, chief postmaster general of Goa and Maharashtra, is arrested, along with two others, for accepting a bribe of 2 crore

FEB 25 |
CBI raids Bali’s residence and recovers 34 lakh in foreign currency, seven high-end laptops and 45 bottles of imported liquor

FEB 26 |
Bali is suspended

FEB 27 | CBI finds Bali owns properties in Faridabad, Panchkula, Dwarka, Bhopal and Gurgaon, collectively valued at 1 crore. CBI also discovers 22 bank accounts belonging to Bali containing 26 lakh

NOV 4, 2011 |
Bali is reinstated and appointed chief postmaster general of West Bengal

NOV 8 | Department of telecommunications issues suspension order, institutes departmental inquiry

The Times of India, November 9, 2011

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Lawyers of accused made 60 trips to court in 5 years

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: “This was our 60th trip to the Mumbai court. Each time we came to the city, we hoped we will be successful in getting the accused out of jail,” said advocate Nihal Ansari, a lawyer in the legal cell of Jamiat-ul-Ulema (Maharashtra) on Saturday after the nine youths arrested in the 2006 Malegaon blasts case got bail.

The Jamiat, the Malegaon Kul Jamaati Tanzeem, an NGO, and the residents of Malegaon had been closely following the blasts case. “We stood united and proved the ATS theory wrong,” said Irfana Hamdani, another lawyer. The lawyers played a major role in securing bail
for the nine youth, who they insisted had no role to play in the blasts.

“To prove our point, we had compiled a 380-page factfinding report and submitted it to the first CBI team. However, the CBI did not consider it. Later, we submitted the report to Union home minster P Chidambaram and the NIA. The NIA has been taking our help since it took over the probe,” said advocate S S Shaikh.

Jaleel Ahmed, an advocate and brother of one of the accused, Abrar Ahmed, said his son was kidnapped and beaten up by the ATS in 2009. “We have registered a case with the Nagpada police against the police personnel,” said Jaleel.

The Times of India, November 6, 2011

Are loopholes in ATS investigation showing?

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

The bail granted to nine Malegaon youth has left the Maharashtra anti-terrorism squad (ATS) red-faced. Malegaon residents have, over the course of the case, cast doubts over the ATS probe.

The ATS had invoked MCOCA against these accused. “The police had 180 days to file a chargesheet. The agency did it in just 54 days. We don’t understand why the ATS was in a hurry to file it earlier. This raises serious questions on their probe,” said Maulana Abdul Qayyum, a member of Jamiat-ul-Ulema, which bore the legal expenses.

Abdul Malik Bakra, an activist, said the ATS did not even submit the complete forensic and voice sample test reports along with the

K P Raghuvanshi, who was the then ATS chief, was not available for comment.

One of the questions raised is regarding ATS’ claims about involvement of Mohammed Zahid, an imam from a Yavatmal mosque. The ATS said he planted a bomb in Malegaon and left for Yavatmal the same day. “The distance between the two towns is around 1,000 km. How can
you travel 1,000 km in just 12 hours in a state transport bus? The ATS said Zahid was in Malegaon on that day and planted the bomb, while more than 250 Yavatmal residents filed affidavits saying Zahid was in Yavatmal on September 8, the day of the blasts,” said a resident.

Thirdly, the police said a Pakistani national, Muzammil, had come to Malegaon and assembled the bombs. But ATS could not provide further information on his visit. Police said that 45 bombs were manufactured in Malegaon. “Surprisingly, they could not recover a single bomb,” another activist said.

Moreover, when the Malegaon blasts took place, Shabbir Masiullah, one of the arrested accused, was already in Mumbai police’s custody, residents said.


September 8, 2006 | Four RDX bombs went off in Malegaon, killing 31 people and injuring 297. The bombs were planted on bicycles and exploded between 1.45pm and 1.55pm. The first three went off outside Hameediya mosque in Bada Qabrastan and the fourth exploded at Mushawerat Chowk in central Malegaon. The bombs contained RDX, ammonium nitrate, nitrite and oil fuel.

December 21, 2006 |
The ATS filed a 4,500-page chargesheet against the suspects. The case was handed over to the CBI the same day


Noor-ul-Huda (24)
Occupation | Labourer Charge | Bomb planter at the mosque

Shabbir Masiullah (34)
Occupation | Owner of a battery shop Charge | Conspirator

Raees Ahmed Rajjab Ali (35)
Occupation | Masiullah’s brother-in-law, partner in Masiullah’s battery unit Charge | Conspirator and bomb planter

Salman Farsi (40)
Occupation | Unani doctor Charge | Conspirator

Farogh Makhdoomi (40)
Occupation | Unani doctor Charge | Conspirator

Mohd Ali Shaikh (45),
earlier arrested in the 11/7 train blasts case Occupation | A Govandi resident, labourer Charge | Supplying RDX to Malegaon accused

Asif Bashir Khan alias Junai (40),
earlier arrested in the 11/7 train blasts case Occupation | A mechanical engineer from Jalgaon Charge | Supplying RDX

Mohd Zahid Abdul Majeed (35)
Occupation | Imam Charge | Planter

Abrar Ahmed Saeed (35)
Occupation | Powerloom unit owner Charge | Planter

The Times of India, November 6, 2011

2006 Malegaon blasts: Bail for all 9 accused

MOMENT OF JOY: Activists and lawyers celebrate after the nine blasts accused get bail on Saturday

Mateen Hafeez & Rebecca Samervel TNN

Mumbai: Nine persons accused in the 2006 Malegaon serial blasts that left 31 dead got bail on Saturday. The Maharashtra anti-terrorism squad had arrested them claiming that they belonged to the banned SIMI and aided a Pakistani in executing the attacks. The National Investigation Agency (NIA), which took over the probe after Swami Aseemanand’s confession that a saffron group was behind the blasts, did not oppose bail.

NIA reviewed evidence after Swami confessed

Although nine people have been granted bail for the 2006 Malegaon blasts, two of the nine accused, Shaikh Mohammed Ali Alam Shaikh and Asif Khan, will remain in custody because they are also accused in the 11/7 Mumbai train blasts case.

Special judge Yatin Shinde of the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) court granted bail on a personal bond of Rs 50,000 each and asked the nine to furnish one or more surety. Defence lawyers requested that they be allowed to furnish cash surety in a bid to hasten their release in time for Eid on Monday. The judge declined this request.

The ATS had charged the nine with helping a Pakistani, Muzammil, in carrying out the blasts. They had said Muzammil had travelled
to Malegaon with RDX to assemble the bombs, three of which were planted on the premises of the Hameediya mosque and a fourth at Mushawerat chowk. The bombs went off late in the evening on September 8, 2006, when Muslims had gathered at cemeteries for Shab-e-Baarat prayers, killing 31 and injuring 297.

“In all fairness, in the interest of justice after due deliberation a decision was taken on the basis of the facts and circumstances not to oppose the bail application of all nine persons,” special public prosecutor Rohini Salian told the court on behalf of the NIA.

The NIA did not file a report in the court, saying investigations were not over yet. However, it submitted that after the revelations by rightwinger Swami Aseemanand, who was arrested in the Mecca Masjid blast case, it had reviewed the evidence collected by previous investigating agencies—the ATS and CBI—
and also collected fresh documentary and oral evidence.

The 2006 blasts case was first investigated by the ATS followed by the CBI. Both accused the nine youngsters—Noor-ul-Huda (24), Shabbir Masiullah (34), Raees Ahmed Rajjab Ali (35), unani doctors Salman Farsi and Farog Makhdoomi, Mohammed Ali, Jalgaon mechanical engineer Asif Bashir Khan alias Junai, Mohammed Za
hid Abdul Majeed, and Abrar Ahmed Saeed (35)—of the blasts. Following Aseemanand’s confession about his associates engineering the attacks, a second CBI team looked into the case and said the accused were not involved. Now, the NIA is pursuing this theory.

Since the saffron angle cropped up, residents of Malegaon have been meeting the Prime Minister, the Union
home minister and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi to emphasize that the youths had been framed. “It’s an Eid gift for all of us,” said Maulana Abdul Hameed Azhari of Malegaon after the bail order.

The township celebrated the news with crackers. “The ATS had wrongly booked these boys and we have been agitating for the past five years,” said S S Shaikh, a senior advocate.

The Times of India, November 6, 2011

Friday, November 4, 2011

Sadhvi kin to approach court for her safety in jail

Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: A relative of the 2008 Malegaon bomb blast suspect, Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, will approach the special MCOCA court on Friday to demand protection for her at the Byculla women’s prison. This comes after a suspected Nigerian female drug peddler allegedly abused Thakur and fought with her jail mate.

The application will be moved by advocate Ganesh Sovani on behalf of Thakur’s brother in-law,
Bhagwan Bhai Jha. Thakur has been in jail since November 3, 2008. Jha’s application states that African female undertrials lodged in the same jail had created a ruckus on the premises and had gheraoed Thakur and manhandled her jail inmate Rita Jaiswal on October 27. It added that Thakur was repeatedly abused and heckled as well.

The application further stated that when the matter was reported to the jail authorities, even they could not overpower over the
African inmates, who were physically much stronger than them. “If the jail authorities send police personnel to sort out the issue, then these African female undertrials try to undress themselves and scream and shout,” Jha stated in the application.

Jha believes that the court may seek a report from the superin
tendent of Byculla Jail about the incident that took place on October 27, and direct jail authorities to take appropriate steps for the security of Thakur and Jaiswal. The application further stated that a year-and-a-half ago, an undertrial had physically assaulted Thakur.

Assault, fighting and brawls among the jail inmates is not a new thing in city prisons. In April this year, Maria Sussairaj— who was arrested for TV executive Neeraj Grover’s murder—had entered into a scuffle with a South African
female drug peddler inside the Byculla prison. The woman constable who intervened was injured. Maria was later acquitted by the court in the murder case.

Sources from the jail said a routine search of all the inmates was on. This practice is carried out in all barracks and cells in jails across Maharashtra. Maria was talking to some other inmate when the South African inmate allegedly pushed her. They had a heated argument before they caught hold of each other, said the source.

The Times of India, November 4,2011

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Training, intelligence must accompany COSTLY CCTV BLANKET

Experts Say Police Force Must Learn To Use Rs 600-Cr System, Remain Sceptical If Expense Will Curb Terror, Other Crimes

Vijay V Singh, Mateen Hafeez & Linah Baliga | TNN

The state hopes the 5,000 Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras it will install at a cost of Rs 600 crore will boost policing efforts in a city that has frequently been ravaged by terror and seen a rising crime graph. However, security experts are sceptical about how much of a deterrent the cameras will be to terrorists and say that even after an attack the images may not help detection. On non-terror-related street crime, there is a mixed response, with

sources saying CCTVs might help prevention, but cops fail to solve cases even after getting the suspects’ images.

With respect to terror, security experts said what is far more important is to invest in a proper intelligence network, which would get inputs from not just the police, security establishment and informers, but also from the public, businesses, companies, private security agencies and so on.

A security expert said a dedicated team has to monitor the CCTVs, but city police sources admitted it would be difficult to maintain an advanced monitoring system with dedicated personnel. An intelligence officer, speaking of existing CCTVs, said, “As of now, the police keep watching just to see if the cameras are working. Most police personnel are not bothered to check what is on screen. Unless, the police are trained, the CCTVs won’t help.” A zonal deputy commissioner of police said, “ CCTVs will help only if there is proper monitoring of the camera, real-time evaluation of footage and coordination between police units. Maintenance is also an issue.”

A private expert who has helped the police solve cases, asked why the police were unable to trace the Zaveri Bazar blast suspect despite having
footage. “A strong human intelligence would be more effective than cameras,” he said. “If the government is serious, it should first create the infrastructure required to monitor the visuals and train the policemen.”

A security expert said intelligence networks help in the US. “Having police all over the city will not have any impact because of ‘alert fatigue.’ The same is the case for those who monitor CCTVs,’’ he said. CCTVs may help, but a huge investment is not the solution. “It’s okay to have CCTVs at some crowded places, but we should have fusion centres, like in New York, where there is public-private participation. Every stake holder is involved in the security. In the US, private security guards join hands with the police at crowded areas, like malls,’’ he said.

Local police usually don’t monitor existing CCTVs in real time. They get details from various sources and then ask technical experts to rewind the CCTV footage. An officer said, “Another issue is that criminals are aware of the CCTVs and hide their faces.”

Talking about prevention, an expert said, “If a suicide bomber with a backpack is seen at a station, mall or market, the control room may have only seconds before it informs the local police, who can stop the detonation. Is that system being put in place?” After a blast, CCTVs do not necessarily make investigations easier. The June 2007 Haymarket bombing in England saw officials trolling through 90,000 CCTV tapes before they identified the Mercedes.

In Khar, locals installed their own CCTVs after the crime rate spiked. Home minister R R Patil inaugurated a system, sponsored by the Khar Residents’ Association, near Khar railway station on June 2010. Citizens also installed CCTVs on Khar Pali Road, 13th Road and in Shirley Rajan village. A year later, some residents say the CCTVs have not helped.

“We submitted CCTV footage from areas where street crimes were taking place. Where there was a house break-in, two suspicious people were seen walking up the road and looting office computers. But the police were unsuccessful in nabbing them,” said Aftab Siddique, a Khar activist. He said the prime suspects were distinctly seen on the CCTV footage.

But, some police said CCTVs would help if they are connected to police stations. “They would reduce crimes like chain snatching, bag lifting and vehicle theft. If the area is under coverage, the camera will be a deterrent,” said Vishwas Nangre-Patil, additional CP, Zone IX, west region. “Recently, six cell phone thieves were nabbed based on CCTV footage,” he said.

In the February 13, 2010 bomb blast at Pune’s German Bakery, the CCTV cameras did provide some leads, but most of the images from the bakery’s cameras were damaged and difficult to decipher. The images of a suspect planting a bomb beneath a chair was seen. The ATS identified the suspect as a student, Samad Bhatkal, and picked him up from a Karnataka airport after he arrived from Dubai. Bhatkal was later found to be the wrong man and released

In the July 13, 2011 triple blasts in Mumbai, the police recovered some CCTV images and prepared sketches of the suspect, but this didn’t help find him

Install dense network of 5,000 CCTV cameras across city

Cameras will be at sensitive areas, prominent religious places, important government buildings (courts, police stations, Mantralaya), railway stations, areas around airport, crowded streets, busy SoBo areas, places facing terror threat, etc
Cost will be nearly Rs 600 crore
Ten bidders have emerged as frontrunners
Bidding ended recently and the winner should be announced by the end of November. Thereafter, it will take six to eight months to complete the project


The traffic police have installed about 100 CCTV cameras at important junctions to monitor vehicular traffic. Most of the cameras are in south Mumbai, at Haji Ali, Metro Cinema, CST, Mantralaya, Churchgate and so on
SUBURBAN AREAS | Suburbs like Bandra, Khar and Vile Parle have CCTVs installed in some public areas
CONSULATES | Diplomatic missions with CCTVs include the Americal Consulate, Afghan Consulate, Israeli Consulate, UAE Consulate & Saudi Arabian Consulate

SOBO MARKETS | After the 13/7 blasts, the police helped several businesses install CCTV systems. 132 cameras were installed in Mangaldas Market, 142 in Thakurdwar Market and 60 at Kalbadevi’s ball-bearing market
POLICE STATIONS | All police stations in south Mumbai are under surveillance
GOVT CAMS | The Bombay high court, sessions court, Mantralaya and chief minister’s residence are among those monitored

SEA LINK | There are six CCTV cameras on the Bandra-Worli sea link

All banks and most ATMs have CCTVs

Each of the city’s five toll nakas will have 10 to 12 cameras within 2 months

The World Trade Centre and many private businesses in the city, including shops, have installed CCTV systems

The Times of India, November 2, 2011

Cops aim to make fraud firm case chargesheet watertight

Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: The economic offences wing (EOW), which is probing the multi-crore SpeakAsia fraud case, will take some more time to file a chargesheet against the culprits. The police have
completed 90 days of investigation and will file the chargesheet in November.

Police officials who are investigating the case said that it is a huge case and the investigation is spread over several cities. “We are going through a lot of documents and gathering evidence. Some arrests were made three months ago and we are preparing the reports. Our aim is to file a watertight chargesheet,” said inspector B P Shelke, chief investigator.

So far, eight persons have been arrested in Mumbai. While seven were taken into custody by the Hyderabad police, the company’s chief operating officer (COO), Tarak Bajpai, managed to jump bail and has disappeared. Bajpai told police he was a flight lieutenant before join
ing the multi-level marketing business in 2004. The firm started an online survey in which each person would be given two surveys a week to complete on an annual fee of Rs 11,000. If the investor successfully completed all surveys, he would be entitled to Rs 52,000 a year.

The police said that the fraud took place between March 2010 and May 2011. “During this period, around Rs 1,000 crore was transferred from India to the United Bank of Singapore. The money was later transferred to Abu Dhabi. We
are getting reports on the money trail,” said an officer. However, the police said that the banks where the accounts for this company were opened should have monitored the financial transaction of a new company. “Every month, Rs 80 to 90 crore was transferred outside the country and none of the accounts belonging to this new company was monitored. It’s surprising,” said the officer.

The police suspect that some of the accused involved in the fraud were also part of other multi-level marketing frauds. “We are getting information about them as well and we will pass on such inputs to the investigating officers,” the officer added.

While some of the panelists have returned money to their investors, the police suspect it is because of the pressure the panelists are under. “We heard some of the panelists are returning money but it’s more because they are afraid of police action or due to relationships with the victims,” he said.

The Times of India, November 2, 2011

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

‘NIA won’t oppose bail for accused’


Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: Union home minister P Chidambaram on Monday announced that the National Investigation Agency (NIA) will not oppose the bail plea of the nine accused arrested in the 2006 Malegaon bomb blasts case.

Meanwhile, NIA officials on Monday informed the special MCOCA court in Mumbai that it would file additional chargesheets against the nine accused on November 4. It will also file its statement on the same day on the bail application of the accused, all suspected SIMI members. “As far as the NIA is con
cerned, they are not opposing the bail. Whether the bail will be granted or not, it is not for me to say,” Chidambaram told reporters. Asked whether the move not to oppose the bail meant that the nine people arrested by the ATS were innocent, Chidambaram said, “No, until any other person who is involved is actually found and chargesheeted and until the old chargesheet is revised, we can’t come to any conclusion. The investigation is covering the other directions as well.”

He added, “The NIA has concluded
that it is no longer necessary to keep them in judicial custody and, therefore, the NIA will not oppose the bail.” All the accused are in Arthur Road prison since their arrest in 2006.

MCOCA judge Y D Shinde adjourned the hearing till November 19. After Swami Aseemanand’s confession, which pointed to a right-wing group’s involvement, the accused filed bail pleas. Aseemanand was arrested for his alleged role in the 2007 Mecca Masjid blasts. “From the confession, it is clear that those responsible for the 2006 Malegaon blasts are persons far removed from the current accused,” they said in the bail plea.

The Times of India, November 1, 2011

QRT men roped in to maintain law and order



Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: The quick response team (QRT) commandos, meant to control the situation after any terror attack, will be deployed to maintain law and order during the Chhat Puja celebrations on Tuesday.

The city police have decided to take help from the QRT, state reserve police force (SRPF), tear gas units, special branch policemen in plainclothes and other security agencies.

“We want the Chhath processions to be peaceful. There won’t be any law and order problem,” said deputy commissioner of police, Ni
sar Tamboli.

This comes in the wake of Shiv Sena and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) leaders locking horns with Congress MP Sanjay Nirupam following his statement
in Nagpur last Sunday that north Indians can, if they choose to, bring Mumbai to a halt.

All police stations in the city have been asked to beef up security in their areas and be prepared to tackle any riot-like situation. The five police regions in the city have a team of 75 QRT commandos each.

“Maximum police bandobast will be made at the Juhu beach, where devotees gather in large
numbers every year on the occasion of Chhath Puja. Our men in mufti will also be deployed there to gather intelligence,” said a police officer.

The Times of India, November 1, 2011

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Hasan Ali suffers paralytic stroke, ignored by jail authorities: Lawyer

Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: Billionaire tax evader Hasan AliKhan,currently housed attheArthur Road jail, suffered a paralytic stroke on Thursday in his highly guarded special cell.Hislawyer,Ishwar PrasadBagharia, alleged that Ali was not provided any medicaltreatmentby thejail authorities.

Bagharia plans to move an application before a court on Monday in this regard.He,however,does not plan to attend the hearing, adding that he will wait for thecourt’sdirectionsin the matter.

“My client is dying in prison. Let him die. We want him to die,” quipped Bagharia sarcastically.

Terming the jail officials corrupt, he said, “All the jail officials are hand in glovewithJJhospital authorities. Why is Ali being given such shoddy treatment?”
Hasan Ali has been kept at the Arthur Roadjailsincehis arrest.

When contacted, jail officials said that Ali has not suffered a paralytic stroke and that he was fine. On Saturday morning, Ali was taken to JJ Hospital. “He was brought to the hospital for vari
ous blood tests. He has been coming to JJ for thelasteightdaysbuthas notbeen admittedtothehospital yet,” saidDr Ashok Rathor, acting dean,JJHospital.

Bagharia, on the other hand, alleged that jail records were being manipulated toshowthatofficialshavebeen taking Ali tothehospital regularly.

“Due to the paralytic attack, his face has been left disfigured. The corrupt jail authorities are not doing anything to save him. We have sent a notice to the jail authorities and will be filing an application beforethecourt,” he added.

However, Bagharia claimed that he won’t appear in courton Monday. “My junior willbe going tothecourt,butwill not argue the case. Let the court decide the course of Ali’s treatment. It’s up to the court whether it allows his treatment or not,” Bagharia said.

The Times of India, October 30, 2011

Bail plea of blast accused on Mon


Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: With the bail hearing in the 2006 serial blasts case in Malegaon to be held on Monday, relatives, friends and supporters of the nine local youths arrested for their alleged role in the attack are hoping that they get relief this time.

Several residents have been agitating against the arrests right from the beginning. “We do not believe the police theory that these boys (all Muslims) engineered the September 8, 2006, blasts. The ATS has wrongly framed them in the case just because they were suspected to be members of the outlawed out
fit, SIMI. Now we are hoping that the National Investigation Agency (NIA) is getting factual information about the actual culprits who have not been arrested so far,” said a member of the legal cell which is representing the nine accused.

During its investigation, the NIA found that the accused were wrongly implicated in the case and that rightwing groups are allegedly responsible for the blasts.

The bail application was filed before the MCOCA court and will be heard on Monday. Earlier, a CBI special task force which probed the case for two-and-a-half months this year had also indicated that the men were not involved in the blasts case and were wrongly implicated in the case by the ATS.

The Times of India, October 30, 2011

Saturday, October 29, 2011

125 tourists rescued from boat off Elephanta

Falguni Banerjee & Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: Nearly 125 tourists, including women and children, were stranded off Elephanta island for nearly one hour and 45 minutes, when their boat broke down while they were celebrating Diwali on Thursday.

They had boarded the Al-Hamd at 6.15 pm on their way back to the Gateway of India. A few minutes later, the boat stopped mid-sea, and after much arguing, the captain admitted that it had developed a technical snag. The boat started drifting from the route with the wind and as it turned dark, the boat began tossing around furiously with the high tide.

Some who where stranded did not want to recount the horrifying experience. “We only have our stars to thank,” said a relieved Rahul Sadhu, a resident of Nagpur. “When the boat did not start after 30 minutes, we realized that the staff aboard were not quali
fied, and we began making desperate phone calls. To our sheer bad luck, there was no network. After much delay, a passenger got through the police helpline, which forwarded the message to the coastal police.”

By then, it was 8 pm and after an agonizing wait, a patrol boat of
the Mumbai police located them and arranged an alternative rescue boat. They reached the Gateway at 9.30 pm.

“The boat operators at Gateway did not respond to our frantic calls. The boat had no life-jackets, hooters or helpline numbers, nor was there any food and water.
We got worried after it became dark. Nobody was responding to our calls. The children got cranky and were scared,” Sadhu said.

Another passenger, Mugdha Bhatawdekar, said, “For long, the driver did not admit that the boat had developed a snag. Fishermen on nearby boats could not hear our
shouts for help.”

Major Uday Kumar, who was stranded with his family, said, “Only a small bulb was burning in a corner. We located the operator’s number on the ticket but nobody responded. There were nearly 30 children on board. How careless can the authorities be?”

Another passenger, Pillai Balachandran, said, “Our mobile phones were not functioning. The boat had no communication or safety systems. The staff were illiterate, clueless and arrogant. Why did it take the police so long?” Two families missed their flights due to the incident.”

DCP (port zone) Tanaji Ghadge said soon after he received a message about the boat, he sent the Indrayani and Bombay 1 boats with over two dozen personnel from the Yellow Gate police station. The personnel, all trained swimmers, provided help to the stranded passengers, he said. The police have sought documents from the boat owner for verification.

The Times of India, October 29, 2011

Butcher murder: Accused will also be booked for suicide attempt


Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: The JJ Marg police has not arrested, Shaukat Ali, a mutton distributor, for killing a 55-year-old man. Ali, who tried to kill himself, too, after the murder is recuperating at the JJ Hospital.

Now, the police are planning to book him for attempt to commit suicide as well.

On October 20, Ali killed Jameel Qureshi with a knife around 4.15 pm at the latter’s shop in Surti Mohalla, near JJ junction. Locals caught Ali trying to flee the scene. “There were no injuries on Ali’s body while he was trying to flee. But in a span of 15 min
utes, he stabbed himself in his abdomen and his intestines were severely damaged. There were some cut marks on his chest as well,” said a police officer.

“The knife has been seized. The chemical analysis report will show if the knife contained the blood of both Ali and Qureshi,” said the officer. Ali, who was admitted to the ICU in a critical condition on that day, has been shifted to a general ward. “Ali is still in the hospital and will soon be arrested,” the police said. Qureshi, a resident of Nauspora in Bandra, is survived by a wife and seven children. The motive of the murder is yet to be established.

The Times of India, October 29, 2001

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Fraud firm investors vent ire on cops

Investors of Symbiosis Gold Trade firm, also mired in controversy, outside the Esplanade Court on Tuesday

Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: Investors of SpeakAsia, labelled as a dysfunctional firm by the police, have been accusing the media and the police of trying to tarnish the company’s name, cops say. According to the police, investors still believe that the company would have paid up the amount due to them had there been no police action.

Some panelists of the company, who still believe that the company is functional, have been
sending emails, SMSs and calling this correspondent and have been either requesting or
threatening him to not write reports on the issue.

“However, those who are posing as panelists and still trying to dupe unsuspecting investors will be dealt with strictly,” said Rajvardhan Sinha, additional commissioner of police, economic offences wing (EOW), on Tues
day. SpeakAsia, an online survey firm, has been accused of duping lakhs of investors of crores of rupees.

The police have so far arrested eight accused, most of them being the office bearers of the firm. Tarak Bajpai (36), chief operating officer (COO) of the company, was granted bail by a Maharashtra court. He later applied for anticipatory bail in a Hyderabad court in connection with
a similar case. However, he disappeared soon after his anticipatory bail plea was rejected. The accused are facing cases in Mumbai, Thane, Pune, Raipur, Jabalpur, Uttar Pradesh and other places.

“More than 200 complainants have approached us so far. These so-called spokespersons have earned a lot of money and are now trying to mislead people by telling them that there is no police
case against the company. We will take legal action against these panelists if they continue luring investors,” added Sinha. EOW teams from several states are looking for Bajpai. According to Sinha, the police has found out that the online surveys were ‘compiled’ in Mumbai.

“They hired a person to compile surverys, which were later given to the investors, who were told that reputed firms had given out contracts for the surveys, which is false and misleading,” a police officer said. He said that the person who prepared surveys for SpeakAsia would get Rs 15,000 for several assignments and that this amount was later increased upto Rs 1 lakh.

A police officer said that in such cases the investors should also be booked under the Prize Chits and Money Circulation Schemes (Banning) Act, 1978 since they are essentially gambling.

The Times of India, October 26, 2011

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

SpeakAsia COO bail may be cancelled


Mateen Hafeez

Mumbai: The economic offences wing (EOW) of the city police will move the Bombay high court to cancel bail granted to fraud investment firm SpeakAsia’s chief operating officer Tarak Bajpai. He was granted bail in August but did not attend court hearings.

Bajpai (36), who was admitted to Thane’s Jupiter Hospital, jumped bail and has been missing for the last couple of days. “We are trying to trace him, but in vain,” said an officer.
The EOW has appointed special public prosecutor Pradip Gharat to represent the prosecution. The enforcement directorate is probing the role of moneylaundering agents as

The Times of India, October 25, 2011

Monday, October 24, 2011

Fraud firm COO disappears while on bail

Tarak Bajpai

Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: The chief operating officer (COO) of fraud online survey firm SpeakAsia has jumped bail. “Tarak Bajpai (36) has disappeared and we don’t know where he is,” said an officer.

Bajpai was first arrested by the Mumbai economic offences wing (EOW) along with other co-accused in the multicrore scam. The men were then arrested by the Thane police in a case registered there. Bajpai complained of health problems and was admitted to Jupiter Hospital on bail and was operated upon.

In the meantime, the Andhra Pradesh police took the remaining accused into custody and took them to Hyderabad. “At that time, Bajpai was in the hospital,” said the officer. Upon
his discharge from the hospital, Bajpai, through his lawyer, approached the Hyderabad court seeking anticipatory bail. “He was not present during the hearing and his anticipatory bail application was rejected,” said the officer.

SpeakAsia, floated in 2010, allegedly duped people by posing as
a survey company. Investors, also called panelists, were given usernames and passwords to be used on the company’s now defunct website upon payment of Rs 11,000. Each panelist was given two surveys to complete in a week. Investors were promised Rs 52,000 if they completed 100 surveys in a year.

According to the police, SpeakAsia transferred Rs 1,000
crore from India to Singapore and that the fraud amount could be over Rs14,000 crore going by the number of investors. Investigations have revealed that the online survey firm duped over 24 lakh investors across the country.

The company’s head office is in Mumbai and not Singa
pore as reported earlier.

The other men arrested with Bajpai are the portal’s technical head Rajeev Mehrotra, Shaikh Rais Latif (32), an assistant for portal operations and in-charge of regular popups, accountant Ravi Janakraj Khanna (44), senior panelist Deepankar Sarkar, financial
advisor Sanjeev Danda and one of the directors, Rahul Shah.

EOW has seized two Mercedes belonging to the firm’s Indian chief and panelist, Manoj Kumar Sharma, who is currently in Dubai. “We found more than 175 accounts in various banks with a collective balance of over 150 crore. All of these have been frozen. The two seized cars are valued at Rs 1.30 crore. We are looking for the company’s properties and will attach them with court’s permission,” said an officer.

The firm’s international chief, Harinder Kaur, is at large. “Red corner notices against seven office-bearers have been issued. We are coordinating with other police agencies to arrest them,” the officer added.

Tarak Bajpai, chief operating officer of fraud online survey firm SpeakAsia, was first arrested by the Mumbai economic offences wing along with other co-accused in the multi-crore scam
The men were then arrested by the Thane police in a case registered there. Bajpai was admitted to Jupiter Hospital where he was operated upon
In the meantime, the Andhra Pradesh police took the accused, except Bajpai as he was still in hospital, into custody and took them to Hyderabad
After being discharged from the hospital, Bajpai, through his lawyer, approached the Hyderabad court seeking anticipatory bail. The court rejected Bajpai’s anticipatory bail plea

The Times of India, October 24, 2011