Monday, February 28, 2011

Kin of Sonawane’s ‘killers’ to go on fast


Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: Families of the 10 suspects arrested for setting the deceased Malegaon additional collector, Yeshwant Sonawane, on fire will go on hunger strike from Monday morning at Ambedkar chowk in Manmad.

The families have demanded the release of the suspects claiming that eight of the 11 booked for Sonawane’s murder were not present when the incident took place. However, the police has
booked all of them for murder.

“The families of these suspects will be going on hunger strike. We all will sit at Amedkar chowk and not eat or drink anything till we are given an written as
surance of an impartial CBI inquiry,” said Sagar, son of deceased accused Popat Shinde. Sonawane was allegedly set on fire by Popat at Panewadi area near Manmad. He died on the spot while Popat, who also suffered burn injuries, died on January 31 at JJ Hospital.

The police had earlier booked the accused under the Essential Commodities Act as well as for murder under the IPC. On February 11, the police invoked the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act against the accused. “We have no faith in the police inquiry Deputy superintendent of Manmad police, Samadhan Pawar’s investigation is biased,” said Sagar.

The Times of India, February 28, 2011

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Sadhvi held for 2007 murder of RSS worker

Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur

Victim Was Key Suspect In Samjhauta Blast Case

Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, a key accused in 2008 Malegaon blast case, was arrested by the Madhya Pradesh police in connection with the murder of Sunil Joshi, an RSS worker and a suspect in the Samjhauta Express blast case, late on Friday.

Joshi, believed to be an associate of the sadhvi, was shot dead
on December 29, 2007, near his house in Dewas, MP. Two men on a motorbike and others in a Maruti van had shot Joshi from close range.

The MP police had sought the permission of the special MCOCA court to question Pragya in the case.

The sadhvi is currently under treatment at JJ Hospital. While the MP police are planning to take her to Dewas for further investigation,
sources close to Pragya told TOI that her health is deteriorating and she can’t even walk due to several ailments.

Pragya was arrested in the Malegaon blast case after the Maharashtra anti-terrorism squad found that the bike used to plant the bomb was registered in her name.

During interrogation, Pragya told the sleuths that she had sold the bike to Joshi, who is a suspect in various blast cases, including on Samjhauta Express and at Ajmer and Hyderabad.

Sixty-eight people were killed when bombs went off in two coaches of Samjhauta Express, running between Delhi and Lahore, around midnight on February 18, 2007, at Diwa
na near Panipat.

A team from the Industrial Area police station in Dewas interrogated Pragya for an hour in the hospital on Saturday. So far, five others—BJP corporator from Dewas Ram Charan Patel and RSS activists Harshad Solanki, Vasudev Parmar, Anand Raj and Mehul—have been arrested in connection with the murder. Patel was arrested last month for destruction of evidence.

The Times of India, February 27, 2011

26-yr-old held for Kanpur bomb blast

Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: The Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS), in a joint operation with the Uttar Pradesh police, arrested a 26-year-old man from Nalasopara for his alleged role in the Kanpur bomb blast in 2000.

According to ATS, the sus
pect Mohammad Asad Siddiqui, was part of a group which had allegedly planned a bomb blast, on the occasion of Independence Day in 2000. However, the bomb which was planted exploded on August 14 and injured three policemen. Siddiqui, who was 15 years old when the blast occurred, has been staying in Nalasopara west since then.

“We arrested Siddiqui on Friday from Nalasopara and we will hand him over to the UP police since they are probing the case,” said Pradip Sawant, deputy police commissioner of the ATS.

According to the police, Siddiqui was absconding since the blast occurred in the Arya Nagar area of Kanpur. He owned Astech Internet Solutions in Nalasopara, the police said.

ATS officers said that Siddiqui has admitted that he was a member of banned Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI).

Siddiqui was produced in Esplanade court on Saturday and remanded in transit remand custody till March 2.

The Times of India, February 27, 2011

Suspects put on class act in jail

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: Several undertrials facing serious charges, including for murder and bomb blasts, are being addressed as ‘sir’ in jails right now. They have become part of the education programme in jails and teach less-literate inmates or review the teaching programme itself.

Among the teachers are those accused of playing a role in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts, the 2006 and 2008 Malegaon blasts and two naval personnel accused of separate murders. Some of the accused, including a cop accused of selling heroin, have even become part of the committees that review the performance of other teachers.

Jail authorities initiated the educational programme at the Arthur Road, Taloja and Thane jails two months ago. The programme has also started at the Byculla women’s prison.

“Malegaon mosque blast suspect, Noor-ul-Huda, is teaching Arabic and Urdu to at least 10 inmates in his cell, while Malegaon 2008 blast suspect Maj (Retd) Ramesh Upadhyay, who is in the Taloja jail, is on the committee that reviews the teaching,” said Surinder Kumar, inspector-general, prisons.

Kumar added that there are 17 teachers in the Arthur Road jail. Jail authorities formed a four-member committee at Arthur Road to monitor the inmates’ studies and educational progress. “In the Arthur Road committee, IPS officer Saji Mohan, who faces drug peddling charges, is the most active inmate. Another member in this committee is Sujit Nair, who has a BTech in comput
ers. Earlier, they were teaching 10 students each, but now they have become part of the review committee,” said a senior prison officer.

There are 175 inmates enrolled in the education programme at Arthur Road jail. “Huda wished to teach Arabic and Urdu to inmates. He and over two dozen teaching aspirants were given a test. When they passed, they were assigned the job of teaching,” said Kumar. At the Byculla women’s prison, around 40 inmates are enrolled as students.

Jail authorities say they have been getting a positive response. “There is one Punjabi inmate. He did not know English but within two months was able
to write his entire family’s name in English. We feel proud with such results,” added another jail official. Another inmate, Sheru Khan, a Class VII dropout, can speak a few sentences in English. “The classes are conducted for 90 minutes every day and it’s just a two-month course,” said a jail officer.

At Taloja, Upadhyay plays a major role. “He has also submitted some suggestions for improving the study system,” added Kumar. Other members in the apex committee are blast accused Riyaz Siddiqui, navy officer Emile Jerome and sailor Manish Thakur. Both navy men face separate murder charges.

Major (Retd) Ramesh Upadhyay
Suspected to be a conspirator in the 2008 Malegaon blast, which killed 7 people.
Status: Under trial

Riyaz Siddiqui
Suspected to be a conspirator in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts, which killed 227 people
Status: Under trial

Saji Mohan
Mohan is an IPS officer who is suspected to have stolen and sold over 80 kg of heroin while he was zonal director of the Narcotics Control Bureau in
Kerala in 2007-08
Status: Under trial

Suspected to be a bomb planter in the 2006 Malegaon mosque blast, which killed 38
Status: Under trial

Emile Jerome
An Indian Navy officer, he and his girlfriend Maria Susairaj allegedly killed a director of Synergy Adlabs, Neeraj Grover
Status: Under trial

Manish Thakur
A sailor in the navy, Thakur allegedly killed his friend, Kaushambi Layek
Status: Under trial

Gangster Abu Salem, who is lodged at the Taloja jail, had also expressed his desire to become a teacher, according to jail authorities. He has been kept alone in a special cell. “We don’t want to give him a chance to become a teacher since we fear it might help him mingle with young boys and expand his gang in the jail itself,” said a jail officer. He added that Salem has been kept in a special cell and no inmate in a special cell has been given a chance to become a teacher. “It may create law-and-order problems and the opportunity to impart education may be misused,” said the officer.

Malegaon accused takes PhD entrance test
Swati Deshpande & Hemali Chhapia TNN

Mumbai: Of the 2006 candidates who appeared for the PET (PhD Entrance Test) on Saturday, one did not return home. He went back to the Arthur Road jail—his temporary home. The candidate who took special permission from the court and appeared for the exam was Farooq Makhdoom, one of the accused in the 2006 Malegaon blasts. He has been in jail for over four and half years. He wrote the exam in Urdu.

Makhdoom’s lawyer Yakub Yusuf Shaikh sought bail for him so that he could appear for the test. The magistrate wanted to see his hall ticket before granting him permission. Makhdoom
was taken to his exam centre, Saboo Siddique College in Bandra, under heavy police protection. The blasts in 2006 had killed 31 and six of the nine accused are from Malegaon. They claim they were framed but the CBI has opposed the fresh bail plea filed this January.

The accused has been on a studying streak while in jail. Having completed his Bachelor of Unani Medicine in 1997, Makhdoom studied for his MA in Urdu while in custody in 2009. He has been securing a first class so far and is hopeful of cracking the PhD entrance as well.
Even though his hopes of getting bail have been dashed a few times, he and eight others who applied again are still hopeful of getting a release order soon.

The exam was conducted across 12 centres in the city. There were 2174 candidates from the state who had registered for PET. At some centres, said controller of examinations Vilas Shinde, students wanted the question paper in Marathi. They were also allowed to write the exam in Marathi. Shinde said the Mumbai University would consider setting the paper in Marathi next year.

The Times of India, February 27, 2011

MLA accused of rape held in Bandra, sent to Nashik


Mateen Hafeez & Prakash Joshi TNN

Mumbai: Nationalist Congress Party MLA Dilip Wagh, accused of raping a 22-year-old woman, was detained by the anti-extortion cell of the city crime branch from a bar at Pali Hill in Bandra at 9.30 pm on Saturday.

Himanshu Roy, joint commissioner of police (detection, crime branch), said: “On the request of the Nashik police, we deployed our men in Bandra and detained Wagh. We have handed him over to them.” The police have booked Wagh and his sec
retary Mahesh Mali for allegedly raping a woman in a state guest house in Nashik on February 21 after calling her for a job interview. Police sources said a preliminary medical report has confirmed sexual intercourse in the case. The victim has been sent for more tests.

Earlier in the day, NCP state president Madhukar Pichad suspended Wagh, an MLA from Pachora in Jalgaon. He is son of veteran politician Omkar Wagh, who had represented the constituency twice. The family enjoys considerable clout there.

MLA walked into trap at bar

Around 30 policemen from the anti-extortion cell and the property cell of the crime branch laid a trap near Royal China bar and restaurant on Saturday after learning that Wagh might be visiting, said sources. Wagh arrived in a chauffeur-driven car, not his own, and settled down after placing his orders. But the policemen reached him before his order.

“Wagh was shocked to find that he was surrounded by policemen from the crime branch. He did not resist and came out,” a source said. He was taken to the crime branch unit in Bandra where he had to wait for an hour before being handed over to the
Nashik police. The team left with him for Nashik and took along the car the MLA was using to verify its ownership.

Police said a preliminary medical report has confirmed sexual intercourse. The victim, who is from Aurangabad, was taken to Nashik for more tests. A more detailed chemical report will confirm if it was rape.

According to the FIR filed on Friday in Nashik, the MLA had asked the girl to come with her bio-data after promising to get her a job. He had told her that he was in charge of several organizations. The victim had approached the police on Thursday night.

The red-faced NCP decided to move quickly as the author
ities were moving to file a case against the MLA. The party confirmed Wagh’s suspension but declined to give reason. The budget session of the state legislature begins next month where the ruling party will face fire from the opposition.

The accused had been on the run and created problems for the party as the home department is handled by senior NCP minister R R Patil. The party has faced a similar situation when ex-minister and NCP MP Padamsinh Patil was arrested on charge of murdering his cousin and Congress leader P R Nimbalkar in 2006. Patil is now out on bail. R R Patil has assured an impartial inquiry will be conduted and culprits will be brought to book.

The Times of India, February 27, 2011

Friday, February 25, 2011

Ajmal Kasab included in census data

KEEPING TRACK: An enumerator comes out of Arthur Road jail during the second phase of the census

Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: India’s most highprofile prisoner Ajmal Amir Kasab was one of the 102 foreign inmates at Arthur Road jail who were included in the country’s 2011 census on Thursday.

‘‘We have 102 foreign inmates in our prison. The enumerators came to the prison but they were not allowed to visit Kasab,’’ said Arthur Road jail superintendent Ramesh Dhamne. ‘‘Except for a few police officials who have permission to enter Kasab’s cell, nobody is allowed to go inside his specially designed cell,’’ Dhamne added.

The enumerators were provided with the information by jail authorities. The prison staff opened Kasab’s file and answered questions related to him.

The census officials wrote Kasab’s date of birth as July 13, 1987, and his address as Faridkot in Punjab, Pakistan. The enumerators filled ‘school dropout’ under the qualification section, and ‘unemployed’ in the profession slot.

Kasab was captured on November 27, 2008, at Girgaum Chowpatty. He, along with his accomplice Abu Ismail, had killed more than 50 people at CST, Rang Sharda lane and Metro Cinema. Kasab has been kept away from all the other prisoners in a 6x10 ft cell, which is guarded by cops round-the-clock.

Kasab’s form was the fi
rst the enumerators filled. ‘‘Perhaps, the census officials wanted to
complete the dreaded criminal’s form as soon as possible,’’ a source said.

The other foreign prisoners who are housed in Arthur Road jail are Mexican and Russian diamond thieves, lottery fraud suspects from Kenya and drug peddlers from Nigeria.

“All the foreign inmates have been included in the census. While the enumerators did visit the
general barracks and spoke to the prisoners, the officials were kept from visiting the special cells meant for dreaded criminals. We have information about all inmates and gave it to the census staff. It’s dangerous to take the census officials to meet the dreaded criminals,” said a jail officer.

The Times of India, February 25, 2011

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Ajmal Kasab was nervous for some time after verdict

Ajmal Ameer Kasab

Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: Ajmal Kasab, India’s most high-profile prisoner whose death sentence was confirmed by the Bombay high court, spent a normal day at th e Arthur Road jail on Monday. Kasab (23) got nervous after hearing about the confirmation, but was later normal and had his lunch on time.

Jail authorities said the Pakistani terrorist was taken to a room adjacent to his cell for videoconferencing. “The web camera was switched off after the judge confirmed his death sentence,” said Surinder Kumar, inspector-general (prisons). “He was then taken back to his high security cell,” Kumar said.

According to jail officials, Kasab was nervous for some time. “He asked policemen posted there how long it would take for the government to hang him. The constables told him that they had an option of approaching the Supreme Court and that it could be delayed for more time. Hearing this, Kasab seemed relieved and asked whether his lunch was sent or not,” a jail official said.

Kasab ate almost everything served to him by a constable and later went off to sleep as usual. Kasab was arrested from Girgaum-Chowpatty on the midnight of November 27, 2008 soon after he along with his mentor, Ismail Dera Khan, killed over two dozen persons, including anti-terrorism squad
chief Hemant Karkare and additional commissioner of police Ashok Kamte.

“Kasab usually sleeps in the cell. He is undergoing treatment for acidity. Most of the time, he sleeps or sits near the door. He also speaks to constables posted there. But he has never wanted to go out of his cell, though he has been seen in the most stressful and frustrating conditions,” said the jail official.

Shift likely in 3 months
The Arthur Road jail authorities seemed to be relieved after it was stated that Ajmal Kasab will be shifted to Yerawada jail. Surinder Kumar, inspector-general (prisons), said, “I have visited the jail in Pune. We have selected a cell and will modify it soon. Kasab will be shifted there in three months.” He added that the cell was secure enough there.

A jail official said they had been on high alert since Kasab was brought to Arthur Road jail.

The Times of India, February 23, 2011

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

I am satisfied, justice has been done: Faheem’s wife

NOT GUILTY: Faheem Ansari’s family was present at the Bombay high court on Monday when the judges acquitted him and co-accused Sabauddin Ahmed. Faheem’s wife Yasmeen said she was elated

Mateen Hafeez & Swati Deshpande TNN

Mumbai: Yasmeen, wife of 26/11 terror attack accused Faheem Ansari, had a “long day” on Monday. “I woke up at 5 to offer namaz for my husband’s acquittal. I cooked and then left for the high court for the judgment,” said Yasmeen. Faheem and co-accused Sabahuddin Ahmed were acquitted on Monday.

“We were expecting the acquittal as my husband had no role to play. We are satisfied that justice has been done.
This success is a tribute to Faheem’s first lawyer, Shahid Azmi,” said Yasmeen. Azmi was shot down on February 11, 2010 at his Kurla office.

Only Faheem’s family was present in court. “Mujhe behad khushi ho rahi hain aaj.
Ab main intezaar kar rahi hoon (I am elated. I am now waiting to see him),” Yasmeen said. An family friend said the trial was an “an excellent example of how Muslim youth were victims of injustice”.

Faheem has spent more than three years in jail, but now his family is praying for his early release. They said they would contest any appeal by the state in the SC. Faheem, who was not taken to court on Monday, offered Namaz-e-Shukrana at the Arthur Road jail at 1 pm when heard about his acquittal.

Faheem Ansari's wife, Yasmeen

The Times of India, February 22, 2011

Monday, February 21, 2011

ATS dragging feet on Aseemanand confession

Agency Moved Fast On 11/7 Suspect But Yet To Arrest Key Accused In Malegaon Blasts

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Two years ago, on February 20, 2009, the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) arrested an alleged Indian Mujahideen (IM) member, Sadiq Shaikh, after his name cropped up in the Mumbai 11/7 train blast cases. Shaikh was first arrested by the city crime branch and later taken into custody by the ATS. But surprisingly, the ATS is yet to reach to a conclusion on arresting Hyderabad Mecca masjid blast accused Swami Aseemanand, who also confessed to his involvement in the two Malegaon bomb blasts.

The approach of the ATS, the investigating agency in both Shaikh and Aseemanand’s cases, is inexplicably differenttowardsthetwo.Onewas arrested and quizzed though his ‘confession’ was never on record, the other is yet to be arrested despite a voluntary statementbefore a magistrate.

Crime branch sources said Shaikh had been arrested in 2008 along with 20 other IM members for carrying out blasts and sending terror emails across the country. During the interrogation, Shaikh reportedly told the crime branch that it was not Students’ Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) but his module that engineered the train blasts in 2006. Senior crime branch officers said this statement, though not taken on record, directly contradicted the ATS theory about SIMI’s involvement in the blasts. The crime branch probe indicating IM’s hand in the blasts came as a shock to the ATS as it had already arrested 13 suspected SIMI members and filed an 11,000-page chargesheet against them.

The crime branch had claimed that the bombs for the blasts were manufactured in a Sewree flat and the RDX was procured by Riyaz Bhatkal.

On the other hand, the ATS stuck to its old theory that the bombs were assembled at Govandi and not at Sewree. Moreover, the ATS said the RDX was procured by a Pakistani, Ehsanullah, who illegally entered India along with 10 Pakistani accomplices. The ATS arrested Shaikh for questioning in the 7/11 train blast cases. He was also subjected to brainmapping but later discharged in the train blast case.

In the Malegaon blasts, the ATS
arrested nine youths allegedly associated with SIMI. Aseemanand’s name was in the chargesheet for the 2008 blasts, but he wasn’t mentioned as an accused since not much was known about his role at the time. Coming four years later, Aseemanand’s confession before a magistrate last December opened a can of worms.

Despite repeated attempts, ATS chief Rakesh Maria could not be contacted. He had said on an earlier occasion, “Our teams went to question Aseemanand but couldn’t get much
time to grill him.”

Senior police officers said, “When Shaikh can be taken into custody by the
ATS though nothing is on record, what is the hurdle to taking Aseemanand in custody though he has confessed before a magistrate?”

Malegaon residents, trying to secure the release of the local youths still in custody for the blasts also question why the ATS has not acted swiftly in this case.

Not questioned for want of ‘proper time’?

Swami Aseemanand

Naba Kumar Sarkar alias Swami Aseemanand was first arrested by the CBI on November 18, 2010, from Haridwar. He was on the run since his name appeared in the Malegaon blasts. A Botany graduate from a West Bengal university, Aseemanand started Shabridham Ashram at Dang in Gujarat for religious awareness. On December 18, 2010, he was taken to Tis Hazari court where Aseemanand gave a confessional statement before magistrate Deepak Dabas in
connection with the Hyderabad mosque blast case. During his confession, he said his men had executed the Samjhauta Express blast and the Malegaon blasts in 2006 and 2008 too. “I suggested to them (co-accused) that we should begin the bomb blasts with Malegaon since 80% Muslims live there,” Aseemanand told the magistrate, which is admissible as evidence in court.

Delegations of Malegaon residents have met senior ATS officials, CBI, state ministers and even the chief minister, seeking release of the nine Malegaon youths arrested for the blasts.

The ATS said its teams twice went to question Aseemanand, who is in jail for the Hyderabad and Samjhauta Express blasts, but could not get ‘proper time’ to grill him.

Arrested, quizzed & brain-mapped

Sadiq Shaikh

On February 20, 2009, the ATS arrested Trombay resident Sadiq Shaikh (31), for his alleged role in the 11/7 train blasts.

Among the 21 suspected members of the banned Indian Mujahideen (IM), he was arrested by the Mumbai crime branch in September 2008 for reportedly sending threat emails before
and after the Gujarat and Delhi blasts. A senior crime branch officer then said off-the-record that Shaikh also planted bombs in Mumbai’s local trains on July 11, 2006. The crime branch stated the bombs were manufactured at Raza Tower building at Sewree and not Govandi as claimed by the ATS, adding the IM’s Riyaz Bhatkal masterminded the blasts. But the ATS said the 13 members of Students’ Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) it arrested carried out the train blasts. Though Shaikh’s alleged confession was not taken on record by the crime branch, the ATS hurriedly filed an application in court seeking Shaikh’s custody.

He was formally arrested by the ATS and questioned, taken to the Kalina Forensic Science Laboratory and subjected to brain mapping tests. Later, the ATS filed an application before special MCOCA judge Y D Shinde stating Shaikh was not involved in the train blasts and could be discharged him in the case. He is still in jail for other blast cases.

2006 Malegaon blast probe unfair, says Khurshid


Mumbai: Union minister for minority affairs Salman Khurshid on Sunday said the 2006 Malegaon bomb blast investigation was “unfair” and demanded a review.

On September 8, 2006, four RDX bombs planted on bicycles near a mosque at a cemetery in Mushawerat Chowk exploded, killing 31 people and
injuring 297. The Maharashtra anti-terrorism squad (ATS) which investigated the case arrested nine SIMI members. Their families alleged they were wrongly framed.

Swami Aseemanand, accused in the Mecca Masjid blast, said in his confessional statement before a magistrate afew weeks ago that the Hindu right wing outfit was involved in the blasts. “It is clear that justice has not been done in the case,” Khurshid said.

Malegaon blasts a painful chapter: CM
Mumbai: Union minister for minority affairs Salman Khurshid called for a review of the 2006 Malegaon blast case. He was speaking during a conference on minority issues organized by an Urdu news channel. Chief minister Prithviraj Chavan, senior BJP leaders Rajnath Singh and Shahnawaz Hussain and state minority affairs minister Naseem Khan were among those present.

Khurshid added, “While 100% foolproof investigations were not possible in many cases, targeting ‘some people’ repeatedly was being unfair.” He added the Union government was keen to take the case to its logical conclusion.

Chavan referred to the blasts as a painful chapter in the state’s history. “Justice will be done. The case was transferred to the CBI on public demand. The guilty will be punished.”

He also said that two more Haj houses would be initiated — one in Nagpur and the other in Aurangabad.

The Times of India, February 21, 2011

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Land row may have led to mosque trustee’s killing

Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: A property dispute seems to be the motive behind the murder of a mosquetrustee who was shot in Dockyard Road on February 14.

The Byculla police and the crime branch claimed that Akhtar Hussain Ansari (57) had a land worth Rs 2 crore in Mumbra thathehad given out to a builder for development. He had a dispute with the builder and that might have led to his murder, a police official said.

“We have questioned the developer but are yet to reach a conclusion,” said the police. Incidentally, Ansari’s sons and wife are in the dark about
the land. “His family does not have any clue about this property,” said the officer.

A four-storey building has come up on the plot and the rest of it is lying vacant, the officer added.

Ansari was headed for home in Madanpura around 9.30 pm. “Ansariwas riding on a bike. Two assailants shot him from behind. It seems a heavy-bore weapon was used as the bullet entered Ansari’s back (right side) and pierced intohisheart,” said an officer.

The police have so far questioned more than 30 people but have not got any clue. “He receivedsomethreatsbut no one can elaborate on it,” said a source.

The Times of India, February 19, 2011

Friday, February 18, 2011

EOW attaches 75-acre plots of Aryarup Travel

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: The economic offences wing (EOW), which is investigating Aryarup Travel and Club Resort (ETCR) and its various fraudulent investment schemes, has attached its major properties. Two plots owned by the company directors, totalling more than 75 acres, were attached recently.

The EOW is probing a case against directors Ravindra Deshmukh and his wife Vasuda Deshmukh. The first complainant was allegedly duped of Rs 81 lakh. Sources say the company’s turnover exceeded Rs 1,000 crore per annum.

A plot measuring 50 acres near Jaipur airport and another 25 acre plot at Murbad were attached on a court order. The total worth of these plots is around Rs 12 crore, said sources.

Besides, 16 bank accounts opened in various banks have been frozen where investors had deposited Rs 12.5 crore. The suspects are still at large. The EOW has written to the court about the properties.

Daniel Pranjal, chief of Strategy India, a direct selling consultancy firm, said, “Several individuals start such companies promising high returns with the com
plete knowledge that they would have to keep getting money from new investors to pay off the old.”

Deshmukh and his wife floated several schemes in Gujarat, Haryana, Jaipur, Bangalore and Maharashtra. An investor would be asked to pump in any amount higher than Rs 5,000 for the travel and club resort. He was promised returns of 86% per year

on his investment. If the investor brought in others, he would be entitled to additional profit. The company had opened accounts of its investors on its website

“The suspects allotted login names and passwords to the investors and told them that their profit would be automatically transferred to their accounts. The police are investgating the case under various sections of the Indian Penal Code and the Prize Chits and Money Circulation Schemes (Banning) Act, 1978.

The Times of India, February 18, 2011

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Police Find Runaway Med Student After He Updated Online Status

E-FOOTPRINT helps cops trace youth

Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai:Last year, the cyber crime investigation cell (CCIC) was able to trace four missing people by monitoring their internet activity. The most recent case had all the elements of a blockbuster. In November 2010, a secondyear Mumbai-based MBBS student, who was aspiring to be a photographer but took up medicine at the behest of his father, ran away from home only to be found moonlighting as a watchman at a construction site in Powai a month later. He was being paid Rs 3,000 a month.

The police were able to trace the boy—a Navy officer’s son—after he logged onto a popular social networking site and updated his ‘status’ message. Investigators had been tracking the student’s online, social networking and email accounts from the moment the missing person’s report was filed.

An investigating officer involved in the probe said that initially the team had many false starts. “During our investigations, we found activity on the boy’s email account. It had been accessed from a cyber cafĂ© in Bhopal. But then we were told that the boy’s relatives, who had access to the account’s password, were logging in regularly in the hope of tracing him. A similar incident took place in Delhi. We had been working on the case round the clock but there was no breakthrough,” said the officer.

At the same time, investigators were also monitoring the boy’s profile page on the social networking site he was member of. The officer added: “We saw that his
‘status’ message had been updated recently.” The police found out that the user had accessed his account from a mobile phone internet service. “From the service provider, we learnt the name of the person who had registered the SIM card.”

On procuring the relevant information, the police got the SIM card owner’s address and laid a trap. They called up the person pretending to be courier boys. “Thinking we were from a courier company, the man who answered the phone told us to come to Bhandup. He was a contractor and said that he often loaned his phone to a watchman at a Powai construction site where he worked,” said the officer.

A police team was quickly dispatched to the site, but the watchman on duty was a 50-year-old Standard V drop-out. “From him we learnt that a new watchman had joined the team a few days ago. It turned out to be the missing student,” said an officer.

The boy had borrowed the phone, and on discovering that it had access to the
internet, he logged onto the networking site.

The student told the police he wanted to be a photographer but that his father had forced him to take up medicine. “I left home and spent nine nights at various railway stations. I went hungry for three days and had no money to eat. With great difficulty, I managed to get a job as a watchman for Rs 3,000 a month,” said the student, who has been reunited with his family.

This is not the first time the cyber cell has traced missing people by following their internet footprint. Himanshu Roy, joint commissioner of police (crime) said: “We now make it a point to ask for a missing person’s credit/ debit cards and online account details from the complainants.”

Deven Bharti, additional commissioner of police (crime) said that such details are passed on to CCIC investigators. “If the person is active on the internet, and logs onto his email account or any social networking site, we can trace him or her,” said Bharti.


•Investigators contact the internet service—whether social network or e-mail—to see if the missing person’s account is active

•They then gather other information such as when and where that account was last used

•Data provided by the internet services help the cyber cell locate the Internet Protocol (IP) address of the user’s computer. Every device connected to the internet is assigned a unique number known as an IP address. These numbers are allocated to Internet Service Providers (ISP) in region-based blocks, and this way, an IP address can be used to identify the region from which a computer is connecting to the internet

•It is then possible to contact the IP address owner and gather relevant information about the missing person


From New Delhi to Kalyan for love
In 2010, the cyber cell traced a 24-year-old New Delhi-based commerce graduate to Mumbai. The chances of locating Reena Kumar (24) were slim. That is, until the girl’s brother-inlaw—who was coordinating with the city police from Delhi—informed investigators that Reena was computer-savvy and
would spend hours surfing the Net. With the help of her e-mail id provided by the worried family, the cyber crime investigation cell traced the girl to Kalyan: she was happily married to her boyfriend of many years.

Two-timing husband found with second wife
The cyber crime investigation cell was also able to locate 32-year-old Deepak Kadam in a similar manner. In this instance, too, love was the motive behind the Virar resident’s vanishing act—much to the chagrin of his wife—who had reported his disappearance to the police. Kadam was traced to a hotel in Pune, where he was living with his bride, who happened to be his neighbour in Virar.

The Times of India, February 17, 2011

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Property row may be behind murder of mosque trustee

CRIME SPOT: Police inspect the scene of the murder at Dockyard Rd

Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: Investigations into Monday’s late-night shooting, that claimed the life of 57-yearold mosque trustee Akhtar Hussain Ansari at Dockyard Road, has revealed that the killing could be the result of a property dispute. No arrest has been made yet.

Ansari, a resident of Madanpura, was on his way home from Dargha Masjid in Mazgaon when the incident took place. “Ansari was riding on a bike. Two unidentified assailants came from the opposite side and fired from back. It seems a heavy-bore weapon was used since the bullet entered Ansari’s back (right side)
and pierced his heart,” said an officer. Ansari was also a trustee at the Ashraful Ma sajid mosque in Mumbra. The trustees at Madanpura suspect that the killers were aware about Ansari’s daily route.

A case of murder has been registered at the Byculla police station. There have been several versions about the attack. While some termed it as a dispute over trusteeship, some said it could be a case of property dispute. Himanshu Roy, JCP (crime branch), said, “It seems to be the fallout of a property dispute at Mumbra. We believe that he had been receiving threats in the past but no complaint was lodged with the police. The modus operandi looks like a professional shooter was involved in the killing.”

“We are questioning some people and will make arrests soon,” said DCP Nisar Tamboli.

The Times of India, February 16, 2011

CRIME SPOT: Police inspect the scene of the murder at Dockyard Rd

Property row may be behind murder of mosque trustee

Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: Investigations into Monday’s late-night shooting, that claimed the life of 57-yearold mosque trustee Akhtar Hussain Ansari at Dockyard Road, has revealed that the killing could be the result of a property dispute. No arrest has been made yet.

Ansari, a resident of Madanpura, was on his way home from Dargha Masjid in Mazgaon when the incident took place. “Ansari was riding on a bike. Two unidentified assailants came from the opposite side and fired from back. It seems a heavy-bore weapon was used since the bullet entered Ansari’s back (right side)
and pierced his heart,” said an officer. Ansari was also a trustee at the Ashraful Ma sajid mosque in Mumbra. The trustees at Madanpura suspect that the killers were aware about Ansari’s daily route.

A case of murder has been registered at the Byculla police station. There have been several versions about the attack. While some termed it as a dispute over trusteeship, some said it could be a case of property dispute. Himanshu Roy, JCP (crime branch), said, “It seems to be the fallout of a property dispute at Mumbra. We believe that he had been receiving threats in the past but no complaint was lodged with the police. The modus operandi looks like a professional shooter was involved in the killing.”

“We are questioning some people and will make arrests soon,” said DCP Nisar Tamboli.

The Times of India, February 16, 2011

‘Hate page will be removed as soon as possible’

Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: The web page ‘I hate Ambedkar’ on a popular social networking site was still up and running 24 hours after a mob went on rampage in Bandra and Khar. The city crime branch has written to the Central Emergency Response Team (CERT) in New Delhi asking the body to block the page, which was uploaded five days ago.

“We are hoping the page will be blocked by Tuesday night,” said an officer.

The police have yet to identify the person who put up the page, but a case has been reg
istered against the unknown party, said an official. The Khar police have registered a case of creating enmity between two communities against unidentified persons who uploaded the page on the website.

Though the page is believed to have been put up on February 10, it was only on Monday night that Dr B R Ambedkar’s followers were alerted of its existence. The violence of the protests took the police by surprise. “Even the top hierarchy of the city police had no idea of the trouble that was brewing because of the webpage,” said a senior of
ficial with the crime branch.

Crime branch chief, Himanshu Roy, said: “We contacted CERT and Facebook on Monday night itself. We requested them to block the page. Both have asked for a formal court order copy. On Tuesday, we got an order from a magistrate court, scanned it and e-mailed it to them.”

“When we send a court order copy, a decision is taken immediately. We are hoping that CERT will first block the page in India. We will request Facebook to block the page globally,” said an officer with the cyber crime department.

The police are also track
ing the person who created the page. “We should be able to identify the accused once we get the Internet Protocol address from the networking site’s server,” said an official. The police are confident that the creator of the profile page will be arrested in the coming days. TOI has learnt that the National Technology Research Organization—an antiweb crime organization under the National Security Advisor in the Prime Minister's Office—is also looking into the matter.

The social networking site has a ‘report abuse’ link for members who wish to bring any questionable content to the management. On the clicking the link, the user is given a series of reasons for why he or she wishes to report the page. One of the reasons listed is ‘contains hate speech or attacks an individual’.

The ‘I hate Ambedkar’ page has created uproar on the internet, with surfers waging an online battle on other websites as well.

Profile was made on Feb 10
The ‘I Hate Ambedkar’ profile page on a popular social networking site was created on February 10. The person responsible for it has not identified himself/herself. It went unnoticed for many days, but was brought to the attention of a group of Dalit youth on Monday, February 14. By 10.30 pm, the message that the Father of the Indian Constitution, Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar, was being portrayed in bad light spread like wildfire among youth in the Bandra, Khar and Santa Cruz. An hour later, violence erupted in Khar and Bandra.
— Linah Baliga TNN

The Times of India, February 16, 2011

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Charge sheet against rapist tantrik

Tantrik Mehdi Hasan alias Zainul Aabedin Shaikh (37)

Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: The JJ Marg police is likely to file a charge sheet against a fake tantrik, Mehdi Hasan alias Zainul Aabedin Shaikh (37), who raped six girls, five of them minors, on the pretext of curing them.

The case was first reported by TOI on November 29, 2010. Assistant inspector, Santosh Bagwe, who is investigating the case, said, “We have
compiled the charge sheet and will be filing it in court soon.” Shaikh, a Bangladeshi national, had also procured an Indian passport under a false name, Bagwe said.

Shaikh met the families of his victims in 2005. One of the victims’ mother told Shaikh that her sons were mentally challenged. “Shaikh promised to cure the girls so that they would not have trouble conceiving healthy children. He then proceeded to rape them,” said Bagwe. “He even raped the maid several times”. His youngest victim was a
13-year-old girl. Shaikh forced the girls to undergo abortions when they got pregnant.

Shaikh has been booked for rape and causing miscarriage under the Indian Penal Code, the Foreigners’ Act and the Indian Passport Act, among others.

“The victims picked out Shaikh from an identification parade. We have 17-18 witnesses whose statements will be recorded before a magistrate so that it becomes admissible in court,” added Bagwe. Shaikh is currently lodged at Arthur Road jail.

The Times of India, February 15, 2011

Catering firm staffer held for theft at Juhi’s residence

Sandeep Bhalerao (in the striped shirt) nabbed by Malabar Hill cops


Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: The Malabar Hill police arrested a 28-year-old man, employed with a catering firm on February 11, in connection with a theft at film actress Juhi Chawla’s Malabar Hill residence last month.

The police have recovered a laptop, a cellphone and an Ipod totally valued at Rs 1.5 lakh. According to Vinay Bagade, senior police inspector at the Malabar Hill police station, the theft took place on the night of January 15. “Juhi’s husband, Jay Mehta, had organized a party at his Veer Bhavan residence opposite Sahyadari Guest House,” said Bagade.

He added that Mehta’s manager, Makrand Bedarkar, lodged a complaint of theft with the police. He stated that
one of the guests, Chulee, had told them that her mobile phone, Ipod and laptop were missing after the party. “We began questioning the suspects. We called the employees of the catering firm and questioned them about the missing valuables.We grew suspicious about Sandeep Bhalerao (28), who was assigned the job of housekeeping at the party,” added Bagade.

Upon sustained questioning, Bhalerao admitted to his crime. “I had taken a loan of Rs 80,000 to start a business venture. However, one of my friends took this money and did not return it. Hence I committed the theft,” Bhalerao said.

According to the police, after stealing the goods, Bhalerao, kept the cellphone and Ipod in his trouser pocket and hid the laptop in his shirt before leaving Chawla’s residence. Bhalerao is a resident of Vaishali Nagar in Thane. The stolen goods were recovered from his residence. Bhalerao was remanded in police custody till February 17.

The Times of India, February 15, 2011

2008 Malegaon blast: Mutalik’s police custody is extended

Mumbai: A special Maharashtra Control of Organized Crime Act (MCOCA) court on Monday extended the police custody of 2008 Malegaon blast suspect Praveen Venkatesh Takalki alias Praveen Mutalik to February 21.

Mutalik (32), who holds a diploma in mechanical engineering, was arrested on January 31, after being untraceable for two years. Booked under MCOCA, he was picked up from outside his sim card shop at Gokak town in Belgaum district, Karnataka.

With this, the number of arrests in the case has gone up to 12. The others arrested include key accused Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur and Lt Colonel Shrikant Prasad Purohit. Seven people were killed in the blast on September 29, 2008, in Malegaon. TNN

The Times of India, February 15, 2011

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Red corner notices for 6 accused soon


Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: The anti-terrorism squad (ATS) is in the process of the issuing red corner notices (RCN) against the six accused in the last year’s blast at German Bakery in Pune. Seventeen people, including five foreigners, had died in the February 13 explosion.

On September 7 last year, the investigators had claimed to have cracked the case with the arrest of a suspected Indian Mujahideen (IM) operative, Mirza Himayat Baig. The ATS had further said that the plot was hatched by Pakistan’s banned outfit Lashkare-Taiba and executed by IM.

“Six persons—Fayyaz Kagzi, Zabihuddin Ansari alias Zaby, Mohsin Chaudhry, Yaseen Bhatkal, Iqbal Bhatkal and Riyaz Bhatkal—are wanted in the case. The court will soon declare the wanted accused as absconders and RCNs will be issued,” ATS chief Rakesh Maria said.

The Times of India, February 13, 2011

‘8 accused were not present at spot where Sonawane was burnt’

Mateen Hafeez TNN

Manmad: Eight of the 11 accused booked for burning Malegaon additional collector, Yeshwant Sonawane, were not present at the spot when the incident took place. However, the police
booked all of them for murder, officials from Manmad told TOI .

Sonawane was set on fire by prime accused Popat Shinde at Panewadi area near Manmad on January 25. Sonawane died on the spot while Shinde, who also suffered burn injuries, died on January 31 at J J Hospital. The police had earlier booked all the accused under the Essential Commodities Act as well as for murder under the Indian Penal Code. On February 11, the police invoked the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) against the accused.

Inspector Rafique Shaikh, in charge of the Manmad police sta
tion, said, “When Shinde set Sonawane ablaze, his 17-year-old son Kunal and an employee Rajeev Shirsat were also present at the spot. The other accused were not at the scene of crime.” This statement is significant as the police have booked 11 persons for the murder. Shaikh said, “That day, a tanker driver Haqqani Khan (49) and his son Imran (20) had stopped at Sagar Dhaba (where the murder took place) while a truck driver, Tauseef Khan, had purchased pilfered kerosene from the dhaba. Soon after Sonawane arrived there and questioned them, the three fled.”
This statement corroborates the on given by Kunal.

The teenager, who is lodged at the Nashik juvenile remand home, told his family that when he and Shinde reached the spot on January 25 afternoon, Sonawane’s driver Kailash Gawli and PA Rajendera Kale were standing outside the dhaba while Sonawane was waiting for Shinde behind the eatery. “Shirsat was also there at the dhaba,” Kunal told his family members. He added that following an argument, Sonawane manhandled his father who then set Sonawane on fire.

Drive against oil mafia slackens
Tmafia he special is showing drive against signs of the oil slackening. While 2,842 raids/searches were carried out between January 28 and February 1; this reduced to 1,695 between February 2 and 5. Oil worth Rs 1.73 crore was seized in the first five days of the drive. From February 2 to 5, oil worth over just Rs 63 lakh was seized. The number of cases registered declined from 225 to 109. TNN

The Times of India, February 13, 2011

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Sonawane murder: MCOCA invoked against accused

Mateen Hafeez TNN

Manmad: The Manmad police on Friday invoked the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) against 10 suspects arrested for burning Malegaon additional collector Yeshwant Sonawane alive.

The accused, including a 17-year-old teenager, were arrested between January 25 and 26 and were booked for murder.

The Times of India, February 12, 2011

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Dad set Sonawane on fire: Son of accused

Mateen Hafeez TNN

Nashik: Kunal, son of deceased oil mafia kingpin Popat Shinde, on Wednesday told his family that his father and Malegaon additional collector Yeshwant Sonawane had a major argument on January 25. It was after this that Shinde poured kerosene on Sonawane and set him ablaze.

Kunal (17), who too is accused of setting Sonawane on fire, has been booked for murder, along with 10 others, and has been sent to a juvenile remand home in Nashik.

Initially, it was reported that Shinde first set himself on fire and Sonawane got burnt trying to douse the flames.

Kunal’s statement plays a major role in the case. He told
his sister that his father received a call from their employee Rajeev Shirsat, who asked Shinde to meet him at Sagar Dhaba as Sonawane had gone there. “I would go everywhere with papa (Shinde). So, on that day too, I accompanied him. We had kept Rs 50,000 ready to offer Sonawane as bribe.

“Sonawane initiated an argument with papa, which eventually led to an abusive exchange. When papa humiliated Sonawane, he slapped him. Angry, papa kicked Sonawane, who fell on the floor. He again kicked Sonawane—on the chest—and poured kerosene on him. Within a couple of seconds, even before Sonawane could get up, Papa set him on fire. Papa also sustained injures,” Kunal told his family members.

The Times of India, February 10, 2011

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

‘Sonawane had provoked my dad to end life’

Mateen Hafeez TNN

Manmad: Sagar, slain oil mafia kingpin Popat Shinde’s son, on Tuesday alleged that the deceased Malegaon additional collector, Yeshwant Sonawane, had provoked his father to commit suicide. Sagar said he would file a police complaint against Sonawane, his personal assistant and driver for abetment of suicide. Shinde’s children demanded that Sonawane’s driver and personal assistant be subjected to forensic tests.

Sagar spoke to TOI after the 10 accused in Sonawane’s murder, including his younger brother, were produced before magistrate M M Thackeray’s court in Manmad on Tuesday afternoon. The court sent all the accused to judicial custody till February 21. Those arrested for burning
Sonawane alive include Sagar’s brothers Vikas (19), Kunal (17), brother in-law Deepak Borse, uncle Sitaram Bhalerao, family friend Rajeev Shirsat, associates Ajay Sonawane, Haqqani Khan, Imran Khan, Tauseef Sahikh etc.

“I met my youngest brother, Kunal, at Nashik’s juvenile remand home on Saturday. He told me something very startling. According to him, Sonawane, his PA Rajendra Kale and driver Kailash Gawli had been torturing my father to pay them Rs 2 lakh. My mother had passed way 10 days before this incident. Frustrated with the demand of money by a se
nior official, my father poured kerosene over himself and set himself on fire. Sonawane tried to douse the fire but got caught in it as well,” said Sagar, an under graduate drop-out from Bhonsala Military College in Nashik. When asked about the police report which mentions that Kunal had hit Sonawane with an iron rod and then set him afire, Sagar said, “My brother did not say anything about hitting Sonawane. He said Sonawane was arguing with my father for 15-20 minutes over the Rs 2 lakh payment.” Sagar said Kunal has not been informed about their father’s death yet.

“My father had been regularly paying Sonawane but he kept insisting on increasing his hafta,” said Shinde’s daughter, Jaya, whose husband Borse is also arrested in this case. Sagar and Jaya demanded that Kale and Gawli be subjected to narco analysis, brain mapping and polygraph tests. “The truth will be revealed after the tests,” said Sagar. The duo stated they will file an abetment of suicide case under section 306 of the IPC with the Manmad police.

Tanker drivers threaten strike
: Alleging police atrocities after the killing of Malegaon official Yeshwant Sonawane, around 4,000 oil tanker drivers have threatened to go on strike. Officials of the petrol, diesel, kerosene and LPG vehicle association in Manmad have stated that after Sonawane’s death, the police has come down hard on all tanker drivers and cleaners. “After Sonawane was killed at a dhaba while busting an oil pilfering racket, the police ordered all dhaba owners to stop serving food to drivers,” said Aqueel Shaikh, president of the drivers and cleaners’ association in Manmad. The tanker drivers further demanded that their monthly salaries be raised from Rs 2,000 to Rs 5,000. TNN

The Times of India, Ferbuary 9, 2011

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Sonawane killers unlikely to face MCOCA: Experts

Yeshwant Sonawane (right) was burnt alive at Panewadi near Manmad on January 25 allegedly by Popat Shinde (left)

Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: Following the daylight murder of Malegaon additional collector Yeshwant Sonawane, who was set ablaze by the oil mafia, some ministers had demanded that the Maharashtra Control of Organized Crime Act (MCOCA) be invoked against those responsible for the official’s death. However, legal experts and a section of senior police officers, said that the application of the stringent law won’t be possible as the prime suspect in the case, Popat Shinde, is dead.

Sonawane was burnt alive at Panewadi near Manmad on January 25. At the time of incident, the police FIR said that Sonwane had spotted oil being pilfered from a tanker and warned the suspect who set him on fire. On the other hand, residents of the area and Shinde’s family have alleged that Sonawane had gone
there to collect hafta. Shinde, who had suffered burn injuries while setting Sonawane on fire, died on January 31.

“Some politicians want MCOCA to be invoked against the suspects. But Shinde, who was facing
more than seven cases under the Essential Commodities Act (ECA), is no more. Moreover, there are not more than two offences for which any of the 10 accused have been charged,” said a senior police official.

To invoke MCOCA, there should be at least two previous charge sheets against an accused in criminal cases. However, there is not a single suspect, other than Shinde, who had been charge sheeted twice.

“At the most, the 10 suspects can be booked under the Maharashtra Prevention of Dangerous Activities (MPDA) Act and externed,” said another officer.
Shinde, dubbed an oil mafia kingpin, was first booked under the ECA in 2001. In 2003, he was booked under the ECA thrice. In 2006, he was externed due to his illegal activities.

The Times of India, February 8, 2011

‘Provide Swami’s confession’

Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: A MCOCA court has asked the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to furnish a certified copy of Mecca Masjid blast suspect Swami Aseemanand’s confession on February 9.

The court was hearing the bail applications of the nine Malegaon blasts accused. The defence lawyer in the case told the court that they had approached a Delhi court seeking a copy of Aseemanand’s confession.

However, the court had rejected their application stating that the document could only be given to the investigating officer or agency. In their petition the three Malegaon blasts suspects said that Aseemanand had allegedly admitted that the serial blasts were carried out by a right-wing group. They sought bail on these grounds.

The Times of India, February 8, 2011


SEA OF TROUBLE: A navy helicopter approaches pirates in April 2010

Fishermen Rescued On January 28 Say Four Fishing Trawlers Had Been Taken Over By Pirates. Navy Hunts For The Other Boats

V Narayan & Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: Defence personnel have learnt from the 20 fishermen rescued from Somali pirates on January 28 that four fishing trawlers in all had been hijacked by pirates. While the navy discovered that two of these trawlers were being used by the pirates as mother ships, it is now hunting for the other two trawlers.

The navy sank Prantalay-11 on January 28 and captured Prantalay-14 on February 6. It is now hunting for Prantalay-12 and Prantalay-13.

The 20 fishermen were brought to Mumbai on Sunday, while the 15 pirates who held them captive were produced in court on Monday. The 24 fishermen rescued on February 6 are expected to reach Mumbai on Wednesday along with the 28 captured pirates. The captive fishermen had been assigned jobs by the pirates aboard the trawlers.

Defence sources said Western Naval Command warships are searching for two pirate-commandeered trawlers. “The two fishing trawlers that are still at large may be on a mission to hijack merchant vessels. Their attempts have to be thwarted soon,” said Indian defence assistant PRO Narendra Vispute. He said the pirates hijacked four vessels on April 2010. “They used the trawlers as mother ships to hijack merchant vessels,” he said.

Navy officials in Kochi took the statements of the 20 fishermen on January 28, after which they were handed over to the Yellow Gate police in Mumbai. “Interestingly, no arms or weapons were seized from the 43 arrested pirates. Their tactic is to throw weapons into the sea when they surrender,” Vispute said.

Meanwhile, the Mumbai police said they have the space to keep the pirates in a police lockup or jail. No country is claim
ing the pirates as they have no documents. The 15 pirates arrested on January 28 were sent to After Barrack, a special cell at Arthur Road jail, on Monday. “The pirates will be shifted to a proper barrack on Tuesday,” said Ramesh Dhamne, Arthur Road jail superintendent. The Yellow Gate police said they have five lock-ups inside the police station to accommodate the 28 pirates who will arrive on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the 20 rescued fishermen will be kept at the Yellow Gate police station. “These fishermen are prime witnesses in anti-piracy operations. Arrangements will be made at the earliest to send them home,”
said deputy commissioner of police (Ports) Quaiser Khalid.

Thai and Myanmarese representatives were present to aid the fishermen. “The owner of the Prantalay vessels said he had rented the trawlers to fishermen at Zigoti, Uganda when they were hijacked by pirates who demanded ransom,” Khalid said. Songsang Patavanich, director of P T Interfishery Limited, which owns the Prantalay trawlers, was at the Yellow Gate police station on Monday to check on the crew.

Khalid said there were 27 fishermen in all on the Prantalay-14. “The owner said five fishermen died of diseases, while two drowned on January 28,” he said.

The Times of India, February 8, 2011

Monday, February 7, 2011

2 yrs on, ATS still to decide 3 cases’ fate

Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: The Maharashtra ATS, probing the 2008 Malegaon bomb blast, is still undecided on three cases of criminal conspiracy.

In one such conspiracy, the suspects plotted the assassination of India’s vice president, Hamid Ansari. In the second case, the conspiracy to eliminate RSS leader Indresh Kumar was hatched. The third case was the conspiracy to carry out blasts to stoke communal disharmony.

The ATS had arrested 11 members of outfits like Jai Vande Matram and Abhinav Bharat for the 2008 Malegaon blast. Several radical leaders like Bhai Dalvi and BJP member B L Sharma had exhorted people in a closed-door meeting to defend Hindus. The meeting was videographed by Pandey using his laptop. The meeting’s CD is now part of evidence in the blast case.

In another meeting on January 26, 2008, Delhi-based Dr R P Singh, the president of the World Hindu Federation, had said he was carrying 15 litres of petrol to a function that Ansari was to attend. However, he could not carry out the plan to kill Ansari, he had claimed.

ATS chief Rakesh Maria said they were “still taking legal opinion”.

The Times of India, February 7, 2011

28 MORE PIRATES being brought to Mumbai

DOWN AND OUT: The captured men on board a naval vessel. (Top left) Defence officials tow one of the tow skiffs to the Indian coast

Navy Overpowers Second Ship In 10 Days. City Police Await Custody Of Captured Men

Mateen Hafeez & T Ramavarman TNN

Mumbai: The 28 pirates who were captured early Sunday morning were first spotted at sea by a Dornier aircraft at about 8 pm on Saturday, according to a defence ministry release.

The Dornier informed INS Tir about the location, and it reached the area. The ministry said Tir continued chasing the skiffs and the mother vessel till first light on Sunday morning to ensure proper identification.

Coast guard vessel ICGS Samar joined the operation at about 5 am.

On being asked to surrender and prepare to be boarded, the skiffs returned fire. “The defence ships chased the two pirate boats, which headed for the mother ship, a captured fishing trawler,” said a defence officer. The Prantalay-11 trawler had been apparently hijacked several months ago off the Somali coast, since when pi
rates were using it as a mother ship. Defence officials said the pirates on the mother ship were asked to surrender, but they also fired. An exchange of fire ensued, during which the pirates hoisted a white flag to signal surrender. Sources said the pirates would be taken to Kochi first for medical assistance before being brought to Mumbai.

When navy and coast guard personnel captured the mother ship, they realized it was one of two Thai fishing trawlers that had been hijacked in April 2010 off Somali. Sources said that the Prantalay-11 and Prantalay-14 were hijacked by pirates and crew members had been taken hostage.

On January 28, the navy and coast guard sank the
Prantalay-14 200 nautical miles off Kochi. They arrested 12 Somalis, two Ethiopians and a Kenyan.

On Sunday, defence personnel captured the mother ship used by the pirates. The hostages had been assigned jobs on board and threatened with dire consequences if they did not obey,.

Quaiser Khalid, DCP (Port), said, “We have not received any official communication from the defence as yet. Once we get custody of the latest suspects, we will interrogate them.”
Piracy has made shipping perilous, which has led to large deployments at sea, including by India.


Saturday, 4 pm:
Pirates carry out aborted attack on merchant ship Chios. INS Tir asked to locate pirates

8 pm: Dornier aircraft locates two skiffs and a mother ship; passes coordinates to Tir, which reaches the location

Tir tracks skiffs and mother ship till dawn

Sunday, 5 am:
Coast guard vessel Samar joins pursuit

Pirates on skiffs fire when asked to surrender. Mother ship asked to halt, but it also fires. Pirates raise white flag after exchange of fire

Defence personnel expected to reach Mumbai with captured pirates, skiffs and mother ship

The Times of India, February 7, 2011

Defence ships capture pirates after hot chase

Indian security forces on board a Somalian pirate ship which they seized off Lakshadweep islands on Sunday

Mateen Hafeez & T Ramavarman TNN

Mumbai/Kochi: Drama revisited the high seas over the weekend as the Indian Navy and Coast Guard captured 28 more pirates after firing and a chase 100 nautical miles off Kavaratti in Lakshadweep. Defence personnel involved in sustained antipiracy operations are expected to reach Mumbai with the arrested pirates by noon on Tuesday.

Defence officials confirmed that 52 men in all were apprehended, but 24 are suspected to be Thai fishermen who were hostages of the 28 African pirates. Capt Manohar Nambiar, defence PRO, said the pirates were detained early Sunday morning off the Kerala coast. On January 28, another pirate ship had been sunk, with 15 men from that vessel under arrest in Mumbai.

Nambiar said that around 4 pm on Sat
urday, the Greek-flagged merchant ship Chios sought help from the Lakshadweep control room, stating that a suspected pirate ship was chasing them. The navy then alerted INS Tir, of the Southern Naval Command, and launched a Dornier aircraft to search the region. A defence ministry release said the Dornier located the two skiffs and their mother vessel at about 8 pm.

The Times of India, February 7, 2011

Sunday, February 6, 2011

South Mumbai may be declared no-fly zone

Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: The Cricket World Cup 2011 may be played under the shadow of terror. Intelligence agencies have warned the police about a possible terror strike during the matches, forcing the police to consider declaring south Mumbai a no flying zone, said sources.

A senior police officer on condition of anonymity said the proposal is being seriously considered. The proposed closure over parts of south Mumbai and Navi Mumbai may not affect commercial or charter flights.

The Mumbai air traffic
control has not yet received intimation from any of the authorities about the closure, said an official from the Mumbai air traffic control. “Only after we get their request would we know how much of the airspace they want kept off flying limits,” the official said. “The radius and the height of the airspace they want closed will decide whether flights will be affected,” he added.

Rajnish Seth, joint commissioner of police (law and order) said,“We are working out the security arrangements of Wankhede and the police will be alert. We have not yet received any intelli
gence input about a terror strike during the matches.”

The aviation industry is not expecting flight operations to be affected. Commercial flights do not fly over south Mumbai and charter pilots said the the closure would only affect few corporates who fly down to Alibaug in their helicopters over the weekend

“Though most intelligence alerts are not actionable, we can’t take a chance and have to be prepared,” said a senior police officer. Police sources said they were working on the possible threat, but refused to comment on specific inputs.

The Times of India, February 6, 2011

Court rejects plea for Swami’s confession

Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: A Delhi court rejected an application for a certified copy of Swami Aseemanand’s confession by accused in the 2006 Malegaon bomb blasts. Aseemanand is a suspect in the Mecca Majid bomb blast. A MCOCA court asked the Malegaon blasts suspects to furnish a copy of the confession statement, while hearing their bail plea on January 28.

In their petition, three suspects from Malegaon arrested
for their alleged role in the blasts, said that Aseemanand had admitted that the serial blasts were carried out by a right wing group, and asked for bail on this ground. The MCOCA court then asked the accused to furnish a copy of Aseemanand’s confession. “The original statement is sent to the court which is inquiring into the case. These applications are not maintainable,” said Delhi court additional chief metropolitan magistrate Sanjay Bansal.

The Times of India, February 6, 2011

Friday, February 4, 2011

‘Mutalik used Abhinav Bharat funds for business’

NABBED: Praveen Mutalik being brought to Mumbai after being arrested by the ATS from Karnataka

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: Praveen Venkatesh Takalki alias Praveen Mutalik, who was arrested on January 31 last year for his alleged role in the 2008 Malegaon bomb blast, used Abhinav Bharat funds to set up his own business. The funds had been raised to run the radical outfit.

Mutalik, who is suspected to have helped the other accused in assembling the RDX bomb, had fetched more than Rs 3 lakh from the co-accused and founder of Abhinav Bharat, Lt Col Prasad Purohit. Investigators said that Mutalik had kept the money with him and soon after the arrests began, he vanished with it. Not only Mutalik, say investiga
tors, even Purohit had cheated members of Abhinav Bharat and those who raised funds for the outfit. “Purohit took over Rs 4 lakh from the organization’s treasurer, Ajay Rahirkar, and used the money to buy a flat in Nashik,” said an officer. Moreover, Rs 1 lakh was given to Purohit’s sister, Vasanti. Mutalik, too, took money from the organization’s funds and fled with it after the arrests. “We suspect that he had used this money to start a mobile shop in Karnataka,” said an officer.

Mutalik was picked up from outside his mobile sim card selling shop at Gokak town in Belgaum district of Karnataka where he had been operating the shop in partnership with another person.

Mutalik (32), who holds a diploma in mechanical engineering, was arrested after being untraceable for two years.

He has been booked under MCOCA and remanded to police custody till February 14.

The Times of India, February 4, 2011

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Key Malegaon blast accused Muthalik held

S Ahmed Ali TNN

Mumbai: Praveen Venkatesh Takalki, alias Muthalik, a key accused in the 2008 Malegaon bomb blast case, was arrested by the Maharashtra anti-terrorism squad (ATS) from Gokak district, Karnataka, on Monday night. He was on the run for two years.

Muthalik (32) is the 12th accused to be arrested in the case, with the police still looking for two more—Ramji Kalsangra and Dange, who were part of the Hindu rightwing group that triggered the (September 29) blast killing six people and injuring 101. Muthalik, a member of Abhinav Bharat, was produced before the special Mcoca (Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act) court on Tuesday, which remanded him in police custody till February 14. The court in August 2010 had issued a proclamation against him.

Muthalik ran a SIM card distribution agency in Gokak. One of the reasons why he escaped the police’s radar for so long is because he remained in the village under his real name, which the police had no inkling of.

“After the Mcoca court issued the proclaimation, we formed a special team and started tracking him. A fortnight ago, we narrowly missed him. But after specific
information, our team, led by ACP Vinod Satav, arrested Muthalik,” said ATS chief Rakesh Maria. “He has played an important role in the blast conspiracy. We want to extract a lot of information from him as he was personal secretary to Colonel (Shrikant Prasad) Purohit.”

According to the charge sheet, Muthalik, who has a diploma in mechanical engineering, was present, along with Purohit, at almost all blast conspiracy meetings in Nashik, Panchmadi and Pune. “Our investigations have revealed that Muthalik took the keys of the room (where the bombs were assembled) from co-accused Sudhakar Chaturvedi at the behest of Purohit. We also have scientific evidence to connect swab found in that room to swab found at the blast site,” Maria said.

The Times of India, February 2, 2011

Popat Shinde’s kids demand CBI probe


Mateen Hafeez TNN

Manmad: The children of oil mafia kingpin, Popat Shinde, said on Tuesday that they would set themselves on fire in front of revenue department officials if a Central Bureau of Investigation inquiry was not ordered into his death.

Sagar (24) and Jaya (20) issued the threat after they claimed Shinde’s body in Manmad. Shinde had died at JJ Hospital in Mumbai on Monday after battling for life for six days. On January 25, Shinde had allegedly set Malegaon additional collector, Yeshwant Sonawane, on fire after an argument over oil pilferage. Shinde too suffered burn injuries in the incident.

“I had gone to JJ to take care of my father on January 26, but the police did not allow me to meet him. My father was alone, nobody was allowed to take care of him,” said Sagar, the eldest son.

Shinde had allegedly been into oil-pilfering for over 15 years. “It's true that my father had been in the oil busi
ness for over a decade. But, my father’s business was being supported by Sonawane and several officers who were paid on a monthly basis,” alleged Jaya, whose huband Deepak Borse has also been arrested in the case.

Jaya said Sonawane would take Rs 50,000 a month from her father to allow him to run his business. “Sonawane had visited us on March 29, 2003, when my father organized a house-warming cere
mony. That day, he was with my father and had even gifted us a trolley,” said Jaya.

She said, “My father received a call from the phone of another accused, Rajeev Shirsat, as Sonawane had told him to make the call. Sonawane told my father to come to Panewadi. My father pleaded that he was at a puja, on the 10th day of my mother’s death, but Sonawane refused to listen. He had been insisting my father go to the spot so that he could collect his hafta.”

Jaya and Sagar showed this correspondent a ransacked cupboard inside their bungalow on Tuesday. “My father had connections with senior politicians and leaders in the state. Photos of him with them and a list of officials who got hafta and how much they were paid, are missing. The police are trying to hide the truth,” said Sagar.

Shinde’s body arrived in Manmad in an ambulance at around 5.15 pm but the family initially refused to claim it. It took 45 minutes for Shinde’s childhood friend, Devendra Arsule, to convince Sagar and Jaya to claim the body. More than 2,000 people, including some from neighboring villages, attended the funeral in Manmad.

Shinde’s son Vikas, sonin-law Borse, brother-in-law Sitaram Bhaleraon and employee Shirsat, all arrested for Sonawane's murder, were taken amid heavy police bandobast for the funeral, but the youngest son, Kunal (17), also an accused and lodged in the Nashik juvenile remand home, was not.

The Times of India, February 2, 2011

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Govt to hand collector killing probe to CBI

Popat Shinde

Mateen Hafeez TNN

Manmad: The state government has decided to hand over the probe into Malegaon additional collector Yeshwant Sonawane’s killing to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). Police added prime accused Popat Shinde’s death won’t affect the probe and the chargesheet will be filed on time.

Senior police officials said the state government is convinced about handing the case to the CBI. “An official announcement about the CBI probe is likely to be made on Tuesday,” said an official.

To make the case watertight, the police plan to record the statement of prime witness Rajendra Kale alias Raju, Sonawane’s personal assistant, before a magistrate. This will make it admissible in a court of law as evidence. “He has seen the crime being taking place and hence s a star witness,” said an investigating officer. The complainant in the case is Kailash Gawli, Sonawane’s driver.

Shinde and his two sons, Ku
nal (17) and Vikas (19), and son in-law, Deepak Borse had attacked Sonawane on January 25 after an argument over oil pilfering at Manmad. Kunal attacked Sonawane with an iron rod and Shinde allegedly poured a can of kerosene on him and set him afire. However Sonawane held on to Shinde, setting him ablaze too. Gawli and Kale fled the scene. While Sonawane succumbed on the spot, Shinde was rushed to hospitals in Manmad, Malegaon, Nashik and finally admitted to Mumbai’s JJ Hospital with over 75% burns where he died at 1.10 pm on Monday.

Investigators said his death won’t affect the case. “Though the prime suspect is dead, our case still stands strong. Shinde’s role and death will be mentioned in the chargesheet. We have arrested 10 more people and recorded their statements. They will be tried for the crime,” said Chandrashekhar Chawgule, additional superintendent of police, Nashik (rural).

Kunal was produced before a juvenile justice court on Monday where he was remanded to further custody for three days. “It was Kunal who had hit Sonawane with an iron rod causing the latter to fall on the floor. Our officers visited the Nashik juvenile remand home and produced Kunal before the juvenile court,” said the officer. “Kunal’s role is very clear in the case as other accused have also mentioned his role,” the officer said.

Police have sent Sonawane’s mobile phone for a forensic test. “The preliminary report has confirmed that the substance used to burn Sonawane was kerosene,” said the officer.

Pilferage on: Azmi
Samajwadi Party MLA Abu Azmi on Monday claimed oil adulteration was on at Mandala near Mankhurd. At a meeting of the suburban District Planning Committee at Chetna college, Bandra, Azmi alleged no action was being taken despite complaints, including those filed by him. “The illegal business is carried out in the open,” Azmi said and produced photos. —Sandeep Ashar | TNN


Six Days After Burning Alive Addl Collector Yeshwant Sonawane In Manmad, Popat Shinde Succumbs To Burns In Mumbai

Malathy Iyer TNN

Popat Shinde, the main accused in the murder of additional district collector Yeshwant Sonawane, died of complications arising from his burn injuries at the state-run JJ Hospital in Byculla on Monday.

Shinde reportedly set Sonawane on fire during a raid

in Manmad on January 25 to check pilferage of oil. The additional collector clung to Shinde, resulting in him sustaining over 70% burns as well as severe burns in his lungs. Shinde was shifted to JJ Hospital from Manmad five days back on January 26.

“Popat Shinde died around 1.10 pm of over 70% burns,’’ said Dr T P Lahane, dean of JJ
Group of Hospitals. The body was taken for post-mortem late in the evening. “The postmortem has said that the immediate cause of death has been listed of cardio-respiratory arrest. But he had septic shock that is usual in patients with such high degree of burns,’’ said Dr Lahane. His body was handed over to the Nashik Police after the postmortem. “However, after the handing over, the police asked us to keep the body in the cold storage,’’ Lahane added.

Earlier in the day, Shinde was put on ventilator because of breathing difficulties. Doctors said he was to be taken in for a procedure to remove dead skin over the burns. “As he started showing symptoms of respiratory distress, we could not go ahead with the procedure,’’ said a doctor. Dr Lahane said Shinde passed away a few hours after he was put on ventilator support. He was not in a state to give any statement to the police, said Lahane. “As he had respiratory burns, he was critical when he was brought to us five days back. His condition progressively deteriorated due to septic infection,’’ he said.
Chandrashekhar Oak, collector of Mumbai city, said his office has not been officially informed about the death and the panchnama.
(With inputs from Clara Lewis)

Why Shinde Died
Shinde sustained severe burns due to inhalation of fumes, affecting his lungs He had 70% burns across his body, many superficial and some very deep The post-mortem initial report puts the cause of death as cardio-respiratory failure On Monday he suffered septic shock, in which body tissues and organs don’t get enough blood, oxygen and start dying

Policemen at the JJ Hospital post-mortem centre; (top) Shinde ablaze

The Times of India, February 1, 2011