Thursday, March 31, 2011

Kasliwal walks free after five years

Rebecca Samervel | TNN

Mumbai: A sessions court on Wednesday acquitted Abhishek Kasliwal, the son of industrialist Ambuj Kasliwal, who was arrested for raping a 52-year-old woman five years ago.

At 12.15 pm, additional sessions judge S R Malpani-Pawar called 31-year-old Abhishek for the last time into the dock and said, “You are acquitted.”

The proceedings were conducted in-camera and the judge only pronounced the operative part of the order. A detailed order is expected in a week, the defence said.

Dressed in a pair of black trousers and a white shirt, Abhishek, who had walked in minutes before with a sombre face, exited the court room with palpable relief.

As he made his way out about 15 minutes later, Abhishek looked relieved and took another exit route to escape the media glare.

Abhishek has been out on bail since April 2006, a month after the alleged incident came to light.

In a major twist in the case, that saw the police facing the ire of the sessions court and Bombay high court, the victim went missing in October 2006. This prompted the public prosecutor in the case to step down, saying he would not be able to do justice as the victim was not traceable.

In June 2009, however, the victim was traced and she surrendered to Worli police.

The case broke out on March 11, 2006 and witnessed many twists and turns over the years. Shree Ram Mills scion Abhishek was accused of raping the woman on the night of 11-12 March 2006. He allegedly offered her a lift from Colaba to her home, but took her to the mill’s com
pound in Worli and raped her in his luxury sedan.

Kasliwal was arrested, charged with rape, assault and criminal intimidation, and was initially kept in custody. He was granted bail but the court barred him from entering the city limits.

The police filed a chargesheet in June 2006, in which it cited statements of witnesses who saw Kasliwal entering the mill compound with the victim on the night of the incident. The chargesheet also contained forensic reports and results of the narco-analysis conducted on Kasliwal.

The prosecution submitted a list of 48 witnesses, including the victim, who it wanted to examine in court. Abhishek’s lawyers, however, argued in court that it was not rape but “consensual sex”.

Abhishek Kasliwal’s car (above) in which the victim was allegedly raped and the entrance to the Shree Ram Mills compound


Swati Deshpande | TNN

Mumbai: One defence lawyer, two accused men, one charge, two separate victims, one acquital and one conviction, on one day. It was a day of victory and defeat for advocate Shrikant Shivade. He defended two rape accused—Abhishek Kasliwal and Shiney Ahuja. It was acquittal for Kasliwal and a notso-shiny future for Ahuja.

The two cases were three years apart.

Kasliwal (then 27) had been accused of raping a much older woman in the middle of a night outside in his car in 2006. Ahuja (38) had been charged for raping his much younger 18-year-old maid in his own bedroom on a sultry afternoon when he was home alone.

The evidence against both was largely in the victim’s statement. But while the judge did not find evidence enough to convict Kasliwal even though the ‘victim’ stuck to her statement and never turned hostile, the fast track judge in Sewree went on the basis of the FIR against Ahuja, not accepting the turn-around and denial by the maid later.

In the actor’s case, the victim was termed hostile for her “half-hearted” deposition during the in-camera trial. But her retraction was not accepted and the judge also relied on other forensic evidence to nail Ahuja for the sex crime. Ahuja, was held guilty of rape but acquitted of criminal intimidation and illegal confinement. The two accused arrived in court, their expressions grave. One left relieved, the other to re-live a life in jail.

The Times of India, March 31, 2011

Actor Shiney gets 7 yrs RI for rape

Actor Shiney Ahuja in a police van

Rebecca Samervel | TNN

Mumbai: Shiney Ahuja, the 38-year-old award-winning Hazaare Khwaishen Aisi actor, was sentenced to seven years rigorous imprisonment on Wednesday after being held guilty of raping his young maid in his Oshiwara flat on June 14, 2009.

A fast-track court in Sewri relied on the FIR filed by Ahuja’s 18-year-old maid after the incident to convict him although she had later backtracked and denied the rape during the trial. However, it acquitted Ahuja of the char
ges of illegal confinement and criminal intimidation which the victim had alleged in her complaint.

The actor and his wife Anupam walked into court together, but he left with the police es
corting him to jail. The actor, who was out on bail since October 2009, remained silent after hearing the verdict. He hugged his mother as his wife Anupam maintained that he was innocent. Shiney had denied the charge against him, but forensic experts corroborated the case against him.

Public prosecutor K V Dighe said the clinching factors in the case were a positive DNA test and strong medical evidence.

Abhishek Kasliwal is cleared in rape case
Citing lack of evidence, a city sessions court on Wednesday acquitted industrialist Ambuj Kasliwal’s son Abhishek of the charges of raping a 52-year-old woman at the Shree Ram Mills compound in Worli on the night of March 11, 2006. P 2

Maid had alleged rape in June 2009, retracted in August 2010
Court goes by circumstantial evidence—DNA tests, semen on quilt and curtains and victim’s scratch marks on Shiney's hand
Shiney convicted of rape, acquitted of criminal intimidation and wrongful confinement

Victim retracts, but Shiney BEHIND BARS

Fast-Track Court Sends Actor To Prison For Robbing Maid Of Honour; Industrialist’s Scion Acquitted Of Rape On Same Day

Rebecca Samervel | TNN

The Sewri fast track court on Wednesday convicted actor Shiney Ahuja on the charge of raping his maid in June 2009 and sentenced him to seven years’ rigorous imprisonment. Six months earlier the victim had backtracked and denied the allegation of rape. The court relied on her FIR, statements given to the magistrate, DNA tests and other medical evidence to hold Ahuja guilty. The judge also fined Ahuja Rs 3,000.

The court acquitted Ahuja of the offences of illegal confinement and criminal intimidation which he was charged with. Convicting Ahuja, Justice P M Chouhan said: “The conduct of the accused, medical report which supported the prosecution’s claim that the girl suffered a hymen tear and DNA evidence were relied upon. The accused is found guilty under section 376 (rape) of the IPC.” Public prosecutor K V Dighe said clinching factors in the case were a positive DNA test and strong medical evidence. “There were blood stains in his room. The quilt and curtains showed traces of semen. Ahuja’s hands had abrasions,” he added. Ahuja’s lawyer Shrikant Shivade had argued in court that there was no proof.

The actor, out on bail since October 2009, was in court with his wife. He was silent and sombre throughout as the judge delivered the guilty verdict. The actor hugged his mother who had accompanied him. His wife Anupam made calls to relatives outside the court.

When escorted to the police van the actor and wife shared a few moments.

When Ahuja was taken away and when asked by the media if she still maintained that he was innocent, she said, “Truth is not something to be maintained. It exists. He is innocent.”

The maid, a native of Raigad, had come to Mumbai five years ago and lived with relative in Virar. She got a job at Ahuja’s residence in May 2009 through her relative Rekha Mane. On June 14, 2009, the 18-year-old girl was alone with the actor at home, as his wife and child were in Delhi and another maid Sangeeta was in church. The victim had told police that Ahuja called her to his bedroom on some pretext,
gagged and raped her and even threatened to kill her. At 5 pm, Mane saw the victim crying outside. Mane told the police said she did not enter Ahuja’s home but saw the victim look dishevelled—her lips were swollen and clothes looked untidy. Mane said the victim told her Ahuja had raped her, after which she took the girl to the residence of Adarsh Gupta, a film director. The victim and Mane told Gupta’s mother Premlata (70) about the incident. Premlata consoled the victim and told them to wait till her son and daughter-in-law returned from Jammu. The victim also spoke to her family from Gupta’s residence and when Adarsh and his wife returned, she went to the police and gave her statement. The Guptas also testified in court.

After the complaint was lodged,
medical examinations were conducted on Ahuja and the maid. Reports revealed “injuries to the girl’s private parts”, which indicate she may have been forced into having intercourse. A doctor reported a tear in her hymen, indicating fresh intercourse. In the charge-sheet, it was stated that forensic experts retrieved semen stains that were a match with the actor’s DNA.

The case took a twist in August 2010 after the maid, during cross-examination, identified Ahuja but denied she was raped. The victim told the defence she was in love with Ahuja. “I used to see his movies and was happy working
in his house. I fell in love with him and wanted to tell him so. I was trying to call him 15-16 times on the phone at night.” But the court refused to accept the retraction.


Rape is a very heinous crime and can be committed not just by a man but even a woman I really don’t know why he is being framed, it is possible because he is a celebrity and all celebrities are soft targets He is my soulmate and I know he is not capable of doing it
NOW | Truth is not something to be maintained. It exists. He is innocent —Anupam Ahuja | SHINEY’S WIFE

Forensic proof did Shiney in

Vijay V Singh | TNN

Mumbai: At police officer’s decision to put in extra efforts in the collection of forensic evidence helped get actor Shiney Ahuja convicted for raping his maid, even though she turned hostile in court. The police had called in a forensic expert soon after registering an offence in the case.

An officer stated that they knew the case would get controversial due to the involvement of an influential film personality. They also anticipated that most witnesses would not support the prosecution in court.

The victim, along with another maid from Shiney’s residence, approached the Oshiwara police on the night of the incident. The officer on duty was confused about how to handle the case and immediately informed seniors. Then deputy commissioner of police (zone IX) Niket Kaushik went to the police station and supervised the developments. He told the officers
to protect the scene of crime till an expert could examine it.

The officers were convinced that the victim was genuine after verifying her background. When they got Ahuja to the police station, he initially misled them that he tried to get close
with her a day before and had not committed any crime.

The experts collected the bedsheet, clothes and related material from the spot, while the police conducted a medical examination of the victim and ac
cused at the Nagpada police hospital. A DNA test helped the police establish the actor did have sex with the maid.

The police officers faced a tough time handling rumours, allegedly spread by Ahuja’s well-wish
ers, doubting the victim’s character. But the officer said they were confident about the conviction as they had strong evidence. The victim, from Raigad district, apparently turned hostile as she got a marriage proposal.

The Incident |
On June 14, 2009, the victim had complained of being confined in Shiney Ahuja’s bedroom between 3-5 pm, when another maid Sangeeta had gone to church. The 20-year-old, who worked at the Ahujas’ since May 2009, said that on June 14, she was at home. Ahuja had asked her to come to his bedroom, where he gagged and raped her. Ahuja was booked for rape, illegal confinement, criminal intimidation

What next |
Ahuja was taken to Arthur Road jail after the verdict. He can file a statutory appeal in the Bombay HC. He can also seek bail

B’wood hasn’t bet big on Shiney

Bharti Dubey | TNN

Mumbai: Bollywood doesn’t have too much money riding on actor Shiney Ahuja, only about Rs 25 crore — lesser than the budget of a small film. At the time of his arrest, he only had three small films waiting for release, which included Pritish Nandy’s The Accident, Tito Singh’s Har Pal and Puja Bedi’s Shunya.

Trade analyst Amod Mehra says, “Shiney Ahuja’s absence will not be felt in the film industry. Even at the time of his arrest he was not really at the peak of his career. The only decent film he had was with Preity Zinta who was big then. After this sentence nobody would really want to work with him.
It’s pack-up time for him.’’

Producer Tito Singh said, “We have been waiting for two years now. The cost of the film Har Pal has gone up to about Rs 15 crore. We were planning some reshoots and patch work before the release of the film. This sentence has come as a shocker and we will now sit
with the director to find out a way.’’

After Shiney was released on bail in October 2009, the actor was externed from the city. But he resumed work in Delhi first by dubbing for Pritish Nandy’s film The Accident and later shooting for it.

Nandy is yet to release the film. “We were hoping some
thing positive would come out but now we will release the film anyway.’’

Shiney did manage to get one project after bail. Directed by Puja Bedi the film was titled Shunya and co-starred Sayali Bhagat.

Industry insiders say his appeal to and even relief from a higher court will not really help him make a comeback. Mehra said, “He is not Salman Khan or Sanjay Dutt who despite serious cases against them were accepted by both the industry and audiences. They are stars and Shiney has always been struggling to make a place for himself in the film industry.’’

But Mahesh Bhatt, who gave Shiney his big hit Gangster feels, “We are in the illusion manufacturing industry.
Now it will be difficult for the audience to view his screen persona without being reminded of this heinous crime (rape). This verdict is a body blow to his film career. However, there is hope. The higher court can reverse this verdict.’’

Stars’ Brush With Law
Sanjay Dutt was arrested in 1993 for illegal possession of arms and spent 15 months in jail as an undertrial Salman Khan was held and convicted for killing black bucks during the shooting of Hum Saath Saath Hain in Rajasthan in 1998. He was also involved in a hit-and-run case in Bandra in 2002, killing one person and injuring several others sleeping on the road Fardeen Khan was arrested for illegal possession of cocaine outside an ATM in Juhu in 2001 Madhur Bhandarkar was accused or rape by starlet Preeti Jain in 2004
The Times of India, March 31, 2011

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Sadhvi to be taken to MP

Mumbai: The special MCOCA court on Tuesday granted permission to the Madhya Pradesh police to take 2008 Malegaon bomb blast accused, Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, to Dewas for investigation into the murder of RSS pracharak Sunil Joshi. Police said Joshi was a prime suspect in the Samjhauta train blast, Hyderabad Mecca Masjid bomb blast, Ajmer dargaha blast etc.

Rameshwar Geete, Sadhvi’s lawyer, said, “The court has asked to Byculla jail authorities to take Sadhvi to MP either by a plane or train. The JJ hospital, where Sadhvi is undergoing treatment, has submitted a report that she can travel by train or plane.”

March 30, 2011

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

South Mumbai turns fortress for WC final

GAME PROTECTORS: Security personnel at the rehearsal

1,000 Personnel Hold Wankhede Security Drill

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: South Mumbai has become a fortress for the cricket World Cup final on April 2. Police sources said that Force One, trained on the lines of the National Security Guards (NSG), will be ready to tackle any untoward situation.

As part of the tight security measures, food and water bottles will not be allowed into the Wankhede stadium.

Rajkumar Vhatkar, deputy commissioner of police (operations), said that additional forces would be called in from Thane and Navi Mumbai.

“We are ready. Force One will be part of our teams. We have told all buildings close to the stadium to lock their terraces. Our men are already patrolling the buildings to ensure there is no untoward incident,” he said.

Vhatkar said, “Security at sensitive places, bridges and VVIP stands will be supervised by the NSG and quick response team (QRT) commandos.”

On Monday morning, the police began a bandobast re
hearsal with over 1,000 personnel. The rehearsal continued till evening. “The teams have been divided according to locations and several assistant commissioners of police are handling the bandobast. The intention is to ensure watertight security and to make personnel familiar with the stadium,” he said.

Teams will also be deployed on the Marine Lines bridge, and nearby railway stations and railway tracks.
“Women police personnel will be part of the bandobast. We cannot reveal the exact number of personnel being deployed for security purposes. We can just say that it will be safe,” said Vhatkar.

The Mumbai police has written to the ministry of home affairs (MHA), asking it to take the initiative and declare the area near the Wankhede stadium a no-flying zone on the day of the match.

“The no-flying zone will be taken care of by the air force,” added Vhatkar. The police will also use the stadium’s control room to monitor over 200 closed-circuit television cameras installed in and around it.

“If someone enters the stadium and goes out, he will not be permitted re-entry,” said Vhatkar. He added that the gates will be opened three hours prior to the match.

The police will also hold a rehearsal on controlling a stampede-like situation.

“We are practicing an evacuation situation as well. Our men are working very hard,” the officer added.

The Times of India, March 29, 2011

Neighbours battle, neighbourhoods watch

Preparations Are Afoot To Watch The Battle Royale With Pak, Be It From Home, At Work, The Local Bar Or In Mohali

Shreya Bhandary, Bella Jaisinghani & Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Confident of riding the Motera-Mohali-Mumbai highway to cricketing history, fans across the city are stocking up on food and drink – and maybe the choicest Punjabi abuses – ahead of tomorrow’s clash of the titans.

Wednesday could be termed an unofficial holiday, owing to the the World Cup cricket semi-final between arch-rivals and neighbours, India and Pakistan. Several Mumbaikars have already declared their intention to fall ‘sick’ or honourably leave office early. While many plan to watch the match at bars or multiplexes, home sweet home will also be the venue for a number of Mumbaikars. In fact, in a few neighbourhoods the fever pitch is being raised.

The residents of Sumer Towers in Mazgaon are installing a widescreen TV and chairs in their compound. To fortify themselves for the emotional journey that lies ahead, they have requisitioned special pavbhaji and pani-puri stalls during the match. “Most of the residents want to watch the match together and cheer for India. Even those who are working have agreed to leave work early on Wednesday,” said a resident. “We are all looking forward to Wednesday now.”

Recognizing this as an opportunity that may not recur for years, Santa Cruz resident Raju Lalwani has organized a bash complete with a giant screen on the terrace of his apartment building. “Around 75 people will watch the match followed by a multi-course dinner. We have called for Punjabi dhol players who will sound the drums at every Indian four and six,” said Lalwani. “If we win,
there is a grand fireworks display.” A team of doctors will also be on standby to ensure “heartbeats remain in control”.

Television is banned inside the Darul Uloom Hanfia Rizvia madarsa at Colaba, but the mini-India that lives there still manages to keep score. “We enjoy the commentary on All India Radio,” laughed vice-president Qari Niyaz Ahmed Qadri. “In fact, 120 small boys who are training to become priests have been holding special prayers for the Indian team.”

The long arm of the law is also extending its generosity at Arthur Road jail, where authorities have made “all arrangements” for the semi-finals – that is, for all the inmates except 26/11 convict Ajmal Kasab. “The inmates love cricket so we have provided TV sets in all cells. Most already have televisions, but our men are checking to see that each set is working properly,” said a jail officer. “The high-security anda cells have been given an FM radio connection so the inmates can at least listen to the commentary,” said Surender Kumar, I-G of prisons.

Law-abiding citizens will stick to bunking work. Naheed Contractor reserved a table at a sports bar. “Around 15 to 20 friends are planning to call in sick,” she laughed.

The Times of India, March 29, 2911

A tangled web of vengeance

The internet has become a tool in the hands of people out to exact revenge for slights real or imagined. The victims are often women

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

If you have spurned someone’s offer of love or have rivals at work or in business, guard your social networking space. Chances are they will use it to hit back at you. In 2010, the police received 771 complaints about internet-related offences, 319 of which were from women who were the victims of fake profiles, online upload of private photographs and obscene emails.

Recently, the cyber cell of the police received a complaint from the assistant manager of a major bank about the upload on a social networking web site of a decadeold photograph of hers shot at Girgaum Chowpatty. The picture was captioned ‘call girl’. It caused her sleepless nights till the trail led to her ex-boyfriend.

“Investigations show that in 80% of the cases, the accused is known to the victim,” said a police officer. “When a relationship is good, photographs and personal details are exchanged. But when it deteriorates, those spurned try to retaliate using the internet as a tool.”

Often, the culprit is a former boyfriend, college mate or a partner in an extramarital affair. The officer said: “There was this case of a woman. Even after marriage, she kept in touch with her former boyfriend. When she went to stay in New Zealand with her husband, who was a deputy manager with a private firm, her ex-boyfriend
followed her.

“The two spent some time together in a hotel. Later, the exboyfriend emailed the husband pictures of her with him in a compromising situation.”

In another case, two medical students were in a physical relationship in Mumbai. The boy got married, but wanted the girl to
continue the relationship. She refused. “So he sent a mobile video clip of her to her prospective inlaws,” the officer said. “In yet another case, a girl who was to marry a businessman came to know that a nude video of her shot on cellphone had been uploaded on a porn web site. Obviously, it was her ex-lover’s work.”

The problem with the cases, the police say, is that the victims refuse to lodge an FIR for fear that they will attract unwanted publicity. “They approach us only to confirm or trace the identity of their tormentor,” the officer said. “They like to deal with them on their own, without involving the police.”

There is no specific section on cyber bullying in the Information Technology Act To deal with cases, the police resort to sections 66 A (sending offensive messages through communication service), 66 E (violation of privacy), and 67 (publishing or transmitting obscene material in electronic form) of the Act Sometimes the police also invoke section 509 (outraging the modesty of a woman) of the Indian Penal Code Punishment is generally 2 to 7 years

It is very important for a separate section in the IT Act delineating cyber bullying and stalking as a crime. Its lack often weakens the prosecution’s case and victims—who are often minors and women—are unable to seek redress N S Nappinai | ADVOCATE

2004-05 | Chennai court punishes Suhas Katti—arrested in Mumbai—for putting pictures of woman colleague online and making up stories about her. This was the country’s first conviction in a case of cyber revenge

Jan 2009 |
The cyber crime investigation cell arrests a 22-year-old MBA student from Lower Parel for creating an obscene profile of her friend and posting vulgar remarks. The accused was reportedly humiliated by the victim and created the profile to teach her a lesson

April 2009 |
The investigation into an email issued in February 2009 warning of a terror plot to blow up Hiranandani Complex, Powai, leads to a gay love triangle, where a 33-year-old actor wanted to get back at his former partner and the latter’s new flame

June 2010 | Actor Meghna Naidu of Kaliyon-Ka-Chaman fame complained about her email account being hacked and her friends told on chat that she was pregnant. The hacker, impersonating her, also abused three Bollywood actors through the chat service

Illustration: Mahesh Benkar. Text: Swati Deshpande, Mateen Hafeez

The Times of India, March 28, 2011

Monday, March 28, 2011

If only the net knew no gender

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: It is said that the internet knows no gender. While that does not ring true for women when it comes to cyber bullying and stalking, it does have a perverse element of truth about it.

“Men, too, are approaching the police with complaints about fake profiles or real ones on social networking web sites being hacked into. Recently, we received three such complaints,” said an officer from the cyber crime investigation cell of the police.

One of the complainants, a father of two who fell out with his business partner, found his sexual preference on his profile changed to ‘gay’. Soon he started receiving calls from homosexual men in hot pursuit of him. His trauma lasted till the police deleted the account.

In the second case, two youths were in love with the same girl. When she accepted the overtures of one of them, the other created a fake profile of the victor containing his phone number and stating his sexual orientation as ‘gay’. “The youth was shocked to see his new online reality. He started receiving calls from men seeking sexual favours,” the officer said. “If this wasn’t enough, one of the callers went to the extent of inquiring about the size of his member!”

In the third case, two acquaintances had a brawl over a petty issue. One created a fake profile of the other, stating him as gay and seeking “satisfaction”. The calls followed.

“You cannot imagine the trauma of such victims,” the officer said. “When their friends and relatives come to know about the case, they feel embarrassed. Just like women victims, they refuse to lodge a formal complaint fearing stigmatization. They seek our help only so that the profiles can be deleted.

“Most of the time, we play the role of mediators and counsellors. We see them traumatized. They tell us that they feel everyone is looking at them with suspicion. But we try to convince them that they are perfectly alright and the culprit will soon be caught.”

The Times of India, March 29, 2011

JJ Hosp campus has an AK-47’

Students Have A Blast With Names Of Hostel Rooms

Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: Guns may have no place in medical treatment but an AK-47 has a special place on JJ Hospital’s Grant Medical College (GMC) campus. It is the name of the most popular room in the college’s Apna Boys hostel.

Call it medical humour or a case of strange nomenclature, but the state-run medical school has a ‘point 5 room’. AK-47 is a room on the first floor of the five-storey Apna Hostel and is a few blocks from point 5. “A student, Aamir Kadri (aka AK), stayed in room 47 for more than six years before he became a doctor. Since then, the room has been known as AK-47,” said a medical student from the first floor. It is now part of GMC’s ritual that new students who come across AK-47 drop by to visit the student doctors living there.

AK-47 is now the address of Avais Farani, a first year MBBS student, and final year student Farhan Ansari, both from Malegaon. “When I came to the hostel, I was allotted the room and I soon realized that it was part of the folklore here,” said Farani, adding that it was like any other hostel room.

Room .5 has four occupants. “The room is between room 60 and 61, so students named it 0.5,”
added a student. Room 0.5 has junior students, and this time it is Sayyed Raheel, Bhushan Chaudhry, Mayur Tayde and Krishna Bhausar, all from Jalgaon district.

“Students are often identified by their rooms. When they say they belong to AK-47 or 0.5, it is easier to remember them,” said an aspiring doctor

staying in the hostel.

The AK-47 and 0.5 rooms stand out not only because someone has pasted the numbers on the doors, but they have notes from previous students pasted on walls. “The notes pasted on the walls help us remember difficult things,” said a student.
Senior officials have no clue how and when the nomenclatures started.

The Times of India, March 28, 2011

Friday, March 25, 2011

Actor’s hubby under scanner


Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: The husband of an actor-cumsports anchor is under the police scanner for allegedly floating SMSs and tweeting rumours about the collapse of three supporting cables on the Bandra-Worli Sea Link on Wednesday. The police were making inquiries before registering an official FIR.

The FIR will reportedly be registered on Friday as the police are seeking legal advice. Thousands of people who use the sea link spent anxious moments after getting the SMS. Some even called up the authorities. The text message, which came around 4.15 pm, read: “Please avoid the sea link as three supporting columns have just collapsed. Worli sea face is jammed. Please tell your loved ones to avoid the inconvenience.”

The Times of India, March 25, 2011

Accused in Sonawane murder case gets bail

Kunal Shinde (17) who is accused of setting Malegaon additional collector Yeshwant Sonawane on fire was granted bail by the court on March 23, 2011.

The Times of India, March 25, 2011

Mosque trustee’s murder solved


Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: With the arrest of three persons, the city crime branch on Monday claimed to have solved the murder case of Akhtar Hussain Ansari, a mosque trustee. The deceased, a Madanpura resident, was shot dead by two unidentified persons near Dockyard Road on the night of February 14. Those arrested include a Mumbrabased developer, Farooque Siddiqui (38).

Ansari, who was returning from Dockyard Road to Madanpura on a motorbike, was shot at by two persons on another motorbike who approached him from the opposite direction. The bullet damaged Ansari’s lungs and heart severely and he succumbed on the spot.

“We have also arrested one Ramzan Shaikh and Mohammed Hussain alias Nannhe (35), an Uttar Pra
desh resident. Siddiqui had given them a supari of Rs 3.2 lakh over a property dispute,” said Himanshu Roy, crime branch chief.

In 2006, Ansari approached Siddiqui to develop his 4,500-square-foot plot. Ansari was given 30% of the flats while the remaining flats were given to Siddiqui. In 2008, Ansari once again ap
proached Siddiqui to develop another 4,500-square-foot plot. “Siddiqui told us that he had been asking for an agreement but Ansari did not do so. This time, Ansari was supposed to get 26% of the constructed flats. However, he demanded 30%... We are in the process of verification,” added Roy.

DCP Nisar Tamboli said that they were still hunting for the shooter and expect to make a breakthrough soon.

The Times of India, March 25, 2011

‘I hate Ambedkar’ page deleted from internet

DAMAGE DONE: Riots broke out in Bandra and Khar after the webpage was created on Facebook in February

Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: The webpage—I hate Ambedkar—on a popular social networking site, which created a stir across the city last month, has been deleted. The police, probing the case, found its origin in a foreign country.

The defamatory page about Babasaheb Ambedkar, father of the Indian Constitution, had created a riot-like situation in several areas in the city. A mob went on the rampage in Bandra and Khar. The city crime branch had written to the Central Emergency Response Team (CERT) in New Delhi asking the body to block the page.

“During our investigation, we found that the page had been created on Facebook from a foreign country.
We had earlier blocked this page in India and sent a request to the social networking website to delete it globally,” said a police officer.

“The page was recently deleted from the website’s server,” said the officer. The police are, however, yet to identify the person who put up the page.

A few days after the page was created in February, Dr Ambedkar’s followers were alerted of its existence. “Even the top hierarchy of the city police had no idea of the trouble that was brewing because of the webpage,” said a senior crime branch official. The police had obtained an order from the Bandra court, scanned and e-mailed it to CERT and Facebook asking them to block the page.

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

The Times of India, March 25, 2011

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

CBI quizzes Dayanand Pandey in blast case


Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: A special task force unit of the CBI has begun questioning self-proclaimed seer Swami Dayanand Pandey alias Shankaracharya Sudhakar Diwedi in Taloja jail. The CBI wants to ascertain the role of other accused involved in the 2006 Malegaon serial bomb blasts.

Pandey was arrested along with several other members of two hardline outfits, Jai Vande Mataram
and Abhinav Bharat, for his role in the 2008 Malegaon blast that killed six people. The CBI had, last week, filed an application before Justice Y D Shinde of the Maharashtra Control of Organized Crime Act (MCOCA) court asking for permission to question Pandey on the 2006 Malegaon blasts which claimed 37 lives.

The CBI, in its applica
tion, stated that Naba Kumar alias Swami Aseemanand, an accused in Hyderabad’s Mecca Masjid blast, has given a confessional statement before a magistrate about several bomb attacks across the country.

“In view of the said confessional statement by Aseemanand, Swami Dayanand Pandey is required to be examined to ascertain his involvement or involvement of others known to him in the 2006 Malegaon blast.”

The Times of India, March 22, 2011

Cops ‘escort’ Brits to court

END OF THE ROAD: Duncan Grant (above) and his associate Allan Waters are at Arthur Road Jail. They will be shifted to Yerwada jail in Pune before the end of the week

Grant & Waters Say They Were Not Allowed To Surrender

Rebecca Samervel & Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: The police tracked down former British Navy officers Duncan Grant (67) and Allan Waters (63) to a slum in Colaba and produced them before the sessions court on Monday.

The Supreme Court on Friday had upheld the sessions court’s 2006 conviction of the duo who were found guilty of sexually abusing minor boys at Anchorage shelter homes at Colaba, Cuffe Parade and Murud. They were produced before the court after 4 pm on Monday evening amid much media frenzy. At the sessions court, Grant told the judge they left their homes at 1.45 pm with the intention of giving themselves up, but that the police did not let them surrender, and had instead arrested them.

They informed the judge that
their lawyer had advised them to surrender. “We were told that if we did this, we would get a six-month set off,” said Grant. The lawyer Taraq Sayyed even placed an application regarding the six-month waiver before the court. In response, Judge D Shirsao said: “At this stage, this point cannot be taken up… I have taken your grievances on record. You can approach the right forum,” the judge said. When the judge asked if the police had informed them of the reason for their arrest, both answered in the affirmative.

Outside the court, police officials refuted the stand taken by the duo and said that if Grant and Waters had any intention of surrendering, they would have done so on Saturday itself.

Grant had set up the Anchorage Trust in 1995, and Waters was a frequent visitor. Police officials said they had been keeping tabs on the duo ever since the case went to the Supreme Court. “They had rented rooms in a slum near Badhwar Park, Colaba. They did not turn up at the sessions court on Monday, so we
picked them up from the slum and brought them before the court,” said a senior police officer.

In 2006, the sessions court had sentenced Grant and Waters to six years imprisonment for abusing minors in their care, fined them £20,000 each, and ordered them to pay £5,000 to each of the two boys who had testified against them. Failure the pay the amount will cost them an extra year in jail.

The duo had a steady stream of supporters. Many of the boys who live in the shelters remained loyal to Grant and Waters, and said that they were innocent. They demanded
proof of their guilt. “Where’s the proof? On what basis have they been convicted?” asked one street boy. Others were worried about their future. “What will we do when they are sent to jail? We will be back on the streets,” said another boy.

Before the proceedings commenced, Waters had an altercation with journalists and hurled expletives at them. When the matter was brought to the notice of the court, the duo apologized. The judge commented on the matter. Duncan and Waters are at Arthur Road jail, but will be shifted to Yerwada jail in Pune within two to three days, said the police .

Grant deeply aggrieved by turn of events
Ijudgment am deeply ,’ aggrieved ’ said Duncan by the Grant Supreme in a telephone Court’s conversation reversal of the with High TOI Court . Grant, along with his associate Allan Waters, was convicted by the Supreme Court on Friday for sexually abusing homeless minors at night shelters in Mumbai. The apex court had overturned the 2008 Bombay High Court ruling and restored the trial court’s 2006 conviction.

A group of street children at the Gateway of India who remain loyal to Grant had Grant’s telephone number on their mobile phones. It is this number that TOI called, and we believe that the person who answered the phone was, indeed, Grant. When asked why, if he was indeed innocent, had the boys testified against him in court, Grant said the answer could be found in a study of the differences between the orders passed by the sessions court and the HC. On Friday, Grant had told TOI that he “believed in the truism that the truth would eventually come out’’.

The Times of India, March 22, 2011

Monday, March 21, 2011

Have police lost track of 6 terror suspects in city?

Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: At a time when the intelligence agencies have warned the Maharashtra police about 17 tickets being bought by possible terror suspects for the World Cup final, the city cops are struggling to locate the six terror suspects who had reportedly sneaked into Mumbai in the last six months.

The World Cup final will be played at Wankhede stadium in Mumbai on April 2. Police sources say the plot is a joint operation between the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and the Jamaat-e-Ahle-Sunnat. Someone linked to this collaboration between the LeT and the Barelvi group has bought 17 tickets for the final, the sources said.

The search into locating the six terrorists has not yielded any result so far with the police saying they are clueless. The terrorists belong to the Bangladeshbased banned outfit, Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (Hu-JI) and Pakistan’s outlawed outfit, LeT. The city crime branch on September 11 issued sketches of two terror suspects—Kalimuddin
Khan alias Rameshwar Pandit and Hafeez Sharif-—both bomb makers. On December 23, 2010 the then crime branch chief Himanshu Roy released four new names. While Roy said four terrorists of the LeT have sneaked into the city, he released one mugshot of a terrorist, Waleed Jinnah. “There is specific information that LeT members, identified as Abdul Karim Moosa, Noor Elahi, Jinnah and Mahfooz Alam, have entered the city to cause major destruction and violence,” Roy had said.

A senior police official said, “We are working on some intelligence alerts and trying to locate the terrorists. We are working closely with other agencies and coordinating with them.” In September 2010, when additional commissioner of police (crime branch) Deven Bharati sent letters to his units, he wrote that the terrorists were last seen in Lalbaug, home to one of the city's most celebrated Ganpati pandals. However, the intelligence agencies lost track of them after tracking their movements for close to a week.

The Times of India, March 21, 2011

Paedophilia convicts under police surveillance

Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: The Colaba police moved an application in the sessions court on Saturday on the Supreme Court verdict upholding the conviction of two former British Navy officers —Duncan Grant (67) and Allan Waters (63)—for sexually abusing homeless minors. They are under police surveillance and the cops will wait till Monday for them to appear before the court, otherwise a non-bailable warrant will be issued against them, said a police officer.

“The trial court will sign a non-bailable warrant against
the convicts if they don’t surrender by Monday,” said assistant commissioner of police, Iqbal Shaikh.

“Grant and Waters are in Mumbai. They are under police surveillance. If they don’t turn up, we will bring them before the court,” said an officer. However, the officer re
fused to disclose two convicts’ location.

The Supreme Court on Friday upheld the sessions court’s 2006 conviction of Grant and Waters, who were sentenced to six years in jail. A manager at the shelter, William D’Souza (49), an Indian, had also been sentenced to
three years for abetment. Grant and Waters, who were freed by the Bombay high court in July 2008 after serving jail time, will have to be rearrested. Waters has about a year left to spend behind bars and Grant about two years and 10 months. D’Souza has already served his sentence.

The Times of India, March 21, 2011

Eight of gang held for killing 7-year-old boy


Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) personnel recently arrested eight members of a gang in Nashik for firing at a Maruti car on March 7. A seven-year-old boy was killed and two others were seriously injured in the firing.

On March 7, Saleem alias Papa Shaikh, who is a historysheeter, was travelling to Shirdi along with four friends—Vinod Jadhav, Sunil Lahare, Mrs Patil, and her son, Sandesh Patil(7)—in a Maruticar.“Asthey were approaching Kiran Dhaba on Nashik-Sinnar highway around 8.15 pm, a motorcycle came in front of the vehicle, forcing them to stop. Soon,
more people arrived on two other motorcycles and they all began firing at the car,” said a police officer.

“Shaikh and Jadhav sustained bullet injuries while Sandesh, was shot in the stomach. They were rushed to a nearby hospital where Sand
esh was declared dead,” said the officer.

During investigations, the police learnt that Shaikh had previously clashed with one Sachin Yadav. “One of Shaikh’s gang members was arrested and Shaikh believed that Yadav was the one who hadtippedoff the police.Yadav
got angry and plannedtoeliminate Shaikh,” said a source.

Acting on a tip-off, the police set up a trap near the SBI branch next to Madusadan Parkin Nashik. “The police arrestedeight persons,including the 24-year-old gang leader, Yadav. Two 7.65 bore pistols, two 0.315 handguns, 10 live cartridges and two choppers were seized from the suspects,” sources said. All the accused have been remanded in police custody.

The other gang members who were arrested have been identified as Pradeep Sarode, Dheeraj Kumar Singh, Azam Shaikh, Papya Yadav, Shahrukh Shaikh, Sanjay Dhamne and Sagar Baig.

The Times of India, March 21, 2011

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Rajasthan ATS team arrives to question Sadhvi

Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur

Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: A Rajasthan Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) team arrived at JJ Hospital on Friday to question 2008 Malegaon
bomb blast accused Sadhvi
Pragya Singh Thakur for her alleged role in the Ajmer dargah bomb blast case.

Pragya (40), who was arrested in October 2008 in the Malegaon blast case, is undergoing treatment at JJ Hospital. The Rajasthan ATS, while filing the charge sheet in the October 11, 2007 Ajmer bomb blast case, mentioned the sadhvi as one of the accused. “Our team is in Mumbai to question the sadhvi in our case,” said an officer from the Rajasthan ATS. Three persons were killed and over a dozen injured when a bomb went off at the time of iftar in the month of Ramzan.

“We are interrogating
her. Once our officers talk to her, we will decide the further course of action,” said the officer. Pragya has been named one of the chief conspirators in the case. A senior RSS leader, Indresh Kumar, has also been named in the case. An officer with the Rajasthan ATS said the sadhvi had attended a conspiracy meeting on July 29, 2005 at a Gujarat Samaj guest house in Rajasthan.

Pragya was, on February 26, also booked for her alleged role for the murder of an RSS pracharak, Sunil Joshi.

The Times of India, March 19, 2011

Whatever the law says, I’ll do: Grant

Swati Deshpande, Anahita Mukherji & Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: With the Supreme Court overturning the 2008 Bombay High Court ruling on Friday, and restoring the trial court’s March 18, 2006 conviction, Duncan Grant and Allan Waters are likely to be taken into custody on Monday. Their lawyer Taraq Sayed said: “The Supreme Court has asked the sessions court to complete the procedure and formalities regarding their arrest and sentencing. They may thus have to surrender in court on Monday. We will take it on our chin and respect the Supreme Court judgement.”

But when TOI spoke to a man who claimed to be Grant—his number was given to this reporter by Anchorage Shelter Home street
children—he said: “I never said I would surrender on Monday.” However, the man went on to say that he would follow the law. “Whatever the law says, I’ll do.”

Grant and Waters have been residing in south Mumbai for the last three years ever since they were acquitted by the Bombay High Court in 2008. “Since their acquittal they have been residing in shelters at Cuffe Parade and taking care of street children and doing charity work,’’ said Sayed.

The police at Colaba police station, however, said they had no idea where Grant and Waters were residing. Senior police officials were unavailable for comment as they were busy overseeing the security of Wankhede Stadium, which was hosting a World Cup cricket match on Friday. But street
children and slum dwellers at Cuffe Parade’s Machhimar Nagar said he was living at the Cuffe Parade shelter. Many even had his cellphone number.

Colaba police officials said they last saw Grant in September 2010. A police official said: “He had approached us with an application for his passport be returned to him. He said he often faced problems when officials from other police stations or security agencies contacted him for verification as he was unable to produce his passport.” Grant was issued a certificate stating that his passport was the police. Activists who worked on the case said they would regularly spot Grant on the streets of Colaba, usually surrounded by street boys. Grant was last seen at Colaba market on Friday night.

The Times of India, March 19, 2011

Friday, March 18, 2011

Seal terraces till World Cup gets over, Tardeo locals told

Terrorists May Target Wankhede From Highrises: Cops

Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: The city police have asked residents of highrises in Tardeo to lock their terraces till April 2, when the World Cup final will be played in Wankhede Stadium. The advisory follows an intelligence input warning of terrorists’ plans to target the venue, which will host the last league match to be played in Mumbai on Friday, from the skyscrapers.

Stepping up vigil on the eve of the Sri Lanka–New Zealand clash, cops have also advised flat owners to cover the terraces. “This will help in the eventuality of someone managing to gain an entry there. The aim is to cut off any direct line of vision ,” a senior police official said.

Referring to the one-page notices typed in Marathi and displayed in most of the multi-storeyed buildings in Tardeo, the official said, “We have been warned that members of Indian Mujahideen’s (IM) Riyaz Bhatkal group may use paragliders to attack the stadium when the matches are going on. So we have asked residents to be on the lookout for strangers. We don’t know if anyone is capable of carrying out such an attack but we will
not take any chances while the World Cup is going on.”

Harish Pote, president of the 11-storey Nav Maharashtra Nagar Co-operative Housing Society, said, “When the Tardeo police issued us the notice, we distributed it in nearby residential societies as well. There are no CCTV cameras in our building but we are keeping an eye on any suspicious activities.”

A security officer of the nearby 65-storey Imperial towers said, “We have been put on alert. Even flat-owners have been apprised of a possible terror attack.” Ravi Kanade, an ex-Shiv Sena shaka pramukh, said, “We have closed the terraces. Only a watchman, who monitors the water tank, is allowed go there.”

The Time of India, March 18, 2011

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Sri Lankan drug peddler arrested in Navi Mumbai

Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: Anti-terrorism squad (ATS) sleuths on Tuesday arrested a Sri Lankan drug peddler, with suspected links to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam (LTTE).

The peddler, Rajan Silithuria alias Rajan alias Kartik (45), was hiding in Kopar Khairane in Navi Mumbai. “Our Thane unit arrested Kartik after we received information that he was hiding in Navi Mumbai. We are interrogating him,” said ATS deputy commissioner of police, Pradip Sawant.

Kartik, police sources said, did not have any business or known sources of income in Navi Mumbai. “We suspect he was using illegal money obtained through drug-peddling,” an officer said.

The Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) in Chennai had seized three kg heroin at the international airport, but Kartik had managed to flee from there. A Chennai court had issued a non bailable warrant against him, too. “He fled from Chennai and came to Mumbai after the case. He was staying in Matunga, Chembur and then went on to Navi Mumbai. “We are also questioning him for links with the LTTE or any other terror organization. He could have come to India for shelter (from the Lankan authorities) and began drug-peddling. We will hand him over to the Chennai narcotics control bureau,” the officer said.

The Times of India, March 17, 2011

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Court rejects bail plea of nine blast accused

Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: The Maharashtra Control of Organized Crime Act (MCOCA) court on Tuesday rejected the bail plea of nine persons arrested for their alleged role in the 2006 Malegaon blasts. Lawyers representing the accused told TOI they would approach the Bombay high court against the order.

The suspects, seven of whom belong to Malegaon, had moved the court in January seeking bail on the basis of the confessional statement of Swami Aseemanand, a key accused in the blasts on the Samjhauta train and Hyderabad’s Mecca Masjid.

In his confession before magistrate Deepak Dabas of the Tis Hazari court on December 18 last year, Aseemanand said the 2006 Malegaon blasts were the handiwork of right-wing groups.

Soon after Aseemanand’s confession, the nine suspects applied for bail and claimed they had no role in the serial blasts. After adjourning the hearing four times, Justice Y D Shinde on Tuesday rejected the bail application. “We will approach the high court for bail,” said Gulzar Azmi, secretary, Jamiatul Ulema in Mumbai. “The order is unexpected. We will read the order copy and then decide further action,” said senior defence lawyer S S Shaikh. Those ar
rested include unani doctors Salman Farsi and Farogh Makhdoomi, and mechanical engineer Asif Khan.

Maharashtra’s anti-terrorism squad (ATS) had arrested the nine suspected Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) members, alleging they wanted to disrupt law and order in the state. The ATS said that a Pakistani national, Muzammil, had come to make the bombs and stayed in Malegaon for a while. According to the ATS, he left the town before the blasts.

Malegaon’s residents had protested the arrests, claiming that Muslims could not have bombed the town’s mosque. The case was then handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation. The agency was unable to make a breakthrough in the case and could not arrest three wanted persons over four years.

The Times of India, March 16, 2011

Suspects in 26/11 terror attack case taken to UP

Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: A police team on Tuesday escorted 26/11 terror attack suspects, Faheem Ansari and Sabahuddin Ahmed, to Uttar Pradesh, in connection with the attack on a Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) camp in Rampur.

The Bombay high court last month acquitted Ansari and Ahmed of all charges in the terror attacks case. The Mumbai crime branch, probing the case, had said that the two had provided logistic support. Sources said that the police will take them to Rai Bareilly jail and produce them in a Rampur court.

Terrorists had opened fire on the CRPF camp on January 1, 2008, killing three personnel. Ansari, who used to work for a printing press in Dubai in 2006, went missing in 2007. He was later arrested in 2008. Ansari had allegedly arranged for the weapons for the attack.

The police said that the had done a recce of the Gateway of India, state police headquarters, police commissioner’s office, the Bombay Stock Exchange and other landmarks.

The Times of India, March 16, 2011

Suspected Maoist held from Govandi


Mateen Hafeez TNN TNN

Mumbai: The Maharashtra anti-terrorism squad (ATS) on Monday arrested a 35-year-old suspected Maoist from Govandi on Tuesday.

ATS chief Rakesh Maria said that they had received a tip-off that someone known as Akher was hiding in a Govandi slum and he possessed revolvers. ‘‘Our men laid a trap outside the Qureshi mosque and
nabbed him. During interrogation, he revealed that his name was Gaffar Mandal and was wanted for three cases in West Bengal,’’ Maria said. The police recovered a country-made revolver and live cartridges from him. Akher was also involved in a bomb blast in Bengal in December last year,in whichone person waskilled.

The Times of India, March 16, 2011

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

CBI to quiz Aseemanand on Malegaon blast case

Swami Aseemanand

Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: A CBI team conducting a reinvestigation into the Malegaon blast in 2006 is likely to question Swami Aseemanand on his role in the tragedy that claimed 37 lives.

The CBI team will file an application in the court seeking permission to question Aseemanand, a prime suspect in the Mecca Masjid bomb blast in Hyderabad. The 59-year-old swami, in his confessional statement given before a magistrate in Delhi, had in December said the Malegaon blast on September 8, 2006 was plotted by his men.

Meanwhile, interrogation of Abhinav Bharat member and an accused in the 2008 Malegaon bomb blast, Praveen Venkatesh Takalki alias Pravin Mutalik, has revealed he was askedtofind a bomb-making formula from theinternet. “Lt Col Prasad Purohit had asked me to surf the internet and find a bomb-making formula,” Mutaliktoldinvestigators in the Anti Terrorist Squad (ATS). Mutalik was arrested on January 31 from Karnataka.

The ATS has zeroed in on three youths who were given training in making bombs. Their statements have been recorded before a magistrate to make it admissible evidence in court.

“Some would be arrested in the blast case while others could be used as witnesses,” said ATS chief Rakesh Maria. “Mutalik’s case is an example of how Purohit used his military intelligence experience to ensure that no one suspected his involvement. He even changed Takalki’s name to Mutalik, making it difficult to trace him,” said a senior officer in the security establishment.

The police said Mutalik had worked as a personal secretary to Purohit for three months before the blast.

The Times of India, March 15, 2011

CBI to quiz Aseemanand on Malegaon blast case

Swami Aseemanand

Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: A CBI team conducting a reinvestigation into the Malegaon blast in 2006 is likely to question Swami Aseemanand on his role in the tragedy that claimed 37 lives.

The CBI team will file an application in the court seeking permission to question Aseemanand, a prime suspect in the Mecca Masjid bomb blast in Hyderabad. The 59-year-old swami, in his confessional statement given before a magistrate in Delhi, had in December said the Malegaon blast on September 8, 2006 was plotted by his men.

Meanwhile, interrogation of Abhinav Bharat member and an accused in the 2008 Malegaon bomb blast, Praveen Venkatesh Takalki alias Pravin Mutalik, has revealed he was askedtofind a bomb-making formula from theinternet. “Lt Col Prasad Purohit had asked me to surf the internet and find a bomb-making formula,” Mutaliktoldinvestigators in the Anti Terrorist Squad (ATS). Mutalik was arrested on January 31 from Karnataka.

The ATS has zeroed in on three youths who were given training in making bombs. Their statements have been recorded before a magistrate to make it admissible evidence in court.

“Some would be arrested in the blast case while others could be used as witnesses,” said ATS chief Rakesh Maria. “Mutalik’s case is an example of how Purohit used his military intelligence experience to ensure that no one suspected his involvement. He even changed Takalki’s name to Mutalik, making it difficult to trace him,” said a senior officer in the security establishment.

The police said Mutalik had worked as a personal secretary to Purohit for three months before the blast.

The Times of India, March 15, 2011

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Mine is a free RTI office: Top cop

Arup Patnaik

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: Newly appointed police commissioner Arup Patnaik is in no mood to delay providing information to the public. Patnaik on Friday said his is a “free” Right to Information (RTI) office and that anyone can approach it to get information.

“Mine is a free RTI office. It’s transparent. Anyone can come for information and it will be provided to them at the earliest,” the police
chief said on Friday.

“All the information is either available on the police website or it is kept with us. If someone needs information about us, they can directly approach our office for speedy results,” said Patnaik, who took charge as Mumbai’s 36th police commissioner on February 28.

Patnaik has also begun the process of reviewing the status of policemen’s cases who were earlier suspended for various reasons. “They are part of our family. Why keep them out? We have begun reviewing their cases to see who can be rein
stated,” said Patnaik. As of now, 260 police personnel from the Mumbai force are under suspension, mostly due to corruption charges.

When asked whether he had any plans to discontinue the city police’s magazine, The Protector, Patnaik, said, “What purpose does it serve? Moreover, there is no GR issued to run this magazine.”

On Friday morning, Patnaik also visited the Nagpada police hospital to examine its condition. It is also learnt that senior police officers want the Worli maternity home to restart.

The Times of India, March 12, 2011

Commandos, cops take guard

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: The Mumbai police are all padded up for the match on Sunday at Wankhede with a plan to deploy at least seven squads of Quick Response Team’s elite commandos besides another 1,300 police personnel at or around the stadium on Marine Lines.

Under renovation for 22 months, this is the first World Cup match that Wankhede is hosting. The 37-year-old stadium will next play venue on March 18 and eventually for the final on April 2.

The bandobast on Sunday will be monitored by an officer of joint commissioner rank, with two additional police commissioners and at least three deputy commissioners assisting him. A rehearsal of the arrangements was carried out at the stadium on March 6.

“A temporary room has been made for the policemen on bandobast and it will be connected to all wireless centres, particularly those near the stadium,” said a police officer.

Besides the QRT squads, two bomb sniffing dog squads will be deployed on Sunday. “The QRT will be stationed near the stadium and will go to the spot only when called,” said another senior police officer. Though not on bandobast duty, the elite commandos, as always, will be equipped with AK-47 assault rifles, other firearms and bulletproof jackets.

“There will be adequate security arrangements. We have inspected the area and are satisfied with the situation,” said police commissioner Arup Patnaik.

A large number of policemen in plainclothes will merge into the crowds on match day to keep
an eye out for suspect activities and to catch eve
teasers, while their colleagues will keep a watch on CCTV feeds. Apart from all this, a special police vehicle with a technology to detect explosives and firearms in its periphery will roam near the stadium.

The Times of India, March 12, 2011

Friday, March 11, 2011

Bail hearing for blast adjourned

The special Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act court has adjourned the bail hearing of the 2006 Malegaon blast suspects till March 15. The court, which has been handling the 2008 Malegaon blast and the 7/11 train blast, said it was busy with other sensitive cases.

The Times of India, March 11, 2011

Army told to hold Purohit probe again

Lt. Col. Prasad Purohit


New Delhi: The Armed Forces Tribunal has directed the army to reconvene the court of inquiry (CoI) against Malegaon blasts accused Lt Colonel Shrikant Purohit.

The CoI examined certain witnesses in the absence of Purohit, arrested in November 2008 by the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS), who had “no opportunity to cross-examine them”, the tribunal said.

This violated Army Rule 180, which prescribes that personnel whose military reputation is being questioned should have mandatory presence and be allowed to crossexamine the witnesses.

“The CoI suffers from the vice of irregularity...It would be just and proper to direct the army to further convene the CoI from the state when the statements of the witnesses were recorded on September 1, 2010, in the absence of Purohit,” said the tribunal.

The army was set to sack Purohit after the CoI against him was conducted from April 2009 to September 2010.

The Times of India (Nation), March 10, 2011

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Before WC, police send beggars packing

Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: As part of measures taken to maintain law and order during the 2011 World Cup matches in the city, the police recently nabbed 395 beggars and drug addicts from south Mumbai. They have been sent to shelters and rehabilitation centres.

Deputy commissioner of police Anil Kumbhare said that the drive was going on in Pydhonie, L T Marg, V P Road, Gamdevi, Malabar Hill and Grant Road areas.

“We don’t want any social nuisance in our jurisdiction,” said Kumbhare, adding that it will also help to reduce cases of pickpocketing and chainsnatching. “Drug addicts often steal items like iron pipes,
rods and dust bins. Even citizens have appreciated the drive we have undertaken,” said Kumbhare.

The cops caught 72 beggars from L T Marg, which
is the highest from any area since the drive began. “Among those caught, 234 are Maharashtrians. We have also caught one foreigner, who is a drug addict,” said an officer involved in the drive.

The Times of India, March 9, 2011

‘Constable may have shot self’

Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: A probe into the death of constable Deepak Vitkare revealed that it could be a case of suicide, the police said, adding that he was frustrated as he stayed alone in the city. Vitkare posted at the American Consulate died on Monday morning after two bullets from his service carbine pierced through his skull. “His relatives claimed his body on Monday. They are shattered and we are yet to record their statements. So far, it has transpired that he was emotionally disturbed,” said the police said. A police team has been sent to Vitkare’s hometown Solapur to make inquiries with his family.

The Times of India, March 9, 2011

Kasab kills time with karate kicks

Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: Loneliness is getting the better of the country’s most high-profile prisoner, Ajmal Kasab, who is not allowed to step out of his 10x5 ft high-security cell at Arthur Road jail. So, to escape boredom, the 26/11 gunman has religiously taken to karate, which he practices for an hour every day.

According to the jail staff, “qaidi number C-7096” has become restless after long months of composure. “He has been in this cell since December 2008. Life must be monotonous for him. To overcome his frustration, he has taken to karate. He seems to be a champion in the martial art,” said a jail official. “He does not have any props for practice or equipment for exercise, but that is not a hurdle for him. His methods match those of a true professional. He rests after
working out and then eats a lot.”

A jail official had earlier said that Kasab tries chatting with policemen when he feels lonely. “He tries to talk to the policemen, but we have strictly forbidden them from entertaining him since he is a convict in a sensitive case,” the jail official had said. “When no one speaks to him, Kasab starts abusing them and uses filthy words against India. He also demands to be sent to Pakistan or the US to face trail.”

Jail officials have noticed a considerable change in Kasab’s demeanour following his conviction. “Now, he spends most of his time sitting near the cell’s iron door. When his case was with the special court (set up within the jail), he would be taken there almost daily; he would at least be among people. Now, after the HC judgment, he is just confined to his cell all day long.”

The Times of India, March 9, 2011

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Lt Col sent youths for terror training

Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: The interrogation of Pravin Mutalik, who is suspect to have planted to bomb in the 2008 Malegaon blast, has revealed that he along with coaccused Lt Col Prasad Purohit had sent several new recruits for terror training to at least three places in the country. “More arrests are likely soon in the case,” said ATS chief Rakesh Maria.

According to Maria, Mutalik, also a bomb maker had identified potential hardline boys and introduced them to Purohit. “They arranged these boys’ training for bomb making, handling firearms, and using explosives. We have brought these boys to our office. Some of them have become our witnesses and their statements have been recorded before a magistrate under section 164 of the CrPc,” said Maria. A statement given before a magistrate is admissible in court.

Mutalik was arrested last month after evading arrest for two years. “Our teams visited to three training centers. The recruits seem to be new as their names did not come up in the probe earlier,” added Maria. Purohit, a serving officer, was arrested for engineering the blast which killed seven on September 29, 2008.

The Times of India, March 8, 2011 (Times Nation)


Malegaon blast accused bail hearing adjourned

Mumbai: Judge Yatin D Shinde of the special Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) court on March 7 adjourned the bail hearing of suspects caught for the 2006 Malegaon mosque blast till March 10.

Seven youth from Malegaon, one from Mumbai and a civil engineer from Jalgaon were arrested for designing and executing the 2006 Malegaon serial bomb blast which killed 37 and injured 297 others. The ATS stated that these boys wanted to create a riot like situation in the state and therefore they planted bombs in a cemetery adjacent to a mosque. After the confessional statement of Swami Aseemanand, an accused in the Hyderabad Mecca Masjid where he claimed the responsibility of engineering the Malegaon blasts, those arrested by the ATS in 2006 moved to the court seeking bail.

Meanwhile, the JJ Hospital has filed a report about the health of 2008 Malegaon bomb blast accused Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur. An argument will be conducted on the report on Tuesday. Sadhvi has been charged with the murder of RSS pracharak Sunil Joshi in MP and the MP police wants to take her there for probe. However, her lawyer told the court that she is not in a position to walk. Based on this, the court asked the JJ hospital authorities to file a report.

Cop at US consulate killed in ‘freak’ firing

A bloodied Deepak Vitkare (circled) was still in his uniform and had his service carbine on him when he was found on consulate premises

Police Not Sure If It Is Suicide Or Accident

Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: A twenty-nine-year-old constable posted at the American Consulate died on Monday morning when two bullets from his service gun pierced through his skull.

The officials are now trying to ascertain whether Deepak Vitkare killed himself or it was an accident. “The constable was posted at the rear of the consulate building. We are yet to find out if it was a suicide or his gun fired accidentally,”JCP (law and order) Rajnish Seth said.

It was around 7.30 am, when policemen on the premises of the consulate at Breach Candy heard a bang. They rushed to the spot to find a bloodied Vitkare whom they took to Breach Candy Hospital where he died. Two bullets had pierced from his chin and shattered the skull, the police said.

Originally from Solapur district, Vitkare joined the Mumbai Police in 2008. “This was his first posting in the Local Arms (unit-II) and he had been at the Tardeo office for the past one month. Last night, he reported for work around 7.30 and his shift was
supposed to end at 7.30 am on Monday. In the morning, one of his colleagues went to the toilet when he heard gunshots. He rushed out to find Vitkare lying on the floor, splattered in blood,” said a Gamdevi police officer. Vitkare was still in his uniform and armed with a carbine, an official said. “We are questioning his colleagues and recording the statements of his relatives. We do not know if it was a suicide or a mishap, we will soon reach a conclusion,” said A Kumbhare, deputy commissioner of police.

Constable Krishna from the RAK Marg police station has known Vitkare from childhood as both belonged to Bhulabai Chowk’s Ravivar Peth in Solapur. “His mother died in 2006, while his father is a paralytic patient and partially blind. His two younger brothers are still studying,” he said. “Vitkare was supposed to get married on May 15. He never looked tense or depressed.”

The Times of India, March 8, 2011

Men in khaki take guard at Wankhede

Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: The men in khaki took guard at Wankhede Stadium on Monday to make sure that the security arrangement during the World Cup did not spring any loophole.

More than 1,300 police personnel were deployed at the stadium at Marine Lines for the rehearsal drill, which started around 9 in the morning and continued till 6.30 pm.

“We did a bandobast rehearsal and are satisfied with the arrangements,” said deputy commissioner of police Dorje Chhering. He, however, preferred not to comment on the security arrangements.

While there is no specific terror alert, the security agencies do not want to take any chances. Accordingly, the security mock drill was planned in which Quick Response Team, commando squads and 1,300 officials and constables of the city police took part. The sniffer dog and the bomb detection and disposal squads were
also part of the exercise. A large number of policemen in mufti were deployed in and around the stadium.

Even as the personnel checked the lanes and by-lanes leading to the stadium , senior officials examined the overall security arrangement. The new commissioner, Arup Patnaik, also paid a visit. “As it is a
big affair, we are doing a rehearsal. Similar exercises may be conducted before the matches as well,” said Rajnish Seth, joint commissioner of police, law and order.

The gates were fitted with bomb and explosive detection devices, while some policemen kept their eyes glued to CCTV cameras installed inside the stadium, the exit and entry points and restrooms.

The city police plan to deploy more than 1,000 personnel on the day of the matches to man a crowd of 32,000 spectators. The first match in the stadium will be played on March 13, the second on March 18 and the final on April 2.

The Times of India, March 8, 2011

Eight held for ‘outsourced’ killings


Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: The anti-terrorism squad (ATS) has arrested eight gangsters who were ‘outsourced’ the job of killing people in Mumbai, Thane, Navi Mumbai and other places in Maharashtra.

The police said the gang would accept ‘jobs’ from the Chhota Rajan, Ravi Pujari, Prasad Pujari and Kumar Pillai gangs to kill rivals at a cost of Rs 3-4 lakh per killing.

“The eight arrested include a former Chhota Rajan gang member, Vijay Vasant Kedari (37), for their roles in murder and robbery cases. After the arrests, we came to know that they were outsourcing the job of killing people for big bucks. So far, five cases have been detected,” ATS chief Rakesh Maria said.

He added that the gang had, however, not outsourced any job by the Dawood Ibrahim-Chhota Shakeel gang yet.

“They were working in a very systematic manner. We hope to get more information soon,” Maria added.

The ATS has recovered two hand-guns, three pistols, a revolver, 49 live cartridges, a magazine, a Santro and a Honda City, and 14 mobile phones from the accused.

“On October 6, 2007, a driver was shot dead. Five people were arrested for conspiracy and for providing weapons. The same day, in Ulhasnagar, the gang killed another person. Similarly, on January 6 this year, a person was shot dead, while an associate was seriously injured, in Kalwa. The gang was behind all the cases,” Maria added.

Kedari was convicted for the April 2, 2001 murder of Vinayak Bakalkar in Ratnagiri. He escaped when out on parole for three weeks in April 2009. Maria said he was was running the jail’s operations from Navi Mumbai. Kedari and his aides have been remanded in police custody.

The Times of India, March 8, 2011

Monday, March 7, 2011

‘RDX used in Malegaon blasts stolen from army’

Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: Residents of Malegaon said the special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) team reinvestigating the 2006 Malegaon bomb blasts told them that their probe revealed that the RDX used in the blasts was stolen from the army. The army had earlier denied this charge.

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 others. Seven youths from Malegaon were arrested by the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) on charges of designing and engineering the blasts. In December 2006 the probe was handed over to the CBI. In 2011, a special CBI team began reinvestigating the case after a member of Abhinav Bharat Swami Aseemanand’s confession claimed that the right-wing group was responsible for the Malegaon blast. The special CBI team conducted five meetings with the members of Organisations of All Muslim Sects (OAMS) in Malegaon and interacted with them.

“The CBI told us that the RDX used in the blasts was stolen from the army,” said a
member of OAMS who was called by the CBI during the probe recently.

A CBI team member, M V Laad, said, “I neither know anything about it nor do I want to talk on this issue”. Another officer from the special CBI team said, “I have been to Malegaon but I cannot utter a single word.”

The prosecution, after arresting Lt Col Prasad Purohit in connection with the September 29, 2008 Malegaon blast in which seven people were killed, had told a court that the RDX used in the bomb was stolen from the army.

The CBI team had been asking the residents of Malegaon to assist them in collect
ing documentary evidence in the 2006 blast case. “They asked why only Malegaon was targeted when there are several other Muslim pockets as well in the state,” said advocate Irfana Hamdanai, who has been legally assisting the Malegaon youth, who have been arrested in the blast cases. “We have submitted documents to the CBI about a reconversion programme conducted by Aseemanand and associates between February 11 and 13, 2006,” said senior advocate S S Shaikh, also a member of OAMS.

Prior to the programme, Aseemanand’s group allegedly distributed pamphlets, calling for an end to conversion of Hindus to Islam and Christianity. Copies of the pamphlets have been submitted to the National Minority Commission, said residents. Copies were also given to the CBI three days ago.

Aseemanand in his confession said that they targeted Malegaon since 80% of its population was Muslim.

“We want our boys to be released. We also want to show that the residents of Malegaon have nothing to do with the blasts but the Aseemanand group is responsible for it,” said advocate Nihal Ansari.

The Times of India, March 7, 2011