Thursday, June 30, 2011

4 tug boat crew members to be held today for negligence

WISDOM WOES


Mateen Hafeez & Mahima Sikand TNN

Mumbai: Four crew members of the Minerva Maritime of Athens, which was given the contract to tug MV Wisdom, now stranded at Juhu beach, are likely to be arrested on Thursday.
The Yellow Gate police said it has recorded the statements of all the crew members and found that the negligence was the fault of a few of them.

The police registered a case under sections 280 (rash navigation of vessel) and 336 (act
endangering life or personal safety of others) of the IPC against the crew members of the Minerva. Both are bailable offences. Fifteen crew members of Minerva have already been detained for negligence.

“The vesselcould have collided with the newly constructed Bandra-Worli sea link and damaged some pillars. This could have endangered the lives of some people,” said a police officer.
The police are planning to
arrest Russian-born Ukrainian master of the Minerva, Shcepinsky Vadyam (65), Ukraine national Gubaty Sergiy (46) the chief officer on the ship, 46-year-old Georgiadis Loizos of Athens, a chief engineer and Abukari Pakis (46) a Ghanaian. “We found that it was the fault of these people that caused the mess-up,” said G M Tope, investigating officer.

Officials from the directorate general of shipping had visited Wisdom and inspected what type of rope was used. “They are yet to send us their report,” said a police officer.


The Times of India, June 30, 2011

16 Somali pirates face murder charge

Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: The Yellow Gate police on Tuesday filed a chargesheet against 16 Somali pirates who had hijacked two vessels and shot dead an Iranian national. The pirates, detained by the Indian Navy on March 12, are accused of murder and indulging in unlawful activities.

“We had arrested 120 Somali pirates and had filed three separate chargesheets against 104 earlier. The pirates had hijacked a Mozambican fishing vessel, Vega 5, and demanded a ransom of $20 mil
lion. They brought down the ransom amount to $4 million after negotiation. However, their demand was turned down. Enraged, they took Vega 5 to Somalia and kept the hostages there for three months,” said inspector G M Tope, who is probing the case.

“The pirates had killed an Iranian national, Mohammed Adam, who tried to resist them,” said an officer. Another hostage, Abdul Aziz, a Pakistani national who witnessed the killing, had jumped into the sea out of fear. It’s been nearly five months and his body is yet to be found.


The Times of India, June 30, 2011

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Pak sailors thank India, on way home




Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: Five Pakistani hostages, who were held captive by Somali pirates for five months and rescued by the Indian Navy, will finally leave for Pakistan on Monday. The hostages had been languishing at Yellow Gate police station after their ‘consular access’ process got stuck in diplomatic channels of the two countries.

TOI was the first to report about the hostages’ plight and the problems in the consular access programmme. A team from the Pakistani High Commission then landed up at the Yellow Gate police station and completed the formalities. Earlier, this was scheduled to be done at Tihar jail in Delhi as the hos
tages were wrongly labeled ‘prisoners’. The men are Aurangzeb Balloch, his brother Sajjad, Farhad Aalam Khan, Mohammed Umair and Lal Bakhsh.

“We are excited to go home. There were some problems in our travel to Pakistan
but the Yellow Gate police took care of us properly. We have no words to thank the Indian police and those who helped make our journey to Pakistan easy,” said Aurangzeb, a resident of Karachi. The other hostages were also jubilant when asked about their return to Pakistan. “In the last three months we saw the lanes and bylanes of this city. It’s very similar to Karachi. The people, places, food and roads here are similar to Karachi. Initially, we were afraid that we may be kept in India, but now we have a positive feeling about this country and its people who loved us,” said Sajjad, another hostage. “We watched the World Cup matches between India and Pakistan in the police station. When India won the final against Sri Lanka, we were happy. We never faced any discrimination here,” added Lal Bakhsh.

The hostages were part of an Iranian fishing trawler, Al-Murtuza. The ship was hijacked by AK-47 borne Somali pirates from the Ballochis
tan sea in November. “We would get insufficient food after we were captured by the pirates,” added Farhad.

The five men were provided food, c h a i and clothes. Sometimes they managed to get cigarettes. The policemen even gave their phones to the hostages so they could speak to their families in Pakistan. To speed up the process to send them home, Ansar Burny, former human rights minister in Pakistan, filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt and Abraham Mathai, state minorities commission vicechairperson, worked together. “We spoke to Gurudas Kamat, the Union minister of state for home and he arranged consular access. The process was speeded up due to his efforts,” said Bhatt.


The Times of India, June 25, 2011

Friday, June 24, 2011

Rescued Pak hostages may soon go home


Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: A three-member team of officials from the Pakistan High Commission will visit the city to take the five hostages rescued from the clutches of Somali pirates back to Pakistan after completing the consular access process at Yellow Gate police station.

The ministry of home affairs (MHA) has allowed the officials to visit Mumbai after reports of the five youths languishing at the police station came to light. “The team will reaching Mumbai by 8.30 am. Once verification of the youths is over, they will be given travel documents and
leave for Karachi,” said a police source. The hostages have been kept at the police station for over three months. TOI had first reported about the delay in sending the hostages home.

The five hostages are Aurangzeb Nabi Bakhsh Balloch (24), his younger brother Sajjad Ali Balloch (19), Lal Bakhsh Murid Khan (20), Farhad Aalam Khan (24) and Mohammed Umair (18).

Metropolitan magistrate, S R Padwal, on Thursday recorded the statement of Aurangzeb Balloch. The statement contains information on how the five youths were kidnapped by Somali pirates last December. Earlier, the MHA had mentioned the five hostages as prisoners and arranged their consular access programme at Tihar Jail on June 28.

Activists like director Mahesh Bhatt, Abraham Mathai, chairman of the Harmony Foundation and Ansar Burney, the chairman of Burney Foundation in Pakistan are trying to send these hostages to their home land at the earliest.

STRANDED: File photo of the five Pakistani hostages

The Times of India, June 24, 2011

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Nine accused get bail, out of jail

Members of the Manmad oil mafia, who burnt alive Nashik additional collector Yeshwant Sonawane, have walked out of Nashik jail as the CBI failed to file the chargesheet on time

MANMAD MURDER


Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: Nine suspects belonging to the oil mafia in Manmad, who were accused of setting Nashik additional collector Yeshwant Sonawane on fire, were granted bail by a special Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) court in Nashik. The bail was granted after the CBI failed to file a chargesheet within the stipulated time. All the accused are out of the Nasik jail.

Another accused, Kunal Shinde (17), was granted bail by the juvenile court on March 23. Ajay Misar, special public prosecutor, said, “The case was transferred from the local police to the CBI. The agency could not file the chargesheet as it was exploring all the angles. The CBI sought an extension for filing the chargesheet, which was granted. Later, the agen
cy again sought extension for a month but the court turned down its plea.”

The Manmad police, which had registered a case of murder and oil pilfering had earlier said eight of the 11 accused booked were not present at the spot when the incident took place. Sonawane was burnt alive on January 25 at Paanewadi near Manmad after being set on fire by prime accused Popat Shinde. Shinde, who also suffered burn injuries, died on January 31.


The Times of India, June 23, 2011

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Pak officials allowed to meet rescued sailors in city

Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: The Union home ministry on Tuesday asked the Mumbai police to make arrangements at the Yellow Gate police station for Pakistani consular officials to meet five Pakistani sailors who were rescued by the Indian Navy from Somali pirates.

The home ministry had earlier fixed Tihar jail as the place where Pakistani consular officials were to meet the men for identification. The five Pakistani nationals have been staying at the Yellow Gate police station since they were rescued. TOI had first reported about the delay in sending the men back to their homeland.

Film-maker Mahesh Bhatt, chief patron of NGO Harmony Foundation, has been trying for an early repatriation of the Pakistani nationals. “I spoke to minister of state for home Gurudas Kamat about the delay in sending these boys back to their country. He immediately issued a letter instructing the Mumbai police to arrange consular access for them in the city. Earlier, it was scheduled on June 28 in Tihar jail,” Bhatt told TOI.

The film-maker, accompanied by his daughter Pooja Bhatt and Harmony Foundation president Dr Abraham Mathai, had visited the Yellow Gate police station on Monday and met the sailors. “Six Indians who were rescued by Pakistani authorities in a similar operation are currently in Karachi. The Pakistan government is sending them back to India on June 23,” said Bhatt. “It will be very embarrassing if we do not respond in a similar manner. We should send the men to Pakistan without further delay,” added Bhat.


The Times of India, June 22, 2011

Chargesheets against 104 Somali pirates

Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: The Yellow Gate police filed three charge sheets against 104 Somali pirates last week. Another charge sheet against 16 pirates will be filed within a couple of days, said police officials.

“We have filed charge sheets against 104 pirates who were arrested on March 12 for hijacking several ships like Vega 5 and Al-Murtuza. The Somalians have been booked for attempt to murder, unlawful assembly, criminal intimidation, criminal conspiracy and for carrying weapons,” said investigating officer M G Tope.

Each case has a 520-page charge sheet. The pirates were captured by the Indian Navy after the
coast guard alerted it about the hijacked vessels. Navy had rounded up 120 pirates in several raids and rescued 70 hostages belonging to Thailand, Philippines, Bangladesh, Iran, Turkey, Myanmar and Pakistan. Subsequently, other countries claimed their nationals back. However, Pakistani is yet to claim five of its nationals.

“We had seized 11 AK-47 rifles with magazines and 10 AK-47s without magazines. Two rocket launchers were also recovered from the pirates. During interrogation, we learnt that the pirates had thrown most of their weapons in the sea when they realized that they will be captured,” said Tope. The pirates have also been booked for waging a war against the Indian government. “We have invoked sections of stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA),” added Tope.


The Times of India, June 22, 2011

Grounded Wisdom: Tug vessel crew detained


TRASH SITE: Garbage littered at Juhu beach on Tuesday, with MV Wisdom in the backdrop


Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: The Yellow Gate police have detained 15 crew members of Minerva Maritime of Athens for negligence. Minerva was responsible for tugging MV Wisdom, now grounded at Juhu beach, from Colombo to Alang in Gujarat. Six crew members, including the captain of Minerva, are likely to be arrested.

The 9,000-tonne MV Wisdom has now become a headache of sorts for the Coast Guard and directorate general of shipping (DGS). “Minerva was given the contract to drag Wisdom from Colombo to the Alang ship breaking yard. However, the rope they were using snapped near Mumbai due to rough weather and high tide. We brought the all the 15 members of the crew to the police station and their statements are being recorded. Once we complete this process, we will arrest those responsible for the incident,” said an inspector. Commissioned in 1985, the Singapore-owned container vessel is owned by Al United Maritime Business Pvt Ltd.

The Minerva crew comprises two Ukrainians, two Greeks and 11 from Ghana.

“The crew members of the decommissioned merchant vessel say that they had informed the Coast Guard and sought help from the Mumbai Port Trust authorities. However, the MbPT officials claim that they didn’t do so as there
was no prior intimation. Moreover, the MbPT does not provide help to dead vessels,” said an officer.

A team of Coast Guard inspected the stranded ship to assess the damage and think of ways it could be removed from the beach. This,
they said, could take some time. If the damage is minimal, they could try to tow the ship during high tide. The Coast Guard may even consider dismantling parts of the ship to reduce the weight and ease the process of towing it.



The Times of India, June 22, 2011

Journo may have had a source in Scotland Yard

Mateen Hafeez & Ahmed Ali | TNN

Mumbai: A new lead in the murder of 54-year-old journalist J Dey has the crime branch in a tizzy. Call detail records from Dey’s mobile phone have revealed that the journalist had been in touch with Scotland Yard, the Metropolitan Police Service of London. A police source who is part of the investigation team said, “Dey had received and made a few calls to someone in Scotland Yard. We are surprised. We are investigating who the official could be, and what the story was about.”

It so happened that in the last week of May, Dey had visited Europe—London, Switzerland and Germany—for ten days. Investigators believe that Dey may have met a source or an informer in London for a story, and will be questioning the journalist’s tour operator. “It’s possible that something went wrong in the meeting,” said another senior police official.

Investigators have found around 2,000 numbers stored in Dey’s mobile phone. “There were some contacts Dey was in constant touch with over the
phone for brief periods of time, after which there was no further activity from those numbers,” said the source. The police also found contact numbers of some members of the underworld. “Dey would contact them for his stories. We have located the areas where the calls from the underworld came from. Dey had also made some outgoing calls to them,” he added. Some of the contacts are under police surveillance now.

On Tuesday, the police recorded the statement of another witness. “We now almost know the motive behind Dey’s killing, but until we get the accused we will not reveal anything,” said the senior officer. The police have retrieved information from two computers—one from his workplace and another at his residence—and three laptops that Dey had been using. “Two additional hard discs were also recovered, but they were corrupted,” they said. The crime branch with the help of the cyber experts were able to access Dey’s email accounts and the 3,000-odd mails he had received and sent. The officer said the police have not come across any letters that raise doubts on Dey’s credibility.

The Times of India, June 22, 2011

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Pak hostages are ‘prisoners’

STRANDED: The five Pakistanis at the Yellow Gate police station


City Police Taking Care Of Sailors


Mateen Hafeez TNN


Mumbai: Five Pakistani hostages, who were rescued by the Indian Army from Somali pirates in March this year, have been labelled as Pakistani prisoners by the ministry of home affairs. TOI has a letter sent by the ministry to the director general of prisons in Maharashtra confirming this fact.

The Mumbai police had asked the Pakistani embassy to take its nationals back but the latter said they have not received permission from the Indian ministry to meet them.

The home ministry has fixed June 28 for the production of the five Pakistanis in Tihar Jail where the hostages will be identified and taken back by the Pakistani embassy. Film-maker Mahesh Bhatt visited the Yellow Gate police station on Monday and met the hostages.

Bhatt is also in touch with Ansar Burney, chairman of the
Burney Foundation in Pakistan and a human-rights activist. Burney had visited the houses of the hostages in Pakistan and convinced their families that the hostages will return home soon. “These boys are hostages and not prisoners. They have not committed any crime. The home ministry should not have labelled them as prisoners,” Abraham Mathai, vice chairman of the state minorities’ commission, said.

The five hostages are Aurangzeb Nabi Bakhsh Balloch (24), his younger brother Sajjad Ali Balloch (19), Lal Bakhsh Murid Khan (20), Farhad Aalam Khan (24) and Mohammed Umair (18). The ordeal for the five Pakistanis, employed on
the fishing trawler, Al-Murtuza, started in December last year when Somali pirates hijacked their vessel and imprisoned all 18 crew members, six Pakistanis and 12 Iranians. On March 12, the Indian Navy finally rescued the vessel from the pirates whom they caught 290 nautical miles from Lakshadweep.

Earlier, arrangements for special consular access were made in Tihar Jail on May 9 but the Pakistani embassy officials did not turn up. “We were informed too late,” a Pakistani embassy office-bearer said. Yellow Gate police station officials, who are bearing the expenses for providing the Pakistanis food for over three months from their own pock
ets, are completing all formalities so that the hostages could be produced in Tihar jail on June 28. The hostages will be identified by the Pakistani embassy officials and will be taken back to Pakistan.


The Times of India, June 21, 2011

Tests on pirates to determine age

Cops escort arrested Somali sailors at Junagadh on Monday


Mateen Hafeez

Mumbai: Nineteen Somali pirates, captured in various raids by the Indian Navy for hijacking vessels, underwent age verification tests on Saturday and Monday. The Saturday test confirmed that the nine Somali pirates were adults while the report on 10 others is still awaited.

Vega 5 fishing vessel and Al-Murtuza trawler were hijacked last year by Somali pirates. The hijackers were arrested and kept at Taloja jail in Navi Mumbai. H D Khatri, deputy director general of shipping (technical), on May 25 sent a letter to the police saying some of the pirates were underage and could be tried under the Juvenile Justice Act.


14 Somalis, 3 Yemenis held, may be pirates

Rajkot: Fourteen Somalis and three Yemeni nationals were arrested on Monday in Gujarat’s Junagadh from a boat which had drifted towards the Una coast. Although they appeared to be fishermen, security agencies suspect they could be pirates.

Residents of Junagadh’s Nandana village spotted the foreigners swimming ashore and informed the police. Their boat seemed to have gone unnoticed by coastal security.

The police found fishing nets, ropes and buoys in the boat indicating they were fishermen. However, the police are not ruling out the possibility that they could be pirates who may have dumped their weapons in the high seas.

While the Somalis swam ashore, three Yemenis were rescued by a Coast Guard chopper. Investigators sought interpreters’ help to question them. The three Yemenis own the boat and they had hired the Somalis for fishing, cops said.




The Times of India, June 21, 2011

Coal theft bid foiled, 16 held


Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: The Coast Guard on Sunday
night arrested 16 persons for stealing 1.5 tonnes of coal from a cargo ship
anchored in the Arabian Sea.

Police sources said the incident was reported to the police around 8 pm. However, the police did not have an equipped
boat to catch the thieves and a message was sent to the Coast Guard, sources added.

“CoastGuard vesselscaught the thieves, aged 18 to 25, while they were busy transferring the stolen coal from a cargo ship to their boat,” said a police officer. They were brought to Yellow Gate police station and their boat was impounded.
The men were produced before the Ballard Pier court on Monday and remanded in judicial custody.


The Times of India, June 21, 2011

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Back in business after a break

OIL MAFIA


Mateen Hafeez | TNN

The multi-crore fuel pilferage and adulteration racket came into the spotlight a few months ago when Malegaon additional district collector Yashwant Sonawane was burnt alive during an official raid. The murder brought to the surface not only the ugly face of oil mafia, it also exposed their nexus with police and government officials. The mafia reportedly earns more than Rs 300 crore a year in the state by stealing, adulterating and selling petrol, diesel and kerosene from tankers that transport fuel by road.

Highway dhabas at Nandgaon, Chandvad, Malegaon, Satana, Dhule, Erandole, Pachora and Igatpuri are the main centres for pilferage. “Everyone knows about the illegal activity,” says a dhaba owner. According to a tanker driv
er, who was earlier questioned by the police in an oil pilferage case, “We also get a commission for taking a halt at various dhabas.” A big container has three compartments with capacities of 4,000 litres of fuel each. “Around 60 to 70 litres of petrol can then be pilfered,” says the driver. Naphtha or kerosene is usually mixed with stolen petrol to adulterate it. Petrol companies usually do density and temperature checks on fuel sent for storage. They have also fitted GPS devices in some vehicles. However, the mafia continues to thrive.

According to sources, everyone is “back in business” a few months after the raids that followed Sonawane’s murder. The system of having special keys that are only kept at the filling station and at the receiving end has not worked because those who possess the keys eventually become hand-in-glove with the mafia. “The mafia prepares duplicate keys to open containers. They also bring new seals. Once a seal is broken to pilfer oil, a new one is put to avoid suspicion,” says a source.
The local dons also keep hired goons to protect their trade, according to a police officer.





The Times of India, June 19, 2011

From ships to smugglers’ cans





Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Over the past 20 years, diesel smuggling has become attractive to unscrupulous elements operating at the Mumbai and Navi Mumbai ports. The diesel mafia’s tentacles have spread far enough for it to operate a racket worth Rs 50 to 60 crore a year at Mumbai Port Trust alone. Police say the biggest kingpin of the racket, however, operates out of Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) in Navi Mumbai.

It’s a dangerous business in which officials of the ports, police and customs all play their roles, according to sources. Though you won’t find gangland-style shootings at the docks, the diesel mafia has its own way of silencing threats. At least 20 deaths can be traced to the mafia over the past decade in both Mumbai and Navi Mumbai. Most of them would have gone into the books as accidents.
Sources said the most vulnerable people are police informers and members of rival gangs.

The gangs get the diesel from ships in Mumbai waters. It is either ‘stolen’ from ships out at sea, or bought from them. “When foreign ships are on their way to India, they may switch off one of their engines, which helps them save
diesel. These ships then sell diesel to smugglers who meet them on the high seas,” says a police official. The smugglers then bring the diesel to the shore and sell it. The gangs also steal diesel from vessels, which, officials point out, is done with the help of crew members who are silent partners in the crime.

Last month, the Yellow Gate police arrested eight men for alleged involvement in diesel smuggling in the Arabian Sea. The new gang is run by Abdul Qadar, a former vegetable vendor who is now one of the biggest dons in this area. According to sources, the racket flourishes at JNPT, thanks to a kingpin in Navi Mumbai. The racket is still growing and the scamsters are making huge amounts of money in coming years. “It’s just the beginning for them. If they are not arrested, their turnover could cross hundreds of crores,” says a source.


The Times of India, June 19, 2011

MUMBAI CONFIDENTIAL


Is the old underworld making a comeback? Or is a new kind of mafia calling the shots in India’s Maximum City?


S Ahmed Ali & Mateen Hafeez | TNN

June 11, Jyotirmoy Dey, 56, got onto his bike at Ghatkopar in Mumbai and rode from his mother's place to his own home in Powai. A little after 2 pm, he called his wife to say he’d be home in 10 minutes. At 2.55 pm, while riding in front of the D-Mart supermarket in Powai, two bikes that had been tailing him suddenly accelerated. As they drew alongside, the two gunmen riding pillion on them shot and killed Dey. The bikers made a clean hit and—as police investigations continue to flounder—apparently a cleaner getaway.

The five bullets were subsequently heard around the country as journalists, citizens, politicians and the police expressed their shock at the brazen killing of a senior crime reporter who might have been on the verge of making damaging revelations. Was the underworld, which Dey wrote almost freely about, involved? Journalists rarely feared attacks from dons like Dawood Ibrahim, Chhota Shakeel or Chhota Rajan. At the height of gangland activity in the 1990s, and the reporting that accompanied it, no journalist was ever hit by the underworld.

But Dey, and others in his tribe, had new fodder of late. The traditional underworld gangs, most of the major godfathers of which are now abroad, are not the only players in Mumbai’s mafiadom. There are new dons and new rackets which earn
smaller, though equally dangerous outfits hundreds of crores of rupees. Along the way, informers, cops and officials enjoy a slice of the pie. Dey had been writing about one of these growing mafias, the diesel smuggling racket that operates in the Mumbai harbour and the high seas. Other mafias, like the petrol and sand rackets, have also grown over the last two decades and operate alongside the underworld’s traditional businesses of extortion, drugs and smuggling.

Most importantly, while the traditional underworld mainly targeted its own members in gangland slayings that erupted over turf wars and vendettas, or threatened powerful people like industrialists, film producers and builders, the new mafias seem to be clashing head on with common citizens and officials. Dey’s killing is apparently one such instance, but not the only one. In January, Malegaon additional collector Yashwant Sonawane was burned alive by the kerosene mafia. Last year, environmentalist Sumaira Abdulali and a TOI journalist were attacked by the sand mafia.

The oil mafia has existed in Indian waters—particularly Mumbai’s—for more than five decades, but the diesel racket got a major boost over the past 20 years when Mohammed Ali
Shaikh, a close confidant of Dawood Ibrahim, entered the trade. According to sources, Ali was a dockworker who assembled a gang to buy diesel from foreign ships at cheap rates and sell it to petrol pumps and small industrial units in the city.

Shaikh grew to control a large share of the racket until his arrest last year for the murder of shipping firm owner Chand Madar. His modus operandi was to go out to sea with trawlers and tugs that ostensibly supplied food and drinking water to foreign ships. The ships were towed to barges and diesel was bought from them. “If the present diesel price is Rs 42 at petrol pumps, the mafia may buy it for Rs 18 or 20. This diesel can also be adulterated with naphtha or kerosene before it reaches your car,” says a senior customs officer. There are other gangs that sell diesel to industrial units in the Mumbai and Thane regions. Hassan, Patel, Jugnu, Rafiqbhai, Dawood, Paresh, Bhanusali and others are some of the smaller operators, but the largest diesel smuggler operates from Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust in Navi Mumbai, according to police officials.

Shaikh handled a major chunk of the racket at Bhaucha Dakka
(Ferry Wharf), Mumbai, where marine cargo is handled. Nobody dared interfere with Shaikh as he had direct links with Dawood and Shakeel.

“Last year, Chand Madar, a former cohort of Shaikh’s, started to operate his own business. He was bumped off by the Shaikh gang,” says a police official. Though this business rivalry was allegedly the main reason behind the killing, on record other reasons were given. “Madar had become a headache for Shaikh, who asked Chhota Shakeel for permission to do the killing,” said the official. Shakeel denied it, but Shaikh’s gang went ahead. “There are reports that the Shaikh gang paid money to the police, customs and other officials. Those who never ‘adjusted’ were bumped off secretly”, said another official. Police informer Salim Khabri, who used to pass tips on Shaikh’s racket, died in a road accident in 2006. The way his bike was hit suggested a ‘supari’ (contract) killing.

Dey, whose father worked in the Navy, had extensive knowledge of the Mumbai harbour. He had been writing about the mafia operating in the seas for a decade. Though police investigations have run cold, the killing plainly suggests an organized hit. The hand of the oil mafia remains a major angle. Dey’s network of sources included ‘khabris’ and law enforcers. The crime branch last week sought access to Shaikh to interrogate him about Dey’s killing. Shaikh, who along with six others has been booked under the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act, is now admitted to a hospital after complaining of chest pain and diabetes.


The police are still clueless about Dey’s killers. The needle of suspicion has swung from old dons to a police officer. But it could be a different breed of mafia — more brazen and ruthless — that possibly got him killed last week on a Mumbai street.


The Times of India, June 19, 2011


Is the old underworld making a comeback? Or is a new kind of mafia calling the shots in India’s Maximum City?


S Ahmed Ali & Mateen Hafeez | TNN

June 11, Jyotirmoy Dey, 56, got onto his bike at Ghatkopar in Mumbai and rode from his mother's place to his own home in Powai. A little after 2 pm, he called his wife to say he’d be home in 10 minutes. At 2.55 pm, while riding in front of the D-Mart supermarket in Powai, two bikes that had been tailing him suddenly accelerated. As they drew alongside, the two gunmen riding pillion on them shot and killed Dey. The bikers made a clean hit and—as police investigations continue to flounder—apparently a cleaner getaway.

The five bullets were subsequently heard around the country as journalists, citizens, politicians and the police expressed their shock at the brazen killing of a senior crime reporter who might have been on the verge of making damaging revelations. Was the underworld, which Dey wrote almost freely about, involved? Journalists rarely feared attacks from dons like Dawood Ibrahim, Chhota Shakeel or Chhota Rajan. At the height of gangland activity in the 1990s, and the reporting that accompanied it, no journalist was ever hit by the underworld.

But Dey, and others in his tribe, had new fodder of late. The traditional underworld gangs, most of the major godfathers of which are now abroad, are not the only players in Mumbai’s mafiadom. There are new dons and new rackets which earn
smaller, though equally dangerous outfits hundreds of crores of rupees. Along the way, informers, cops and officials enjoy a slice of the pie. Dey had been writing about one of these growing mafias, the diesel smuggling racket that operates in the Mumbai harbour and the high seas. Other mafias, like the petrol and sand rackets, have also grown over the last two decades and operate alongside the underworld’s traditional businesses of extortion, drugs and smuggling.

Most importantly, while the traditional underworld mainly targeted its own members in gangland slayings that erupted over turf wars and vendettas, or threatened powerful people like industrialists, film producers and builders, the new mafias seem to be clashing head on with common citizens and officials. Dey’s killing is apparently one such instance, but not the only one. In January, Malegaon additional collector Yashwant Sonawane was burned alive by the kerosene mafia. Last year, environmentalist Sumaira Abdulali and a TOI journalist were attacked by the sand mafia.

The oil mafia has existed in Indian waters—particularly Mumbai’s—for more than five decades, but the diesel racket got a major boost over the past 20 years when Mohammed Ali
Shaikh, a close confidant of Dawood Ibrahim, entered the trade. According to sources, Ali was a dockworker who assembled a gang to buy diesel from foreign ships at cheap rates and sell it to petrol pumps and small industrial units in the city.

Shaikh grew to control a large share of the racket until his arrest last year for the murder of shipping firm owner Chand Madar. His modus operandi was to go out to sea with trawlers and tugs that ostensibly supplied food and drinking water to foreign ships. The ships were towed to barges and diesel was bought from them. “If the present diesel price is Rs 42 at petrol pumps, the mafia may buy it for Rs 18 or 20. This diesel can also be adulterated with naphtha or kerosene before it reaches your car,” says a senior customs officer. There are other gangs that sell diesel to industrial units in the Mumbai and Thane regions. Hassan, Patel, Jugnu, Rafiqbhai, Dawood, Paresh, Bhanusali and others are some of the smaller operators, but the largest diesel smuggler operates from Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust in Navi Mumbai, according to police officials.

Shaikh handled a major chunk of the racket at Bhaucha Dakka
(Ferry Wharf), Mumbai, where marine cargo is handled. Nobody dared interfere with Shaikh as he had direct links with Dawood and Shakeel.

“Last year, Chand Madar, a former cohort of Shaikh’s, started to operate his own business. He was bumped off by the Shaikh gang,” says a police official. Though this business rivalry was allegedly the main reason behind the killing, on record other reasons were given. “Madar had become a headache for Shaikh, who asked Chhota Shakeel for permission to do the killing,” said the official. Shakeel denied it, but Shaikh’s gang went ahead. “There are reports that the Shaikh gang paid money to the police, customs and other officials. Those who never ‘adjusted’ were bumped off secretly”, said another official. Police informer Salim Khabri, who used to pass tips on Shaikh’s racket, died in a road accident in 2006. The way his bike was hit suggested a ‘supari’ (contract) killing.

Dey, whose father worked in the Navy, had extensive knowledge of the Mumbai harbour. He had been writing about the mafia operating in the seas for a decade. Though police investigations have run cold, the killing plainly suggests an organized hit. The hand of the oil mafia remains a major angle. Dey’s network of sources included ‘khabris’ and law enforcers. The crime branch last week sought access to Shaikh to interrogate him about Dey’s killing. Shaikh, who along with six others has been booked under the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act, is now admitted to a hospital after complaining of chest pain and diabetes.

The police are still clueless about Dey’s killers. The needle of suspicion has swung from old dons to a police officer. But it could be a different breed of mafia — more brazen and ruthless — that possibly got him killed last week on a Mumbai street.


The Times of India, June 19, 2011

The poor have Shahid Balwa’s goat every day

The Balwas have been sacrificing goats to help tide over their troubles

Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: Every afternoon, a feast is laid out in the bylanes of Nagpada. The culinary spread has been on offer for the last fortnight, and have-nots in the area have been lining up for a quick bite and conveying their heartfelt gratitude.

In this Muslim-dominated stretch, such feasts are not uncommon—they are part of the Islamic custom of ‘sadqa’ or charity practised to ward off troubles. What is interesting about this round of sadqa is that it is being hosted by the Balwas—a family earlier known only
for its Balwas restaurant at New Marine Lines but now for its son Shahid Balwa’s realty firm, DB Realty.Balwa, India’s youngest billionaire at 37, and his cousin Asif have been in Tihar jail for their role in the 2G scam since February and March, respectively.

Given the dark clouds hovering over the family, there is speculation that the sadqa is a fervent prayer for deliverance from their darkest hour. A source close to the family said the goat sacrifice was mainly on account of the holy months of Rajjab and Shaaban. “The family usually distributes food during these two months. But this time they are sacrificing goats. It could be as sadqa for the troubled times they are going through,” said the source, adding, “Two goats from the family’s farmhouses are sacrificed every day for the feast, and this will continue for two more months.”

‘Sadqa’ highest form of charity
Mumbai: For the last 15 days, Mumbai’s Balwa family has been hosting a feast in the Muslim-dominated area of Nagpada for the poor. The act is a part of the Islamic custom of ‘sadqa’ or charity practised to ward off troubles. With Shahid Balwa, MD of DB Realty, being arrested for his alleged role in the 2G spectrum scam, there is speculation that sadqa is a fervent prayer for deliverance from their darkest hour.

Sadqa is considered the highest act of charity. While usually it is cash that is given out, feeding the poor and needy is also allowed. “Shahid is fond of goats and has at least 300 goats, which are fed fruit, dry fruits, juices and cold drinks,” said a source close to the family. It is said the entrepreneur was so fond of his goats that “he cared for them as if they were human beings”.


Shahid and Asif Balwa were directors of the erstwhile Kusegaon Fruits and Vegetables Pvt Ltd, whose name was later changed to Kusegaon Realty. Shahid is one of the promoters of the DB Group which runs DB Realty, DB Hospitality and Swan Telecom (now Etisalat DB Telecom). The family belongs to the Chilya Sunni Muslim community.


The Times of India, June 19, 2011

FEW VICTIMS OPT FOR LEGAL REDRESS



Those Who Send Obscene SMSs Can Face Jail Time Under IT Act

Mateen Hafeez & Shibu Thomas | TNN

Over the last two years, the cyber crime cell has received only 200 complaints from people who were victims of obscene text and multimedia messages. However, police estimate that there are many more people who are suffering silently. Victims, most of whom are women, are hesitant to approach the police even though there are stringent laws under the amended Information Technology (IT) Act. The seventeen-year-old student of L S Parkar College at Goregaon (W) who lodged a complaint against her professor last week for sending her lewd text messages is an exception to the norm, said the police. The lecturer, Rahul Sarangle, was arrested and booked under Section 509 (word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Section 66(A) of the IT Act.

According to advocate Arfan Sait who practises at the Bombay high court, India is one of the few countries that has the harshest punishments for transmitting vulgar SMSs and MMSs through mobile phones and over the internet. In other words, sending obscene messages or emails could land an offender in jail. “There are various sections under the IPC that can be applied including outraging the modesty of a woman and obscenity,’’ said Sait.

An SMS is considered an electronic record, as the mobile phone comes under the category of ‘computer’ under the IT Act.

Earlier, suspects would be booked for outraging the modesty of a woman. But under Section 67 (publishing or transmitting obscene material in electronic form) of the Information Technology Act, if a person is convicted of the charge of sending an obscene SMS, he could face up to five years in jail and a fine of Rs 1 lakh. If the same person is caught a second time, he faces 10 years’ imprisonment and a fine of Rs 2 lakh. The offences are categorized as cognizable crimes.

Lesser punishments can also be imposed under the IPC—ranging from Section 209 (obscene act in pub
lic place), Section 354 (outraging a woman’s modesty by assaulting her) and Section 509 (outraging a woman’s modesty by word or gesture or act). Critics, however, say that while the law has a nasty bite, convictions are rare. “While the police register cases, there are hardly any convictions,” said an official.

Harsh Laws
Under Section 67 (publishing or transmitting obscene material in electronic form) of the IT Act, if a person is convicted of the charge of sending an obscene SMS, he could face up to five years in jail and a fine of Rs 1 lakh
If the same person is caught a second time, he faces 10 years imprisonment and a fine of
Rs 2 lakh
The police can also invoke Sections 66 A (sending offensive messages through communication service), 66 E (violation of privacy) of the IT Act
Depending on the nature of the case, the police can also arrest a person under Section 509 (outraging the modesty of a woman) of the IPC, punishment for which is two to seven years

SEXTING CELEBRITIES
March 2008 | A Delhi-based BCom graduate was arrested and brought to Mumbai for allegedly sending obscene text messages to Bollywood actress Sushmita Sen
February 2007 | The police arrested a freelance mediaperson for allegedly sending obscene phone messages to an aspiring actress and dancer
March 2007 |
Actor Nagma has filed a complaint with the Bandra police stating she was a victim of a string of threatening and vulgar SMSs
STATUS | All the cases are under trial
New trend of sexting can have disastrous outcome & ruin lives
India is not without its share of sexting tales; the most infamous being the widely circulated MMS of two Delhi high school students in 2004.

Said Nishant Shah, director (research) of the Bangalore-based Centre for Internet and Society, “Sexting is essentially about mobile phones. While there is no study in India on sexting, it’s obvious from our sessions with youngsters that sexting is a part of the new communication patterns emerging among young people.”

At times, sexting can have disastrous outcomes. While Chitra is a nervous wreck who feels she may have invited the sexts with her behaviour, American teen Jessica Logan committed suicide in 2008 after her ex-boyfriend circulated nude pictures that she had earlier in their relationship MMSed him. Shah said, “During our research in Bihar, we came across youngsters in that state who have suffered a great deal when an older family member read SMSs that they had sent.”

Any text
message to a male friend could be misconstrued as sexting in non-metro parts of India,
he added. Experts said that measures should be taken by families and society at large to protect youngsters from the ills of sexting. “Victims could feel shocked, violated and frightened,’’ said Dr Shetty. “The words jump from the screen bringing a deep sense of disgust and a feeling of pain. The experience may be converted to bad memories if counselling is not done.’’


The Times of India, June 19, 2011

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Businessman behind Dey murder? 3 held

WHEELS OF DEATH: The car which was allegedly used to transport journalist J Dey’s killers


S Ahmed Ali, Mateen Hafeez & Vijay V Singh TNN

Mumbai: The Mumbai police on Wednesday detained three suspects, including the shooter, in the murder of journalist J Dey. Two of them, Mateen Shaikh (25) and Anwar Hatela (35), suspected members of the Chhota Shakeel gang, were picked up from Mumbra in Thane
district. The third, Sayyed Nadeem (34) alias Bobby, is a police informer. A Maruti Zen belonging to Anwar, which was used as a getaway car by the assailants, has also been traced.

Police suspect that Dey was shot dead on Saturday by four bike-borne persons at the instance of a south Mumbai businessman who is into smuggling of red sandalwood. Police sources said the supari was worth around Rs 70,000.

However, senior home department officials remained tight-lipped about the
developments and said that a clear picture was yet to emerge.

Chhota Shakeel, an associate of fugitive gangster Dawood Ibrahim, denied his involvement. “I have nothing against Dey. I was never affected by Dey’s writings. Why should I kill an innocent person?” Shakeel said. He told TOI over phone from an undisclosed location that a senior police officer had sought his help in the case. “Now, I am surprised that my name is linked to the killing. I do not know Shaikh or Hatela,” he said.


Dey may’ve been offered 10L to kill smuggling story
Journalist Planned Report On Illegal Sandalwood Trade; Teams Sent To Pune, Chandrapur To Trace Conspirators
The Mumbai police are questioning three suspects in the J Dey murder case. Investigations, said sources, point to the role of a south Mumbai businessman who trades in red sandalwood. “Dey was working on a story that could have exposed his illegal trade. The businessman, using his underworld contacts, executed the murder. This is one of the key motives that has emerged from our interrogation,” a cop said. The businessman offered Rs 10 lakh to get the story suppressed through police informer Bobby, but Dey refused to accept it, the officer said.

The police picked up the three suspects on Wednesday morning based on information
gathered from informers and intelligence inputs. They are now grilling them to unearth the conspiracy and trace their accomplices. Police teams have left for Pune and Chandrapur to hunt for the other conspirators. Police are also probing whether Dey was killed because of the stories that he planned to write on a senior cop’s links with Dawood Ibrahim.

Police said they suspect Bobby acted as a middleman between Dey and the businessman. “Bob
by provided information on the businessman to Dey. He then approached the businessman and tipped him off about Dey’s plans to write a story on him. The businessman told Bobby that he was willing to pay Rs 10 lakh to Dey if he dropped the story.”

Police said they are gathering details on Mateen and Anwar. Anwar’s brother, Arif Kalia, a key member of the Chhota Shakeel gang, was shot dead in 1998 in a police encounter, sources said.

The police are also trying to trace Gujarat-born suspect Haji, involved in at least three murder and attempt-to-murder cases. “He was seen in Mumbai a day before Dey’s killling. After Dey was shot dead, Haji is learned to have headed towards Pune,” said a source.

Haji, said sources, met the
businessman last week. It is not clear whether Haji organized the shooters. “The businessman came from Dubai to Mumbai two weeks ago and a day before Dey’s killing, he left India for Dubai again,” said a source. The businessman’s uncle and a south Mumbai politician are business partners.

“Bobby had informed Dey that a consignment would be sent abroad as fruits from Nhava Sheva port. But it actually contained red sandalwood,” said the source. It is also alleged that Bobby met Dey on June 10, a day before he was shot, to identify their target.


BJP for fair probe
New Delhi:
Expressing “deep concern” that no headway had been made in the probe into the killing of senior journalist J Dey, the Bharatiya Janata Party on Wednesday demanded that the case be handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation. In a letter to Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan, BJP chief Nitin Gadkari said that following media reports alleging some cops’ involvement in the killing, it has become all the more important that the probe be handed over, to be carried out “in an unbiased manner and in a credible way”. TNN

A condolence meet for the slain scribe in the city


Informant who helped Dey being questioned

TIMES NEWS NETWORK

The Mumbai police’s crime branch is questioning an informant, Sayyed Nadeem alias Bobby, in connection with the murder of journalist J Dey. Thirty-four-year-old Bobby is a resident of Damar Lane at Mohammed Ali Road and is also known by his other aliases Paglajaan, Sayyed Sahab, Jada Seth and Raghu. The son of a small-time businessman, he studied in Habeeb High School at Dongri before dropping out when he flunked in standard VIII. In 1998, he fortuitously escaped an attempt on life when the gunman mistook Bobby’s friend for him. The friend, however, died from the gunshot wounds. Over the years, several cases have been registered against Bobby, though he was discharged in two of them. As an informant, Bobby was in constant touch with police officers and several journalists. He reportedly came in touch with Dey two years ago, after which he frequently shared information with the senior crime reporter. The state’s Anti-Terrorism Squad recently seized about a dozen firearms acting on a tipoff given by Bobby. A few days prior to Dey’s killing, Bobby had visited the ATS’ Nagpada office to meet a senior police officer. He works as a site supervisor for a real estate developer.

Nadeem Sayyed alias Bobby


The Times of India, June 16, 2011

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

UNDER THE SPOTLIGHT




Police bosses claim that Anil Mahabole had no role in the killing of senior reporter J Dey. Maybe, but there is no denying that the murder case has inadvertently put the focus on the 54-year-old ACP and his Monday evening transfer


NAME | Anil Mahabole (54)
RANK | Assistant commissioner of police
JOINED POLICE FORCE IN | 1979 as sub-inspector
Current Posting | Local Arms Unit (control room)

FIRST BRUSH WITH CONTROVERSY |
While he was in charge of crime branch unit-1 in 2007, Mahabole was accused of showing leniency to Dawood Ibrahim’s sister Haseena Parkar in a case where she was charged with not repaying Rs 1 crore to a real estate agent. In a related development, a complaint was filed with the anti-corruption bureau alleging that Mahabole demanded a bribe. Perhaps as a result, Mahabole was transferred to the Local Arms Unit, considered an insignificant posting. However, no action was taken on the inquiry report sent by the ACB to the police commissioner’s office

UPS AND DOWNS |
After three years in the Local Arms Unit, Mahabole was promoted to the rank of assistant commissioner of police in 2010 and transferred to the police headquarters’ control room. From there, he was posted as ACP, Azad Maidan division, a highly sought-after zone

SECOND BRUSH WITH CONTROVERSY |
A journalist, T K Dwivedi aka Akela, accused Mahabole of threatening him this year while he was in a Government Railway Police lockup. Akela was booked under the Official Secrets Act for writing a story on the poor condition of the armoury where the railways’ weapons are stored. An inquiry was set up against Mahabole, but it is yet to be completed

ACCUSATIONS | Two days after Dey’s murder, his colleague Akela claimed that the two were threatened by Mahabole in the past. On Monday evening, the ACP was transferred from Azad Maidan to the Local Arms Unit (control room), though the top police brass said that the decision had nothing to do with the murder or the investigation into it

Text: Mateen Hafeez


The Times of India, June 15, 2011

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Journalist’s murder case: Senior cop comes under the scanner



J Dey’s Colleague Complains Of Threats From ACP


S Ahmed Ali & Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: Two days after journalist J Dey was shot dead, the Mumbai police, under pressure to solve the case, are examining various possibilities including the role of a police officer. Dey was shot dead on Saturday afternoon by four bike-borne killers at Powai.

Police said they would question assistant commissioner of police Anil Mahabole because Dey had spoken to his friends about threats from the officer. On Monday evening, the government transferred Mahabole from Azad Maidan to Local Arms (control room), considered an insignificant posting.

Dey’s colleague in Mid-Day, T K Dwivedi alias Akela, said they were threatened by Mahabole. “Dey and I had been working on some stories on Mahabole’s links with fugitive gangster Dawood Ibrahim,” Akela told TOI.

City police commissioner Arup Patnaik told journalists on Monday eve
ning, “I am neither denying or confirming Mahabole’s role.” He refused to elaborate but said the police had some vital leads. Mahabole declined to comment on Akela’s statements. “I have no personal enmity with Akela or Dey. Let the crime branch investigate, the truth will come out soon,” he said.

PAGES FROM A WHODUNIT
Dey’s colleague at Mid-Day, T K Dwivedi aka Akela, claimed that they had been working on a story exploring assistant commissioner of police Anil Mahabole’s links with Dawood Ibrahim and that the cop had earlier threatened the duo
Police chief Arup Patnaik said they were
investigating all angles. Interestingly, Mahabole was shunted from Azad Maidan to an insignificant posting on Monday evening
Cops also probing if the underworld or oil mafia had a hand in killing. Personal enmity is also a theory


Police probe possible role of imprisoned oil smuggler

Some police sources main tained that Mahabole’s shunt ing had nothing to do with the Dey case but was connected to the pending inquiries against him

Senior police officers said they are also probing whether Dey was targeted by the underworld or the oil mafia for his writings as also the possibility of personal enmi ty. The city crime branch on Mon day released the sketch of one of the shooters, based on the de scription given by a witness.

Dey had also met home minis ter R R Patil in May and submit ted the state Anti-Corruption Bu reau’s adverse report on Mahabole The officer was investigated after allegations that he helped Da wood’s sister Haseena Parkar in an extortion case registered against her. This happened after Akela was booked under the Offi
cial Secrets Act for his story on the poor condition of the armoury where the Railways’ weapons are stored. It was alleged that Ma habole had instigated the arrest.

A senior police officer said that Dey’s mobile phone records showed that there was a mismatch between names and numbers “This could also be to protect the identity of the people whom he contacted for his stories,” a police officer said. Dey had told several journalists that he never disclosed the identity of his sources.

Police on Monday questioned Sadruddin from Navi Mumbai who trades in fuel. Police are also probing the role of an oil smug gler linked to the underworld who is currently in jail. “Gangsters normally do not target journal ists for their writings,” a police officer said. The cops have also questioned several informers with whom Dey interacted for his
stories. Several informers con tacted the police and provided the ories that caused the murder.

Police said that the CCTV footage that showed the killers fir ing at Dey was not clear. “It was raining and the visibility was poor The shooters wore windcheaters which made it difficult for us to identify the faces,” a police officer said. Police also said that Dey did not visit any shop to photocopy documents as believed initially Dey, while returning to his Powai home from his mother’s flat in Am rut Nagar, Ghatkopar, went to DTDC couriers and sent some doc uments to the Philippines. Dey was to leave for the Philippines on an office visit on June 21. “An initial probe suggested that the docu ments he was carrying were sen sitive and linked to the killings, a police officer said. “We only know that it was a contract killing and meticulously executed,” he added

A police sketch of one of the suspected killers


The Times of India, June 14, 2011

Monday, June 13, 2011

‘Mumbai cops more helpful than our govt’

Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: The five Pakistani nationals who were rescued from pirates and brought back to Mumbai in March think the city policemen care for them more than their own government officials.

“The policemen have given us clothes, arranged for food and also provided us with jayenamaaz to pray. They even serve us tea several times,” said one of the hostages lodged at the Yellow Gate police station. “What they are doing for us is more than anything done by our government officials who
are not bothered about us.”

The Indian Navy rescued Aurangzeb Balloch, Sajjad Balloch, Lal Khan, Farhad Khan and Mohammed Umair from Somalian pirates on March 12. “The policemen even made arrangements so that we could speak to our families; they were also much relieved when they spoke to
us,” said Aurangzeb Balloch, the only one who can speak fluent Urdu-Hindi. “The cops are very cooperative, cordial and caring. In contrast, our government officials have not visited us even once to know what we are going through without our families,” said Aurangzeb Balloch, the only hostage who could speak fluent Urdu-Hindi.

The five while away their time by roaming around outside the police station and talking about the life they have left behind. Farhad added that they had almost nothing to do the whole day. “We are semieducated; we cannot even read to pass our time. Mostly, we huddle together, thinking and talking about what the future holds for us,” he said.

They are visibly upset that their country does not seem to “care for them”. “Those from Iran, Myanmar, Philippines, and Thailand have been taken back by their governments,
but we are still here. When we ask Altaf Sahab from the embassy, he keeps saying that as it was a matter between the two countries, it and will take some time,” said Lal Khan.

It surely seems to be an irony that once upon a time, they dreamt of visiting Mumbai and now, they are dying to leave the city. “We always thought of visiting Mumbai one day but never thought our trawler would be hijacked and we will be brought to Mumbai,” said Bakhsh, a Hindi movie lover. Now, all that they can think of is leaving the city and returning home.

The Times of India, June 13, 2011

No one to take Pak sailors home


5 Hostages Caught In Diplomatic Dispute


Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: It has been two months since the Indian Navy rescued five Pakistani crew members of an Iranian fishing trawler from the clutches of Somalian pirates but they are not sure if they would ever be able to return home. The five are caught between the diplomatic channels of the neighbouring countries, with the Mumbai police saying they had asked the Pakistani embassy to take its nationals back and the latter claiming they had not got the permission from the Indian ministry to come to Mumbai and meet the five.

“We have sent letters to the Pakistani embassy but they have not even come to us to enquire about their nationals. Over the phone they said they were verifying the various documents and would claim their nationals soon,” said the police, adding that the Pakistani embassy had not even shelled out a single penny for the expenses being incurred on the sailors. “We are in touch with Pakistani embassy office bearer Altaf who has promised to reimburse all the bills for food and other amenities that we are giving to the five,” said in
spector M G Tope. The five have been identified as Aurangzeb Nabi Bakhsh Balloch(24), his younger brother Sajjad Ali Balloch (19), Lal Bakhsh Murid Khan (20), Farhad Aalam Khan (24) and Mohammed Umair (18).

Pakistani officials seem to be keen to help their countrymen but apparently, they are not getting the permission. “The embassy wants to take the sailors back but the Indian home affairs department is not allowing me to go out of Delhi range. We have not been given permission to meet them,” a Pakistani embassy official told TOI. “We have written to the MHA but they are not responding. The embassy officials are also in touch with the hostages and preparing travel papers.”


The ordeal for the five Pakistanis, employed on the fishing trawler, Al-Murtuza, started in December last year when Somalian pirates hijacked their vessel and imprisoned all 18 crew members, six Pakistanis and 12 Iranians. On March 12, the Indian Navy finally rescued the ship from the pirates whom they caught 290 nautical miles from Lakshadweep.

During that time, the navy rounded up 106 pirates in several raids and also rescued 70 hostages, belonging to Thailand, Philippines, Bangladesh, Iran, Turkey, Myanmar and Pakistan. Subsequently, the other countries claimed their nationals back, but Pakistan is yet to take home their five rescued hostages, who are now at the Yellow Gate police station.


The Balloch brothers are from Karachi and their three friends are from Sindh in Pakistan. “On fishing trawlers, I earn Rs 20,000 to Rs 30,000 (Pakistan currency) a month. My brother worked in a tailor’s shop and wanted to work with me. It was his first trip,” Balloch told TOI.

Tope said through the ministry of home affairs they told the Pakistani embassy on May 7 that they would take the hostages to New Delhi where their nationality could be verified. “However, the officials did not turn up,” he said. A Pakistani embassy official, however, claimed they were not told that the hostages would be produced before a panel for verification.

The five were again bro
ught back to Mumbai and sent to the Yellow Gate police station. Dreaming of home, all they do is brood, sitting outside the police station, or talk about their families. Son of a farmer, Farhad Khan, said, “Sahab, I want to go home. I have four brothers. I spoke to them over phone and even they are crying for me. Do something for us so that we could go back.”

Even the policemen are at a loss and trying their best to help them. The cops made arrangements for them to call home and also pay for their clothes and other amenities. A local restaurant takes care of their meals. “They are not criminals, they are hostages. We just want that the Pakistani embassy to come and take its men back,” added Tope.


The Times of India, June 13, 2011

Saturday, June 11, 2011

HEADLEY’S GUILTY PLEA


Acquittal Of Canadian Businessman In 26/11 Attacks Doesn’t Water Down Confession Of Prime Accused Headley: Police MORE IMPORTANT THAN RANA VERDICT: CITY COPS


Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: Several senior Mumbai police officials said on Friday that David Headley’s confession, that he did recces in Mumbai for the 26/11 attacks, was the main focus of the terror trial in Chicago, and the acquittal of Pakistani Canadian Tahawwur Rana, on charges that he provided cover for Headley, was not of the same significance.

“Headley had visited Mumbai and did recces. He has admitted to this and it has been proved,” said a senior Mumbai police officer,
who added that Rana’s acquittal from the 26/11 conspiracy will not affect other cases in India. While Ajmal Kasab has received the death sentence for being one of the gunmen in the attacks, the National Investigation Agency is planning to file charge sheets against Headley and Rana.

The Mumbai police said there was no doubt that Headley had done recces for 26/11, which was part of the Chicago case. The court had only acquitted Rana of aiding Headley, they said.

Senior police officials who have worked on 26/11 probes also said that Rana’s acquittal appeared to be con
tradictory. While he has been found guilty of aiding the militant g ro u p Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), he has been absolved of involvement in the 26/11 attacks, which the LeT has claimed responsibility for.

Officers said that Headley repeatedly spoke of Rana’s involvement. “It was Headley who told the US court about his involvement in the 26/11 case and that he had got Rana’s assistance. We don’t understand how he has been acquitted,” said another officer.

Himanshu Roy, head of the crime branch, said, “We have not seen the copy of the proceedings and so it would not be appropriate to comment yet.”

Mumbai crime branch officials, who had arrested Ajmal Kasab, one of the 10 Pakistani terrorists, said they had worked hard on the case and secured a conviction. Another crime branch officer said that Kasab had admitted his crime and, through it, they had unearthed a bigger conspiracy. “Our case still stands strong in the court of law,”
said an officer.

CASE CALENDAR

Nov 26-29, 2008:
Pak-based militants attack Mumbai, killing 166 and injuring over 300

Oct 27, 2009:
Rana and Headley, both of Chicago, are charged in a plot to attack a Danish newspaper. US prosecutors say Headley conducted surveillance while Rana provided him with financial and other support

Dec 7:
Prosecutors charge Headley with conducting surveillance for the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai

Jan 14, 2010: Rana is charged with offering material support for Headley’s surveillance in Mumbai

Mar 18: Headley pleads guilty

May 4, 2011: Rana is arraigned

May 16:
Case against Rana goes on trial

May 19: Selection for 12-member jury is completed

May 23:
Opening arguments are made by the prosecution and defence

June 7:
Closing arguments are made by the prosecution and defence

June 8
: The jury begins deliberations

June 9 (June 10 IST):
Jury clears Rana of Mumbai charges, holds him guilty on two other counts

The Times of India, June 11, 2011

Friday, June 10, 2011

Two held for cylinder blast in Nashik

Mateen Hafeez & Sanjeev Shivadekar TNN

Mumbai: Nashik police have detained two persons in connection with Tuesday’s ‘cylinder blast’ that killed three people and injured seven.

Shakti Gavai, the man who leased the flat in the building where the blast took place and Amit Gurunani, son of one of the deceased, have been detained and it is being examined whether the house stored gelatin or explosives. “The police have found chemicals like potassium nitrate, sulphate, sulphur, charcoal and aluminum at the site of the mishap. Prima facie, there are no terror links. We are awaiting the forensic lab report,” home minister R R Patil said.


Preliminary investigation by the bomb detection and disposal squad has revealed the presence of ammonium nitrate and gun powder at the spot. The police are also exploring if there is any terror angle. Sources said the Nashik police may recreate the blast scene to see if the blast intensity matched a fire cracker’s.

In 2006, an explosion at a Nanded house was said to have resulted from the illegal hoarding of a fire cracker. Later, it was found that it took place while the Bajrang Dal members were making bombs.

The Times of India, June 10, 2011

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Malegaon deal: Cong-NCP tries to win over IMCP


Mufti Ismail


Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Malegaon: Congress and NCP are putting intense pressure on Indian Muslim Congress Party, a group of religious and community leaders that has emerged as the single largest party in the civic polls, ever since it talked of forming a coalition with Shiv Sena to rule the corporation.

IMCP has emerged as the leading player after the recently-held Malegaon municipal polls, but remains short of a majority. The outfit has been in talks with Sena on the issue of sharing power since the election results were declared on May 28. Sena chief Bal Thackeray, on his part, has given the nod to tie up with IMCP. But Congress and Janata Dal (Secular), the other contenders, have also been discussing the idea of joining hands.

State Congress chief Prabha Rao has tried to open a line of communication with the IMCP head, 46-yr-old Mufti Mohammed Ismail. Sources said Rao called up Mufti Ismail on Tuesday night and asked him to join hands with the local Congress unit.

Mufti Ismail told TOI that he had made it clear to Rao that IMCP was
looking for support from the secular parties in order to retain control of the corporation. But if Congress tried to use ‘under-hand’ means to take charge and appoint the mayor, Mufti Ismail said, his party would make them ‘pay for it in the assembly polls.’

Mufti said, “Prabha Rao called me up and asked me to form a majority with the help of Congress. I told her clearly that as we won the maximum seats, the mayor would be from our party.’’ He also clarified that IMCP would not stop negotiations with Sena in its bid to form a coalition.

The three-month-old IMCP, also known as the Third Front, had bagged 27 seats in the 72-member elections. Congress had 15 seats and the Nihal Ahmed-led JD(Secular) could manage
only 12. Shiv Sena bagged seven seats while Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena won two.

Malegaon’s Congress MLA Shaikh Rasheed, whose son Asif (27) has already been a mayor between 2005-2007—a period which saw brewing discontentment among residents of the textile township due to deterioration of civic services. This time, Nihal Ahmed wants his daughter Shan-e-Hind (25) to be deputy mayor.

With Congress seeking to wrest control of the Rs 120-crore civic corporation, the IMCP coalition is keen to ensure that the township gets a new set of people to govern it. For this, it is willing to forge an alliance with Sena despite ideological differences. “It’s a matter of trust. We are negotiating with Sena only for the development of Malegaon,’’ said Mufti.

Deputy chief minister R R Patil has also tried to woo IMCP by assuring Mufti Ismail that he will speak to chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh and ensure Congress-NCP’s support for the Third Front. It’s a situation that has landed the Mufti in a dilemma.

In one of his election rallies, he had said, “Voting for NCP is a bigger sin than committing suicide.’’ Now, Malegaon’s residents are debating on whether he will go with Congress-NCP or prefer to join hands with Sena.

Petitions seek stay on mayoral polls
Nineteen candidates of Janata Dal and four of NCP have filed petitions in a Malegaon sessions court asking for a stay on the June 15 mayoral polls. The petitions, filed through advocate Azeem Khan, have argued that IMCP’s election rallies were organised along religious lines. They also said prayers were offered at the start and end of each rally. TNN



The Times of India, June 9, 2007

Explosion rips through Nashik building, 3 killed

An explosion in the godown of a Nashik building brought two floors down on Wednesday


Mateen Hafeez & Santosh Sonawane TNN

Mumbai/ Nashik: At least three people were killed and seven hurt when a powerful blast ripped through a building in Nashik’s Panchvati area on Wednesday. While the body of a labourer has been identified, the other two were mutilated beyond recognition.

The explosion took place in a godown on the ground floor and its impact has shaken up two residential floors of the three-storied building. Several occupants of the building are feared to be trapped under the debris. It is not certain what triggered the explosion even though home minister R R Patil said it may have been caused by a cylinder blast. “The ATS, forensic lab and fire officials have reached the spot. We will find out the cause only after the probe is complete,” Patil said. At present, Maharashtra CM Prithviraj Chavan is on a Nashik trip.

Police said the intensity of the blast was so severe that glass windows of several houses in the vicinity were damaged. Several vehicles parked in and around the build
ing were flung up to even 20 feet. Disaster management personnel and the police have evacuated the building, which is expected to cave in any moment.

Residents said the godown was opened a few days ago and renovation work was on. A police source said: “Around 15 minutes before the explosion, a truck came and unloaded some material. It is also believed that some gelatin sticks hoarded illegally raised the intensity of the explosion .”



The Times of India, June 9, 2011


State chief secy to review coastal security today

Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: Maharashtra state chief secretary, Ratnakar Gaikwad, will conduct a coastal security review meeting on Thursday, where the report of Sagar Kavach programme will also be presented by the Coast Guard.

The Sagar Kavach progarmme was conducted between April 11 and April 13 this year. Around 20 dummy terrorists were intercepted by the Port Zone police and the navy during a 36-hour mock drill. Trained security officials posed as terrorists and were intercepted at 10 places while trying to plant a fake bomb or ‘hijack’ a vessel. The mock drill was organized jointly by the navy, the Coast Guard, the police and the DG shipping.

“The Coast Guard officials will debrief the other personnel attending the meeting
about the Sagar Kavach programme. The programme’s analysis and improvement areas will be discussed in the meeting,” said a senior official. Representatives from the Mumbai police, Coast Guard, DG shipping, state intelligence department, army, air force, navy, fisheries, Mumbai Port Trust, ONGC, DRI, Customs, PWD, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Intelligence Bureau, etc will attend the meeting.

The Sagar Kavach programme is conducted every three months to make coastal security stronger. The security agencies, since the 26/11 terror attack, have been carrying out exercises to make the security arrangements watertight. For this, each of the officers participating in the Sagar Kavach programme, posing as a dummy terrorist, is provided a code that he must use to secure his freedom once he is captured.

In the last operation, dummy terrorists tried to plant a fake bomb on the Bandra-Worli sea link. The on-duty officials spotted them and nabbed them. The ‘terrorists’ were released only after they called out their codes.



The Times of India, June 9, 2011

State chief secy to review coastal security today




Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: Maharashtra state chief secretary, Ratnakar Gaikwad, will conduct a coastal security review meeting on Thursday, where the report of Sagar Kavach programme will also be presented by the Coast Guard.

The Sagar Kavach progarmme was conducted between April 11 and April 13 this year. Around 20 dummy terrorists were intercepted by the Port Zone police and the navy during a 36-hour mock drill. Trained security officials posed as terrorists and were intercepted at 10 places while trying to plant a fake bomb or ‘hijack’ a vessel. The mock drill was organized jointly by the navy, the Coast Guard, the police and the DG shipping.

“The Coast Guard officials will debrief the other personnel attending the meeting
about the Sagar Kavach programme. The programme’s analysis and improvement areas will be discussed in the meeting,” said a senior official. Representatives from the Mumbai police, Coast Guard, DG shipping, state intelligence department, army, air force, navy, fisheries, Mumbai Port Trust, ONGC, DRI, Customs, PWD, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Intelligence Bureau, etc will attend the meeting.

The Sagar Kavach programme is conducted every three months to make coastal security stronger. The security agencies, since the 26/11 terror attack, have been carrying out exercises to make the security arrangements watertight. For this, each of the officers participating in the Sagar Kavach programme, posing as a dummy terrorist, is provided a code that he must use to secure his freedom once he is captured.

In the last operation, dummy terrorists tried to plant a fake bomb on the Bandra-Worli sea link. The on-duty officials spotted them and nabbed them. The ‘terrorists’ were released only after they called out their codes.



The Times of India, June 9, 2011