Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Fake CBI officer takes 50L from filmmaker, held

Ashwini Kumar Sharma and his associate Rajesh Ranjan



Mateen Hafeez TNN


Mumbai: Filmmaker Rakesh Roshan had paid Rs 50 lakh to a fake CBI officer and his associate after they promised to settle a civil case, probe revealed. Ashwini Kumar Sharma and his aide, Rajesh Ranjan were held last week by CBI’s Mumbai unit for posing as police officers.

“He would pose as a superintendent of police, deputy commissioner of police or deputy inspector general of the CBI and cheat businessmen, developers and film personalities. Twenty victims came to us,” said CBI joint director Rishi Raj Singh.

Singh said, “Many years ago, there was a civil case during the shooting of a Roshan movie. Sharma approached Roshan, posing as a CBI officer, and said the case was transferred to them. He took Rs 50 lakh to hush up the matter. We
nabbed Sharma when Roshan approached us.”

Ranjan is an MBA while Sharma, who passed class X, runs a hosiery manufacturing firm in Panipat. Sharma would threaten film personalities and businessmen and extorted huge amounts. He would invest his “earnings” in real estate, the CBI said. The CBI seized Rs 28 lakh, fake FIRs, chargesheet papers and statements of witnesses from Sharma’s Panipat residence. Victims can contact the CBI on 022-22842816/22021524.



The Times of India, August 31, 2011

10-yr jail term for 2 Thane blast convicts



Rebecca Samervel TNN


Mumbai: A sessions court on Tuesday sentenced two members of a right-wing Hindu group to 10 years imprisonment and fined Rs 9,500 for planting explosives in Thane and Vashi in 2008.

A day earlier, the court convicted the two, Ramesh Gadkari and Vikram Bhave, of plotting and executing bomb attacks under various sections of the Indian Penal Code, Explosives Substances Act, Explosives Act and Destruction to Property Act. They were, however, acquitted of terror charges that would have been tried under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA). Judge N V Nhavkar said, “Looking at the circumstantial evidence, the accused present on the spots, their possessions and their behaviour during the relevant period, Gadkari and Bhave are held responsible for blasts at Vishnu Bhave auditorium in Vashi and Rangayatan theatre in Thane.”

The court sentenced the duo to 10 years imprisonment for each of sections 3, 4, 5 and 6 of Explosives Substances Act. They were also awarded three years under Section 324 of IPC (voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means), a year under Section 201 (destruction of evidence), three years under 427 (mischief causing damage to the amount of Rs 50) and 1-year simple imprisonment and 1-year rigorous imprisonment for each of sections 3 and 4 of Damage to Public Properties Act. Under the Explosives Act, they were sentenced to a year. All sentences will run concurrently and as they have already spent three years and two-and-a-half months in jail, the period will be adjusted.

Bhave’s wife broke down on hearing the sentence. Hoping that they would be set free after three years in jail, Bhave said, “I expected that the court would take into consideration that we have already spent three years in jail. I am praying that all goes well.” The prosecu
tion and the defence will file appeals in the Bombay high court.

Before the quantum of punishment was pronounced, both sides presented their arguments. Seeking a lesser punishment, defence lawyer Sanjeev Punalekar said the duo did not have any criminal antecedents. “Gadkari and Bhave hail from educated middle-class families. For three years, they and their families have suffered the stigma of being terrorists,” he said. Implying that they had responsibilities, he said Gadkari had three daughters, the youngest among whom is yet to be

married. Bhave, being a single child, has to look after his aged parents; he also has a threeyear-old daughter. “The court has held they are not terrorists,” he added.

But special public prosecutor Rohini Salian opposed the plea, saying such acts were conducted “with a futile sentiment and caused disruptions in our daily lives”. Calling the two “terrorists and extremists”, she said, “I pray for deterrent punishment.”

After hearing the arguments, the court said the sentence should act as a deterrent for criminals plotting and executing such acts. “Looking at the aggravating factors and the injuries inflicted on eight persons, relief cannot be offered to the accused,” the court said.


The Times of India, August 31, 2011

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Two convicted for Thane blast

IN A FLASH: Though of low intensity, the crude bomb that went off at Gadkari Rangayatan in 2008 injured seven people and brought down the false ceiling


JUDGMENT DAY


Trial Court Finds Members Of A Hindu Group Guilty Of Executing Bomb Attack But Not Terrorism

Rebecca Samervel | TNN



Asessions court convicted two members of Hindu right-wing group Sanatan Sanstha on Monday for plotting and executing bomb attacks in Thane and Vashi three years ago, which injured seven people. Four others were acquitted for lack of evidence.

Judge N V Nhavkar found guilty Ramesh Gadkari (53) and Vikram Bhave (29) under IPC sections 324 (voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous means), 201 (causing disappearance of evidence), 427 (mischief causing damage to property) and under various sections of the Explosives Act, Explosive Substances Act as well as Destruction to Property Act. The two were, however, cleared of graver terror charges. The quantum of punishment for the duo will be decided on Tuesday after the prosecution and defence have presented their arguments.

Outside the court, Bhave said, “We are spiritual people. Whatever I am facing must be because of some bad deeds in my past life. I take the judgment as the will of God.” According to the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS), Gadkari and Bhave masterminded the attacks in 2008 on an auditorium each in Thane and Vashi and on a movie theatre in Panvel. They were, the ATS alleged, aided in the conspiracy by Mangesh Nikam, Santosh Angre, Hemant Chalke and Hari Bhau Divekar, though the court on Monday cleared these four of all charges.

The first attack was on Cineraj Theatre in Panvel, where a crude bomb went off on February 20, 2008, while it was screening the film Jodhaa Akbar. No one was injured in the blast. The next attack came on May 31, 2008, on Vashi’s Vishnudas Bhave auditorium, which was staging the Marathi play Amhi Pachpute. The crude bomb was detected in time and neutralized. Sanatan Sanstha had protested the play, claiming that it portrayed Hindu gods in poor light.

Five days later, a crude bomb exploded in the parking lot of Gadkari Rangayatan,
an auditorium in Thane, minutes before the same play, Amhi Pachpute, was to be staged there. Seven people were injured in the explosion.

In September of that year, the ATS filed a 1,025-page chargesheet against the six accused, all of whom are Sanatan Sanstha sevaks. According to the chargesheet, Gadkari, who lived in the
sanstha’s Panvel ashram, had funded the operations with his savings. Also, it said, Gadkari, Bhave and Nikam were trained in making bombs.

“The connection of the accused to the Panvel blast could not be proved. Even the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) was rejected by the court, which said that they were not terrorists,” said de
fence lawyer Sanjeev Punalekar. “The court said the accused had allegedly bombed various places only to threaten the producer and not with the intention to kill anybody.”

The defence explained that three eyewitnesses had testified to the presence of Gadkari and Bhave in the vicinity of the auditoriums in Thane and Vashi. “Certain ar
ticles they had purchased were also found in the explosives,” Punalekar said.

An ATS officer called the verdict “disappointing”. Special public prosecutor Rohini Salian said an appeal would be filed in the high court. “The evidence was circumstantial. Our main thrust was on the stringent UAPA and we wanted to prove that the bombs
were planted with the intent to create terror in the minds of people,” Salian said. On Tuesday, the defence will file a plea on behalf of Gadkari and Bhave under the Probation of Offenders Act since their charges do not attract a life term. Under this act, the two can be released on a bond of assurance of good conduct and other conditions.

CASE FILE


The Acquitted
MANGESH NIKAM | 37
The chargesheet alleged that Nikam, a resident of Satara, was present when the bombs were built. He too has a house in Warsai village in Pen

SANTOSH ANGRE | 29
He was arrested from the Sanatan Sanstha ashram in Panvel, where he then resided

HARI BHAU DIVEKAR | 47
A police patil from Ratnagiri and a Sanatan Santha sevak, he got bail 10 months after his arrest. Divekar, investigators alleged, helped hide the explosives and destroy the evidence

HEMANT CHALKE | 40
He is a homeopath from Pen and a Sanatan Santha sevak


The Charges
Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act | Sections 16, 18 and 23 (related to terrorist activities like waging war against the country)
Indian Penal Code |
Sections 307 (attempt to murder), 427 (mischief causing damage), 201 (removing evidence) and 120B (criminal conspiracy)
Arms Act |
Section 325 (possession of arms)
Explosives Act |
Sections 6 and 9B (manufacture, possession and importation of explosives)
Explosive Substances Act |
Sections 3, 4, 5 and 6 (possession and use of explosives)


Convictions
Gadkari and Bhave were found guilty under sections 324 (voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means); 201, 427 and 120B of the Indian Penal Code; section 9(b) of the Explosives Act; sections 3, 4, 5 of the Explosive Substances Act; and sections 3 and 4 of the Destruction to Property Act

Maximum Punishment
Most of the charges Gadkari and Bhave have been found guilty of carry a maximum sentence of three years. Two charges, though, invite 10 years’ imprisonment

THE ATTACKS
JUNE 4, 2008 | A bomb exploded in the parking lot at Gadkari Rangayatan, a landmark auditorium near Masunda lake in Thane, minutes before the Marathi play ‘Amhi Pachpute’ was to be staged there. Seven people were injured in the explosion, which, though of low intensity, brought the false ceiling down

MAY 31, 2008 |
A crude bomb was discovered in time at Vashi’s Vishnudas Bhave auditorium, which was staging ‘Amhi Pachpute’. Packed in a bag, the explosive was taken to a secluded space outside the hall and detonated by the bomb disposal squad. The bag also contained batteries, gelatin sticks, a detonator and some white powder

FEB 20, 2008 |
A crude bomb went off at Panvel’s Cineraj Theatre when the hall was screening ‘Jodhaa Akbar’. No one was injured in the blast and investigators said it was engineered to create panic

The Convicted

RAMESH GADKARI | 53
An electrical engineer by training, he sold his electrical shop to become a fulltime sevak at Sanatan Sanstha’s ashram in Panvel. He was arrested from the ashram on June 16, 2008. The ATS says Gadkari funded the attacks with his savings.


VIKRAM BHAVE | 29
He assisted in his father’s business in Warsai village, Pen. Another Sanatan Sanstha sevak, Bhave was arrested a day after Gadkari from Wadala. The bombs were allegedly manufactured at his home. The ATS says Bhave and Gadkari masterminded the operations and built the explosives


OUTFIT FEELS VINDICATED

Sanatan Sanstha lauds judgment


Nitin Yeshwantrao | TNN


Thane: Sanatan Sanstha on Monday welcomed the verdict in the Thane and Vashi bomb attacks case, saying it reinforces their stand that the “Hindu revivalist organization was in no way connected with the blasts” and that the accused had planned the operation independently.

“We had assisted the police in the investigations into these attacks. The Sanstha does not endorse violence and our stand was proved the day the police filed the chargesheet. The Sanstha was never mentioned in the chargesheet. All those arrested were members of the Sanstha but they acted independently,” said Abhay Vartak, the Sanstha’s spokesperson.

Sanatan Sanstha was set up in 1990 by Dr Jayant Balaji Athavale and is said to “teach spirituality using scientific approach”. The organization was suspected of involvement in the 2008 bomb attacks on Vishnudas Bhave auditorium and Gadkari Rangayatan af
ter the Anti-Terrorism Squad, led by its then chief Hemant Karkare, arrested six people associated with the group in the case. The Sanstha, however, distanced itself from the acts of the accused and claimed that it was aiding the police in the investigations.

The Sanstha again came under the scanner when a few of its members were accused of being involved in a blast at Margoa in 2009.

“As a matter of fact, the Sanstha was absolved of all allegations levelled in 2009 when the ATS drafted the charges against the accused in the Vashi and Thane case. We stayed away from the legal proceedings since those arrested had not acted in accordance with our teachings and were independent actors. We welcome the judgment and our faith in the judiciary has been restored,” Vartak said.



The Times of India, August 30, 2011

EOW files for custody of con firm’s ex-director


Vasuda Deshmukh


Mateen Hafeez TNN


Mumbai: A team of the economic offences wing (EOW) filed an application before Pune’s Pimpri court seeking the custody of Vasuda Deshmukh, former director of fraud firm Aryarup Travel and Club Resort. Vasuda will be questioned about her absconding husband Ravindra’s whereabouts and the estimated fraud amount, said a Mumbai police official.
The Deshmukhs are accused of duping citizens across the country by promising high returns on their investments. A source close to Vasuda said, “She resigned from her post in October 2009 and an FIR was registered against the firm in October 2010. This is a conspiracy to malign her image.”



The Times of India, August 30,2011

Monday, August 29, 2011

Ex-director of fraud firm surrenders


Vasuda Deshmukh


Mateen Hafeez TNN


Mumbai: Former director of fraud firm Aryarup Travel and Club Resort surrendered before the Pune police last week. Vasuda Deshmukh, who is wanted in the multi-crore investment scam, will be brought to the city this week.

Nandkishore Patil from Nigadi police station in Pune said, “We have arrested Vasuda for a year-old fraud case. She is being questioned.”

The city economic offences wing (EOW) had registered an FIR against Vasuda and her husband Ravindra in 2010. The Deshmukhs floated several schemes in Gujarat, Haryana,
Jaipur, Bangalore and Maharashtra. Investors were promised annual returns of 86% to 96% if they put in Rs 5,000 and more in the schemes. Investors who brought in others were entitled to additional returns. The company had opened accounts of its investors on
its website www.aryain. “The suspects allotted login names and passwords to the investors and told them that their profit would be automatically transferred to their accounts. The Mumbai police are investigating the case under various sections of the Indian Penal Code and the Prize Chits and Money
Circulation Schemes (Banning) Act, 1978,” said a police officer.

The EOW had recently issued lookout notices against Vasuda and Ravindra. Sources said the firm’s turnover was in
excess of Rs 1,000 crore per annum. Aryarup claimed on various websites that it distributed over Rs 900 crore to its investors in one year. The firm also said that 400 of its investors had earned over Rs one crore.

Two plots, totaling 75 acres, owned by the company directors were attached by the EOW in February this year.

The total value of these plots is around Rs 12.30 crore, said sources. Besides, 17 bank accounts in which investors had deposited Rs 12.5 crore have also been frozen.

The firm had branches in Haryana, Gujarat and other states. In Maharashtra, the firm set up its offices in Buldha
na Nashik, Nanded, Solapur, Parbhani, Jaipur, Thane, Navi Mumbai, Mumbai, Parbhani, Jalgaon, Bhusawal, Pune and Latur, among others. Sources said Aryarup could have more than one lakh investors

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

Pranjal said there are over 300 such companies operating in India and the schemes would have mobilized over Rs 7,000 crore till date.


The Times of India, August 29, 2011

Saturday, August 27, 2011

ATS examines 11-yr kidnap case to trace blasts link


Mateen Hafeez TNN


Mumbai: The Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS), which is probing the 13/7 blasts, appears to be leaving no stone unturned, however tenuous the link may be. The squad is focusing on an 11-year-old abduction case in Gujarat where a ransom of Rs 20 crore was reportedly paid. On Friday, an ATS team visited Gujarat to probe the Bhaskar-Pareshkidnapping case.

Bhaskar Parekh, son of a leading jeweller, and his friend Paresh Shah, a garment trader, were abducted by extortionist AftabAnsari’s men in Rajkoton November 11, 2000. Paresh was rescued by the Gujarat cops following an encounter with the abductors on November 26. A week later, Bhaskar was releasedon paymentof ransom.

The case had led to two encounters in Rajkot in 2001, one of which was that of Asif Raza Khan, an associate of Ansari who was involved in the attack on the American Center in Kolkata. Asif’s brother Amir Raza Khan is a suspect in the Ahmedabadblastsof July 2007.

Owner of ‘killer’ scooter was out of town on 13/7
Mumbai:
The ATS team has found that Arjun Singh alias Chaudhary, whose Activa was used to plant the bomb in Zaveri Bazaar , had gone to Pune that day. The scooter was allegedly stolen a few hours before the Zaveri Bazaar blast. Meanwhile, a Mumbra-based man has been detained at the international airport. TNN


The Times of India, August 27, 2011

Thursday, August 25, 2011

HC raps police for ‘inaction’ in scams

Rosy Sequeira TNN


Mumbai: The Bombay high court on Wednesday criticized the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) for its “total inertia and inaction” while dealing with scamsters who dupe people of their life savings through quick return investment schemes.
A division bench of Justice Ranjana Desai and Justice Rajesh Ketkar was hearing public interest litigations against SpeakAsia and a similar Ponzi scheme floated by Rahul Patil of Symbiosis Group where “Rs 25-30 crore” were collected from investors.

The judges had barely finished hearing the SpeakAsia case and directed the EOW to file an affidavit on the preventive steps it proposed to take to curb such offences when the Symbiosis case came up for hearing.

The petition, filed by Vijay Gehi, urged the court to transfer the case to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), saying despite submitting all details about the accused to the police a year ago, nothing was done. “We gave them (the police) names, addresses and telephone numbers of the accused. They did nothing,’’ said Gehi’s advocate, adding that the Symbiosis website is yet to be blocked. “Subsequently, the accused withdrew money from their bank accounts,” said the lawyer, who also pointed out that not a single arrest was made in the case even though a lower court had rejected the anticipatory bail plea of the ac
cused. “How ineffective you (EOW) are! These offences are worse than murders,’’ said Justice Desai. Gehi’s advocate said his client had lodged a complaint with the Shivaji Park police but nothing is being done. A doctor, who had invested Rs 1.25 lakh in one of the schemes, lodged a complaint on February 19, 2010, with the Versova police, the lawyer told the judges. A year later, the case was transferred to the EOW.

Terming the delay by the Versova police in transferring the case to the EOW and their failure to freeze the accounts of the accused ‘‘distressing’’, the judges said, “Had the money been seized
immediately, perhaps such a situations would not have risen.”
“It is high time the police department, in coordination with the state government, took preventive steps so that common people do not fall prey to such scams,” said Justice Desai. The judges directed the ACP and DCP (EOW) to take “prompt steps” and file a reply.

The judges, while hearing the SpeakAsia case, expressed anguish over how “persons who are cheated are sent from one police station to another”. “Don’t harass a person who’s been cheated. Why don’t you take down his/her complaint,” asked Justice Desai.



Cops line up to take custody of SpeakAsia accused

Soon after the five men arrested in the multi-crore SpeakAsia fraud were granted bail and released from the Arthur Road jail, apolice team from Mira Road took them into custody. Now, police teams from across the country, including those from Pune, Delhi, Rajasthan, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh and Goa, have queued up to take them into custody for the fraud.

The Singapore-based company is believed to have duped investors of Rs 14,000 crore. It had 150 franchises across the country and 18 in Maharashtra. “At the time of the arrest of SpeakAsia officials in the last week of July, the company had over 20 lakh investors in the country. A red corner notice is likely to be issued against its senior officials soon,” said a Mumbai police officer.

“Policemen from across the country are approaching us with their case papers and want to arrest them. However, the accused can be in the custody of only one police station at a time. So, the other police parties will have to wait until completion of the remand of one police station,” said a Thane rural police official. The Thane rural police, under whose jurisdiction the Mira Road police functions, had received a complaint by Vinayak Sanap who had invested Rs 1.10 lakh in the scheme.

Mateen Hafeez

The Times of India, August 25, 2011

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Minibus cleaner who ran over four booked for murder


Mateen Hafeez TNN


Mumbai: The Dadar police on Monday booked the cleaner of a minibus for murder for crushing four members of a family to death. Earlier, the police had charged the cleaner, Rakesh Shah, with culpable homicide not amounting to murder.

The accident took place around 6.40 am on Saturday. Rakesh was trying to park the minibus under the Elphinstone bridge and ended up crushing to death four pavement dwellers who were sleeping there. Shah fled the spot but was caught by a mob near Dadar station.


The police have also arrested the bus’s driver, Saleem Shaikh, and are looking for a third suspect, Ahmed Shaikh. Saleem and Ahmed have been charged with criminal conspiracy. Deputy commissioner of police Nisar Tamboli said, “After going through all aspects of the case, our investigators realized that it was a clear case of murder. Accordingly, they converted the charge of culpable homicide charge to murder.”

“Rakesh is employed as a cleaner with a travel agency and does not have a driver’s licence,” said a police officer. “Rakesh and Saleem returned
together on Saturday morning. While Saleem went to the office, Rakesh attempted to park the minibus and ran over four people in the process,” the officer said. “A flower vendor, Dattu Pawar (52), who was sleeping outside his shanty and sustained minor injuries in the incident raised an alarm when Rakesh tried to flee and nabbed him with the help of locals,” said the officer.

Pawar’s wife Bhagyabai, 15-year-old daughter Geeta, one-and-a-half-year-old son Deepak and eight-year-old niece Lata Popat, all of whom were sleeping near him, were killed in the incident. The suspects had allegedly threatened Pawar with dire consequences if he did not stop objecting to their parking over there. “The previous night, they had argued with me and threatened to teach me a lesson,” Pawar told police.

The Times of India, August 24, 2011

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

‘Patil must quit for Malegaon blasts arrests’

Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: While NCP chief Sharad Pawar’s statement that Muslim youths arrested for the 2006 Malegaon blasts are innocent was welcomed by a major section of the community, NGOs and lawyers working to secure bail for them demanded party leader R R Patil’s resignation.

Pawar who attended an iftar party at Haj House on Saturday said, “I know that the boys arrested for the Malegaon blasts are innocent. I was the first person to say it one-and-a-half years ago.” Referring to Samjhauta train blast accused Swami Aseemand’s confession, he said, “The real culprits, some of whom have admitted to their crime, should be arrested.”

Reacting to the comment, Fareed Batatawala of Muslim Front said, “When he (Pawar) knows that the boys are innocent, why is he not doing anything for their release? He should seek an explanation from Patil and if needed Patil must resign. We also demand ATS and Malegaon police officials concerned should be suspended.”

The Times of India, August 223, 2011

Sunday, August 21, 2011

‘I don’t know if culprits will be punished’


Mateen Hafeez | TNN


Mumbai: Dattu Pawar, who lost his wife, two children and niece in the accident at the Elphinstone bridge, is cursing his fate. Pawar, a flower vendor, woke up at 5am and went to buy flowers. He returned by 6am and went back to sleep outside his shanty, where his wife Bhagyabai (40), daughter Geeta (15), one-and-a-halfyear-old son Deepak and niece Lata Kale (8) too were sleeping. “I woke up as the minibus hit me. It had driven over my leg. But my family was not spared,” Pawar said.

Pawar, who hails from Saundare village in Solapur, migrated to Mumbai about two decades ago. “I first worked as a labourer with a flower vendor and later started selling flowers on my own. A few years later, I called my wife and we set up a shanty in Mumbai,” Pawar added. His eldest daughter is married and stays with her husband in a village near Solapur while two other daughters aged 18 and 12 are with their grandparents in the village.
“I don’t want to stay here. Perhaps I will go back to my hometown. I don’t even know if the culprits will ever be punished,” said Pawar.


The Times of India, August 21, 2011

Minibus crushes 4 of family

Cleaner Runs Vehicle Over People Sleeping Under Elphinstone Bridge

Mateen Hafeez | TNN


Tragedy struck a family living under the Elphinstone bridge on Saturday morning, when four members, including three minors, were crushed under the wheels of a minibus. Dattu Pawar (52), the bread winner of the family, was injured in the incident.

According to the police, the culprit—a cleaner who does not have a driving licence—took it upon himself to park the vehicle under the bridge, not realizing there were people sleeping underneath it. He drove the bus over them while trying to reverse.

The cleaner, Rakesh Shah, fled with the bus, but was nabbed by an angry mob near Dadar railway station and handed over to the police. The police arrested Shah and the bus driver Saleem
Shaikh, while another suspect, Ahmed Shaikh, also a driver, is missing. The accused have been booked for criminal conspiracy and culpable homicide not amounting to murder.

Police sources at Dadar station said that the incident took place around 6.40am. “Shah works for a travel agency as a cleaner. He does not have a driving licence. On Saturday morning, Saleem had gone to office while Shah went off to park the minibus (MH-04 G 9356),” said a police officer.

Investigators said several families used to stay in shanties under the bridge. But those with valid documents were shifted to government flats for the poor later. Others like Pawar still stay in temporary structures un
der the bridge.

“Pawar, a flower vendor, was sleeping outside his shanty with his wife Bhagyabai, 15-year-old daughter Geeta, one-and-a-half-year-old son Deepak and eight-year-old niece Lata Kale when Shah ran over his wife and the kids. On realizing what had happened, Shah fled in the minibus. Pawar, still recovering from the shock, gave him a chase, shouting for help. On seeing the commotion, locals came to Pawar’s aid and they finally managed to nab Shah. They handed him over to police,” said a senior police officer.

The bodies were taken to KEM Hospital for postmortem. Pawar, who hails from Solapur district, told the police that he had been staying at the spot along with his family for
over two decades. Pawar said that he wanted the sternest punishment for the killers of his wife and children.

“People park big vehicles in front of our house every night. I have been telling them to do so after 5am, when we are awake, but they do not listen to us. On Friday night, Shah and two others fought with me. They said they would teach me a lesson. I believe this wasn’t an accident, but a deliberate act. I don’t know how to tell my other children about the tragedy,” Pawar told TOI. His three other children live in Solapur.

Police subjected Shah to a blood test to find out if he was drunk. The test result was negative. The minibus is used to drop school children, employees of a bank and is sometimes hired by others as well.


BEST driver mows down biker, held
A BEST bus driver has been arrested after he mowed down a 32-year-old man on a bike on Friday evening. Chirag Udani, a resident of Mahavir Nagar in Kandivli (W), was returning home from work when the incident took place in Andheri (W). TNN


PAST CASES WHEN KILLER WHEELS STRUCK
January 30, 2010:
Nooriya Haweliwala, an NRI, allegedly killed two people, including a constable, at Marine Lines while driving her car under the influence of alcohol

November 12, 2006: Alistair Pereira (19) was returning from a party with friends when his vehicle ran over labourers sleeping by the roadside

September 28, 2002: Actor Salman Khan allegedly drove his Landcruiser into persons sleeping on the pavement near a Bandra bakery

December 1993: Actor Puru Rajkumar allegedly ran his car over pavement dwellers, killing three and crippling one

On Saturday morning, cleaner Rakesh Shah boards the minibus to park it under the Elphinstone bridge


The cleaner, who does not have a driving licence, fails to notice that five persons are sleeping on the road


The bus, while being reversed by Shah, crushes four of a family, while Dattu Pawar is injured


After the accident, Shah tries to flee but is caught by Pawar and locals near Dadar station


The mishap occurred while the cleaner was trying to reverse the bus





The Times of India, August 21, 2011

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Suspected IM man had feared for his life

Faiz Usmani died in police custody

Mateen Hafeez TNN


Mumbai: Suspected Indian Mujahideen operative Afzal Usmani, whose elder brother Faiz died in police custody last month, feared police torture of his family even two years before Faiz died. Faiz was picked up by the crime branch last month to be questioned over the 13/7 triple blasts. Afzal, in a letter to a Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) court judge, alleged the crime branch was beating him up and giving him electric shocks to confess saying otherwise his brother would be booked in any false case.

Faiz (43), who was picked up by the Chembur crime branch unit on July 17, died within hours in a city hospital. Faiz was first taken to the crime branch, later shifted to a hospital
where he died. Faiz’s family alleged that it was a case of custodial death. (Another bomb blast accused Khwaja Yunus was tortured to death in a crime branch lock-up seven year ago). TOI has a copy of the letter written by Afzal to the MCOCA court on February 11, 2009. In his six-page letter Afzal said he was picked up in August 2008 and was framed in a theft case. “The crime branch unit-III kept me in its lock-up and tortured me. They would give me electric shocks to such an extent that I fell unconscious two to three times. I was threatened I would be killed and my brothers would be implicated in bomb blast cases,” Usmani’s letter stated. He further wrote to the judge, “I was told that if I complained in court, my brothers too would be brought and kept with me.” Afzal is currently lodged in Sabarmati jail in Gujarat.

On July 17, the crime branch personnel went to Faiz’s house and picked him up from his grocery shop to question him in connection with the blast cases. “The Chembur crime branch was not part of the probe teams formed by the senior officials. This unit itself wanted to make inquiries on its own and landed in trouble,” said an IPS officerFaiz’s wife Ruheda Usmani alleged foul play. The government on July 17 ordered a state CID inquiry into his death. The CID is likely to submit its report within a couple of days.
mateen.hafeez@timesgroup.com



The Times of India, August 20, 2011

Friday, August 19, 2011

Team to probe ways to bail out Malegaon blasts accused

MUSLIM DELEGATION MEETS R R PATIL


Mateen Hafeez TNN


Mumbai: A delegation of Muslim activists, clerics, advocates and workers from several NGOs met home minister R R Patil at Mantralaya on Thursday and demanded the release of nine men arrested in the 2006 Malegaon blasts case.

Patil agreed to form a team of Muslims lawyers, a national investigation agency (NIA) public prosecutor and the anti-terrorism squad (ATS) officer who had filed the first chargesheet in the blasts case. “The team will look into what can be done
to bail these boys out,” said Fareed Batatawala of the Muslim Front. The delegation also told Patil that the Muslim community was angry with the government’s way of handling this case. “When Swami Aseemanand has confessed his role in the blasts, why are the Muslim boys not being released?” asked Batatawala.

To build pressure on the government, a delegation of Muslim MLAs from the state, led by chief minister Prithviraj Chavan, on Wednesday, met union home minister P Chidambaram. Maharashtra minority affair and Waqf minister Naseem Khan along with MLAs Baba Siddiqui, Aslam Shaikh, Ameen Patel and film-maker Mahesh Bhatt insisted that the government should be fair in delivering justice to minorities. Chidambaram assured the delegation that injustice will not be done to minorities.


The Times of India, August 19, 2011

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

‘Malegaon ka Superman’ Eid release a gift for actor


PERSONAL CAUSE: Shafique, who fights the tobacco scourge in the film, was a gutka addict


Leading Man Is In Advanced Stage Of Cancer


Mateen Hafeez | TNN


Mumbai: Anxious over Malegaon ka Superman’s deteriorating health due to cancer, the film’s director and producers have decided to release the movie on the occasion of Eid. The spoof, where ‘Superman’ fights the menace of tobacco, was scheduled for a December release. However, it will now be released in three weeks as an “Eidi” (Eid gift) for Shaikh Shafique, the 23-year-old lead actor.

Shafique, a residentof Gulab Park in Malegaon, used to chew around 40 packets of gutka a day. He was admitted toTata MemorialCancer Hospital last year where he underwent treatment for cancer. Today, though, he is said to be in an advancedstageof theillness. The movie’s director,
Nasir Khan Prince, said that it is “very tough” for the unit to see Shafique in such pain.

“We aredoing our best. We admitted him to Mumbai’s Tata Hospital and the entire billwas paidby actressDeepti Bhatnagar (who is a producer of the television programme Malegaon Ka Chintu). He underwent an operation and is currently at home,” said Prince.

“Our movie is against the
menace of tobacco. Sadly, our lead hero fell victim to it,” said Prince. Fed up with his condition, Shafique even “tried to kill himself” on two occasions. Shafique had been chewing tobacco and gutka since the age of 13. He got married when he was 19 and his wife, Jameela, was just 17. The couple has two daughters; a three-year-old and a twomonth-old. Today, he can’t eat spicy food and his jaw is very sensitive to the temperature of any food. He finds it difficult to even speak.

The 2009 low-budget Malegaon ka Superman was screened at IFFI in Goa in December 2010. It has won awards at film festivals in Los Angeles, Prague, Italy and Pakistan. Shafique, who played ‘Super
man’ in the movie, had earlier played various roles in other films made in Malegaon. The Class-VII drop out has acted in Khandesh to Goa, Khandesh ki Baraat, Khandesh ka Qarazdar Master, Malegaon ki Lagaan and Khandesh ka Doctor, among such others.


The Times of India, August 16, 2011

Duty evasion revenue doubles to 8cr





Mateen Hafeez & Chinmayi Shalya TNN


Mumbai: It may be a spurt in cases of duty evasion or a result of heightened vigilance by Customs officials, or both, but revenue from undeclared goods has doubled since last year.

Revenue earned by the Customs commiserate from the airport has jumped by 39% in the same period. The number of cases in 2010-11 is three times higher the previous year. Apart from regular passengers and smugglers, the cases include those of celebrities and businessmen. For instance, last year, industrialist Sajjan Jindal and his wife Sangeeta were detained with undeclared jewellery worth Rs 2 crore.

Customs office data shows 385 cases of duty evasion were recorded in 2008-09; it dropped to 257 in 2009-10. However, there was a considerable jump in 2010-11, with 863 cases. The data shows revenue earned from payment of duty on baggage (duty on goods exceeding
permitted value) was Rs 4 crore. The Customs made Rs 8 crore, double from the previous year. The total revenue earned by the commiserate (including revenue from baggage and duty charged at the Diamond Plaza, and penalty and fees paid to reclaim seized goods and the courier department) went up from Rs 282 crore (2009) to Rs 325 crore (2010).

“Revenue has risen considerably since two years. The major reason has been better detection of cases. Also, seizure of big or more valuable goods has led to hefty penalties, and hence a jump in revenue,’’ said a senior Customs official. “This
year, too, revenue will get a boost as at least two cases are being detected every day. Some cases include those of celebrities,’’ he added.

Why is there a spurt in cases of duty evasion by passengers? Customs commissioner P M Govande said heightened vigilance and an effective intelligence net
work had led to more detection. “It means we are preventing many goods from going out of the country without duty. Smuggling is always taking place, but detection has gone up. It helps the government in two ways: Smuggling is prevented and more revenue is earned,’’ Govande said.

However, senior Customs officials said a combination of factors led to a rise in revenue. “Revenue doesn’t rise only with an increase in cases detected. There may be cases where the penalty levied is hefty and hence revenue has gone up,’’ said a Customs official. “Also, the increase in revenue means more people may be declaring goods they bring from abroad,’’ he added. Officials said the purchasing power of people had also increased, as had their spending abroad. “They are buying more, and it adds to revenue if they come and declare it and pay duty. It adds even more to revenue if they evade duty and are caught,’’ an air intelligence unit (AIU) official said.


The Times of India, August 16, 2011

’06 Malegaon blasts case accused kin allege bias


Mateen Hafeez TNN


Mumbai: Though chief minister Prithviraj Chavan had promised to discuss the arrests in connection with the 2006 Malegaon blasts with Union home minister P Chidambram, the relatives of the accused feel the state is dragging its feet over their plight.

Wives of nine suspects said the government is ignoring their demands since they belong to the minority community. “Though my husband was arrested and charged with conspiracy in the 2006 Malegaon blasts, there is no evidence against him,” claimed Aafiya, wife of Farogh Makhdoomi. Makhdoomi and eight others were arrested by the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) for planning and executing three blasts in a Muslim cemetery and another blast at a chowk. “The case was first probed by the local police then handed over to the ATS. Later, the same case was transferred to the CBI which sat on the investigation for four years and did not try to find out the truth. In January this year, a fresh CBI team took over the probe. In April this year, the Union home ministry ordered the National Investigation Agency to investigate the case. So far five agencies have changed in one case. Are the government and the investigating agencies making a mockery of the judicial system?” Aafiya asked.

In January this year, Swami Aseemanand, arrested in connection with the Hyderabad Mecca
Masjid blast case, reportedly confessed before a magistrate that “his men had engineered the 2006 Malegaon blasts”.

After the Aseemanand’s arrest in the Hyderabad masjid blast case, another suspect, Shaikh Kaleemuddin, who was arrested by the police in Hyderabad, was released based on Aseemanand’s confession. “When the AP government can release Kaleemuddin after the truth was revealed, why has my husband been kept in jail for five years?” asked Qamar Jahan, wife of another suspect. Advocate Irfana Hamdani said, “We have provided all details to the investigators but they are sitting on our report. It’s not just a case of justice delayed but justice denied.”


The Times of India, August 16, 2011

Monday, August 15, 2011

Nat’l integration is in full flow at Arthur Road Jail




Mateen Hafeez TIMES NEWS NETWORK

Mumbai: Arthur Road jail inmate Ram Prasad Sharma is a fitness freak who spends the pre-dawn hours doing stomach crunches and stretching exercises. But Sharma, who is in the jail for suspected robbery, has stopped his workout temporarily. Reason? A few of his co-inmates in the barracks are Muslims who need space for Saheriduring the holy month of Ramzan.

Sharma is not the only one who is mindful of his Muslim coinmates’ S a h e r i (the custom of eating before sunrise to begin their fast) timings. Vikas Hindolkar, who has been awaiting trial in a robbery case, is so inspired by his Muslim friends in the
jail that he too is fasting to “experience how it feels being a rozadar”. And people like Raghu Narayan, Prakash Nadar and Joseph D’Souza have stopped playing cards in the barracks. These alleged lawbreakers instead make arrangements for S a h e r i.

This is national integration, Arthur Road Jail style. Built in 1925, it is one of the most sensitive jails in the country. Originally meant for 804 inmates, it now houses over 1,800 undertrials. The forced close interaction has obviously led to a great deal of Amar-Akbar-Anthony type of bonding across religious and caste lines.

JAILBIRDS OF A FEATHER ‘99% inmates peace-loving, friendly’
Mumbai: A remarkable exercise in national integration is currently on inside Arthur Road jail. The show begins at 3.30 am when the jail’s wardens and the babas (as constables are referred to) bring milk, pav, dal, rice, chapattis, bananas and eggs for the Muslim inmates. The non-Muslim inmates, on the other hand, clean up the barracks and make space for the several dozen Muslim inmates to sit and eat. Interestingly, the non-Muslim inmates do not allow the rozadars to do any work. They clean the utensils, arrange the sheets and the dastarkhwan (a specific cloth used by Muslims to keep utensils on while eating). Sharma and over a dozen of his barrack inmates then serve food to the rozadars. The ‘bhaigiri’ does not stop here: Muslim inmates then invite Sharma and others to sit next to the dastarkhwan and serve food to them as well.

After 5 am, the Muslim inmates align themselves in several rows to offer fajar (the first namaz of the day before sunrise)
while the others sit in a corner of the barrack. “We don’t utter a single word and keep quiet while our brothers offer namaz,” said Bhagwant Yadav, an inmate.
Arthur Road Jail superintendent Ramesh Dhamne said, “This is a unique time when inmates from various religions and castes sit and eat together. It gives a message of equality and brotherhood.”
Dhamne has been in the prison department for over 25 years. “I can say that while only 1% inmates are troublemakers, the remaining 99% are peace-loving and friendly.”

The jail also changes its shift timings during Ramzan. While breakfast is usually served after 7.30 am, it is advanced during the run-up to Id. “For those who want to fast, we cook food two to
three hours in advance,” added Dhamne.

Saleem Arif, who was arrested for chain snatching and is one of the rozadars, said, “The cooperation we receive from our
non-Muslim friends in the jail makes us feel like we all are part of one family.” The scene is repeated after sunset. Irrespective of their religion, inmates sit together to make fruit plates for each other. The inmates get dates from Saudi Arabia, papad, vegetables, phirni, dal, rice and several other items.

Incidentally, high-profile prisoners like Hasan Ali, who was nabbed for tax evasion, ‘diesel don’ Mohammed Ali Shaikh, and several bomb blast suspects who are kept in special cells get homemade food. “They often request for their cells to be opened for saheriand iftar and they all sit together in a special enclosure. In the month of Ramzan, the jail becomes an excellent example of national integrity,” said a jail official.

Other suspects include those nabbed for the 2008 Malegaon bomb blasts, Aurangabad arms haul case and the 7/11 train blasts. “All the accused jailed for terror cases get homemade food with the court’s permission,” said a jail source. They have been kept in such cells where they cannot mingle with several dozen people.


The Times of India, August 15, 2011

Friday, August 12, 2011

GHOSTS OF BOTCHED UP PROBES HAUNT ATS

NO BREAKTHROUGH: Two teams comprising ATS and Crime Branch officials are tracking gangs that specialize in stealing two-wheelers


13/7 A MONTH LATER R


A Month After Serial Blasts, Cops Are Yet To Make Arrests. Officials Treading Carefully After History Of Bungled Cases


Mateen Hafeez | TNN



Nearly a month after three bombs exploded in Zaveri Bazar, Opera House and Dadar on July 13, killing 26 people, the anti-terrorism squad (ATS)—which is probing the serial blasts—has yet to make an arrest. To date, around 200 investigators have interviewed 700 suspects across India, but they’ve made little headway. With the ghosts of botched up investigations into past terror cases haunting the ATS, officials are treading carefully this time around. Since 2006, other agencies have accused the antiterrorism squad of clumsy investigation in at least three blast cases. A senior ATS official refused to comment on the progress made: “We are taking all possible precautions. We are headed in the right direction, and will solve the case.”

Last year, the ATS arrested Samad Bhatkal in a 2009 arms seizure case under the old Arms Act at the same time the Union Home ministry announced that he was a “key suspect” in Pune’s German Bak
ery bomb blast, which killed 17 people. But the ATS did not name Bhatkal in the Pune blast case, and he was subsequently granted bail by a sessions court. At the time, D Sivanandhan who was state DGP said that the ATS’s probe was wide off the mark. “The ATS will have to study the case properly, collect evidence in a scientific manner and identify the group behind the blast,’’ he had
said. The ATS later arrested Himayat Mirza Baig for his alleged involved in the blast.

A more recent black-mark, however, is the custodial death of Faiz Usmani—a 44-year-old grocer and brother of an alleged IM suspect Afzal Usmani—who was picked up by crime branch and ATS officials for questioning on the 13/7 blasts case last month. Hours later, he died in Sion Hospital. Other security agencies said that the incident delayed their own probes as the government immediately ordered a CID inquiry into Faiz’s “mysterious
death”. A senior inspector had told TOI: “Now many suspects will hide behind this case and stall our investigations.”

In the 11/7 train blast case, which killed 188 in July 2006, the ATS arrested 13 suspected SIMI members for their alleged involvement in the blasts. Two years later, the crime branch busted an Indian Mujahideen module saying they were responsible for terror strike.

Similarly, in the 2006 Malegaon mosque serial blasts the ATS arrested nine Muslim youth—most of whom hailed from Malegaon—and said they had engineered the blasts with the help of a Pakistani national. Town residents protested the arrests on the grounds that they had been framed. Five years later, Swami Aseemanand, a hardline Hindutva preacher, arrested by the CBI revealed that his men were behind the Malegaon blasts. The youth the ATS arrested were denied bail and are still in jail.

The ATS cannot afford another failure. “There’s no room for more mistakes. The ATS is verifying all information. The process is taking time,” said a senior Mumbai police officer.


Investigation so far
The Indian Mujahideen (IM) is the prime suspect. Investigators have interrogated 30 IM members who are currently in prison either as under-trials or serving time, and 30-35 sympathizers and associates
The IM is allegedly responsible for over six terror strikes in the country since 2005. The blasts in Mumbai took place on July 13; a date which is believed to be favourite with the IM. Another infamous date is 26
Investigators suspect that nine people were involved in the actual execution of the blast


No IM signature?
In the past, the IM has been known to send warning emails or issue statements claiming responsibility for a terror strike. This was not the case in the 13/7 blasts
The police are also probing the possible involvement of the Students’ Islamic Movement of India, and underworld gangs led by Dawood Ibrahim and Chhota Rajan


Detained |
Around 600 people in Maharashtra and 400 across India were questioned by various security agencies

CCTV footage
With the help of CCTV footage from the three blast sites, the police have made sketches of two suspects whom they believe could be the bombers. The sketches are said to be for “internal use”
The police are also taking help from a US-based firm that specializes in improving the quality of images and footage from CCTVs


Manpower diverted towards the probe
Around 20 joint teams comprising 200 Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) and Crime Branch officials are working on the case. Two teams have been dedicated to checking CCTV footage. Another two teams are interrogating known gangs that specialize in stealing two-wheelers, etc

Scouring India
Teams have been sent to Karnataka, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Kolkata, Delhi, UP, Goa and MP to question people arrested, detained or convicted in past terror cases. Officials have not been able to make any headway


Other agencies involved |
National Investigation Agency (NIA), State Intelligence Department (SID), Intelligence Bureau (IB), Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), Karnataka and Gujarat ATS, Rajasthan police and the UP Special Task Force



ZAVERI BAZAR | DEATH TOLL: 10


Ashok Bate (34)
Was a peon in a jewellery store. He died 6 days after the blast


Lalchand Ahuja (61)
Worked as a courier at an ornament shop


Nikhil Tamka (23)
He died two days after the blast


Premraj Soni (43)
Owned a jewellery-repair shop in Chembur


Sunder Singh Bisht (30) Peon in a jewellery store. He died 10 days after the blast


Kishan S Mandal (35)
Manager at a jewellery store


Pankaj Soni (22) Student


Rajesh Khedekar (28)
Was employed with a diamond trader
Ghuman Rathod (35)
Ran a bindi shop
Ajay Verma (40) Ran an eatery. He died 10 days after the blast



OPERA HOUSE | DEATH TOLL: 15


Baburam Das (40)
Was a jeweller. He died 2 days later


Himmat Ghadiya (49)
Diamond trader


Prabhat Nayak (28)
Gold artisan


Sunil Jain (29)
Diamond trader


Bhupat Navadia (45)
In the diamond business


Mohan Naik (46)
Sold paan, sandwiches, bhel-puri


Sandeep Champaklal Shah (38)
Diamond broker


Tushar Rameshchandra Shah (43)
Diamond broker


Tushar Kalbe (29)
Arun Jaiswal (39)
Ran an eatery
Azgar Darodia (29) Diamond broker
Sripal Mujpura (35)
Diamond broker. He died after 9 days

Vallabhbhai Gadiya (48)
Was a diamond broker He died 15 days after the blast

Chandrakant Vankar (42)
Diamond firm employee. He died 17 days after the blast


Mukesh Seth (45)
Diamond broker



DADAR DEATH TOLL: 1


Mankeshwar Vishwakarma (28) Carpenter. He died 12 days after the blast



The Times of India, August 12, 2011

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

MCOCA may be invoked in sex racket


Mateen Hafeez | TNN


Mumbai:TheVPRoad police are likely to invoke the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) against awoman who allegedly forced 18 girls into prostitution. If MCOCA is applied, it would become the first such case under thestringentlaw.MCOCA is commonly used against gangsters and terrorists by the Maharashtra police.

Anil Kumbhare, deputy commissioner of police, confirmed the report saying, “The suspect, Lakshmi Amma, had forced more than a dozen girls into flesh trade. She has been wanted in seven
cases and works with various people. We are going to use MCOCA against her.”

Amma, now55,was arrested by the Nagpada police and handed over to the V P Road police. “In the month of June, we rescued four girls, all from Bangalore and the neighboring villages. The information procured from these girls led
usto a bigger racket,” saidRajendra Chavan, senior-inspector of the V P Road police station. According to Chavan, when they got information about the hideouts of the suspect, a team comprising inspectorsGulabraoGore, Shrikant Desai, Wishvas Kahayap and staff raided a building in the V P Road area and rescued 14 girls who were forced into prostitution. The suspect is currently facing charges under the Prevention of Immoral Trafficking Act (PITA).

Amma, said the police, had been a commercial sex worker for more than 20 years. She came to Mumbai from Karnataka along with
her mentor and got involved in the flesh trade. “Now, she provides girls to brothel owners in the city on a hefty commission,” said a police officer. All the rescued girls are around 20 years old. “Amma’s agents work in Andhra Pradesh and lure the girls with the bait of good jobs such as beautician, sales girls in shopping malls, house maids in rich people’s flats and so on and bring them to Mumbai. Later, these girls are handed over to brothel owners,” said another officer.

The raid was conducted jointly by activistsof International Justice Mission (IJM) and the police.


The Times of India, August 10, 2011

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

MBA grad lost 14cr to SpeakAsia


Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: The police on Monday received 100 more complaints against Singapore-based online consumer survey company SpeakAsia, accused of cheating investors of crores by promising them huge returns on their investments. Among the victims who recorded their statements with the police was a 26-year-old MBA graduate, who had set up a SpeakAsia franchise and lost Rs 14 crore.

On Monday morning, over 150 people panelists (members) of SpeakAsia, along with friends and relatives, gathered outside the police commissioner’s office demanding a fair probe into the case. While most
supported the company, some were convinced that the police had arrested the firm’s chief operating officer, Tarak Bajpai. Initially, the firm, through e-mails, informed its clients that Bajpai was detained for questioning and later released. “When we told the firm’s supporters about the people who lost money in various schemes, they agreed to file complaints with us,” said a police officer.

The firm’s nearly 70 accounts in various banks with a collective balance of over Rs 140 crore have been frozen till Monday, said another police officer. Sharad Yadav, one of Speak-Asia’s many franchisees, told TOI, “Between February and May, I invested Rs 4 lakh. I sold
personal identification numbers (PINs) and empanelled many sub-panelists. I gave the company a business of Rs 14 crore. I was promised a 3% commission on every PIN of Rs 10,000.”

Yadav said that he did not withdraw money from the account thinking it will be doubled with time but the firm stopped making payments all of a sud
den. He said he can’t shut his office as the investors may attack him. “I am paying Rs 2.5 lakh as maintenance for the office and it’s adding to my losses,” said Yadav, who had taken Rs 2 lakh from his sisters and another Rs 2 lakh from his parents to invest in SpeakAsia.

The economic offences wing (EOW) is questioning Bajpai (36) and his four colleagues—technical head for the portal Rajeev Mehrotra, assistant for daily portal operations and in-charge of regular pop-ups Shaikh Rais Latif (32), accountant Ravi Janakraj Khanna (44) and Deepankar Sarkar. The police said the fraud amount could be more than Rs 14,000 crore.
mateen.hafeez@timegroup.com

The Times of India, August 9, 2011

Bike thief detained for 13/7


Mateen Hafeez TNN


Mumbai: The ATS on Monday detained a bike thief from south Mumbai who is suspected to have played a vital role in the July 13 serials blasts in the city that killed 25 people.

Senior ATS officials denied arresting anybody. “We have not arrested anyone in the blasts cases so far,” said ATS chief Rakesh Maria. The suspect has reportedly been kept at the ATS’s Kalachowkie unit.

The police said an Activa scooter parked near the Zaveri Bazar blast site was suspected to have been stolen. The scooter, said the police, could have been used for planting a bomb. The police had earlier detained one Arjun Singh, an employee of a Gujarati businessman, after they found that another damaged scooter parked at the same blast site belonged to Singh. He told the police that his scooter was stolen hours before the blasts.

The Times of India, August 9, 2011

Monday, August 8, 2011

Cops to keep hawk eye on ragging


Plainclothes Policemen Will Visit Colleges, Arrest Bullies

Mateen Hafeez TNN


Mumbai: Freshers at colleges in thecity can breatheeasy—they won’t have to participate in humiliating acts or answer uncomfortable questionsto please their seniors. The police have tightened the screws on bullies and plainclothes sleuths have already started doing the rounds of campuses to eliminate ragging.

Teams of police officials, both male and female, will mingle with the crowd at colleges andhostelstokeep tabs on ragging. “Ragging will notbetolerat
ed. Wewillkeep an eyeon those who rag. Strict action will be taken against bullies,” said Rajnish Seth, joint commissioner of police (law and order). He urgedstudentstocomeforward and lodge a complaint against their tormentors.

Apoliceteam hasbeen monitoring the situation at a medical college in south Mumbai. Lectures started last week for newcomers at medical andengineering colleges. “Juniors are being harassed by the seniors. Some students can’t cope with this sort of mental torture,” said a student. “There is no one to monitor thesituation.”

Dr Sandhya Kamat, dean of Sion Hospital, said, “A ragging prevention committeehasbeen formed. We are taking precautions and meet parents on a
regular basis.” Last year, a first-year engineering student, who had topped his district, was harassed so much that he stopped attending lectures and failed in more than five papers. Another student of a city college was asked to explain how his parents madelove.

Last year,the police arrested 18 students of KEM Hospital andG S MedicalCollegefor ragging 10 juniors. The victims were madetostrip and perform mock sexual acts. They were rescued after a student, son of an anti-terrorism squad officer, sent a messagetohisfather.

Final gen merit list out today Offline Process From Aug 10; Start Of Classes Uncertain

Yogita Rao TIMES NEWS NETWORK
Mumbai: The third and final general merit list for junior college admissions will be out on Monday.

With more than 28,000 students still to get seats in colleges, the office of the deputy director of school education is hoping that most of them will be accommodated in the third list.

After the final list on Monday, the department might consider going offline, if the number of students without admissions is not very high. Students, who have not secured admissions in the online process, will have to apply to colleges, which have vacant seats.
Around 93,029 students have already taken admissions in junior colleges and more than 28,000 students have not been allotted a seat in any of the rounds. A senior official from the deputy director’s office said, “If the number of students without admis
sions is not very high, we might consider going offline. Last year, more than 4,000 students were without admissions after the final round and the department decided to go offline after August 10.”

More than 22,000 students in the Mumbai region, who have failed in either one or two subjects, are eligible for
admissions in junior colleges under the allowed to keep terms (ATKT) scheme. These students will be seeking admissions in colleges after the online process is over.

Students from international schools, affiliated to the Cambridge International Examination (CIE) board, will also be eligible for the offline ad
mission process. “These students were kept out of the online process as they had not got their marksheets, which will be issued by the board this week,” said an official. Moreover, according to a recent circular issued by the state, CBSE students who cleared the internal exam this year will also be entitled for admissions, once it goes offline.

Meanwhile, colleges are clueless about the total strength of their FYJC divisions, since most students have taken provisional admissions. “We were planning to start our session from this week,” T A Shiware, principal of KPB Hinduja College, said.

He added, “Now, we are unsure. Around 420 seats are lying vacant, out of the total of 1,120, in my college. However, the students who have already taken admissions might also leave, if they get betterment option in the third round. We will get a clear picture only after the third round is over.”


The Times of India, August 8, 2011

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Confusion over 13/7 suspect


Mateen Hafeez TNN


Mumbai: Confusion prevailed over the arrest of Murshidabad resident, Jiarat Sheikh, 27, for supplying ammonium nitrate to the 13/7 Mumbai bombers. While the National Investigation Agency (NIA) denied any such arrest or detention, the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) officials were tightlipped about Sheikh.

There were reports that Sheikh, a resident of Suti in Murshidabad district of West Bengal, was picked up by the security agencies. Sheikh is allegedly the biggest supplier of explosive- grade ammonium nitrate. Sheikh was produced before a first class judicial magistrate in a Jangipur court on a transit and was taken to some unidentified location. NIA has denied any knowledge about the detention in connection with the 13/7 serial blasts. Sources in the NIA said that they had picked up one person from Malda in connection with a fake currency note case and the accused had nothing to do with the Mumbai blasts case. Maharashtra ATS chief Rakesh Maria met chief minister Prithiviraj Chavan at the latter’s residence.The ATS on Friday detained two persons, suspected to be associated with some terror groups.

The Times of India, August 6, 2011

Friday, August 5, 2011

‘Fraud’ scheme kingpin held in Chennai

Mateen Hafeez /TNN

Soon after an alleged ponzi scheme kingpin, Chitra Sillu Kumar alias Kumaran, landed at Chennai airport from Malaysia, a police team took him in custody and brought him to Mumbai. Kumaran (36) had promised an annual return of Rs 3.65 lakh on a one-time investment of Rs 1 lakh. “Kumaran, who was running a multi-level marketing scheme, was wanted in the case since 2010. We received details about his passport and issued a lookout notice against him. Last week, we came to know that he was in Malayasia and would return in a day or two. With the help of immigration officials and the Chennai police, we picked up Kumaran soon after he landed at Chennai airport,” said an officer from the economic offences wing (EOW).

Kumaran, who hails from Chennai, had floated a scheme, Wealth Line Promoters, and described himself as its national chief. He promised investors a return of 1% per day on an investment between Rs 7,000 and Rs 2 lakh. Similarly, if someone invested Rs 2 lakh to Rs 5 lakh, he would be entitled to 2% profit per day. On an investment of Rs 5 lakh to Rs 7 lakh, the profit would be 2.5% per day. “We had earlier arrested Geroge Karkuna Srill (35) and Shivkumar Hiremath (35) in this case. However, Kumaran managed to escape that time,” said senior police inspector S V
Shelar.

The Times of India, August 5, 2011

SpeakAsia victim’s email account hacked

5 Company staffers In Custody


Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: Five office bearers of Speak Asia were on Thursday remanded in police custody till August 12. The firm is accused of cheating investors of Rs 14,000 crore by promising them huge returns on their investments.

Meanwhile, the complainant in this case, Navneet Khosla, approached the police saying his e-mail account has been hacked into. “I was the only member (aka panelist) and never recommended others to become a member. However, now my email account on this firm is showing that I have nine sub-members (sub-panelists) under me. It came to my notice only after I registered the police complaint,” Khosla said. The hacking case may be referred to the cyber crime investigation cell (CCIC) of the crime branch. Police officials said that they have contacted the Computer Emergency Response Team in New Delhi to block the firm’s website.

The economic offences wing (EOW) produced the firm’s chief operating officer Tarak Bajpai (36) and his four
colleagues—Rajeev Mehrotra,technicalheadfor the portal, Shaikh Rais Latif (32), assistant for daily portal operations and in-charge of regular pop-ups, Ravi Janakraj Khanna (44), finance accountant, and Deepankar Sarkar—in court, which remanded them in police custody.

“We have found Rs 139 crore in the company’s 35 frozen accounts. We are still waiting for the details of some bank accounts and hence need their police custody,” the police told the court. The police said that the fraud amount has crossed Rs 2,276 crore, but going by the num
ber of investors, the amount could be over Rs 14,000 crore.

“The firm had tranferred crores to an account in the United Bank of Singapore. We are yet to receive the report on the financial transactions,” said Rajvardhan Sinha, additional commissioner of police (EOW).

Meanwhile, one of the investors sent an email to other investors, stating, “Our COO Tarak Bajpai was just detained for three days and not arrested by the police. He has been released and our company is working without any problem. Have faith in us.”
mateen.hafeez@timesgroup.com


The Times of India, August 5, 2011

SpeakAsia victim’s email account hacked

5 Company Staffers In Custody

Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: Five office bearers of Speak Asia were on Thursday remanded in police custody till August 12. The firm is accused of cheating investors of Rs 14,000 crore by promising them huge returns on their investments.

Meanwhile, the complainant in this case, Navneet Khosla, approached the police saying his e-mail account has been hacked into. “I was the only member (aka panelist) and never recommended others to become a member. However, now my email account on this firm is showing that I have nine sub-members (sub-panelists) under me. It came to my notice only after I registered the police complaint,” Khosla said. The hacking case may be referred to the cyber crime investigation cell (CCIC) of the crime branch. Police officials said that they have contacted the Computer Emergency Response Team in New Delhi to block the firm’s website.

The economic offences wing (EOW) produced the firm’s chief operating officer Tarak Bajpai (36) and his four
colleagues—Rajeev Mehrotra,technicalheadfor the portal, Shaikh Rais Latif (32), assistant for daily portal operations and in-charge of regular pop-ups, Ravi Janakraj Khanna (44), finance accountant, and Deepankar Sarkar—in court, which remanded them in police custody.

“We have found Rs 139 crore in the company’s 35 frozen accounts. We are still waiting for the details of some bank accounts and hence need their police custody,” the police told the court. The police said that the fraud amount has crossed Rs 2,276 crore, but going by the num
ber of investors, the amount could be over Rs 14,000 crore.

“The firm had tranferred crores to an account in the United Bank of Singapore. We are yet to receive the report on the financial transactions,” said Rajvardhan Sinha, additional commissioner of police (EOW).

Meanwhile, one of the investors sent an email to other investors, stating, “Our COO Tarak Bajpai was just detained for three days and not arrested by the police. He has been released and our company is working without any problem. Have faith in us.”
mateen.hafeez@timesgroup.com


The Times of India, August 5, 2011