Thursday, November 17, 2011

‘My father is not a conspirator’

A REUNION TO REMEMBER


Mateen Hafeez & Rebecca Samervel | TNN


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


The Times of India, November 17, 2011

5 yrs on, 7 walk out of jail


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


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

Mateen Hafeez & Rebecca Samervel | TNN



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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

TWO WHO REMAINED IN PRISON*
Mohd Ali Shaikh 45 and Asif Bashir Khan alias Junai 40

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






The Times of India, November 17, 2011

Monday, November 14, 2011

RTI: ATS cop sent money to Malegaon blast accused

Mateen Hafeez TNN


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

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

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


Ahmed’s bro complained to court about constable

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Times of India, November 14, 2011

Saturday, November 12, 2011

2 accused stay in custody over train blasts case

MALEGAON BLASTS


S Ahmed Ali & Mateen Hafeez TNN


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

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

The Times of India, November 12, 2011

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Bribery-accused top postal officer suspended again


M S Bali


Mateen Hafeez | TNN


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


CBI Caught M S Bali Accepting 2 Crore

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

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

FEB 26 |
Bali is suspended

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

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

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


The Times of India, November 9, 2011

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Lawyers of accused made 60 trips to court in 5 years


Mateen Hafeez | TNN


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

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

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

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


The Times of India, November 6, 2011

Are loopholes in ATS investigation showing?


Mateen Hafeez | TNN



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2006 MALEGAON BLASTS


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

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


PROFILES OF ARRESTED ACCUSED

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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



The Times of India, November 6, 2011

2006 Malegaon blasts: Bail for all 9 accused



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



Mateen Hafeez & Rebecca Samervel TNN


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

NIA reviewed evidence after Swami confessed

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


The Times of India, November 6, 2011

Friday, November 4, 2011

Sadhvi kin to approach court for her safety in jail


Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur


Mateen Hafeez | TNN


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

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

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

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

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

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



The Times of India, November 4,2011

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Training, intelligence must accompany COSTLY CCTV BLANKET






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



Vijay V Singh, Mateen Hafeez & Linah Baliga | TNN



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



CAM CAPTURE? NOT QUITE
In the February 13, 2010 bomb blast at Pune’s German Bakery, the CCTV cameras did provide some leads, but most of the images from the bakery’s cameras were damaged and difficult to decipher. The images of a suspect planting a bomb beneath a chair was seen. The ATS identified the suspect as a student, Samad Bhatkal, and picked him up from a Karnataka airport after he arrived from Dubai. Bhatkal was later found to be the wrong man and released

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



MUMBAI EYE
THE STATE’S PLAN TO MONITOR THE CITY
Install dense network of 5,000 CCTV cameras across city

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


CCTVS ARE ALREADY OPERATING IN MANY PARTS AND BUILDINGS OF THE CITY


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

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

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

BANKS |
All banks and most ATMs have CCTVs

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

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

The Times of India, November 2, 2011

Cops aim to make fraud firm case chargesheet watertight


Mateen Hafeez TNN


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

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

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

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

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

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


The Times of India, November 2, 2011

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

‘NIA won’t oppose bail for accused’

2006 MALEGAON BLASTS


Mateen Hafeez TNN


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

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

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

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


The Times of India, November 1, 2011

QRT men roped in to maintain law and order

'

SECURITY FIRST


Mateen Hafeez TNN


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

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

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

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

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

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



The Times of India, November 1, 2011