Saturday, December 31, 2011

No encounter stains on khaki in 2011

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

The year ends on a positive note for Mumbai Police: it is the first year since 1991 without any ‘encounters’.

The absence of even a single encounter death in 2011 is in sharp contrast to the situation a decade ago when 94 encounter killings took place.

Since 2001, the city police gunned down 272 suspected gangsters and terrorists. The Chhota Rajan gang was crippled as 97 of its members were killed in encounters, the Dawood Ibrahim gang lost 46. Police records show only seven gangsters were killed in 2010. “As most dreaded gangsters have either been killed or fled the city, there is no need for stern action (like encounters) against petty criminals,” said a senior crime branch official.

But a major reason why 2011 has been encounter-free is because encounter specialists had their wings clipped as the courts took a tough stand against such killings. Over the years, mumbai Police lost several cops responsible for the infamous killings. Three inspectors — Vijay Salaskar, Pradip Sharma and Praful Bhosale — were credited with 99% of the encounter killings. But while Salaskar was killed during 26/11, Sharma was arrested in connection with a staged encounter and Bhosale held for the suspected en
counter killing of blast accused Khwaja Yunus. Bhosale, though, was later cleared of charges and reinstated. Two other cops were not so lucky. Sachin Waze was suspended and later resigned from the force, while senior inspector Arun Borude, on the run after being accused of a minor’s rape, allegedly committed suicide in December 2010.

“During the 90s and early 2000, the underworld had forced the police to take the ex
treme step of killing them. Dozens of businessmen, developers and film personalities were killed for extortion and the gangsters tried to create panic among everyone. However, timely police action crippled the gangs,” said a policeman. A senior officer added, “Encounters are not pre-planned. At least four suspects who were injured in encounters were rushed to hospitals and were saved.”

While encounters have been on every year since 1991, the decade began with the killing of four youths in their early 20s, near Patwardhan Garden, Bandra. Police claimed they were planning to kill Ashutosh Gowarikar, director of Lagaan which released that year, and the film’s lead actor Aamir Khan, at the behest of gangster Abu Salem.

The most controversial recent encounter was of Ramnarayan Gupta alias Lakhan Bhaiyya, in 2006. Senior inspector Pradip Suryavanshi is in jail in the case.

In 2008, an 18-year-old youth, Mohammed Imran, was killed in an encounter in Powai along with one Chandrakant Sahni. The crime branch claimed the duo was planning to kill a developer. Imran’s family said he was mentally challenged, but the crime branch claimed it had “recordings” of his conversation with Sahni, who they said was a gangster.

The Times of India, December 31, 2011

Friday, December 30, 2011

ATS sleuths double as paanwallahs


Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: The anti-terrorism squad (ATS) is hopeful of making a breakthrough in the 13/7 serial blasts case. The sleuths have started keeping round-theclock watch on two persons from Govandi and one from Mumbra for their suspected involvement in the blasts.

It is learnt that following a tip-off by some informants, ATS sleuths—disguised as p a a n-b i d i shop owners—are monitoring the trio’s activities closely. Three RDX bombs exploded at Opera House, Zaveri Bazar and near Dadar station on July 13 this year, claiming 27 lives and injuring over 100.

The ATS officers were tightlipped about the move. “We are close to making a breakthrough in the case. Commenting on it at this juncture may ruin our probe,” said an officer. Sources said that one of the two persons from Govandi is a class XII dropout while another is an under
graduate. Sources avoided any sharing of information about the Mumbra resident.

It is learnt that the suspects’ phones are being tapped while their movement and the people they are meeting are also being examined. They have previous criminal records, said a source. A police team has also taken a room on rent in Govandi near the suspects’ residences to monitor their activities.

This is the second time the agency is hoping to crack the case. Earlier, after it found that the scooter used to plant a bomb at Zaveri Bazar was stolen, the ATS had activated all its informants to trace the bike thieves. However, after several weeks of restless probe, the ATS could not find the thieves. In case of the Ahmedabad blasts in 2008, the Mumbai crime branch had made a breakthrough by arresting a car thief, Afzal Usmani from Govandi. Usmani was suspected to have stolen four cars from Navi Mumbai which were later used to plant explosives in Ahmedabad and Surat. Usmani’s arrest was followed by the arrest of the 20 others whom the police claimed were Indian Mujahideen members.

The Times of India, December 30, 2011

Thursday, December 29, 2011

11 excise squads to curb smuggling of illicit liquor

Mateen Hafeez| TNN

Mumbai: The state excise department has arrested 50 people over the past 20 days for manufacturing and selling spurious liquors worth Rs 40 lakh. In a bid to rein in such people and to keep the smuggling of spurious liquor at bay, the department has formed 11 special squads to keep a hawk’s eye before the New Year’s Eve.

“We are working hard to gather intelligence and have activated our informants’ network as well. The department is monitoring the activities of suspected spurious drug/liquor manufacturers as well as sellers,” said Mohan Varde, superintendent of state excise. “Our staff is also gathering details on history sheeters and suppliers on the Goa, Daman and Diu borders.” Talking about a recent raid at Grant Road, Varde said, “We have recently seized 84,000 litre spurious imported liquor. They were being smuggled into
the city and sold as imported liquors.” The department is also scanning the records of bootleggers and if they are found involved in making spurious liquor, they will be booked under the Bombay Prohibition Act, 1949.

Though they are working overtime, Varde added, the department was plagued by the shortage in manpower, which posed a great hurdle in conducting raids. “We have only 66 personnel to cover half the city. Sometimes, it becomes difficult to gather information about illicit drugs, medicines, narcotics or liquor being smuggled and sold in the city,” admitted Varde.

150 booked for drunk driving
On Wednesday night, the traffic police booked 150 motorists for drunk driving. Of them, 63 have been sentenced to simple imprisonment. A special crackdown against drunk drivers, which started on Christmas Eve, will end on the New Year’s Eve. This December 31, the local police will also assist the traffic cops in the drive. TNN

The Times of India, December 29, 2011

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Cops may go soft on jail stir

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: The state government is not keen on taking action against protesters who are part of the Anna Hazare campaign. Senior police officials say that arresting protesters may create a problem as most of them are students or are employed. “A police case could create a problem for them in future,” said an officer.

On December 24, TOI had reported that the police planned to detain and release the protesters. “Until they do not commit a crime, why would we arrest them?” asked Rajnish Seth, joint commissioner of police (law & order). Seth said they had deployed police personnel in and around the MMRDA grounds
to handle the situation.

The anti-corruption activist urged people across the country to court arrest on December 30 if the government
doesn’t pass a strong bill.

If the protesters insist on a jail bharo, they could be taken to the police ground at Kalina or the nearest police station. “Converting the MMRDA grounds into a police prison could be difficult since there will be a problem of food and other things as well,” said an officer. There is a plan to convert the MMRDA ground into a prison. However, a decision on this has not yet been taken. Under the Bombay Police Act, the police can declare any area as a jail and detain people there. “Protesters could be detained and their names, addresses and other details will be taken before they are released,” said the officer. So far, 17,646 people have registered for the jail bharo agitation.

Section 68: A person is bound to conform to the reasonable directions of the police
Section 69:
It gives the police powers to restrain and remove anyone for reasons of security and law & order

Bomb detection and disposal squad teams | 2
Emergency exits | 6
Fire extinguishers | 16
Metal detectors | 16
Round-the-clock ambulances services

The Times of India, December 28, 2011

Monday, December 26, 2011

Fraud firm spent 100cr on realty, cars

Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: Office bearers of alleged fraud firm Speak-Asia had invested around Rs 100 crore in commercial galas at prominent shopping malls in the city, flats in posh buildings and cars. This was revealed during the probe on the firm across across several nations.

An officer from the economic offences wing (EOW) of the Mumbai police said that the properties were bought over the past one year. “We have identified the properties in over a dozen buildings and shopping malls. In some buildings, the flats cost over Rs 12-13 crore. The accused also used the money to buy costly vehicles. Two Mercedes cars have been seized and we are planning to seize more,” the
officer said.

The police say that they don’t want to disclose the properties at this stage. “We are securing these properties. Once the process is completed, we will request the court to attach them,” the officer added. The officer was reluctant to talk about the locations and names of the buildings and malls where Speak Asia of
fice bearers own properties.

The EOW, which is probing the alleged multi-crore fraud case, said that a red corner notice had been issued against Manoj Kumar Sharma, the Indian chief of the firm. “We received information that Sharma had transferred huge sums of money from India to the United Bank of Singapore, and from there to Latin
America,” said Rajvardhan Sinha, additional police commissioner, EOW.

While nine persons were taken into custody by the police of various districts and states in the country, the company’s chief operating officer (COO), Tarak Bajpai, managed to jump bail and has disappeared. “Bajpai is still at large,” said Sinha.
Bajpai told police he was
a flight lieutenant before joining the multi-level marketing business in 2004. Police sources said that some of the accused still pretend to be victims and had even filed writ petitions in the Bombay High Court and Supreme Court stating that their business was completely legal.

“However, we have informed the court that a case has been registered against the company and that they have duped lakhs of people,” said Shelke. The police said that the alleged fraud took place between March 2010 and May 2011.

A police officer said that in such cases, the investors can also be booked under the Prize Chits and Money Circulation Schemes (Banning) Act, 1978 since they are essentially gambling.

Online Fraud On A Bigger Scale
Private firm Speak Asia started an online service under which each investor (panelist) would be given two surveys a week to complete on an annual fee of Rs 11,000. If the investor successfully completed all the surveys, he or she would be entitled to Rs 52,000 a year.

The fraud took place between March 2010 and May 2011. During this period, the company had duped over 24 lakh investors. The amount that investors were scammed out of has gone up to Rs 2,276 crore. Red corner notices have been issued against the office-bearers of the company.

The Times of India, December 26, 2011

Malegaon suspect filed 702 RTI queries in 5 yrs

Farog Makhdoomi (centre) got 50 lakh pages of RTI answers

Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: Unani doctor Farog Makhdoomi, a 2006 Malegaon bomb blasts suspect, had filed 702 right to Information (RTI) applications during his fiveyear imprisonment in various jails in the state. Makhdoomi, now 38, was released on bail along with six other accused last month. He received 50 lakh pages of RTI answers and references while in jail.

The anti-terrorism squad (ATS) had claimed that Makhdoomi, son of a schoolteacher, was one of the prime conspirators in the blast conspiracy. However, claims by the ATS fell short during the course of investigation after Swami Aseemanand, member of a right wing outfit, confessed to his involvement in the blasts. A medical practitioner by profession, Makhdoomi kept fil
ing RTI applications on various issues like food in the jails, Islamic banking, reservation for Muslims, Sachar commission, Mishra commission, the Indian system of medicine, distant education, etc.

Makhdoomi said, “My first RTI application was about the jail canteen’s food. Edibles worth Rs 40 were being sold for Rs 140. When I tried exposing the corruption in the Arthur Road jail, the then superintendent made our lives miserable.” He added that he did not receive a reply when he asked for the procedure followed for filling up the vacancies at the Malegaon civil hospital. The residents of Malegaon had been demanding that victims of the blasts should be given preference
when there are vacancies at the hospital. He has also obtained the records of the detention of a co-accused “which prove that he was detained and kept in custody illegally”.

In February this year, Makhdoomi appeared for the PhD Entrance Test. Having completed his Bachelor of Unani Medicine degree in 1997, Makhdoomi studied for his MA in Urdu while in custody in 2009. He has been securing a first class so far and passed the PhD entrance as well. While in prison, he did his post graduate diploma in disaster management through IGNOU. He was also appointed the coordinator for distant education by the jail authorities and helped 80 inmates appear for various examinations.

Speaking about his applications, he said, “The state textile ministry, with funds of Rs 1,100 crore, announced plans for textile parks in 11 cities but ignored Malegaon, which is the second largest textile centre in the state. I realized this through my applications.”

The Times of India, December 26, 2011

Saturday, December 24, 2011

166 ‘Hajis’ go missing in Saudi Arabia - Part Of Begging Racket?

Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: As many as 166 pilgrims, who went to Saudi Arabia on pretext of Haj, are missing. These 166 are suspected to be Indian beggars who go to the holy city for begging in the guise of Haj pilgrims. Their mastermind, Sharful Haque, a resident of West Bengal, was arrested earlier by the Kolkata police.

The disappearance was reported to the Central Haj Committee of India when the 166 pilgrims did not report to the airport in Jeddah. “They are suspected to be beggars and part of a huge racket,” said Dr Shakir Husain, chief executive officer of the Central Haj Committee. He added there was no information about the whereabouts of the 166 pilgrims who belonged to Murshidabad in West Bengal.

“We have written to the head of the West Bengal Haj Committee, asking about the approval of these beggars’ applications. Our office has informed the chief secretary of West Bengal,” added Husain. Sources said the doctors who issued medical certificates to such beggars could be grilled during the
police probe. An inquiry has begun in the Haj Committee of India. Husain said these beggars go do not even stay in the quarters allotted to Haj pilgrims in Mecca and Madinah. “It was the duty of the State Haj Committee to identify such people and stop them,” said Husain.

Three months ago, the Haj Committee officials found at least a dozen people who had used different photographs on the passports but their names were the same on the previous passports. Some of them had new passport numbers as well. “When a few beggars were detained in Saudi Arabia, they spilled the beans about the racket and mastermind Haque. The Council General passed on this information to the Haj Committee and Haque was arrested in Kolkata while trying to board a flight,” said sources.

BS Mubarak, Consul Haj in Jeddah, said whoever is identified staying in Saudi Arabia illegally is sent to their respective countries. “We have identified around 30 people who were involved in activities that are not fit for Haj pilgrims and sent them back to India.”

The Times of India, December 24, 2011

Friday, December 23, 2011

MLA’s ‘aide’ held for duping trader of 34L

Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: The L T Marg police on Thursday arrested a 39-yearold man for posing as Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) MLA Bala Nandgaonkar’s personal assistant and cheating a diamond trader of over Rs34lakh.

The accused,Kailash Singh, told the complainant that the MLA’s daughter was getting married and he wanted to buy diamond jewellery. The MLA’s daughter is nine years’ old.

“Singh had worked with some jewellers and knew many of them. In this case, he approached one of his acquaintances, Naresh Jain, and told him that Nandgaonkar’s daughter was to marry and he wanted to buy some diamond ornaments for her. Jain took Singh to another diamond trader, Viman Jain, at Opera House. Viman gave diamond ornaments worth over Rs 2 crore. A few days later, Singh returned the jewellery except a diamond necklace worth Rs 28 lakh,” said the officer. He added that Singh later took diamond-studdedbanglesworthRs6.53lakh.

When Singh did not return, thetrader triedcalling him,but Singh did not pick up his calls. Later, Singh told him that Nandgaonkar was busy with the wedding and the payment would be made only after the ceremony.

Nandgaonkar said, “I don’t knowwho Singhis.Heis not my PA.Moreover,thetrader should have verified Singh’s credentials with me or the police before handing him over jewellery worthcroresof rupees.”

The Times of India, December 223, 2011

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Fraudsters use ACP’s ID to buy SIM card

Mateen Hafeez I TNN

Mumbai: An assistant commissioner of police (ACP) recently found that his documents had been wrongly used for a cellphone connection. The officer, who is currently attached to the city crime branch’s computer and data wing, learnt about the fraud when a mobile bill was delivered at his residence.

“The bill amount (Rs 86) was not high. However, it’s a serious offence as someone used my documents to procure the SIM card,” the ACP who did not wish to be named said.

According to the officer, he received a call last month from a girl who identified herself as Sapna and informed him about some schemes on internet connection. “A few days later, someone came to my house and collected my photo and a copy of my identification
proof. I paid Rs 500 to avail of the scheme,” said the ACP.

The bill showed that at least 63 calls were made till December 8. “The bill had my name and address printed on it. I called up on the number printed on the bill and found that it belonged to a businessman in Kandivli who identified himself as Kothari. He told me that he has been using the number and had submitted his documents,” the officer said.

Last year, the city police found that around 28,000 SIM cards, belonging to various mobile companies, were issued on fake documents.

The Times of India, December 22, 2011

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Ishrat case: CBI team to visit Malegaon

Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: The CBI team probing the Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case will soon visit Malegaon. After shooting Ishrat and three others, the Gujarat police in 2004 claimed that the 18-year-old along with another deceased had stayed at a Malegaon hotel and they were part of a Lashkar-e-Taiba module.

The Gujarat police had then said that Ishrat and another deceased Javed Shaikh alias Pranesh Pillai had stayed in Hotel Radhika where they hatched plans for anti-national activities. The police had alleged that those killed in the encounter were on a mission to eliminate Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi.

It will take some time to
decide on the arrest of the suspects. “The special investigation team inquired into the case for almost two-and-ahalf years. We have got some papers from them. However, we have to start our investigation afresh and ascertain everyone’s role,” said a police source. “The initial documents are in Gujarati. We have to translate them to understand and then fix a direction for the investigation as per the evidence,” the officer said.

“First we have to see why the police personnel believed that Ishrat was a terrorist. Did they have any reliable information about her involvement anywhere? Once we get answers of all these questions, we will decide the further course of action,” the officer added.

The Times of India, December 21, 2011

Monday, December 19, 2011

Squad to tackle minorities’ plaints

Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: The Maharashtra police have formed special squads in all districts to deal with the minority community. The squads will compile reports on the minority community’s problems, alleged atrocities and pay more attention to its complaints.

State police sources said the squad will co-ordinate with the inspector (community) in all police stations in a district on a daily basis for complaints of harassment or atrocities. The squads, said sources, are now collecting reports of such cases. “These are being updated on a daily basis and will be sent to state police headquarters on a monthly basis,” said a police
source. Police sources said the move follows repeated complaints of illegal detentions and harassment of suspects’ families. It is also learnt that the reports will be sent to the central government for reference since complainants at times approach the Union government as well. “These reports will then be forwarded to the state minorities commission,” said a policeman.

The special squad is also in charge of preparing reports on ill-treatment of children and women. “Though there are several helplines for children and women, this system will definitely benefit them,” said the officer.

In many cases, members
of the minority community have alleged police atrocities. For instance, after the 13/7 blasts in the city this year, Faiz Usmani, a Govandi grocery shop owner detained by the crime branch, died in police custody. While police said he was suffering from blood pressure and other health-related problems, his wife alleged police torture. A state CID team is probing the case.

“Even during riot-like situations, the minority community complains of bias in maintaining law and order. Such complaints will be taken on record and a proper report will be compiled,” the source said. However, no decision has been taken regarding action against cops accused by the minority community.

The Times of India, December 19, 2011

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Man held for cheating developer of 6.5cr

Rajshri Mehta & Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: The economic offences wing (EOW) of the Mumbai police on Friday arrested Fortbased developer Homi Patrawala for allegedly duping suburban developer Ashok Mohanani of the Ekta Group of Rs 6.5 crore over the purchase of a bungalow plot at Khar. Police investigations revealed that Patrawala allegedly misrepresented the identity of the original plot owner and siphoned the money from the Fort branch of a co-operative bank.

In his complaint to the Kherwadi police, Mohanani said he was approached by Patrawala, owner, Snowgold Constructions Pvt Ltd, with an offer for a 202 sq m plot ‘Arun Bhavan’ belonging to one Sushila Jadhav (75) with whom he claimed to have signed
a letter of intent to transfer and assign the property. In September, Mohanani reached an agreement with Patrawala, involving purchase of shares of Patrawala’s company for Rs 1.93 crore and paying Rs 6 crore when the property was transferred in his name.

A preoccupied Mohanani signed an agreement to sub-lease the property in April without the family being present, as Patrawala told him he had given the family a pay order for Rs 6 crore.

Patrawala kept delaying the registration of the deed, saying the Jadhavs wanted time to vacate. Mohanani happened to meet Jadhav and asked her what the issue was, and Jadhav said she had no agreement with Patrawala’s company. Worried, she filed a case against Mohanani, who then complained to joint police commissioner Himanshu Roy.

The Times of India, December 17, 2011

Friday, December 16, 2011

Group for legal aid to 11/ 7 suspects

Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: After securing bail for the 2006 Malegaon blasts suspects, a Malegaonbased group is planning to provide legal assistance to suspects in the 11/7 train blasts and the 2006 Aurangabad arms haul cases.

“We believe that those arrested in the arms haul case have been framed by the police,” said advocate Irfana Hamdani, one of the legal cell members of the Kul-Jamaati Tanzeem.

“Several 11/7 train blasts accused asked us to provide legal help,” he added. T h e g r o u p was formed in 2006 after the anti-terrorism squad (ATS) picked up seven youngsters from Malegaon for allegedly executing
four bomb blasts in the powerloom town.

In May 2006, the Maharashtra ATS claimed to have seized RDX, 16 AK-47 rifles, 3,200 live cartridges, 50 grenades and other ammunition near Aurangabad, Malegaon and Ankai village. The police arrested 21 people and said they belonged to the outlawed SIMI.

Similarly, the ATS probe into the 11/7 train blasts caseisfacing questions.The ATS arrested 13 persons alleging they belonged to SIMI and plantedseven bombs in local trains on July 11, 2006. However, two years later the Mumbai crime branch claimed the Indian Mujahideen was behind the blasts and arrested 21 suspected members.

The Times of India, December 16, 2011