Saturday, March 31, 2012

2 Italians named in SpeakAsia ‘sister firm’ fraud

Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: The economic offences wing (EOW) has booked two Italians in a cheating case concerning the UAE-based firm Seven Rings International, which, the EOW says, is linked with SpeakAsia.

Elia De Prisco and Antonio Grasso are Seven Rings’ directors. They are among seven accused, the others being Indians. Against them, the EOW on Wednesday registered a case of cheating and criminal conspiracy under various sections of the Indian Penal Code and the Prize Chits and Money Circulation Schemes (Banning) Act.

The same day, the EOW registered a fresh FIR against investment firm Red Carpet, again linked with SpeakAsia according to the police. “Red Carpet lured investors with promises of huge returns and asked them to invest money in the film industry,” said an EOW officer. “The scheme targeted investors in Meghalaya and other cities and villages in the northeast.”

Also on Wednesday, the EOW slapped a case on Admatrix Pvt Ltd. All three cases have some of the accused in common. The EOW says it has proof of a common link among SpeakAsia, Red Carpet, Admatrix and
Seven Rings. “All these companies are connected to one another and we have evidence to prove this. In the three fresh cases, victims were cheated of over Rs 300 crore,” said Rajvardhan Sinha, additional commissioner of police (EOW).

The EOW is probing a 2011 case against SpeakAsia, in whose schemes people invested over Rs 2,276 crore. In Maharashtra alone, Speak-Asia had 18 franchises. Seven Rings’ scheme, floated in February 2008, targeted high-income individuals. The company would promise returns of Rs 10,000 per day on an investment of Rs 35 lakh for a year. Among the accused is SpeakAsia’s Indian head Manojkumar Sharma.

On Thursday, an email from SpeakAsia’s online corporate marketing team said, “To the best of our knowledge, no FIR has been lodged against Seven Rings International. We would like to state on record that SpeakAsia has nothing to do with a company by the name of Index Admatrix Pvt Ltd whatsoever. As regards Seven Rings International, they were only a content vendor for EZine Magazine, which was distributed by HVP Singapore. The only correlation (sic) we have is that this magazine allowed the consumer to participate in various activities of SpeakAsia.”

The Times of India, March 31, 2012

Pune blast probe: RR drops bomb in House

‘IM Dry Run Outside Temple Days Before Explosion’

Sharad Vyas & Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: Investigations into the blast at Pune’s German Bakery have established that Indian Mujahideen (IM) operatives had carried out a “dress rehearsal” outside the city’s Dagdusheth Halwai temple.

The dummy run took place right outside the temple about three days before an attempted blast at the famous shrine simultaneously with an explosion at the bakery. The explosion at the temple was averted because an alert vendor raised an alarm.

During investigations into the blasts, the Maharashtra anti-terrorism squad (ATS) arrested a suspected IM member Mirza Himayat Mirza Baig.

In his written reply to the legislative council, state home minister RR Patil on Friday admitted that IM operatives carried out a “dress rehearsal” outside the temple. However, he did not clarify if it was akin to a recce or complete
simulation of the actual blasts. “One of the accused in the case is jailed in a Bangalore prison and we are seeking his custody,” said Patil.

The request for custody is pending in Delhi’s Tees Hazari Court. In the last week of November, the Delhi police had arrested six suspected IM operatives, including Qateel Siddiqui. In his confession, Siddiqui said the IM had planned to carry out simultaneous bomb blasts at Dagdusheth Halwai temple and German Bakery
on February 13, 2010.

“One arrest has been made in the German Bakery blast case. One accused in the temple bomb planting conspiracy case is in the custody of the Bangalore police,” ATS chief Rakesh Maria said.

“The accused, Qateel Siddiqui, visited the temple three days before the blast, and kept his bag with the vendor after purchasing flowers from him. However, on the day of the blast, the vendor refused to keep his bag,” he added.

‘Amravati univ site hackers from Pakistan’
Mumbai: The Maharashtra police have traced the IP address of the computers used to hack the websites of Amravati university and 27 other institutes to Lahore and Karachi in Pakistan. The state home department on Friday informed the legislative council that it is pursuing leads with the help of the Centre. However, the incident has highlighted the need for extending the state’s cyber police network to other parts of Maharashtra. “We are planning to open up five additional cyber cells in other parts of the state,” said minister of state for home Satej Patil.

“The new cells will be helpful in tracking cyber terrorism, theft and virus attacks of various kinds,” added Patil.

The issue was raised by leader of the opposition Vinod Tawde who blamed the government for dragging its feet on the matter. “It has been two weeks since the incident but the government has taken no responsibility,” Tawde said.

The Times of India, March 31, 2012

Friday, March 30, 2012

Agencies tighten dragnet, conduct raid in Nandurbar

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: Teams of the state Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS), Nandurbar police and Madhya Pradesh police conducted a raid at a house in Mehterpura in Nandurbar district on Wednesday evening in search of two suspected Indian Mujahideen (IM) operatives. Sources said there was information that the men had taken shelter in the house, but, when the raid was carried out, they were not found at the spot.

The teams of policemen, sources said, reached the
house at 6.30pm on Wednesday. “Two rooms had been given out on rent to two youths who are in the business of selling bed sheets. At the time of the raid, they were not there. The police teams checked the rooms and seized some documents,” said a source.

It is learnt that the rooms belong to one Yusuf Kiranawala, who was in Surat with his family when the raids took place. Locals told the police that the two youths were reserved and were usually busy running their trade.

Agencies have begun tight
ening the dragnet around the Indian Mujahideen network after an ATS team arrested two of the outfit’s suspected operatives and killed another in Aurangabad on March 26. A day later, the ATS arrested two more terror operatives—Aqueel Khilji and Mohammed Jaffar—from Buldhana district. Police said the men were hiding in rural Maharashtra to avoid police suspicion and to expand the group’s network. “They wanted to recruit men for the outfit. We had been following them for the last three months,” said an ATS source.

The Times of India, March 30, 2012

‘Terrorist cell’ shunned mobiles to dodge cops

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: Further investigations after the arrest of four suspected terror operatives—two each from Aurangabad and Buldhana—have revealed that the tech-savvy module avoided the use of mobile phones and used computers ingeniously to dodge police surveillance.

Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) chief Rakesh Maria said that Jafar Hussain Qureshi, who was arrested in Buldhana on Tuesday, was a computer expert and created email IDs for all his associates. These email addresses were never used to send emails though. Instead, the operatives shared the IDs and passwords
among themselves, and whenever an operative
had to send a message, he would compose a mail and save it in the drafts folder. Later, his colleagues would log in to the same account, write their comments and save it
as draft mails again.

“They functioned meticulously. That is why they could avoid the police for such a long time,” said Maria, adding that no mobile phone or SIM card was recovered from the suspects.

The ATS on Monday gunned down suspected IM member Khaleel Qureshi in an encounter in Aurangabad and arrested two of his aides, Mohammad Abrar and Mohammad Shaker Hussain. A day later, Hussain’s father Aqueel Khilji was arrested from Buldhana along with Jafar.

ATS officers said Khilji was in touch with senior IM functionary Abdus Subhan Qureshi alias Tauqeer. “We have zeroed in on his location.
He is in India,” said an officer. Khilji is allegedly the head of the banned SIMI’s Madhya Pradesh unit and was in Maharashtra to expand the outfit’s network. “They were staying in Maharashtra under false identities. Their aim was to carry out bank robberies to raise funds for the expenses of their associates,” the officer added.

The Times of India, March 30, 2012

IM agent’s arrest led to 13/7 BREAKTHROUGH

Terror Group’s Ideologue Detained By Delhi Police Gave Leg-Up To Months Of Probe By Identifying Planter Of Explosive At Dadar

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

The identity of the Dadar Kabutarkhana bomber was unknown until now. In court documents, the ATS cited two individuals—identified only as ‘A’ and ‘B’—as the bomb planters at Zaveri Bazar and Opera House. Some sources said the two unidentified men were Pakistanis named Waqqas and Tabrez.

Police sources said the bomber knew his counterparts at Zaveri Bazar and Opera House. Born and raised in Maharashtra, the suspect was shifted to his family’s native place of Darbhanga in Bihar eight years ago, when “he had a love affair with a girl,” a cop told TOI. He came to Mumbai in the first week of July last year.

The suspect’s name came up in the 13/7 investigation during the interrogation of one of the arrested men, Naqi Shaikh. Naqi is alleged to have arranged accommodation in Mumbai for the two suspected Pakistani bombers and IM co-founder Yasin Bhatkal. The suspect’s cropped up again during the questioning of Kafeel Ahmed by the Delhi police. Ahmed, who was arrested in February this year and is suspected to be an IM ide
ologue and recruiter, allegedly revealed the suspect’s role in the Dadar blast.

Wary of risking the operation in south India, senior police officials refused to reveal the identity of the suspect and remained tightlipped about the breakthrough. “Our investigation is at a crucial stage and we don’t want to speak about it at all,” said ATS chief Rakesh Maria.

Apart from Naqi Shaikh, the ATS have till now arrested alleged IM members Haroon Rasheed Naik and Nadeem Akhtar and Delhi-based hawala operator Kanwarnai Pathrija. Akhtar is alleged to have ferried explosives from Delhi to Mumbai and stolen one of the scooters on which a bomb was planted. “He smuggled the explosives and detonators from Delhi to Mumbai and handed them over to Naqi. Akhtar and Naqi also stole two motorbikes and two scooters. One of the scooters was used in the Zaveri Bazar bomb blast. We have recovered the two other motor bikes from Bihar,” Maria had said earlier.

Naik, meanwhile, is said to have sent over Rs 10 lakh through hawala channels from UAE to Delhi. This money was received by Pathrija and passed on to Bhatkal.


Naqi Ahmed Vasi Shaikh, aged 22, is a resident of Deora Bandhauli, in Darbhanga district, Bihar. The trader has two leather units, one in Delhi and one in Mumbai. He and his brothers Razi and Rafi run a shoe-making business inherited from their father. Naqi, Razi and Rafi were detained on January 8 in Mumbai and Naqi was booked in a SIM card forgery case. Razi and Rafi were later released. Police allege that Yasin Bhatkal sent explosives for the 13/7 blasts from Delhi to Mumbai, where Naqi received them, and that Naqi stole a scooter in which a bomb was planted

Nadeem Akhtar Ashfaque Shaikh, aged 23, is a resident of Antop Hill, Mumbai, but originally hails from Deora Bandhauli, in Darbhanga district, Bihar. He was arrested on January 12, 2012,
in the same SIM card forgery case Naqi was booked in. Akhtar is alleged to have ferried explosives from Delhi to Mumbai and stolen one of the scooters that had a bomb

Haroon Rashid Naik, aged 33, is a resident of Mumbra in Thane, but originally hails from Beed, Maharashtra. Naik ran a cloth business in Kolkata and was arrested in a fake currency case in July 2011. A chargesheet filed by the ATS last November in that case says he travelled to Pakistan for arms training and wanted to avenge atrocities on Muslims. The ATS claims the training was arranged and funded by IM leader Riyaz Bhatkal. Naik
allegedly collected funds for the attack in UAE and sent them to India. He was first arrested in connection with the fake currency case

Kanwarnai Pathrija, aged 42, is a resident of Delhi and ran a
jewellery store in the national capital’s Chandni Chowk area. As an alleged hawala operator, Pathrija handed over Rs 10 lakh that he had received from Naik to IM leader Yasin Bhatkal. In raids at Pathrija’s home in Ghaziabad, the ATS seized four diaries, a mobile phone and a broken SIM card. In one diary, cops said, were the records of hawala transactions of five years. Pathrija has been charged for aiding and abetting the blasts

The police have shown the Zaveri Bazar and Opera House bomb planters as unnamed, but sources in the security agencies say they were two Pakistanis named Waqqas and Tabrez. They stayed at Habib Apartments, Byculla, where accommodation was allegedly arranged for them by Bhatkal and Naqi. They were reportedly in possession of fake Indian PAN cards, which they had shown when renting the flat

The Times of India, March 30, 2012

13/7 Dadar bomber identified

Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: There seems to be a breakthrough in the 13/7 serial blasts case. The Maharashtra Anti-terrorism Squad (ATS) has identified the man who planted the explosive at Dadar on July 13, 2011, which killed one person and injured 10. The suspect, policemen told TOI, is on the run in south India and teams of policemen have been dispatched to apprehend him.

The Dadar bombing was one of the three that rocked Mumbai last year, killing 27 people and injuring 137. The ATS cracked the case in January this year with the arrest of four men, including three alleged Indian Mujahideen (IM) members.

The Times of India, March 30, 2012

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Two fraud cases against SpeakAsia sister concerns

Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: The economic offences wing (EOW) on Wednesday registered two fresh cases against Speak-Asia’s sister concerns, SevenRings International and Index Admatrix Pvt Ltd, for allegedly cheating investors of over Rs 1 crore.

“We have proof that SpeakAsia promoters ran these two companies,” said a police officer. Police had registered a case against Speak-Asia in July 2011 and arrested 10 suspects. Police said investors and panelists lost Rs 2,276 crore in SpeakAsia’s schemes.

Several victims approached the police after TOI
reported about the involvement of SevenRings International and Index Admatrix Pvt Ltd in the SpeakAsia case. Police said that Speak-Asia laundered over Rs 700 crore from India to Singapore and then transferred it to SevenRings account.

“SevenRings scheme, floated in February 2008, targeted the high-income group. It would ask for an investment of Rs 35 lakh for a year and in return promised the investor a profit of Rs 10,000 per day. This way, the profit would go to Rs 36.5 lakh a year. We have received complaint from a textile merchant. After initial payments, the company office-bearers vanished,”
said a police source. A doctor has also approached the EOW stating he lost Rs 35 lakh in the same scheme.

Those named in the two FIRs include SpeakAsia’s Indian head Manojkumar Sharma, Ramnivas Pal, Priti Pal, Suhas Shirke etc. “After SevenRings, the office-bearers introduced SpeakAsia in 2010 and later floated Admatrix, a middle-income group investment company. Floated in March 2011, Admatrix would ask investors for Rs 7,500 and get huge returns. A complainant has lost Rs 6.90 lakh in this scheme. Admatrix had its office in the same premises as SpeakAsia before the latter’s office was shut,” said the officer.

The Times of India, March 29, 2012

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

‘Honour martyrs with even hand’


Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Mumbai: Families of the police personnel who died during 26/11 terror attacks underscored on Tuesday the importance of honouring the country’s martyrs and of bestowing gallantry awards with an even hand.

Madhavi More, wife of LT Marg police sub-inspector Prakash More who died at Cama Hospital, said: “Many policemen, irrespective of their rank, fought terrorists. And several of them lost their lives. Some were awarded the Ashok Chakra, some were conferred the Shaurya Chakra and some the Kirti Chakra.” Prakash was conferred Shaurya Chakra posthumously.

“When the awards were announced, I had contacted everyone possible and told them the process should be carried out even-handedly. Everybody’s life is precious,” Madhavi said. She was given an LPG agency, which is today her main source of income.

More than 15 policemen and two National Security Guard commandos were killed during the 2008 terror attacks, when Ajmal Kasab and nine other terrorists went on the rampage at various locations in Mumbai. More than 160 civilians died in the attacks. Nine terrorists were shot down and Kasab was captured alive.

Tara Omble, wife of constable Tukaram Omble who played a vital role in capturing Kasab,
said: “My husband was the only police constable to be awarded the Ashok Chakra. I collected the award. I feel all those who sacrificed their lives in the act of protecting the nation should be treated equally,” Tara told The Times of India.

A family member of another policeman who died in 26/11 echoed Tara. Talking to TOI on condition of anonymity, the family member said, “Everyone is beloved in his or her family. When a group of security personnel goes for an operation and several of the men lose their lives for the country, it is the country’s duty to treat them equally.”

The Times of India, March 28, 2012

Maha ATS arrests 2 more SIMI men from Buldhana

Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: A day after a terror suspect was killed and two SIMI operatives were arrested in Aurangabad, the Maharashtra Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS) on Tuesday arrested two more alleged SIMI operatives from Buldhana.

The two, Aqueel Khilji (45) and Mohammed Jafar Hussain Qureshi (32), were part of a sleeper cell and were looking to expand their network, ATS chief Rakesh Maria said. “Khilji is the head of the Madhya Pradesh unit of SIMI and the accused were hiding in Maharashtra to expand their network,” he said.

On Monday, the ATS team killed a 20-year-old terror suspect, Khalil Qureshi, in an encounter and arrested two of his associates, Mohammad Abrar (36) and Mohammad Shaker Hussain (20). “Khilji is the father of Hussain. All the accused be
long to MP but due to tight police action, they had taken shelter in Maharashtra,” said an officer.

On Tuesday, the police recovered a 7.65 pistol, five live cartridges, a pen drive and ‘jihadi literature’ from Khilji. “After the arrest of Safdar Nagori and Abu Faisal, Khilji was taking care of the outfit’s operations and recruitment. He was involved in eight criminal cases, including five under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). While Qureshi is in
volved in a UAPA case and was granted bail, (he) never attended court and was missing. They will be produced before a Nagpur court on Wednesday,” the officer said.

“The accused had robbed 12kg gold from Manappuram gold finance company and sold 3 kg. Using Rs 15 lakh that it fetched, the accused bought a safe house in Jamshedpur for absconding operatives. They also tried to procure passport on this house address for new recruits,” said an officer.

State probing local link to terror
State home minister R R Patil said a probe was on to
ascertain whether any local hand had been supporting the terrorist killed in the Aurangabad encounter. Opposition leader Eknath Khadse, while appreciating the team’s success, expressed concern over the presence of alleged IM terrorists in an urban area like Aurangabad. TNN

The Times of India, March 28, 2012

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

‘No gallantry recommendation for tainted cops’

Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: No police officer should be recommended for a gallantry medal (if he is part of an encounter team) unless the gallantry of the officer is proved clean and fair beyond doubts, a recent circular by the city police says.

The circular also stated that officers who are part of an encounter team must inform the nearest police station when there is a “police action” (encounter). The revised guidelines were issued in a Mumbai police bulletin, which is sent to all the police stations and the specialized units on a daily basis. “In case, a person is injured in exchange of fire, he should immediately be rushed to the nearest hospital,” the circular stated. In the later paragraph, it talks about informing the relatives of the victim. The policemen have been asked to inform the victim’s relatives at the earliest in such cases. A gallantry medal is given for an officer’s bravery, courage and heroism.

Usually, policemen take more than three to four hours to inform relatives of an encounter victim in the city. As per the circular, the senior superintendent of police (SSP) or SP (or a deputy commissioner of po
lice) should ask for a magisterial inquiry into the police action. “A magisterial inquiry be conducted in all such cases and the report should be sent through the SP to the higher ups. Moreover, a state CID inquiry should also be conducted in these cases,” the circular stated, providing the format and guidelines on how to conduct a search and probe in such a case.

While there have been several allegations of “encounter killings” or staged encounters, there was not a single encounter in 2011. This was perhaps for the first time in 20 years (since 1990) that the city witnessed an encounter-free year. In the last two decades, more than 500 alleged hardened criminals, gangsters or terrorists were shot down by the police. There were instances when eyebrows were raised on various encounters. Several police personnel in the city faced action for “staged or fake encounters.”

The Times of India, March 27, 2012

Friday, March 23, 2012

60-yr-old CA in EOW net for selling TDR worth 5cr

Mateen Hafeez I TNN

Mumbai: The economic offences wing (EOW) has arrested two persons—a 60-yearold chartered accountant and the accountant of an infrastructure firm—for selling transfer of development rights (TDR) valued at Rs 4.61 crore to four companies.

The FIR was lodged by Dhiren Mehta, director of Bharat Insulation Company India Limited (Thane). The arrested CA, Pravin Mehta, is a director of Nestor Construction Pvt Ltd. in Santa Cruz while the other accused, Hiren Jain (35), works as an accountant in Neev Infrastructure Company, Byculla.

Dhiren told TOI that his company had appointed Pravin as project manager for the redevelopment of a 6,000 sq m plot on Andheri Link Road. “In 2007, we purchased TDR and asked Pravin to look after it since he was experienced in these things. Due to some reasons, the project was abandoned. We requested Pravin to unload the TDR from our plot and sell it to recover our money,” said the complainant.

Dhiren added that in 2011, he came to know that his TDR was sold to someone else. “I was shocked to see that the TDR was sold to someone else and fake papers were prepared for it. The other people involved in the project signed in good faith as they were not aware about the authenticity of these papers. The documents were made between my company and Neev Infrastructure. Hiren is just an accountant in Neev Infrastructure but the fake papers showed him as the holder of power of attorney for his company,” said Dhiren.

Dhiren said that the documents were again sold to four other parties. “The accused had undervalued the TDR to Rs 2.61 crore. I lodged a police complaint,” he said.

Investigating officer S B Shirsath said the two accused were remanded in police custody. The police have frozen a bank account belonging to Hiren Jain. The police are planning to seize some properties belonging to the accused, who were booked for cheating, forgery and criminal conspiracy.

The Times of India, March 23, 2012

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Bizman grilled, EOW freezes two accounts


Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: The economic offences wing (EOW), probing the multi-crore bomb disposal suits fraud, froze two bank accounts belonging to prime suspect, Bimal Agarwal. Sources said the amount runs into several crores.

The state had paid the Mumbai-based businessman Agarwal the full amount but had not got a single suit. The state government later ordered cancellation of the Rs 6.25 crore order for 82 bomb disposal suits that was given to Agarwal after the 26/11 attacks.

Agarwal was questioned at the police HQ from 11am to 4pm on Monday, when he insisted that it was a civil dispute between him and the state government, and not a criminal case.
The police conducted searches at two of Agarwal’s properties in Goregaon.

The Times of India, March 20, 2012

Monday, March 19, 2012

Owner of illegal hotel mgmt institute held

Mateen Hafeez I TNN

Mumbai: The economic offences wing (EOW) has arrested the owner of a hotel management school for running the institute illegally and registered a cheating case of Rs 60 lakh against him.

Inspector Ramchandra Lotlikar said the accused, Mohammed Saahil Shaikh (35), who ran Globe Trot Academy of Management and Services, was arrested and remanded in police custody till March 20.

“Students, along with the owner of another management school, approached us stating that Shaikh had told them that his institute was affiliated to the Y B Chavan Open University. But he had not taken any permission to run the institute nor did he have any affiliation with an open university,” said Lotlikar. Shaikh would run his institute at Oxford Chamber, Sakivihar Road in
Andheri (E).

The police said Shaikh has been running this institute for the last three years. “He would enroll students for diploma and degree courses in hotel management, BSc in hotel management and tourism, diploma in bartending, diploma in hotel operations, etc. For these course, he had only four teachers and his college would function within three rooms. There were 88 students and, now, we are investigating whether they had promised campus job placement, etc,” said Lotlikar. Shaikh had done a diploma in hotel management from a Kolkata college. He would charge students between Rs 35,000 and Rs 55,000 per annum for the courses.

Following the police case, the college has been closed and its website blocked by the cyber crime cell of the Mumbai crime branch. “It’s a serious offence running an education institution without permission. We are also examining the qualification of the teachers at the institute. The bank account belonging to the accused is also being scrutinized,” said the officer.

The Times of India, March 19, 2012

‘Repayment will not hit SpeakAsia probe’

Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: Cops probing the multi-crore SpeakAsia case said the company had returned complainant Navneen Khosla’s money but it will not impact the criminal case. Khosla, who first lodged the complaint with the EOW, was paid Rs 6.06 lakh by the All India SpeakAsia Panelists’ Association (AISPA) two days ago.

In his complaint, Khosla had said that he invested Rs 6.06 lakh but did not get his money back. The EOW began a probe and arrested 10 persons, including several office-bearers of the firm. “I have got six demand drafts collectively amounting to the money I invested,” said Khosla, adding, “I have not withdrawn the complaint. It is the state’s prerogative what it wants to do with the case.”

Khosla is the only one who has got his money back. Police records show that over 20 lakh investors had invested money in the firm’s survey schemes. The company, say police, has duped investors to the tune of Rs 2,276 crore. SpeakAsia had promised
to pay Rs 52,000 returns on successful completion of surveys in ayear. The fee (or investment) for this was Rs 11,000.

Advocate Ahmed Abdi, representing the AISPA, said, “It was a collective donation by the panelists. Some of them worked on it and collected money to give it back to the complainant. This comes after some panelists were unnecessarily dragged in the case. The police are also harassing the panelists. We are interested in getting our money back.” “Show me one company which has repaid money to its investors after a police case? But Speak-Asia is doing so,” said Abdi.

Currently, the SC-appointed mediator is compiling the number of panelists who want to ‘exit’ the company, a process that will be completed by March 31. Sources in the police said this will not affect their case. “Even the SC has said that mediation is separate from the case. “Money has been repaid by an association and not by SpeakAsia. We are probing a case against the firm. We have 200 other victims,” the official said.

The Times of India, March 19, 2012

Salem’s ex-lawyer named in fraud case

Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: Ashok Saraogi, former lawyer of extradited gangster Abu Salem, has been named in a cheating case charge sheet filed by the EOW. Police said Saraogi, along with the prime accused, Michael Anthony Soosai, was involved in a Rs 3.5-crore cheating, forgery and conspiracy case. The duo allegedly duped a film studio owner by selling him a Kandivli plot that belonged to the state.

“Soosai, a Tamil Nadu native, came to Mumbai and entered politics. He became a member of the New Jerusalem church in Bhandup. He would stay in a room at the industrial estate plot and conduct prayers there,” a police source said, adding that in 1998, chief father of the church, N Lazer, gave Soosai the power of attorney to allot the Kandivli property in the name of the church and nominated him as the assistant priest. The property would belong to the tehsildar.

EOW sources said in 2007, Jeet Singh (40), a Delhi resident and a partner in Legend studio, was looking for a plot when he learnt of the Kandivli Cooperative Industrial Estate property in Charkop through his agent.

Singh met the accused and Soosai told him that he had control over the property. The meeting was conducted at Saraogi’s office and the deal was finalized at Rs 4.2 crore. Singh gave Rs 10 lakh as token amount. Documents were prepared in Saraogi’s office. However, even after six months, the property was not transferred in Singh’s name and by then, he had paid Rs 3.5 crore.

Two years later, Singh lodged acomplaint with the Charkop police. A probe revealed Soosai was never given the power of attorney and he had prepared fake papers. The church had, said the police, terminated Soosai’s membership in 2005. When contacted, Saraogi said, “No comments”. Soosai is in Arthur Road jail.

The Times of India, March 19, 2012

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Priest among 3 arrested for selling leased defence land

Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: The Economic Offences Wing (EOW)of thecity police has arrested three persons, including a priest, for allegedly selling land belonging to the defence to Shapoorji Pallonji group for Rs 5.5 crore. The plot houses a heritagestructure.

Investigating officer C B Tatkare said Vidya Baranwal, associated with Pallonji’s legal department, had lodged a complaint with them. Bishop Baiju Gavit (71), advocate Rajnikant Salvi (67) and his brother, Shashikant Salvi,were arrested.

According to the police, in 1953, the defence gave the land on Hazarimal SomaniMarg near CST to The Bombay Diocesan TrustAssociation on a 99-year lease for Re 1 a year. “No one can sell or buy such properties,” said Tatkare. The Governmentof India leasedoutseveral properties in Panvel, Panchga
ni, Pune, Kolhapur and Raigad to the association. “The accused approached the complainant company and said the defence had allowed them to redevelop the 4,266-sq-yard land. They alsosaidthey wouldbring all the necessary permission from defence andthecharity commissioner. They claimed to have sent allthedocumentstothedefence ministry,” said the police. Investigations revealed that no letter was sent to the ministry, butby then,the accusedhadcollectedRs5.5crorefrom thecompany. The builder had plans to redevelop a 33-storey building on the premises. Members of the Church of North India, the largest grouping of Protestant Churches in India, initially shied awayfrom commenting.

CNI bishop for Mumbai Prakash Patole was out of station and not available for comment. But the secretary of the Maharashtra Council of Churches (a Protestant grouping), Rev Victor Gollapally,calledit an unfortunate incident. “Church institutions are to be used for ecclesiastical, social, educational and health purposes and not to be sold,” hesaid.

When the developer did not get any satisfactory paper/reply, they lodged a case with Bhoiwada cops. “Two bank accounts, containing Rs 1.5 crore, belonging tothe accusedhavebeen frozen,” saidtheofficer.
Another group in the association had approached a builder tosellthesame property.
(Inputs by Ashley D’Mello)

The Times of India, March 18, 2012

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Nikam is spl prosecutor in 13/7 case

Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: Senior lawyer Ujjwal Nikam was appointed as special public prosecutor in the 13/7 triple blasts case. Meanwhile, a city court on Tuesday extended the police custody of four suspects, arrested for their alleged role in the blasts, till March 22.

Nikam, who represented the CBI in the 1993 serial bomb blasts case, told the court that the anti-terrorism squad (ATS) had got “clinching evidence” in the case and required the custody of the accused for further investigation.

The ATS made a “major breakthrough” by arresting the suspects. The first lead had come while the agency was probing cases of SIM cards procured using fake documents. The ATS chief had said that the module busted was using forged documents to procure SIM cards which were being used by the Indian Mujahideen members. Defence lawyer Khalid Azmi opposed the police custody of suspects.

The Times of India, March 14, 2012

Sunday, March 11, 2012

3 nabbed for strangling AC mechanic

Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: The MRA Marg police arrested three persons who allegedly assaulted and strangled a 27-year-old man inside a car and dumped his body under the JJ flyover parking shed near Crawford Market on March 1.

Padmakar Juikar, senior inspector of the police station, said they have arrested Shakir Ghadiyal (24), Mukarram Ali Khan (27) and Naeem Ahmed (22) for the murder of an air-conditioner mechanic, Sachin Panchal.

“We found the body on March 1 with serious head injuries and strangulation marks around the neck,” said Juikar. “On March 5, a woman named Pushpa, who was looking for her missing younger brother, approached us at St George’s Hospital. She identified Panchal’s body and said her brother was missing since February 29,” said Juikar.

The woman told the police that five mobile phones, a gold bracelet and several other stuff collectively amounting to Rs 3 lakh was missing. “We found that Panchal was last seen with one Ghadiyal. On interrogation, Ghadiyal confessed to his crime and led us to his two accomplice,” added Juikar.

According to police, Ghadiyal and Panchal, a Khetwadi resident, knew each other for several years. “Panchal used to wear gold bracelet and carried costly cellphones. Ghadiyal along with Ahmed and Khan planned to rob Panchal. On February 29, Khan, a driver, brought a Xylo car and Ghadiyal called up Panchal for lunch. The accused took Panchal to several places and later started punching him till he fell unconscious. They then strangulated Panchal,” said police.

The Times of India, March 11, 2012

Poll results, Holi hit Kripa probe in Uttar Pradesh

Mateen Hafeez TNN


Mumbai: Officials who went to Jaunpur in Uttar Pradesh to attach a commercial complex, allegedly belonging to Malti Devi, wife of former city Congress chief Kripashankar Singh, are still waiting to complete the process.

Kripashankar is being probed in a disproportionate assets case. The work of the special investigation team (SIT) was delayed due to the Holi holiday and poll results in UP. The tehsildar and other
government officials, who were to be part of the process, have been engaged in other assignments.

On February 22, the Bombay High Court ordered the Mumbai police to attach several properties belonging to Kripashankar and his kin and investigate allegations of criminal misconduct and disproportionate assets. According to a PIL, the commercial complex in Jaunpur was purchased on January 29, 2008 and puts the value of the property measuring 8,000 sq ft at Rs 2
crore. “Our teams are in UP to attach the property, however, the process is pending since most government officials are busy in post-election duties,” said a police source.

Nearly 10 days ago, the economic offences wing (EOW) attached various properties collectively valued over Rs 250 crore. Meanwhile, the state government sanctioned the appointment of a chartered accountant (CA) to scrutinize the assessment of properties.

Interestingly, the PIL mentioned around 15 properties registered in the name of Kripashankar, his wife Malti Devi, son Narendra, daughter Sunita and son-in-law Vijay Pratap Singh. The total worth of the properties has been stated over Rs 320 crore. According to the PIL, the properties mentioned in Narendra’s name are worth Rs 274 crore.

However, Narendra has said the real estate worth over Rs 148 crore does not belong to him. While cops said the case should have also be investigated under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act by the Enforcement Directorate, they said the income tax department could have been asked to participate in the probe.

The Times of India, March 11, 2012

Saturday, March 10, 2012

I don’t own property worth 148 crore, says Kripa’s son

Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: Narendra, son of former Congress city chief Kripashankar Singh, said that he did not own properties valued over Rs 148 crore . “I would love to see these properties. I suggest the government sells them and donates the proceeds to any charitable trust,” said Narendra, who is facing charges of abetment in his father’s disproportionate assets case.

Narendra aka Sanjay Singh (33) spoke to TOI about his properties and “wrong evaluation” by the valuer. A 2010 PIL filed before the Bombay HC said that Narendra earned lots of money and purchased properties beyond his capacity.

The HC on February 22 ordered Mumbai police commissioner Arup Patnaik to probe the charges against Narendra that he owns more than half a dozen properties collectively valued at Rs 274 crore. The PIL mentions an office space of 22,500 sq ft in HDIL building at BKC worth Rs 112 crore, another office space of 12,000 sq ft in Wadhwa Building, Trade Link Centre, BKC, valued at Rs 36 crore and shops in HDIL building in Bhandup. The total worth of these properties, as per the PIL is over Rs 148 crore. Are these properties in my name? I don’t think these properties even exist,” Naren
dra claimed.Narendra, who completed his XII from SIES College in Matunga, went to AER Mistran Flying School in Texas in 1996. “After returning from Texas in 1997, I could not get a job and had to wait till 2002 when I finally got a job with Jet Airways as a pilot,” he said.

According to Narendra, he worked as dispatch clerk for two months before completing his one-year training with Jet. My first salary was Rs 90,000. I served as a pilot till December 2004 and when I resigned my salary was Rs 1.08 lakh per month,” he said. According to Narendra, only 3.27 acres
of land belongs to his his family and not 250 acres as mentioned in the PIL.

He said he took a loan of Rs 60 lakh from Standard Chartered Bank and bought a flat in Oceanic in Bandra for Rs 63 lakh. “I had Rs 3 lakh savings which I paid to the developer. It was a 20-year loan and I am still paying the EMI. Some people are saying that I bought a bungalow, Tarang, for Rs 40 crore. I took a ‘friendly loan’ of Rs 3.25 crore from a developer, Rakesh Wadhwa. Today the price of that flat is Rs 40 crore. But I still calculate the purchase price of what I paid,” he said. He said he was a partner in a private firm, Tridev Ventures, which constructed a six-storey building last year.

Narendra said that he booked a triplex flat in The Address in 2007 for Rs 26 crore and paid Rs 4.5 crore as token amount. “If today’s market price of that flat is Rs 48 crore, what can I say about it?” he said.

Clarification: Kripashankar Singh’s son-in-law, Vijay Pratap Singh, had worked in the PWD department of the Uttar Pradesh government before joining a private company.He had not worked in the PWD department of the Jharkhand government as mentioned in TOI’s news report on March 5. The error is regretted.


• Bungalow measuring 5,000 sq ft on Carter Road. Value: Rs 40 crore

• Flat measuring 3,000 sq ft in partially constructed building on Mount Mary Road. Value: Rs 48 crore

• Office space (22,500 sq ft) in HDIL building at BKC. Value: Rs 112 crore

• Office block (12,000 sq ft) in Wadhwa bldg at BKC. Value: Rs 36 crore

• Commercial space in Bhandup

• Land (959 sq yards) in plot no. 63 in Santa Cruz Planning Scheme. Value:
Rs 38 crore

The Times of India, March 10, 2012

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Cops probe origin of ‘Kripa bullets’

Mateen Hafeez & S Ahmed Ali TNN

Mumbai: The city police are probing a case of 240 live cartridges being found at a ground near Janakidevi School, Versova. Investigators are trying to find out if there is a connection between these and the ones seized from the property of disgraced Congress leader Kripashankar Singh.

The Versova police on March 2 received information that a carry bag was lying abandoned near the school. A police team reached there and found that it contained the bullets. The same day the special investigation team (SIT) probing the disproportionate assets case against Singh and his family members began
raiding his properties and found 450 live cartridges; Singh has three firearm licenses in his name and one in his wife’s name. “It is surprising that the abandoned bullets were found near one of Singh’s properties. We are not saying these belong to Singh or his family and are probing their origin,” said a police officer.

EOW office sought
The banking unit of the EOW has been asked to shift from the second to the ground floor of its office block in the police HQ compound to make way for the special investigating team probing the disproportionate assets case against Kripashankar Singh and his family members. TNN

The Times of India, March 7, 2012

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Teams off to Panvel, Ratnagiri, UP

Mateen Hafeez

The economic offences wing (EOW), probing a case of disproportionate assets against Congress leader Kripashankar Singh and his family sent teams on Monday to Panvel, Ratnagiri and Uttar Pradesh to attach their properties. A public interest litigation filed by activist Sanjay Tiwari in the Bombay High Court in 2010 alleged that the Singhs have amassed properties worth Rs 320 crore. Police teams will attach a 1,100 sq ft shop approximately valued at Rs 1 crore at Sanistair in Panvel. Another team has gone to Ratnagiri to attach a 250-acre plot owned by the Singhs, which was approximately valued at the time of purchase in 2004 at Rs 25 crore. Special investigation team (SIT) officers have gone to Jaunpur in Uttar Pradesh to attach a 8,000-sq ft commercial
complex estimated to cost Rs 2 crore.

The Times of India, March 6, 2012

Monday, March 5, 2012

Police flooded with calls on Kripa wealth

WRITING ON THE WALL: Many properties belonging to Kripa and his family, including the bungalow Tarang, have been attached

Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: The city police have been receiving calls from unidentified people offering to share “information”—sometimes gratis, sometimes in exchange for money—about former Mumbai Congress chief Kripashankar Singh and his family’s as yet unknown properties.

Since last Tuesday, officers said, the police’s control room and its Economic Offences Wing have got more than a dozen calls where the callers offered to pass infor
mation on the “benami” properties that have not found mention in the PIL filed against Singh and his family members. Invariably, though, the callers “hung up when they were asked their name and interest in the issue”, said a police officer.

“Some callers demanded money in return for secret information about Singh’s properties in Jaunpur, Lucknow and Ranchi. One wanted to be rewarded for clues on Singh’s immovable assets in Mumbai,” said the officer. “We take calls seriously, but the problem is lack of concrete information so far.”

Cops seek Kripa family’s bank details

The Special Investigation Team (SIT) probing the multi-crore disproportionate assets case against senior Congress leader Kripashankar Singh and his family has written to several banks, asking for the details of transactions made from 15 of their accounts.

A police officer told TOI that the team has sought the details of all post-1994 transactions. The information is expected to be received “in the next two days”. The officer
said the accounts were not frozen since the Bombay High Court had not made such a demand. The court, in its order on February 22, had said that it is not directing the freezing of accounts, “having seen the futility of such (an) exercise” since most accounts have been “completely washed out”.

Sources indicated that Singh may not be arrested until April 19, the day a report has to be submitted before the high court. “In most disproportionate assets cases, the accused are not arrested at the preliminary stage of investigation.
We have time and our priority is to complete the investigation,” an officer said. The police are likely to summon Singh and his family within a few days, though, to record their statements.

The high court, in its judgment, had described some of the entries made in the family’s bank statements as “wondrous”.

It had questioned how the savings bank accounts of Singh’s wife, Malti Devi, showed “a balance of Rs 00.00” if she “amassed so much wealth legitimately”. It also pointed out that the bank accounts of Singh’s son, Narendra, showed a credit balance of “not more than a few thousand rupees with one bank account having the distinction of the credit balance of Rs 00.00” despite his having major financial dealings. The court highlighted that the movable items in his bungalow itself were shown to be worth Rs 1 crore.

Many cops said they are treading carefully since it is a “political case”. “We are not under any pressure but at the same time we have to finish probing all the aspects of the case within the stipulated time,” said an officer.

The high court on February 22 had ordered Mumbai police chief Arup Patnaik to file a first information report (FIR) against Singh under the Prevention of Corruption Act for “criminal misconduct” and his family members for abetment. The FIR was registered on February 28 and the SIT began raiding and attaching the 19 properties—as directed by the court—held by Singh
and his family last Friday.

The raids yielded considerable amounts of documents. They are currently being studied by the police’s Economic Offences Wing and the crime branch. Among these documents, officers said, are files of income tax returns, bank passbooks, real estate sale and purchase agreements, and bank loan records.

The Times of India, March 5, 2012

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Two women among four ‘Naxals’ held in Dombivli

23L Recovered In Joint Operation By State ATS, AP Cops

Mateen Hafeez | TNN

Four alleged Naxalites, including two women, were arrested in a joint operation by the state anti-terrorism squad (ATS) and Andhra Pradesh police in Thane district on Friday. The ATS recovered Rs23 lakh, a laptop, three pen drives and firearm-making material from the sleeper cell.

ATS chief Rakesh Maria said the operation followed information about Naxals being holed up in Dombivli (E). “Our staff and the AP police caught the Naxals, including Dinesh Wankhede alias Raju Kadam (29), Aseem Kumar Bhattacharya (65), Suman Gawde (25) and Laxmi Raju Patel (38),” said Maria. He added that while Kadam, Bhattacharya and Gawde are from Gadchiroli, Patel is from Adilabad in Andhra Pradesh.

Bhattacharya’s wife Shobha said she was shocked to hear about the arrest. The alleged Naxals were staying on the ground floor of the New Surya Kiran Apartments, where the monthly rent is Rs15,000-25,000. Residents said the ‘Naxals’ were aloof and posed as husband, wife and mother.

“Kadam is a member of Korchi Dalam and the Korchi area committee. He is wanted in two cases: A 2007 firing case in which a policeman was injured in Gadchiroli and a 2005 Nagpur police case. Kadam was never arrested in both cases, but he faces cases for attempt to murder under the Arms Act,” said Maria.

The ATS said Gawde was also a Korchi Dalam member and would attend its meetings. Patel joined the Korchi Dalam a few years ago and is a known name among Naxalites, the police said.

“The Naxals had been staying in the rented room since October 2011. We received info that the room was used as a hideout for Naxals. Technical committee members would also visit it. The primary job of the members staying here was procurement of equipment for cadres working in forests,” Maria added.

The ATS chief said the Naxals who would get injured or fall sick in Gadchiroli would be taken to Dombivli, where they would be treated.
An officer said, “The Naxals
are trying to identify youth who could be helpful with indoctrination. We are collecting info about the groups and trying to cripple their activities.”

The four are said to be members of the Gadchirolibased Kolchidalam Naxal organization:

Dinesh Wankhede alias Raju Kadam (29)
The Gadchiroli resident stayed at Surya Kiran building along with three others in Dombivli, Thane. A member of the Korchi Dalam and Korchi area committee, he faces charges in a 2007 firing case in which a policeman was injured in Gadchiroli and a 2005 Nagpur police case

Aseem Kumar Bhattacharya (65)
Also from Gadchiroli, he has been termed a senior functionary and part of the think-tank

Suman Gawde (25)
A member of the Korchi Dalam, this Gadchiroli resident would attend Dalam meetings

Laxmi Raju Patel (38)
A resident of Andhra Pradesh, he joined the Korchi Dalam a few years ago and is a known name among Naxalites

National poet’s elder brother among arrested

Pradeep Gupta | TNN

Mumbai: The four arrested Naxalites include 64-year-old Aseem Kumar Bhattacharya, the elder brother of former journalist-turned-national poet, Alok Bhattacharya, who was honored by the President of India for his poetry.
The other three Naxals, Dinesh Wankhede (29), Suman Gawde (25) and Laxmi Raju Patel alias Paru Patel (38), were living under false names in the building, identifying themselves as the Kadam family. Dinesh had introduced himself as Raju Kadam, while the other two had introduced themselves as his wife and mother.

The three lived in a ground floor flat of Surya Kiran Apartment in Gandhi Nagar, Dombivli (E).
When TOI visited the Bhattacharya residence, his wife Shobha Bhattacharya said she was shocked to hear about her husband’s arrest. She was suspecting that her husband was kidnapped and she had in fact filed a complaint with the Manpada police station on Thursday. “It is shocking why the anti-terrorism squad (ATS) arrested my husband as he is above 60 and was never involved in Naxal activities,” Shobha told TOI.

She said, “We have been living in Dombivli for 32 years and he has never been outside.”
“I have three children, including two daughters and a son, and except for one daughter who has got married, the other two are doing professional courses,” Shobha added.

Shobha admitted that her husband had gone to Andhra Pradesh once, 25 years back, to attend a marriage. She said eventhough her husband had crossed 60, he always helped people. She also said she was unaware about the other three suspects who were nabbed by the ATS hardly 100 metres from her residence.

B E Murkute, the flat owner, told TOI he was shocked to learn about their real names. Murkute said a local agent had introduced him through Bhattacharaya, who had said the three were his staff. Murkute had also approached the local police to file a kidnapping case. Sources claimed that ATS operation was secret and even the local police were not informed. Residents of New Surya Kiran Apartments were also shocked to hear that the three were ‘Naxals’. “They would always remain aloof,” a neighbour said. “They came five months ago and were like husband, wife and mother,” said an elderly resident of the building.

The alleged Naxals stayed on the ground floor of the New Surya Kiran Apartments in Dombivli

The Times of India, March 3, 2012

Friday, March 2, 2012

Aarey residents form squads to catch ‘monkey man’

UP IN ARMS: This group patrols Aarey Colony at night

Mateen Hafeez I TNN

Mumbai: Residents of Aarey Colony are a scared lot ever since rumours of a monkey man raping women started doing the rounds. The locals have now formed squads to patrol the area at night. The squad’s job is to ensure the safety of residents and try and catch the “monkey man”, who, they believe, is trying to rape women and kill them. However, the city police have rubbished the monkey man story, calling it a rumour.

Several youth groups, equipped with bamboos and hockey sticks, patrol the area at night. “We keep watch on trees, rooftops and also check if all houses are properly shut at night,” said a local, adding they have cut the top branches of several trees. “We have heard the monkey man, who wears only underwear, has oil all over his body and jumps
from one tree to another, making it difficult to catch him. Moreover, he walks and runs like a monkey,” he said.

Stories of the monkey man spread from the western suburbs last month. Unconfirmed reports say the “monkey man” has raped several women in the western suburbs. But not a single police statistic proves this.

At Aarey Colony, the residents avoid stepping outside their houses after 8 pm. Moreover, they have put bulbs out
side their houses to identify any stranger in the locality. Several school-going girls and boys claimed to have seen a monkey man in their area. However, their statements could not be corroborated when the police tried to verify them. So far, the Ghatkopar police have registered four cases of spreading rumours.

“We have not been told to form any special squad to look for a monkey man,” said a police officer.

Panic causes youth’s death
Last week, one person died in Tulaskarwadi in Kandivali (W) after rumours of a monkey man caused panic. Rajesh Chavan (25) was at his in-laws’ home having dinner when locals of the nearby Sai Nagar began yelling that they had seen the monkey man. As the family rushed out, Chavan fell, breaking his spinal cord and died. TNN

The Times of India, March 2, 2012

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Narco cops held for selling charas


Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: The city Anti-Narcotics Cell (ANC) arrested four persons, including two policemen from Thane ANC, for allegedly selling charas worth Rs 1.2 lakh.

Mumbai police spokesperson DCP Nisar Tamboli, who also heads the ANC, said, “First we arrested a drug peddler, Shakeel Shaikh (45) and seized 1.5 kg charas worth Rs 1.2 lakh. During interrogation, he spilled the beans and we arrested a schoolteacher, Ash
ok Dongre, from Kurla. While the interrogation was on, names of two police personnel from Thane ANC cropped up and we arrested them in this case too.”

The arrested policemen are Ashok Suryavanishi (50), a head constable, and Shivaji Kshirsagar (36), a police nayak. The two were produced before a special
court and remanded in police custody till March 7.

“While we were questioning Shaikh, we found that he purchased the drugs from two persons from Thane. When we summoned them, we were surprised to see that they were police personnel from the anti-narcotics cell in Thane. Initially, the two tried to dodge the Mumbai police but later admitted to selling drugs to Shaikh,” said an officer. The two policemen told investigators that they had caught another drug peddler in
February and recovered charas from him. While they seized the charas, they warned and released him without making a case. “They did not inform their senior colleagues about the drugs. They later sold it to Shaikh for Rs 1.2 lakh,” an officer added.

“We are also probing if they had sold such seizure to any other accused in the past. We have got their custody and will find out for how long they have been doing such illegal activities,” said the officer.

The Times of India, March 1, 2012

‘SpeakAsia returns only 2% of cash’

Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: SpeakAsia, the investment firm that duped thousands of people of crores of rupees, deposited $10mn in the State Bank of India in Singapore last week. The company had told the Supreme Court that it will return Rs 50 crore to those who were part of the online survey scheme.

The money was deposited with the registrar, Supreme Court, by Haren Ventures, which is believed to be Speak-Asia’s sister wing. SpeakAsia stated thatitwould returnmoney tootherstoo but the police who are probing the case are not ready to believe them.

“If they are interested in returning the money, it’s a good move. However, why only Rs 50 crore? They should return all the Rs 2,276 crore which is on
our records. Why do they want to pay only a few hundred people, while there are over 24 lakh investors across the country?” a police officer asked, referring to the 2.2% that the Rs 50 crore made up. Investigators suspect that SpeakAsia office-bearers are not serious about returning the money. “If they are concerned about the panelists, they should deposit more money. Why only Rs 50 crore? If you distribute Rs 50 crore among 24lakhinvestors,how muchwill each investor get, Rs 208.33?” an observer commented. The police began a probe in 2011 and have nabbed 10 persons. SpeakAsia, floated in 2010, allegedly duped people by posing as a survey company. Over 200 bank accounts, reportedly belonging to the prime suspect and its office-bearers, have been frozen, with Rs 142 crore lying in the accounts.

The rented office of SpeakAsia in Andheri has been shut down and the police had seized two hard disks from there. The panelists’ amount was channelized through various accounts. Among the frozen accounts, the Kritanj Management account had Rs 32 crore .

The Times of India, March1, 2012

Lens on ‘BJP man’ for amassing explosives

Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: The Ahmednagar crime branch, which seized over 12,000 detonators and 3,000 gelatin sticks from a BJP leader’s properties, said it was probing how the accused managed to keep such a huge quantity of explosives without informing the collector’s office.

The crime branch has arrested eight persons and booked them under sections of the IPC and the Explosives Act. Gopal Sharma, who claimed to be district vice-president of BJP, and his aides Bhagchand Kanse, Jagdish Kharode, Mangilal Dhinger, Mahadeo Dhin
ger, Jamnalal Chaudhry, Yurushdeo Gujjar and Mahadeo Chaudhry were produced before a local court and remanded in police custody till April 3. Police are verifying whether Sharma has any links with the BJP. An ATS team reached Ahmednagar to examine if the explosives were to be used for anti-national activities.

“ Sharma has a licence to buy explosives for digging wells or blasting rocks. However, the explosives were not kept at the place mentioned in the official records. We are probing why he hid the explosives from the collector’s office,” said an officer.

The Times of India, March 1, 2012