Saturday, September 1, 2012

First strike on ganglords with witness shield


Mateen Hafeez | TNN


Mumbai: The city police have had several successes in the past of trapping and arresting top gangsters like Ashwin Naik, Riyaz Siddiqui and Tarique Parveen in the past, but have not been able to nail them down in a single case.
 
    In fact, Arun Gawli had 49 cases against him since the 80s and he’s been convicted in only one. How did it happen?
 
    Crime branch chief Himanshu Roy attributes it to a witness protection effort, the first for the cops. “We did a covert protection programme for the witnesses in this case. This helped us a lot during the trial. The statements of the witnesses were sometimes in open court as well, but the police provided them complete protection,” Roy told TOI.
 
    Besides, there was due diligence in a bid to make a watertight case. “Since Gawli was arrested, the police have been very careful. We wanted to secure conviction in this case,” said a police officer.
 
    Earlier, in most of the cases related to the underworld or the organized crime syndicates, an accused would be acquitted because of lack of evidence or witnesses turning hostile. The police have been pressing for an official witness protection programme, but the state government is yet to take a decision on it, the officer said. Take the example of Iqbal Kaskar, younger brother of Dawood Ibrahim. He was deported from the UAE in 2003 and was tried for a murder and the illegal construction of the Sara-Sahara shopping complex at Crawford market. Kaskar was acquitted in both the cases — witnesses turning hostile in the murder case and lack of evidence in the other. 

    Likewise, Riyaz Siddiqui, a D gang member, suspected to be involved in a Bandra double murder case, was acquitted .
 
    Gangster Ashwin Naik was acquitted in January 2009 by a special MCOCA court of charges of murdering his wife, Neeta Naik, for lack of evidence. Neeta, a BMC corporator, was gunned down outside her house on November 13, 2003, allegedly at the behest of Naik who was lodged in Delhi’s Tihar Jail.
 
    Records show that of 23 suspected gangsters that police have laid their hands on — 22 were deported to India and one extradited — th e cops have so far secured convictions against only four and that too in a single case. They are Mustafa Dossa, Ejaz Pathan, Tariq Parveen and Anil Parab. Nine of the 23 were acquitted of all charges.
 
    In the past, the police have had to drop charges against Arif Aboobakar, the brother-in-law of Chhota Shakeel, in all extortion cases due to lack of evidence and witnesses. 
 
 
The Times of India, September 1, 2012

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