Mumbai: Police sources said the hit on Abu Salem might have been ordered by Dawood Ibrahim aide Chhota Shakeel through Vijay Shetty, who is reported to be operating out of Malaysia. The D-gang, officers added, wants Salem dead because it believes he is passing information on its members to Dawood’s bete noire Chhota Rajan.
Shakeel owned up to the murder bid in a phone conversation with TOI: “After Bharat Nepali’s death, JD came in contact with me (through Vijay Shetty) and we had a tie-up. Salem escaped this time, but we will not spare him. He ditched bhai (Dawood) and joined hands with our foe (Rajan) and tried to take control of the gang in the past. Our enemy’s friend is our enemy.” The first round fired by Jagtap grazed the extradited gangster’s right hand; the second missed as Salem jumped behind a ‘cardboard cupboard’; and on the third attempt, Jagtap’s countrymade revolver jammed. As he stood steadfast, Jagtap was overpowered by policemen.
The Taloja police have registered a case of attempt to murder against 38-year-old Jagtap and filed a plea for his custody in a Navi Mumbai court. Sources said Jagtap, a professional killer, was promised Rs 5 lakh for Salem’s planned assassination. Salem, who is in jail in connection with the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts and several murders, was taken to J J Hospital and after treatment ferried back to Taloja prison.
Meanwhile, on Friday, various theories emerged on the motive behind the murder bid and on how Jagtap managed to smuggle a gun into the jail. According to one theory, the firearm was delivered “two months ago by an undertrial, Manoj Lahne, lodged at Taloja jail and hidden by Jagtap”. Navi Mumbai police commissioner A K Sharma said the weapon was smuggled into the jail some days ago, while another officer maintained: “Four days back, Jagtap’s cell was searched but nothing improper was found.”
Another theory, based on his interrogations, held that Jagtap was passed the revolver on Thursday when he visited Mumbai sessions court for a hearing. At the court, sources said, Jagtap met “his gang boss, Santosh Shetty”, who was extradited from Thailand in 2011 over charges of murder and extortion. Shetty reportedly celebrated his “birthday at the court premises and distributed cake”. Jagtap might have smuggled the gun into the jail, sources said, either by strapping it to his leg or with the cake. The Navi Mumbai crime branch is probing the claim that Jagtap also met his wife and three others at the court. Jagtap entered the underworld under ganglord Bharat Nepali and after Nepali’s killing shifted loyalties to Vijay and Santosh Shetty.
Meanwhile, state home minister R R Patil said additional director general (prisons) Meeran Borwankar will hold a probe into the murder bid on Salem. “Responsibility will be affixed and stringent action, including dismissal, taken against those found guilty.” Patil had a closed-door meeting with ATS chief Rakesh Maria on Friday morning and in the evening with Borwankar. Borwankar conceded that security at Taloja jail had been breached. Its anda cell had no CCTV cameras, unlike many jails in the country.
An old inmate at Taloja jail, Jagtap has a good rapport with the guards there. “This is the reason he was not frisked properly at the jail gate and the gate of the anda cell, where he was lodged. On nearing Salem’s cell, he hurled abuses at the don and opened fire.” said an officer.
Lawyer to seek repatriation C ontending that Abu Salem has not been protected as was promised to Portugal during the gangster’s extradition, his lawyer has said they will move the European nation for his repatriation. Lawyer Saba Qureshi told PTI that one of the conditions of Salem’s extradition was that he would be protected. “This condition stands violated as he has been attacked inside a jail. We plan to seek the intervention of the authorities in Portugal to have Salem repatriated.” Salem, an accused in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts, was extradited from Portugal on November 11, 2005, after a prolonged legal battle. TNN
Security audit at jail T he prison authorities are conducting a “security audit” at Taloja jail after an attempt on Abu Salem’s life. Many changes in the security system are likely soon, said officers. Taloja houses many hardened gangsters, among them Salem aide Mehdi Hasan, D-gang member Riyaz Siddiqui, former MLA Arun Gawli and others convicted of the murder of Shiv Sena corporator Kamalakar Jhamsandekar. TNN
The Times of India, June 29, 2013