Monday, September 30, 2013

Teen found hanging in SoBo public garden

Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: An 18-year-old collegian, who went missing on Thursday,wasfoundhanging on the premises of Hanging Gardens in Walkeshwar on Sunday morning. The teenager’s identity was established with his college identity card and home phone number. 

    The deceased youth, Habib Kadiwala, a Grant Road resident, was missing since Thursday. His body was spotted hanging off an old structure on the garden’s premises on Sunday at 10 am. “Visitors do not go near the structure as one has to jump off a five-foot wall to reach it. The body has been sent for an autopsy to BYL Nair Hospital,” said Vinay Bagade, senior police inspector.
    While no suicide note was found, the police said a few pages in Sheikh’s note book indicate that he had personal problems. A case of accidental death has been registered. 
The Times of India, September 30, 2013

Friday, September 27, 2013

Israeli security units may be asked to protect Jewish hubs

Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: Besides increasing security at Jewish establishments in the city, the state ATS and the Mumbai police are now trying to rope in Israeli agencies to provide cover to the institutions facing terror threat. The police are also studying the methods adopted by Israeli agencies to foil terror attacks.
    “Israeli agencies have come up with several important defence strategies to combat attacks and abduction-like situation. We are also keenly studying their method of hostage negotiation. Though we have our own method, additional input always helps,” said a Mumbai police officer. The state police also plan to conduct a meeting with the Israeli security agencies soon.
    Safety at Jewish establishments such as synagogues, educational and business centres has become a matter of worry after arrested Indian Mujahideen (IM) operatives Yasin Bhatkal and Asadullah Akhtar told theNationalInvestigation Agency (NIA) that their men had surveyed at least four synagogues in the city last August. Bhatkal and Akhtar reportedly told the police that the IM planned to abduct some Jewish people and hold them hostage, demanding the release of top IM functionaries from Indian jails. At present, more than 100 suspected IM operatives are in various jails in India.
    In a bid to check the preparedness of the policemen posted at the earmarked establishments, the department sent some “suspicious-looking people on motorbikes near synagogues”. “We are happy that the police personnel posted there identified those people, who lurked around the spot posing as dummy terror suspects,” added a senior police officer.
    Following the attack on a Nairobi mall, security at malls here have also been stepped up. “We sent our teams to some malls and our officers checked the security gadgets and alertness of the staff. We will meet the mall authorities soon and brief them about the steps they must adopt,” an officer said.
Police comb trains, visit kin’s home but no news of Usmani 
 The state ATS, Mumbai crime branch, railway police and specialized agencies are putting in all efforts to trace the escaped IM operative, Afzal Usmani, but the trail seems to have gone cold. A state-wide search from Dharavi to Nashik, Jalgaon to Bhusawal and Bhopal to Khazrana has not yet yielded any result.
    On September 20, after being brought to court, Usmani (37) hoodwinked the escorting cop, assistant sub-inspector Sanjay Deshmukh, and fled. He was last seen at Sewree where he went to collect Rs 700 from a tea vendor. “Our teams are meeting Usmani’s contacts and informants have been promised rewards for tip-off on the IM operative. But despite all efforts, we are yet to get any information,” admitted a home department source. “Our team went to Usmani’s sister’s house in Dharavi. She said Usmani had not visited her but we have kept her house under surveillance. Importantly, Usmani’s nephew Javed has also been missing since Friday. Javed would visit him regularly in courts and jail. We don’t know if Javed visited him the day he fled,” said the officer. “His co-accused claim even they did not have any idea of his escape plan,” cops said. 
 The motor vehicles theft cell has been directed to alert the state police headquarters whenever they receive a complaint   about a stolen car. “Usmani may use a stolen vehicle to flee,” the police said.

    Suspecting that he has fled the city by now, the ATS and the state police have been searching

    trains in Mumbai, Nashik, Manmad, Jalgaon and Bhusawal. But they have had no luck. They also conducted a combing operation of all the lodges near Manmad station, an important junction, and of all trains to MP and UP. 

    The police have also sent out the image of his possible changed look, with his original photo to other states. “He may be waiting for financial help from his mentor, Riyaz Bhatkal,” a source said.
Mateen Hafeez 

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Lax security in city malls worries cops

Ineffectual security in city malls exposed during surprise checks

Vijay V Singh TNN

Mumbai: The Mumbai police’s audits in the recent past have revealed that private security at most malls in the city are ineffectual at detecting weapons even with metal detectors. This discovery, along with the deadly al-Shabaab attack in Nairobi, has prompted the police to conduct fresh audits of malls. 

    In the past few months, the police’s protection and security branch sent 220 “armed decoys” to various places to appraise their preparedness. Most decoys were sent to malls and multiplexes. In 70% of the cases, officers said, the decoys succeeded in
entering the premises with weapons.
    One such ‘dummy run’ was carried out at a popular mall in Andheri (West). A police officer concealed a revolver in his shoes and visited the place in plain clothes and managed to enter. 
 ‘Malls refuse to take security seriously’
Mumbai: During a security audit at a city mall, a police officer in plain clothes with a hidden weapon managed to enter despite the doorframe metal detector at the entrance alerting the mall guards “with specific signal” that the officer was carrying a weapon.  “But the private guard did not bother. I was frisked manually, but perfunctorily,” said the officer. “I faced no hurdles in entering. We later informed the mall’s security team about their lapses.” 

    The police conceded that many Mumbai malls are vulnerable terror targets. “We are checking their vulnerability with a fresh perspective after the Nairobi attack. We are also evaluating our response mechanism,” said additional commissioner of police (protection and security) Madhukar Pandey.
    Officers complained that despite their exhortations many malls refuse to take security more seriously. “Thousands visit malls on weekends, so we in
crease patrols there on those days. But the malls themselves take security lightly,” said an officer. “After the Nairobi attack, I hope their attitude will change.” 

    The police held a meeting on Sep
tember 12 with the security heads of malls and multiplexes where an open discussion was held, an orientation programme conducted and feedback collected. Most security heads, in response, requested the police to train their staff.  “We have given suggestions on frisking, CCTV positioning and checking vehicles. We expect them to follow our advice,” said DCP Chhering Dorje.
Security increased at synagogues after audits
The Maharashtra anti-terrorism squad (ATS) recently conducted security drills—using ‘mock terrorists’—at 35 places belonging to the Jewish community to appraise their vulnerability. The exercise happened after the ATS issued a terror alert warning of possible attacks on Jewish places of worship by the Indian Mujahideen (IM). “At all 35 places, the mock terrorists, who were armed with fake weapons and bombs, got caught and were detained,” said a senior ATS officer.
    Another officer explained that following the arrest of IM principal Yasin Bhatkal the ATS had received “inputs” from security agencies in New Delhi. So, the ATS issued an alert and identified for security audits 35 places belonging to the Jewish community. Of these, 29 are in Mumbai—10 synagogues, five Chabad houses, four business and 10 educational establishments. The rest six, all synagogues, are in other parts of the state. “After the audit, we briefed their guards on how to identify suspicious people,” said an officer. “At most places, we have beefed up security. Policemen have been ordered to create makeshift posts on the premises of synagogues and stay on alert.”  
Mateen Hafeez 
 TIMES VIEW: Security at malls may be porous and it’s especially scary after the Nairobi incident. But finger-pointing won’t take us anywhere. Areas under the direct supervision of government agencies (like CST, which has already suffered a bloodbath) are not any safer than malls. Officials themselves have admitted in the past how basics, like the monitoring of CCTV footage, suffer because of logistical problems, the implication being a railway station in Mumbai is as porous as a mall. The lackadaisical attitude to security, whether it’s managed by private or government agencies, needs to change.

The Times of India, September 26, 2013

Raheja family feud in EOW, senior alleges fraud by son

Mateen Hafeez & Swati Deshpande TNN

Mumbai: The family feud affecting Mumbai’s oldest construction empire, the Rs 11,000-crore G L Raheja group, has turned more bitter with the patriarch Gopal Raheja filing a complaint with the Economic Offences Wing alleging his son, Sandeep, and daughter-in-law, Durga, have fraudulently transferred shares to claim majority control in group companies. 

    He has said the original shares are in his possession.  The patriarch had filed a petition in the Bombay HC last year accusing his son of trying to usurp the business.  Sandeep Raheja did not comment. His solicitor Vivek Vashi said, “Allegations of forgery are false and are contrary to the case in the suit filed last year in the HC by his father, where he (the father) said the shares were transferred under his instructions.” 
 EOW begins inquiry into plaint of Raheja Sr’s alleging fraud
Mumbai: The Economic Offences Wing (EOW) has begun a preliminary enquiry (PE) into the complaint filed earlier this month by Raheja group patriarch Gopal Raheja (80) alleging that his son Sandeep and daughter-in-law Durga have fraudulently transferred shares to get majority control in the group companies. 

    The EOW completes a PE before officially registering an FIR. Apart from the son and daughter-in-law, Raheja Senior has named in his complaint a company secretary, Durga’s father Shaymlal Wadhwani and her mother Bindoo (all referred to as nonapplicants by the investigating officer). 

    Police said the complaint states that Gopal Raheja recently discovered that the non-applicants, in order to take fraudulent control of two companies of the Raheja group (Ferani Hotels and K Raheja Realty Pvt Ltd), transferred shares of the companies although he (G L Raheja) is in possession of the original shares. The non-applicants filed returns of these “transfers” to the statutory authority, the Registrar of Companies. Police said the complaint also states that
“they transferred 1,877 shares of K Raheja Homes Pvt Ltd in Palm Groves Hotels, which were in his (Sandeep’s) daughter’s name, and filed fraudulent returns.” 

    Raheja Sr has alleged that his son and daughter-in-law have committed offences of forgery, criminal breach of trust and of furnishing false information to public servants. 
A police officer said, “There is a long-pending dispute between Raheja and his family members mentioned in the complaint over distribution of the company’s assets. The father has filed a suit in the HC to restrain his son from taking any steps contrary to the G L Raheja family arrangement of 1996.” 

    The officer added, “Gopal Raheja has less than 45 per
cent share. We are making inquiries and have not summoned Sandeep yet. We will start that process soon.”  Sandeep’s solicitor Vashi said, “We have not been provided with a complaint copy yet. We will file an appropriate legal reply when we are.”  Vashi pointed out that this was “a case of contradictory claims made by the father. We will negate the accusation and demonstrate through submissions made so far in court, the falsity of the complaint.” 

    Vashi also said, “The father’s suit claimed that transfer of shares was done on his directions, which gave his son majority control.”   Gopal Raheja had sought court intervention for enforcement of his family arrangement saying that the share transfer on his instructions was merely temporary. His contention now in the EOW complaint is that the transfer happened without his knowledge. 

    The HC had asked the father and son to settle the dispute amicably out of court. Efforts at mediation were on but have produced no concrete result so far.  Sources close to Sandeep’s family said filing of a criminal complaint would only lead to a breakdown of talks.

What Raheja Sr alleged Sept 2012 | G L Raheja moved the Bombay HC against his son Sandeep and daughter-inlaw for allegedly trying to “usurp” his real-estate empire
    He accused his son and daughter-in-law of ill-treating him. He claimed they were wrongly trying to oust him from 25 companies that he had set up and controls. He accused his son’s parents-in-law of instigating him to act against an earlier GL family agreement
His son Sandeep’s response in HC
    “My father filed the suit against me as I had objected to his intention
to marry a younger person”
    The suit is baseless and “replete with false, slanderous statements against me and my family. It is full of contradictions.” He said his father has in 2007 willed all his estate to him. The dispute is of a commercial nature
    Sandeep rebuffed Gopal’s claim that the 2005 arrangement was an “interim measure”, said he is the majority shareholder

The Times of India, September 26, 2013

Usmani case cop guarded accused in Salem firing

Mateen Hafeez 

Mumbai: Assistant sub-inspector, Sanjay Deshmukh, whose negligence led to the escape of Indian Mujahideen operative Afzal Usmani was also under the scanner in June this year. On June 27, Deshmukh had escorted gangster Devendra Jagtap alias JD from a city sessions court to Navi Mumbai’s Taloja jail. Soon after reaching the jail, JD had opened fire on extradited gangster Abu Salem. 

    While the Colaba and Navi Mumbai police are hunting for Usmani, the Mumbai ATS has also begun a parallel probe into the lapse. “Though there is not a single negative remark on Deshmukh’s service record book till date, it’s true that he was part of the escorting team on June 27 and had escorted JD, minutes before he opened fire on Salem,” said an ATS officer. 

    Deshmukh was summoned by the ATS on Tuesday.  “But we were told that he was not well and was admitted to a hospital,” the source
The Times of India, September 26, 2013

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

ATS alert: IM recruits recced 11 city targets in early Aug

Security Up On Info From Bhatkal Grilling 

Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: Contrary to security agencies’ belief that several successes against the Indian Mujahideen have crippled it, the home-grown terror outfit is very much active in Mumbai. Confidential documents available with TOI reveal that IM recruits conducted a reconnaissance of at least 11 possible targets in the city in August. The places (see box) include locations like the Zaveri Bazaar-Kalbadevi-Mangaldas Market-Mumbadevi mandir zone which has been targeted in the past. 

    The revelations by IM founder Yasin Bhatkal during interrogation are giving security agencies sleepless nights. “The
arrests over the years were a good signal, which we thought crippled the IM’s network. Initially, 22 IM operatives were arrested by Mumbai police in 2008, then over a dozen each were held by Delhi police and Gujarat police the same year. Again in 2011, more than six were arrested by Delhi police. But every arrest reveals details of more shocking plans,” said a source
in the security establishment.

The Times of India, September 25,2013

10cr suit filed against cops for defamation

Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: The Jamat-e-Islami Hind on Tuesday filed a Rs 10 crore defamation suit against the city police for issuing a circular in March this year about its sister wing, Girls Islamic Organization (GIO). 

    The special branch (SB) police had issued a fortnightly report to city cops which stated that GIO was trying to “motivate girls towards Islam and asking them to practise the religion”. The report had indicated that the GIO was preparing Muslim girls for jihad.
    TOI, in its March 31 edition, had carried a story titled, ‘Women’s group under the scanner of Mumbai police’. This sparked off protests and people associated with GIO met SB additional police commissioner, Nawal Bajaj, who assured them of a probe. “We waited for the probe report and even sent a letter asking about it but got no reply. We had no option but to file a defamation suit against the Mumbai Police,” said Taufique Aslam Khan, president of Jamat. Bajaj could not be contacted. 
The Times of India, September 25, 2013

Synagogues, Zaveri Bazar put on terror alert

Security has been increased outside four synagogues in the city after the recent alert

Many Areas In City On IM Radar, Says ATS Note

Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: A two-page confidential report, signed by state ATS chief Rakesh Maria, has asked city police to review and provide heavy security to 11 spots in the city which featured in a reconnaissance mission by Indian Mujahideen operatives in August. 

    The places mentioned in the report include four synagogues: Magen Hassidim Synagogue (Agripada), Magen David Synagogue (next to ATS head quarters at Nagpada), Shaare Rason synagogue (Dongri) and Shaar Harahamim synagogue (Pydhonie). The other places reportedly on

the IM hit list include the Mumbai police commissionerate, Zaveri Bazar, Mumbadevi temple, Mumbai Central bus depot, Mumbai Central railway station, Crawford market, Kalbadevi/Mangaldas
market and Lohar chawl. 
    Security personnel posted outside the Jewish places of worship are not even allowing passers-by to stop near the places.     The alert was sounded following revelations dur
ing the custodial interrogation of IM founder Yasin Bhatkal. 
    “Interrogation of the arrested accused Yasin Bhatkal and Asadullah Akhtar of the IM have revealed that synagogues and other locations in Mumbai were surveyed by their operatives in the first week of August 2013,” said the report, a copy of which is with the TOI.    “A detailed study has been conducted of the places supposedly recced by IM operatives. It is also requested to ensure that no unidentified object is allowed to be placed in or around the potential targets apart from other professional steps to thwart any such terror attack in Mumbai and around. This may be accorded top priority,” the report added. 
    The report has been sent to Sanjiv Dayal, directorgeneral of police, K L Prasad, commissioner, state intelligence bureau (SIB) and Gurbachan Singh, joint director, SIB.
    Meanwhile, the security agencies are trying to verify an intelligence input that Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jamat-ud-Dawa are chalking out a plan to carry out attacks on the Indian Army and an Indian security agency. 

    The intelligence input stated that the ISI , the Pakistani intelligence agency, and radical trainers from that country, besides China and a Gulf country, are training over 100 terrorists to trigger mobileoperated suicide vests, at at least three camps in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. The input was part of a power-point presentation by Vinayak Apte, dep
uty director, state intelligence bureau, at a subsidiary multi-agency centre (SMAC) meeting held days before Bhatkal was captured. 

The minutes of the meeting, which are with the TOI, stated, “Hizbul Mujahideen and the ISI are also planning to push fidayeen squads into India through the Line of Control/Nepal border. Following the conviction of Mirza Himayat Baig, IM elements may carry out revenge attacks.” 
Bhatkal and Akhtar were shown as arrested on August 28. Bhatkal faces at least 16 cases of terror conspiracy/attacks in India, including the German Bakery blast in Pune.
Times View
Afzal Usmani’s escape seems scarier seen in the light of what Yasin Bhatkal has been telling his interrogators. Some action has started on Usmani’s guards. But the process must end in punishment which will deter this type of shoddiness that can prove costly for the nation and its citizens.
THE 11 SPOTS PUT ON ALERT Mumbai police commissionerate, Zaveri Bazar, Mumbadevi mandir, Mumbai Central bus depot, Mumbai central railway station, Crawford market, Kalbadevi/Mangaldas Market/Lohar chawl, Magen Hassidim Synagogue (Agripada), Magen David Synagogue (next to ATS headquarters at Nagpada), Shaare Rason Synagogue (Dongri) and Shaar Harahamim Synagogue (Pydhonie)
Mumbadevi Mandir A powerful bomb went off near Mumbadevi mandir at Zaveri Bazar on August 25, 2003, killing more than 30 people. The attack was allegedly carried out by the ‘Gujarat Muslims’ Revenge Force’, which claimed it wanted to avenge the 2002 Gujarat riots
Zaveri Bazar A powerful RDX bomb went off on July 13, 2011, killing 15 people and injuring over 50 others. The bombs were allegedly planted in various parts of the city by operatives of the banned outfi t, the Indian Mujahideen
Mumbai Central Station A bomb went off at McDonald’s, located within the premises of Mumbai Central railway station, on December 6, 2002, injuring 25 persons
Mumbai Police Commissionerate After the arrest of suspected IM operative Faheem Ansari, police claimed that he had surveyed 12 places in Mumbai in 2007-08, including the city police commissioner’s office. It prompted tighter security. Later, in 2012, police reviewed the security of the commissionerate after a new threat
Mangaldas Market/Lohar Chawl After the arrest of two suspected terror suspects in 2010, the state ATS claimed they wanted to blow up Mangaldas market near Lohar chawl, besides Borivli’s Thakkar Mall and the ONGC headquarters
Anti-Terror Squad Offi ce (Not part of the current alert) An earlier input in June this year said that some terror suspects were trying to target the state ATS headquarters at Nagpada. Following the alert, the parking of police vehicles in the compound was banned. Moreover, new door metal frame detectors, CCTV cameras and hand detectors were installed in the building. ATS offi cers were also instructed to meet their sources outside the offi ce to prevent any untoward incident in the building

The Times of India, September 25, 2013

FTIL auditor withdraws report

FTIL chief Jignesh Shah 

Doubts Genuineness Of Co’s Results Following Similar Move By NSEL Auditor



Mumbai/New Delhi: The payment crisis and the alleged frauds at the defunct National Spot Exchange (NSEL) have hit Financial Technologies (FT), the promoter of the commodities exchange. On Tuesday, FTIL informed the stock exchanges that its statutory auditor Deloitte, Haskins & Sells has withdrawn its certificates about the genuineness of the company’s results for 2012-13 which the firm had audited and cleared earlier. 

    Deloitte’s move was prompted by a similar action by NSEL’s auditor Mukesh T Shah & Co, which informed the spot exchange about its decision on Saturday. 
  The move by Deloitte became public a day before FTIL shareholders meet for its annual general meeting and the company said that it will now have to defer discussion on some of the issues that related to the audit report. 

    Although the development has not resulted in any scrutiny by the government yet, sources said that Deloitte will have to revisit its entire audit of FTIL in the wake of the controversy at NSEL. “On the basis of the above, FTIL’s accounts for financial year 2012-13 may undergo amendment together with revised auditors’ reports which will be approved and published once the amendment to the accounts are finalized,” FTIL
said in an exchange filing. 

    FTIL is the flagship of the group that promoted NSEL and is run by engineer-turnedentrepreneur Jignesh Shah. In its communication to the BSE, the company said that due to the purported crisis at NSEL and based on communication from the management
of NSEL and also the statutory auditor of the bourse, on September 23, Deloitte, “in accordance with Standard on Auditing (SA) 560, informed that the audit reports dated May 30, 2013, on the standalone and consolidated financial statements of the company for the year ended March 31, 2013, should no longer be relied upon”.

    FTIL also clarified that while the NSEL crisis was out in the open on July 31, the company’s balance sheet was approved and recommended to the shareholders on May 30, along with the auditor’s report. Also, the annual report
was circulated to FTIL shareholders around August 30.
    According to standalone financials of FTIL, the total income forms part of revenue generated from NSEL during FY13, largely on account of technology services which contributed only 4.79% of the total income of FTIL. In addition, there was no outstanding amount pending against the same, the company said. Also, according to standalone financials of FTIL, the contribution from revenue generated from NSEL in the net profit was only 6.56%. “As stated above, both from total income and net profit perspectives, the impact on account of NSEL is not material in the standalone financial statement,” the statement said. 
 EOW sniffs financial fraud at NSEL
Mumbai: The city police’s economic offences wing (EOW) has found some truth in allegations by investors that money was siphoned off by top executives and others at National Spot Exchange (NSEL), the commodity bourse hit by a payment crisis. 

    On Tuesday, a 32-page preliminary enquiry (PE) report was submitted to EOW additional commissioner of police Rajvardhan Sinha, and it found that there were evidence of financial fraud at the commodity bourse promoted by
Jignesh Shah-controlled Financial Technologies group.
    In mid-Setpember, in a significant development as part of the ongoing Rs 5,500-crore NSEL saga, around 58 investors and 17 brokers and members of NSEL filed a complaint with the EOW against NSEL, Jignesh Shah, the promoter of Financial Technologies group that owns NSEL, and the board of directors of NSEL. The complaint has also been made against executives of NSEL, including Amit Mukherjee and Jai Bhaukhundi, its auditor Mukesh Shah & Co, and 24 defaulters and their clients.

The Times of India, September 25, 2013

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Police seek info on Usmani from Bandra eatery he rented in ’07-’08

Afzal Usmani

Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: A Bandra eatery has come under the police scanner in connection with the search of fugitive Afzal Usmani. The 37-year-old car thief, a member of Indian Mujahideen (IM), who is also charged with planting bombs in Ahmedabad in 2008, fled from a sessions court in the city on Friday.
    “Usmani had taken a seekh-kabab shop on rent during 2007 and 2008. The shop is located outside the Bandra railway station (west). Since he collected some money from a tea stall owner in Sewri after his escape, we have fielded our men outside the Bandra eatery hoping to get some leads from there,” said an ATS officer.
    A crime branch team also visited the Bandra eatery and spoke to the employees. Police suspect that since Usmani is an old mate of IM founder Riyaz Bhatkal, now in Pakistan, the former may contact him for money and a safe hideout. “Usmani is a professional car thief and knows how to smuggle cars out of Mumbai. We are taking each car and bike theft seriously as he may use his professional skills to flee,” added another officer.
    Usmani fled around 1.45pm on Friday. He was brought to the court from Navi Mumbai’s Taloja jail along with 22 fellow accused. When assistant sub-inspector Sanjay Deshmukh went upstairs to confirm the court timings, Usmani gave him the slip.
    Meanwhile, the city police have passed on information to the Border Security Force (BSF) posted at Sonauli checkpost. The information contains Usmani’s activities, his associates, his crime list, brief profile and photograph. Sonauli, a well known transit point between India and Nepal, is around 90 km from Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh. The nearest railway station from Sonauli is Nautanwa, which is connected with Indian Railways network. “If Usmani wants to flee the country, there are chances he will take this route. This is considered a porous route and most cases of escape are reported from these areas,” said an officer.
    Meanwhile, the state DGP’s office has ordered a review of the security of the escorting teams across Maharashtra. “The Navi Mumbai escort teams have faced some allegations in the past. Recently, an escort police team took some accused to Goa. While returning, they had smuggled liquor bottles. Moreover, the recent case of Suresh Bijlani, an accused in the murder of Navi Mumbai builder Sunil Lahoria, using cellphone also highlighted lapses in security,” the source said.

The Times of India, September 24, 2013

Pak judicial panel begins work in 26/11 case today

SECURITY FOR THE GUESTS: The hotel on Marine Drive where the Pakistani team stayed on Monday

Lawyers Here To Cross-Examine Four Witnesses 


Rebecca Samervel, Pratibha Masand & Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: Four witnesses in the 26/11 terrorist attack case will be cross-examined from Tuesday by lawyers who are part of an eight-member judicial commission from Pakistan. 

    The commission made up of four defence counsels, two officers of the anti-terror court in Rawalpindi, where the trial is on, and two public prosecutors arrived in the city on Sunday.    Additional chief metropolitan magistrate P Y Ladekar will record the evidence in the Esplanade court, on behalf of the Rawalpindi court. 

    Special public prosecutor Ujjawal Nikam will represent the Governent of India.
    The four witnesses to be cross-examined are police investigating officer Ramesh Mahale, magistrate R V Sawant Waghule, Dr Shailesh Mohite and Dr Ganesh Nithurkar.    Mahale had filed the chargesheet in the terror case, Waghule had recorded the confessional statement of terrorist Ajmal Kasab and the doctors had conducted autopsies of the nine other terrorists.  “The procedure will continue for the next two to three days,” Nikam said. 

    Court sources said there would be high security for the commission and nobody other than those directly involved with the matter would be allowed inside the courtroom.    An earlier judicial commission from Pakistan had recorded the statements of the witnesses in March last year. The commission, including five advocates representing the seven persons charged with conspiracy in the 26/11 attack on the city, two Pakistani public prosecutors and a court officer, was not allowed to cross-examine the witnesses. 

    The Rawalpindi court had refused to accept the statements on the grounds that a trial was incomplete without cross-examination by the defence.   Earlier this year, a four-member delegation from the country consisting of Nikam, two senior officials of the ministry of home affairs and an official from the ministry of external affairs visited Pakistan and held discussions on the matter.
    “The commission was delayed after the public prosecutor in the case was shot dead in Pakistan in May,” Nikam said. 

    Dr Shailesh Mohite, head of forensic medicine at Nair Hospital, who agreed that cross-examination was important. “Even they (Pakistani commission) have to show evidence in their courts,” he said.

THE VISITING PAK JUDICIAL COMMISSION MEMBERS|There are in all eight members. Four are defence counsels, two public prosecutors and two judicial officials from Rawalpindi involved in the trial for the 26/11 terror conspiracy  
MISSION|Crossexamination of Indian witnesses 
Ramesh Mahale Police investigating officer. Interrogated Kasab and his handler Abu Jundal alias Zabihuddin Ansari. Filed the chargesheet in the special court, along with statements of over 400 witnesses, including
victims from abroad. The 57-year-old opted for voluntary retirement a few months ago
RV Sawant Waghule Additional chief metropolitan magistrate who recorded Kasab’s confessional statement on Feb 21, 2009. She had appeared before the earlier Pakistani judicial commission
Dr Shailesh Mohite Professor, head of forensic medicine dept, BY Nair Hospital. Led a team of five that carried out autopsies on 22 bodies. Conducted post-mortem on Abu Ismail, the terrorists’ group leader who attacked CST with Kasab
Dr Ganesh Nithurkar Lecturer, forensic medicine dept, JJ Hospital, and assistant professor. Performed round-theclock autopsies with nine others on 120 bodies, including those of eight terrorists, over four days THE 
WHEN Night of Nov 26 to morning of Nov 29 in 2008

ATTACKERS 10 Pakistanis (nine killed; Ajmal Kasab captured alive and hanged) 
 PLACES TARGETED|Leopold Cafe, CST, Cama Hospital, Taj Mahal hotel, Trident hotel, Nariman House, besides gunfire on streets and an explosion each at Mazgaon and Vile Parle
(including 18 foreigners)

The Times of India, September 24, 2013

Sunday, September 22, 2013

IM bomber walked out of court, took taxi to Sewri

Afzal Usmnai

Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: Closed circuit cameras near the sessions court show Indian Mujahideen operative Afzal Usmani walking out of the court building in south Mumbai on Friday afternoon and taking a taxi after hoodwinking the policemen who had brought him there.
    The 37-year-old arrested in 2008 for stealing cars and helping plant bombs in them in Ahmedabad for serial blasts that killed 56 went to Sewri, where he was last seen at an eatery-cum-tea stall opposite Raza Tower. The building is where bombs used in the 11/7 serial train blasts in the city were allegedly manufactured by Usmani’s group.

    Usmani, who knew the stall owner, reportedly took Rs 600 from him and left the place in a hurry. Hours later, Maharashtra ATS sleuths arrived and interrogated the stall owner, who, sources said, “cooperated” with the
police.  The red-faced city police have formed more than 110 teams to trace Usmani.  Usmani before his arrest five years ago was a frequent visitor to Sewri.  
    Afzal Usmani, 37, accused of stealing cars in Mumbai and helping plant bombs in them for the Ahmedabad serial blasts in 2008 that killed 56
    On Friday, he took a taxi from the sessions court near Hutatma Chowk after walking out of court, show CCTVs
He went to Sewri; after that the trail goes cold
Last seen at an eatery near the building where sleuths say bombs for the 11/7 trains bombings in the city were assembled. He took Rs 600 from the owner & disappeared
Usmani was a regular in the area before his arrest 5 yrs ago 
 Only 2 of 10 escort cops had guns
    We got a report that Usmani visited a particularplaceataparticular time after his escape. Our men visited the place,” said Amitesh Kumar, additional commissioner of police, ATS. Police remained tightlipped abouttheCCTVfootage. 

    Shockingly,agroupof eight men, including Usmani, who have been accused of being bomb-makers, planters and IM shooters,wasbeingescortedby eight unarmed constables and two women constables with self-loading rifles from Navi Mumbai’s Taloja jail to the Esplanade courts. It was sheer negligence by police officers, saidsecurityexperts. 

    “Each constable was guarding an accused. So assistant sub-inspector Sanjay Deshmukh who was guarding Usmani andhisboss,assistantpoliceinspectorRamChopde,havebeen primarily held guilty of negligence and suspended. DCP Vijay Patil of traffic police has beenaskedtoconductapreliminary inquiry and submit a report within a week,” said Fateh SinghPatil,additionalcommissionerof NaviMumbaipolice.
    “Police teams visited Taloja prison on Saturday and interviewed IM operatives, especially those in Usmani’s cell. Many suspected IM sympathizers who have not been arrested are under surveillance. Usmani could approach them for money,”said a police officer.     The state police and intelligence agencies are tapping their informers and sharing information with security agencies of other states about possible places Usmani could visit.
    Usmani’s brother Faiz died in police custody in 2011 after the crime branch brought him to its Chembur unit for interrogation. His wife, Ruheda, claimed he was tortured to death but an inquiry report showed Faiz died of heart attack. After Usmani’s arrest, his family left Mumbai and returned to their home town in UP.
    Photographs of Usmani with beard and without beard, his case details, possible places he can be found at,details of relatives, friends and neighbours, his fingerprints, etc, have been provided to police teams and informants in Aurangabad, Thane,Pune,Vashi,Hyderbad,Karnataka and other neighboring states.His photo shave been put up at public places. “We are searching lodges too,”said a DCP.

The Times of India, September 22, 2013

Familiarity with prisoners prompts police to ease up

Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai:Indian Mujahideen (IM) operative Afzal Usmani’s escape from sessions court on Friday has made policemen wary. Criminals, especially those who have been in custody for long and have been following a jail-to-court routine, either grow close to their guards or know so much about their activities tha tthey take advantage of the situation. At times, the guards also stop monitoring them closely.
    “Some prisoners behave as if they are the law-abiding citizens and cooperate with the cops at every stage. This
develops a kind of relationship between the accused and guards. However, there are some prisoners, like Usmani, whoperhapsplanandthenexecute their steps,” said a senior officer, who has worked with the jail department. 

    There is also the corruptionanglethathelpsprisoners get what they want. For instance, when prisoners are brought to court, their family members come to meet them. The families pay the cops Rs 100 to Rs 1,000 to speak with them,saidasource.

    “As these accused are in jail for years, the police escort team recognize them by
names and faces;at times they even share food.Everything is done in good faith. It’s too early to say if Usmani was on good terms with his guard. But how can a policeman trust a blast accused and leave him alone,”asked a senior officer.
    There have been cases when escort cops were spotted with inmates at hotels, taking food parcels for them or sending messages to their families. “Such things happen and many senior policemen know about it. But when an inmate escapes or an untoward incident takes place, the cops wake up and initiate inquiries,”said a source. 
The Times of India, September 22, 2013

Saturday, September 21, 2013

IM serial bomber flees from city sessions court

Afzal Usmani

Had Key Role In 2008 Blasts In Gujarat


Rebecca Samervel & Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: In an embarrassing security lapse, an Indian Mujahideen operative accused of involvement in half a dozen bombings across the country escaped from the Mumbai sessions court on Friday. 

    Afzal Usmani (37), along with 22 co-accused, was taken from Navi Mumbai’s Taloja jail to the court in south Mumbai for framing of charges in a case linked to the 2008 Ahmedabad serial blasts, which killed 56 people. He is accused of stealing vehicles for the terror strike and sending terror emails before and after it.
    While the accused were waiting on the court premises for the hearing to begin, Usmani slipped away and absconded. His escape was realized only later.  The police have suspended two officers who were escorting the accused, instituted a departmental inquiry and launched a massive manhunt. They said nakabandis have been erected around the city, and bus and railway stations are being scoured. 

    “This is a considerable blow,” conceded an officer. “If he is not caught soon, there are chances he will help the Indian Mujahideen again. He is accused of taking part in terror conspiracies in Delhi, Jaipur, Hyderabad and Bangalore.”   Usmani was arrested by the Mumbai police’s crime branch in September, 2008, for stealing cars. During interrogation, he allegedly admitted his
involvement in the Ahmedabad blasts. His arrest then led the police to 22 other suspects in the case.

    Officers noted that this is the second time Usmani has given them the slip. In 1999, he jumped bail in a theft case and travelled to Pakistan.  On Friday, Usmani and the 22 others were taken to the court in two police vans and produced at 1pm before special MCOCA judge A L Pansare.

TERROR CHARGES Accused of sending terror emails before and after the 2008 Ahmedabad serial bombings
Drove stolen cars to Ahmedabad and planted bomb there
Accused in 2007 terror plot in Hyderabad, and in 2008 Surat, Delhi, Jaipur and Bangalore blasts
Afzal Mutalib Usmani (37) came to Mumbai from UP two decades ago. He became a petty thief and later joined the dreaded Fazl-ur-Rehman gang as a car stealer. Stole four cars for IM kingpin Riyaz Bhatkal. Was arrested from Nehru Nagar in Kurla in Sept 2008 
    Usmani had been brought to the sessions court from Taloja jail around 1pm along with 22 others for framing of charges in a case related to the 2008 Ahmedabad blasts
    Post lunch,
assistant inspector Ram Chopde asked ASI Sanjay Deshmukh, who was minding Usmani, to find out when the hearing would start. By the time Deshmukh returned, Usmani had absconded 
 Usmani escaped while escorting cop was away
Mumbai: An error on the part of assistant police inspector Ram Chopde, who was supervising the policemen escorting Afzal Usmani, may have allowed the terror accused to escape.
    Chopde sent Usmani’s escort, assistant sub-inspector Sanjay Deshmukh, to the courtroom to find out when the hearing will begin after they were directed by the court to return during the post-lunch session at 2.45pm. Deshmukh left at 2.35pm; by the time he returned, Usmani was gone. Officers said it helped Usmani that the court was teeming with relatives of undertrials. They said there are no CCTV cameras at the premises, or the gates, of the civil and sessions court, which is barely 200 metres away from the state police headquarters.
    Usmani’s escape came to light around 2.45pm, when the accused were to be produced before the court. The police escorts realized Usmani was missing and an officer informed the special public prosecutor, Raja Thakre, that there was “a problem with the headcount of the accused”.

    On Thakre’s request, judge Pansare directed the court clerk to take attendance. When accused number one, Usmani, did not respond, his escape was confirmed. Deshmukh was summoned to the witness box and his statement recorded. Hearing the statement, the judge remarked: “This is negligence; this is not right. This will have an impact on other cases.”    The court adjourned the framing of charges until September 27.
    “We are recording Deshmukh’s statement and complaint. We will register a case against Usmani at the Colaba police station under IPC section 224 (escaping from custody),” said additional commissioner of police (south region) Krishna Prakash. Additional commissioner of police (Navi Mumbai) Fateh Singh Patil added that Deshmukh and Chopde have been suspended for negligence and a departmental inquiry instituted. Prakash said many teams are tracing Usmani .

The Times of India, September 21, 2013

IM operative started out as a car thief

                                                     Afzal Usmani

Mateen Hafeez TNN

    The escape of suspected Indian Mujahideen (IM) operative, Afzal Usmani (37), raises serious questions about police negligence and security while ferrying such inmates from jail to court and back. 

    Usmani was the first to spill the beans about the IM’s involvement in the 2008 Gujarat blasts after he was arrested in connection with car thefts. The police said his IM bosses gave him a contract to steal four cars along with Mohammed Khan (32) and Ayyub Shaikh (28), both residents of Khazrana, Indore. 

    Khan befriended Usmani at the Arthur Road jail in 2005, they said. After the IM decided to execute blasts in Gujarat, the cops said, it ordered Usmani to arrange for four vehicles.
    Usmani’s career in crime began as a member of a Mumbai underworld gang, the police said. He was a car thief but in 1996 he was booked for an attempt to murder. His name cropped up during investigations into cases of firing in Mumbai. In 1999, he was released on bail by a court in a theft case but the police said he jumped bail and went to Pakistan, from where he was in touch with his bosses on a fake passport. He had also been part of the dreaded Fazl-ur-Rehaman gang, which earned notoriety for extortion. 

    He met Riyaz Bhatkal in Kurla in 2002 and joined hands with him to strengthen his network. By then, Riyaz was also an extortionist, cops said. Riyaz later graduated and joined the IM.
    Usmani, the police said, planted bombs on a car that exploded in 2008; nearly 56 were killed in the blasts and the police found 26 unexploded bombs. 

    Usmani’s arrest in 2008 led to a breakthrough for the Mumbai crime branch, which claimed it had cracked the IM’s Maharashtra module based on his information. The police said the module, including Usmani, was responsible for planting bombs in Jaunpur, Sankat Mochan, Varanasi, Hyderabad, Faizabad and Ahmedabad.   Officials claimed they recovered a cache of explosives and arms from hideouts in Kurla and Sewri, which were enough to cause mayhem in Mumbai.
    Usmani’s brother, Faiz, had died after questioning by police in connection with the 2011 Mumbai blasts. The family alleged that he had been tortured but apost-mortem report stated that he died of a heart attack.
Afzal Mutalib Usmani (37) | A native of Uttar Pradesh, he came to Mumbai in the early 1990s to earn a living. Unable to find a job, he turned to a life of crime and became a thief. He was spotted by the Fazl-ur-Rehman gang and entrusted with the task of stealing cars for them. In the early 2000s, he came in contact with Indian Mujahideen co-founder Riyaz Bhatkal

ALLEGATIONS He is accused of playing a key role in the 2008 Gujarat serial bombings: he allegedly stole four cars for the attack, drove them to Ahmedabad, and planted a bomb in one of the vehicles. He also sent out terror emails before and after the bombings. Besides this, he is an accused in terror conspiracies in Surat (2008), Delhi (2008), Hyderabad (2007), Jaipur (2008) and Bangalore (2008). He is also charged in over 25 cases of theft
STATUS OF TRIAL Usmani is facing trial in the special MCOCA court for sending out terror mails related to the 2008 Ahmedabad blasts. He was arrested on September 23, 2008, from Kurla. Six judges hearing the case have been transferred over the years; another reason for the delay was that the accused approached the apex court, challenging the application of MCOCA. The charges were to be framed on Friday, but in the light of Usmani’s escape, the matter has been adjourned for a week
BROTHER’S DEATH The crime branch detained Usmani’s elder brother Faiz for questioning after the 2011 Mumbai blasts. Faiz, a 43-year-old grocer from Govandi, threw up while in Chembur crime branch’s custody. He was taken to a nearby hospital and then shifted to Sion Hospital. Faiz died there. His wife Ruheda alleged that Faiz was tortured to death. But a CID report gave cops a clean chit; it said that Faiz died because of high blood pressure
PAST CASES APRIL 2012 | Double murder accused Vijay Palande escaped from the crime branch’s grip while being taken to its Andheri unit office. He slipped out of a police jeep when a constable sitting next to him got down  to clear the traffic jam  they were stuck in
2010 | Two highprofile gangsters, Sachin Khambe and Mangesh Narkar, managed to escape after throwing chilli
powder at the policemen escorting them in an autorickshaw from Navi Mumbai’s Taloja jail to Nashik central prison
2009 | Haneef Kaliya (32) and his brother Majeed (35) were arrested by the Shivaji Nagar police on charges of robbery and taken to Kurla court. Within 10 minutes of reaching the place, Haneef escaped
2000 | Gangster Imran Mehendi, despite being escorted by policemen, jumped from the third floor of Mazgaon court on seeing a biker appear on the road outside and fled. He was caught later

1 Alleged IM operative Afzal Usmani was brought to the sessions court from Taloja jail around 1pm along with 22 others for framing of charges in a case linked to the 2008 Gujarat blasts. The hearing was scheduled post lunch

2 As the break ended, the supervisor of the cops escorting the accused, API Ram Chopde, asked ASI Sanjay Deshmukh, who was minding Usmani, to find when the hearing will start. By the time Deshmukh returned, Usmani had absconded

3 The court hearing began around 3pm. A police officer informed the public prosecutor that ‘the headcount did not tally’. Names of the accused were called out and the first accused, Usmani, found missing

4 The matter was adjourned until September 27 and charges not framed. The police were put on alert around 3.30pm. Nakabandis were set up and teams sent out to search bus and railway stations 
The Times of India, September 21, 2013

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

RR puts top cop on Sahay probe, suicide bid theory gains ground

R K Sahay

Clarity Only After Wife’s Statement On Burning Case 


Mateen Hafeez TNN

    Policemen inquiring into the incident on Sunday that left additional director general of police Ranjit Kumar Sahay critical with 55% burns say circumstances indicate attempted suicide, but they cannot be certain till his wife, who was home at that time, gives her statement.

    More clarity can be expected as home minister R R Patil on Tuesday asked joint commissioner of police (law and order) Sadanand Date to probe the episode. “I have asked Date to probe. But it will take some time since Sahay is in hospital,” Patil told TOI. 

    The 1986 batch IPS officer was admitted to Bombay Hospital with extensive burns on his face, neck, scalp and abdomen in the early hours of Sunday. His respiratory tract was also badly injured due to inhalation of hot fumes. Even two days later, no FIR has been registered in the case.
    Police haven’t been able to talk to the 52-year-old Sahay, who doctors said was still critical but stable. On Tuesday, an executive magistrate went to record Sahay’s statement, but was stopped by the doctors as “Sahay was not in a condition to speak”, said police. 

    The police had not recorded the statement of Sahay’s wife till Tuesday evening. “Until we talk to her, we won’t be in a position to say what went wrong at the time of the incident. We have not checked Sahay’s flat as well,” said a police source. 

    “So far, we have recorded the statement of a doctor who first
treated Sahay at the hospital. The doctor in his statement said Sahay had told him that a lamp, used for pooja, fell on him and he caught fire. We have also recorded the statement of additional DGP K L Bishnoi (planning and coordination) who told us Sahay’s family members had called him to their flat after the incident,” said a senior police officer. Bishnoi had helped the family rush Sahay to hospital. 

    A week ago, Sahay had called on leader of the opposition in the House Eknath Khadse to brief him on mental torture by his seniors in the Maharashtra State Police Housing and Welfare Corporation. Sahay had alleged that he was under surveillance and was being given showcause notices on petty issues.
    Sahay, a clean but short-tempered officer, was down psychologically, say some police officers. “He had changed his drivers six times in three to four months,” said one officer.     A senior bureaucrat said the home department has taken a serious view of the Sahay episode. “It was a shocking incident. Once Sahay’s statement is recorded, instructions have been given to the investigating officials to register a criminal case against erring officials,’’ he said. 

    The official added that all complaints made by Sahay against Deepak Kapoor, who was MSRTC MD when he was posted there, and Pravin Dixit, the police housing corporation MD, will be probed by an independent agency.
    Besides professional disgruntlement, one of the theories doing the rounds on why Sahay took the extreme step at his official residence in Avanti Apartments at Malabar Hill is domestic dispute: he apparently had a fight with his wife. A senior IPS officer claimed Sahay’s wife had in the past given an application about alleged harassment. Nobody could confirm it. 
    Senior IPS officer R K Sahay’s statement could not be recorded on Tuesday. Doctors turned
officer back, saying he’s not in a condition to speak
    No FIR registered even two days after Sahay was hospitalized with 55% burns
    Statement of wife and children, key witnesses as they were home at the time of the incident, not yet recorded
Sahay’s flat not checked yet

Sahay told doctor a pooja lamp fell on him
Police rule out theory that Sahay tried to kill his wife and daughter
Home dept has taken Sahay episode seriously, wants independent probe into his allegations against his colleagues
Sahay’s health condition unchanged
Continues to breathe with the help of ventilator in Bombay Hospital’s ICU
Respiratory output is low due to extensive burn injuries to the respiratory tract
55% burn injuries on face, scalp, neck, abdomen
and upper limbs
Massive swelling on face and neck, has been started on sedatives
Could take another 10 days before he tides over imminent danger
—As told by Dr Vinay Jacob to Sumitra Deb Roy

The Times of India, September 18, 2013