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

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