Friday, April 25, 2014

POLL GUPPA


Two weddings & an election in Raigad 

 Two bridegrooms, who were neck deep in their wedding rituals on Thursday, insisted on heading to their individual voting centres to cast their vote in Pen and Roha in Raigad. Digambar Rama Mokal (23) of Maleghar, Pen taluka, reached the booth in the morning even as his wedding party waited for his return. The second bridegroom from Kolad in Roha, Sandip Pawar (34), a technician, forced his family to delay his ‘haldi’ ceremony. “While marriage is once in a lifetime, I still did not want to miss voting, as Lok Sabha elections take place once every five years. I think voting is as important as getting married.”  
 

Three villages vote after 13 yrs, 5 don’t

 T hree villages from Kalyan gramin area under the Bhiwandi Lok Sabha constituency voted on Thursday after 13 years of boycott. Voter turnout, though, was around just 25%. On the other hand, five villages of 6,000 voters from Murbad taluka in the same constituency boycotted the elections to protest against the government apathy towards their rehabilitation due to the Kalu dam project. The three villages—Mohili, Umbarli and Ambivli situated near Titwala— are upset with civic apathy. The villagers said their protest will continue till KDMC provides them with proper roads, electric poles and water supply.  
 

Snake at the booth

 A snake was spotted in one of the polling centres at Malabar Hill around 3.30pm on Thursday. Some residents who came to cast their votes got frightened and immediately informed the polling officer. He, in turn, called the policeman deployed there. The cops asked Nitin Walmiki, a Malabar Hill resident who is said to be an expert in catching snakes. Finally, Walmiki caught the snake outside the Banganga polling centre and handed it over to animal experts.
    (Vijay Singh, Pradeep Gupta & Mateen Hafeez)


The Times of India, April 25, 2014

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Bookies say there’s no Modi wave in city

 

Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: Despite the BJP’s claim of a Narendra Modi wave, Congress-NCP candidates are the favourites for the city’s bookies. Of Mumbai’s six parliamentary seats, bookies see the UPA’s nominees grabbing three to four.
 
    Police sources said election-related betting is in full swing. In Mumbai South, Congress candidate Milind Deora is the favorite of punters. “If he wins, those placing bets on the Congress stalwart will get 20 paise on every rupee,” said a police source.
 
    In Mumbai North West, the Congress’s Gurudas Kamat is the favourite, with odds of 30 paise for every rupee. “In Mumbai North Central, voters are not happy with Congress MP Priya Dutt. She also lacks support from three MLAs and their supporters. But she is the bookies’ favorite and can win,” said a source. Dutt’s odds are 40 paise.
 
    For Shiv Sena’s Rahul Shewale in Mumbai South Central, the bookies have offered 45 paise per rupee. In Mumbai North East, the BJP’s Kirit Somaiya is the favourite with odds of 32 paise to a rupee.


The Times of India, April 24, 2014

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Arthur Road jail chief’s wealth touches 2 crore

The Arthur Road jail, where Vasudev Barkule is now kept after his arrest in a graft case


S Ahmed Ali & Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: An Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) raid on Arthur Road jail superintendent Vasudev Barkule’s ancestral home in Nanded on Tuesday resulted in the recovery of assets and cash that added Rs 55 lakh to his wealth.  The total haul from the ACB investigation into a bribery case against Barkule has been Rs 2 crore so far.
 
    Barkule has been kept in an isolated cell which was earlier used by the security guards of executed Pakistani gunman, Ajmal Kasab. The jail constables who used to be posted for security in different barracks on Barkule’s order are now monitoring him.
 
    ACB officials led by NV Deshmukh have been camping in Nanded since Barkule’s arrest in the corruption case last week, but could not conduct the search operations earlier as a result of the election in Nanded.
 
    In Barkule’s house at Tajnagar in Nanded alone, the police found Rs 2.31 lakh in cash, fixed deposits of Rs 25 lakh, a fixed deposit of Rs 10.50 lakh in his wife’s name
and gold ornaments worth Rs 18 lakh.
   
 “We are still searching and are yet to calculate the value of properties spread elsewhere,” an officer said.   The officer said a case of disproportionate assets had been registered against Barkule.
    Barkule and deputy superintendent Pradeep Pathrikar were caught accepting a bribe of Rs 35,000 from a candidate appearing for the jailor’s exam early this month.
 
    In the city, the police found Rs 40 lakh in cash from Barkule’s jail residence, besides gold, savings and FDs in banks amounting to more than Rs 1 crore.
 
    Now in jail, Barkule has refused to give an application for home-made food.
 
    “He is saying the jail food is healthy and hygienic and he would prefer having the same food which is prepared by the inmates for prisoners. Barkule’s official residence is just 100 metres from his cell,” an officer said.
 
    Barkule’s wife and children live at his residence. “Even if his family want to meet him, they will have to go and register themselves outside the prison and come in the queue like common people and meet him for a few minutes,” the officer said.

 
The Times of India, April 23, 2014

Sunday, April 20, 2014

RTO official held for graft, 80 lakh seized at home



Mumbai: The anti-corruption bureau (ACB) on Saturday evening arrested an assistant RTO attached with the Andheri RTO for accepting a Rs 1,500 bribe from a private bus operator. A search at accused Rajendra Nerkar’s Mulund home led to the seizure of Rs 80 lakh. 

    Additional commissioner of police Vishwas Nangre-Patil said, “The private bus operator had not paid his taxes on time and had been fined. When he approached Nerkar, he was directed to a middleman, J Moreshwar, through whom Nerkar demanded a bribe of Rs 1,500,” said Patil. Moreshwar, too, has been arrested.
 
    Cops also searched Nerkar’s home and found Rs 80 lakh stashed in a cupboard and at other places. The police also found property documents and are going through them to determine Nerkar’s ownership. —  Mateen Hafeez 

The Times of India, April 20, 2014

Basic amenities in prison come at a price: Inmates

 

Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: The arrest of top Arthur Road jail officials—superintendent Vasudev Barkule and his deputy Pradip Pathrikar—for accepting a bribe to clear a candidate in an examination for jailors has blown the lid off graft behind bars.
 
    Jail inmates are, however, trapped in a vicious circle. They claim that there is a price tag on staples in prison.
 
    A blast accused, who is now out on bail, said corruption in prison starts at the gate. “Several prisoners are brought to Arthur Road jail daily. They are frisked by inmates and babas (as jail constables are referred) at the entry gate. Most of them bring some cash and conceal it in shirt sleeves, collars, trousers and innerwear,” said the blast accused.
 
    Before the frisking starts, all new prisoners are instructed to deposit their belongings with the authorities. However, many inmates do not heed the directive. “The money recovered while searching prisoners is seized and most of it goes to jail staffers,” he added.
 
    Even a “suitable” barrack comes for a price. “The wellheeled, who have never committed a crime in the past, would not like to be accommodated with hardened criminals. They pay to get a separate barrack,” said a source. Pillows and bed sheets, which an inmate is entitled to free of cost, are soiled and prisoners have to grease palms to get fresh ones.
 
    A developer, who spent four days in Arthur Road jail last year, said, “I was surprised when a habitual offender approached me and rattled off details of the case against me. He demanded money for not creating trouble for me in the jail.” Prison coupons that inmates use instead of cash can be purchased on the black market. “Hundred coupons are valued at Rs 100. Inmates sell 70 coupons for Rs 100 and jail staffers are aware of the practice,” said a source.
 
COMFY IN CAPTIVITY 500-1K | Accommodating inmates in a “suitable” barrack 
200-500 | Getting fresh pillows or bed sheets 
100–500 | Meeting relatives for longer time 
1K–5K | Relaying messages outside prison 
200–1K | Housing new prisoners with “peace-loving” inmates



The Times of India, April 20, 2014

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Prison staff exam under cloud after graft arrests


Internal Exam Likely To Be Conducted Again

 

Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: The arrest of Arthur Road prison’s two senior-most officials has cast a shadow on the internal exam process. Prison authorities are now considering conducting re-examination of the internal papers for promotions and increment.
 
    The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) on Wednesday arrested Arthur Road jail superintendent Vasudev Burkule and his deputy Pradip Pathrikar for demanding and accepting a Rs 40,000 bribe for clearing a candidate in an exam for jailors.
 
    Meeran Borwankar, additional director general of prisons, said, “A re-examination of papers is under consideration.” As many as 30 jailors appeared for the departmental test that makes them eligible for increment and promotions, if they pass it. Describing the procedure, a jail official in Mumbai said, “When constables complete five to seven years in jail service, they can appear for the departmental exam for the post of jailor. Even if they pass the examination and become jailors, they have to clear an internal test for increment and promotions. If they pass it, they are eligible for all facilities; however, if anyone fails to clear the exam after five attempts, they have to continue serving as jail constables.” 

    The complainant in Thursday’s case, a jail officer, had taken the exam for the post of jailor held on March 25. When the exam papers went to Burkule for assessment, the complainant approached Pathrikar for help to clear the exams. When Burkule was told this, he said the complainant’s performance in the exam was “weak”, and demanded Rs 40,000 to clear him.
Burkule was caught by the ACB. 

    The charge held by Burkule’s charge has been given to Thane jail’s superintendent G T Pawar. Burkule and Pathrikar have been sent to police custody till April 19. The ACB team recovered Rs 40 lakh and gold ornaments from Barkule’s official residence on the prison premises. He also has money in several savings accounts and fixed deposits worth over Rs 1 crore.
 
    While conviction rate in ACB cases is as low as 30%, officials feel the agency needs legal officers for each officer at the superintendent of police level. At present, there is only one legal officer for the state ACB.


The Times of India, April 19, 2014

Friday, April 18, 2014

Authorities checking out lapses in jail


Mateen Hafeez TNN


Mumbai: The city crime branch may write to the state prison authorities to investigate how a mobile phone, SIM card and battery were smuggled into the Arthur Road jail and used by a quadruple murder suspect, Uday Pathak. He has been taken into crime branch custody for allegedly running criminal activities from within the jail. 

    The vigilance department of the state prisons is checking out the lapses and
will submit a report to the inspector general of prisons. However, the use of a phone highlights the urgent need for jammers at the state’s most sensitive prison. “Five mobile firms have given demos but nothing has been installed. It could be delayed due to some technical reason,” a jail official said.
    In December 2005, a cell phone, some batteries and SIM cards were recovered from gangster Chhota Rajan’s aide D K Rao. 

    Rao, who was booked un
der the Maharashtra Control of Organized Crime Act, is currently out of jail. TOI had reported how phones were being used by Rao and other Dawood gang members in the jail. Officials blame the security lapse on the delay in installing jammers, priced Rs 50,000 to Rs 5 lakh. 

    The prison’s vigilance squad conducts surprise checks but inmates are often tipped off. “We take precautions to prevent smuggling. After every incident, we review the problem and try to
control it,” the official said. 

    The phone used by Rao was provided by three constables posted there, officials said. Rao, arrested for opening fire on a police team and attempting to kill them in 1998, was sentenced to a decade in prison. 

    In 2010, Devendra Naidu (40), a robber, allegedly belonging to the Rajan gang, was caught at the gate of the jail while trying to smuggle in a liquor bottle and a cake. Sources said Naidu was carrying in the stuff to celebrate Rajan’s birthday. 
 
 
The Times of India, April 18, 2014

Arthur Rd jail chief, deputy held for graft



Mateen Hafeez & S Ahmed Ali TNN

Mumbai: The anti-corruption bureau on Wednesday night arrested Arthur Road jail superintendent Vasudev Burkule and his deputy, Pradip Pathrikar, for demanding and accepting a bribe of Rs 40,000 for clearing a candidate in an examination for jailors.
 
    The police recovered Rs 40 lakh and gold ornaments from Barkule’s jail residence in Byculla, and found he had savings accounts and bank fixed deposits amounting to more than Rs 1 crore.
 
    Cases of corruption within the state’s most sensitive jail have been reported earlier, but this is the first time the superintendent of the prison, where Pakistani terrorist Ajmal Kasab was kept, has been found to be involved in a bribery case.
 
   The complainant, a jail officer, had appeared for an examination for the post of jailor on March 25. The exam papers came to Burkule for assessment. The complainant approached Pathrikar for help to clear the exams. When the matter reached Burkule, he said the complainant’s performance in the exam was “weak” and demanded Rs 40,000 to clear him.  
 

ACB listened in on phone call with prison chief 

    The superintendent of Arthur Road Jail, Vasudev Burkule, and his deputy, Pradip Pathrikar, have been arrested in a case of bribery. 

    “The complainant (a jail officer) came to us at 11.30am on Wednesday and narrated his story. We went through his application and then set a trap,” said Vishwas Nangre-Patil, additional commissioner of police, Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB).  Three police inspectors and 16 constables led by an assistant commissioner reached the jail at 7pm. The complainant went to Pathrikar’s residence, adjacent to the jail, and before handing him over the money, called up Burkule at 7.17pm. He spoke to him till 7.47pm, and later again for two minutes. The conversations included a demand for a bribe. 

    The ACB team entered the house soon after Pathrikar accepted the bribe on behalf of Burkule, and placed him under arrest. The team then headed to the jail, where Burkule stays in the barracks.
    When the team knocked on his door and told him they were from the ACB, he tried to be aggressive. 

    “Burkule surrendered after hearing that Pathrikar
had already been arrested. We found Rs 70,000 in his pocket. The two sales tax officers, who acted as independent panchas, displayed their IDs too,” said additional CP, ACB, Vishwas Nangre-Patil. 

    The police team used wristwatch, pen and keychain cameras in the top-se
cret operation.  Burkule and Pathrikar, who have been suspended, have been remanded in police custody till April 19.  
 
JAILHOUSE ROCKED BY GRAFT
 
TOP SECRET OPERATION The anti-corruption bureau (ACB) on Wednesday night arrested Arthur Road jail superintendent Vasudev Burkule and his deputy, Pradip Pathrikar, for demanding and accepting a bribe of 40,000 for clearing a candidate in an exam for jailors
 
ACTION TAKEN The two have been suspended, and have been remanded to police custody till April 19
 
WHAT WAS RECOVERED A search of Arthur Road jail superintendent Vasudev Burkule resulted in the recovery of 40 lakh, a State Bank of India (Nanded) fixed deposit (FD) of 12.50 lakh, Bank of Maharashtra (Nanded) FD of 5 lakh, 5 lakh in a savings account, 75 tolas gold in a locker, and SBI (Agripada) 20 lakh in a savings account. Nothing incriminating was found at the residence of his deputy, Pradip Pathrikar
 
THE ROT INSIDE
    
Other sources of income in jail
    Regular flow of money from inmates and relatives for facilities
    Home food, cigarettes and cell phones regularly supplied inside
    Two jail officials were suspended for negligence following attack on gangster Abu Salem inside Taloja jail 

WHO STAYED THERE Gangsters Dawood Ibrahim, Chhota Rajan and Arun Gawli, all 1993 serial bomb blast accused, Pakistani terrorist Ajmal Kasab and Indian Mujaheedin members
 
 

TIMES VIEW:  

This is not only about corruption. It’s a serious security threat if people in charge of the state’s most sensitive prison are found to be compromised. The government needs to take more care when it comes to such sensitive appointments. It’s not any prison we are talking about; this concerns the Arthur Road jail, which hosts prisoners like Ajmal Kasab.



The Times of India, April 18, 2014

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

EOW to probe 5cr franking scam at port



Mumbai: The economic offences wing is probing a multi-crore franking scam allegedly run by a group at Mumbai Port Trust (MbPT). Cops said the accused collected demand drafts (DDs) outside MbPT for stamp duty, did a fake franking of stamp duty on documents and encashed DDs worth Rs 5.47 crore in the last one year. The prime accused, Dharmesh Rasal alias Kiran Tandel, is in jail on charges of forgery and cheating. Police said Tandel used the name and photo of a man, Praful Chandorkar, to open the bank accounts.
 
    “MbPT had appointed vendors to collect stamp duty. Their staff coordinated with customs house agents (CHA), who carried out procedures on behalf of clients. The officials collected documents from shipping agencies and asked for details on goods arriving in Mumbai. The documents were then sent for franking with the DDs,’’ an official said. The clients would then claim goods. “In most cases, the CHA would send franking papers to JNPT using a courier or his staff. In this case, the accused may have stolen DDs and deposited it in bank accounts opened in MbPT’s name.’’
 
    Tandel had opened two accounts in banks at Govandi and Chembur in the name of Traffic Manager, MbPT, and Board of Trustees of Ports of Mumbai using fake information and a photo of Chandorkar to open both accounts,” said an investigator, adding that every day around 2,000 people would deposit DDs in favor of MBPT. 

    The scam came to light in May 2013 when a bank asked MbPT to verify details of an application to open an account. MbPT denied having sent the application. As many as 98 people have been arrested in the case. An official said, franking was discontinued four months ago with payments now being made online. 
 
Mateen Hafeez

The Times of India, April 15,2014

Friday, April 11, 2014

Duped BARC staffers seek EOW inquiry

HOUSING FRAUD 

 

Mateen Hafeez 


Mumbai: A delegation of scientists approached the economic offences wing (EOW) and asked them to investigate a housing fraud in which several developers cheated 51 Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) employees on the pretext of flats. 
 
    Flat buyers, including more than a dozen scientists, have lost nearly Rs 5.87 crore.
    An FIR was registered with the Trombay police last month but the scientists feel there is no progress. They feel the EOW should take up the
investigation as it has a specialized “housing unit” for investigating such fraud.
 
    Chandrabhan Basak, a scientist, initially lodged the FIR against the developer, Ajit Singh, and his four aides including, BARC employee Deep Nagpal. According to the complaint, Nagpal acted as a middleman in the fraud and got the developers to meet the scientists. The accused had promised the victims flats in Navi Mumbai. The victims had paid an advance and were waiting to take possession of the flats when the developers reneged on the deal. 
 
The Times of India, April 11, 2014

Thursday, April 10, 2014

SoBo bizman loses 12 lakh in e-fraud

Mateen Hafeez TNN


Mumbai: Unidentified conmen recently hacked into a Kalbadevi diamond and bullion trader’s bank account and siphoned off over Rs12 lakh in two transactions. 
 
    The victim, Punit Chopra, approached the bank after receiving two text alerts about the funds transfer two
days ago. An internal investigation by the bank confirmed the hacking.
 
    The L T Marg police on Wednesday registered a case of hacking against unknown persons.
 
    “We received the complaint and began investigation with the help of cyber experts. The internet protocol address of the accused was traced to New Delhi. We are hoping to crack the case soon,” said deputy police commissioner Nisar Tamboli.
 
    “The money has been transferred to another bank account within India. We are trying to trace the account holder. There is a possibility that the accused may have withdrawn the money from the account. We are sending a team to New Delhi to investigate the case and pursue leads,” said a police officer. 
 
The Times of India, April 10, 2014


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

POLLMAAL




Sanjeev Naik using our name: RCP
    The state election commission has reportedly “considered” a complaint lodged by Vinod Gangwal, Thane’s Rashtrawadi Congress Party (RCP) candidate, alleging his contender, Dr Sanjeev Naik of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), has been misusing RCP’s name in all hoardings meant for his Lok Sabha campaign. The EC is said to have directed Thane district collector to look into the matter. The collector’s office, in turn, sent a letter dated April 3 (a copy of which is with TOI), directing Thane’s election returning officer to probe the case. Gangwal, general secretary of RCP, said, “We have not given a ticket to Mr Sanjeev Naik for Thane LS poll and yet, the big question is, how has he mentioned our party’s name? Misusing RCP’s name for campaigning is a blatant violation of the election model code of conduct and, therefore, the EC should take strict action.” A senior NCP functionary in Navi Mumbai retorted: “Complaining to the EC is nothing short of a game plan to gain publicity. NCP has objected to the registration of the name, Rashtrawadi Congress Party, as it is the Marathi translation of Nationalist Congress Party, which has been using the name since its establishment by Sharad Pawar on May 25, 1999.”
 
Liquor seized
    
Election officials seized eight bottles of spurious foreign liquor from a car in Santa Cruz (West) on Monday. The accused, Chirag Gosalia (36), was arrested and released on bail on Tuesday. Officials of Constituency 165 (Andheri West) effected the seizure. Assistant expenditure officer Prakash Barge said, “There is always the danger that liquor can be misused as a lure during election campaign.” Interestingly, when excise officials arrived to interrogate the accused, he showed them a brand new permit that had been procured that very day, April 7. His family informed TOI that he was unavailable for comment. Election officials said a group of restaurant owners arrived to urge the police to release Gosalia. Officials suspect the liquor was to be supplied to their establishments. Meanwhile, on Tuesday, Malabar Hill police picked up one Anil Pashte (37) and booked him under the Prohibition Act. Police seized nine country-made liquor bottles from Banganga area during Pashte’s arrest. He has been remanded to police custody till Wednesday.
 
Know your neta
    
An initiative by the Association for Democratic Reforms and myneta.info will help Mumbaikars access details of candidates’ criminal records, assets, liabilities and educationa qualifications. To get relevant information, dial toll-free number 1-800-110-440; send an SMS to MYNETA or MYNETA,Constituency name> on 9246556070 (SMS charges applicable) or 56070 (charge Rs2-3). Or, visit www.myneta.info to search for candidates, MPs, MLAs or constituencies.
 
Disabled charter
    
An NGO has released a charter of demands for political parties to ensure that disabled citizens get equal opportunity in all walks of life. Disabled People’s Political Charter published by the ADAPT Rights group (ARG) calls for the right to education, vote, rights of disabled women, right to accessibility, health services and employment for the disabled. The NGO will produce position papers to give guidance to all political parties on the issue.
 
Fake ration cards
    
The Manickpur police have registered a case against six men for using bogus ration cards to register as voters in Vasai. The case was made following a complaint filed by the state election commission. 

(George Mendonca, Bella Jaisinghani, Mateen Hafeez, Sandhya Nair and Linah Baliga)


The Times of India, April 9, 2014

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Principal of Kandivli school held for leaking SSC paper

This school’s principal Mangesh Lad has been arrested


Cop Arrested In March 11 Case Spills Beans

 

Mateen Hafeez & Shreya Bhandari TNN

Mumbai: The crime branch has arrested a school principal on the charge of supplying the SSC algebra paper to a police head constable whose son was caught copying in the exam last month.
    Mangesh Lad (47), the principal, was produced before a court and was remanded in police custody till Wednesday. 

    The police had arrested the head constable, Uday Kadam, recently after his son was reportedly found in possession of two sets of question papers at the exam.  It was during Kadam’s interrogation that Lad’s name cropped up in the case.
 
    “Lad has been principal of Priyadarshini Vidya Mandir in Kandivli (W) for the past 23 years,” a police officer who is part of the investigation said on Saturday. “During sustained interrogation, he said he knew Kadam and did this for his friendship. Lad said that they [school authorities] need police help quite often and that Kadam would cooperate with them.” 

    Lad was summoned for questioning at the Kandivili unit of the crime branch on Friday night. Police sources said that Lad initially gave evasive replies but later admitted that he had supplied the paper to Kadam some time before the exam began.  “Lad categorically said
he did not do it for monetary gain; it was just on account of personal relations,” the police officer said. 

    The police said they were questioning the arrested principal to determine if he had done anything similar in the past.  The SSC student was caught copying at YB Chavan School in Kandivli (W).
 
    Kadam, who was booked under various sections of the Indian Penal Code and the Maharashtra Prevention of Malpractices at University, Board and Other Specified Examinations Act of 1982, was produced before the 37th metropolitan magistrate’s court and remanded in police custody till Wednesday. 

    The state board is simultaneously conducting a separate inquiry over the student to find out his role in the incident and state a punishment. Depending on the report by the board-appointed committee, the student can be debarred from one to five board exam sessions.

THE LEAK | 

 On March 11, a 16-year-old SSC student who was appearing for the exams as a private candidate was caught copying from paper chits by the supervisor, who soon found out that the student had two sets of algebra question papers. The board and the police were alerted. The boy told school officials he had got the paper from his father. Later, he told the police he got the paper from two youths outside Borivli railway station for Rs 500. The boy was sent to Dongri remand home and freed on bail after a couple of days.  
 

TIMES VIEW:  

The paper leaks and the total chaos on exam dates have made 2014 a traumatic year for students in the city. The leaks are worrying because they indicate exam conducting agencies have been able to take care of neither technological issues (the university leak) nor more traditional leak routes (the SSC leak). The misery this year has been compounded by another example of shortsightedness: keeping polls right in the middle of the university exam season. The government must learn from this season’s chaos and ensure there is no repeat during at least the October exams.


The Times of India, April 6, 2014

Saturday, April 5, 2014

‘I’m praying that my son should not be hanged’



Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: “Now that the court has given the death sentence to my son, I don’t know what to do. I’m unable to eat or sit in one place. I’m praying that my son should not be hanged,” Chand Bibi kept muttering, sitting on a footpath outside YMCA grounds, near Maratha Mandir cinema. The mother of Qasim Shaikh, one of the accused sentenced to death on Friday in the Shakti Mills gangrape case, found it hard to reconcile herself to the verdict. 

    “We will challenge it in a higher court. I’m sure we will get justice,” she said, claiming special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam was too heavy on Qasim to “get fame and publicity”. “My son was never arrested, we had taken him to the police station,” she claimed, breaking down in between.
Her brother, who was trying to console her, was equally bitter. “During Ajmal Kasab’s trial, the home minister never visited court, but R R Patil did so in this trial, which was just a pressure tactic,” he alleged.
 
    At the Kalapani slums, where Qasim lived with his mother and siblings, it was life as usual. Women were cooking on the road as their children played in the congested bylanes. Neighbors learnt of the death penalty to Qasim and his two associates, Vijay Jadhav and Salim Ansari, from news channels, but were surprised by the death sentence. While many earlier welcomed the fact that the accused would be jailed for good, on Friday, most were of the opinion that though they committed a heinous crime, they should be jailed for a few years. “Qasim committed a serious offence but should not have been given the death sentence. He is but a boy. His mother, a widow for 10 years now, raised the children with great hardship. There will be no one to support her,” said a woman in her early 50s.
 
    Earlier, while announcing the sentence, judge Shalini Phansalkar Joshi said that the plight of the families of the accused could not be ignored and said NGOs or the state could consider helping them.
 
    A motor mechanic, who has his shop in the area for 12 years and knew Qasim, was shocked. “What are you saying? He will be hanged? I can’t imagine he can commit such a serious offence,” he said.
 
    Jadhav’s brother, Gacchi, was loitering in the Machchi Market area near Jacob Circle. But few residents there knew about Jadhav’s sentencing, saying he wasn’t seen often.
 
    At Vishnu Nagar in Mahul village, Ansari’s mother, wife and two sons aged six and four years were yet to return from court. However,his cousin, Sameena (22), said she heard the news on TV. “I don’t believe Salim could have committed such a horrendous act. He was the sole breadwinner. Since his arrest, his wife is working as a domestic help.” Gulzar Ansari, his brother-in-law, said they will move a higher court.
 
    Abdul Khan (42), an auto driver said, “Less than two years ago, we all came here, in homes for slumdwellers. Salim came from slums near Dagdi Chawl. Most youths here fell prey to bad company, Salim too may have been one of them.”
 
(Inputs from George Mendonca & Rebecca Samervel) 
 
 
The Times of India, April 5, 2014

Friday, April 4, 2014

Sena, MNS workers clash during nomination in SoBo

FLAGGING OFF TROUBLE: Shiv Sainiks, MNS workers clash at collectorate gate, pelt stones, glass bottles; (left) S B Singh Road saw massive traffic snarls 
 

In City’s First Poll Violence, 11 Injured, 11 Supporters Held

 

Somit Sen | TNN

    The city saw its first pollrelated violence on Thursday afternoon when close to 200 supporters of the Shiv Sena and the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) clashed at the gates of the city collector’s office, injuring 11 persons, including a TV cameraman. Police have booked 11 persons for rioting.
  
  A situation developed as Sena candidate from Mumbai South Arvind Sawant and the MNS candidate from South-Central Aditya Shirodkar arrived with hordes of supporters at the Old Customs House around 1pm on Thursday to file their nominations for the Lok Sabha elections.
  
  The police had clearly not anticipated such a huge turnout and were outnumbered. Cheering for the candidates soon turned into jeering of the opponents and the workers of the MNS and Sena, whose leaders are locked in a bitter war of words, began hitting out with the flagstaffs, said the police.
  
  “It eventually turned out to be a serious altercation and they began pelting stones,” said additional police commissioner (south region) Krishna Prakash. “Soon, they were hurling glass bottles and soda water bottles and this resulted in a few people sustaining serious head injuries, including a cameraman,” he added. The police lathicharged and brought the situation under control.
 
    But there was a massive traffic snarl on S B Singh Road as one side of the carriageway road was blocked following the incident.
 
    Of the 11 injured, three, including a woman, had to be admitted to St George Hospital for head injuries. “Most of them had sustained minor injuries in the shoulder, hands and head. Those admitted have been mostly kept for observation,” said Dr Jagdish Bhavani, medical superintendent.
 
    The MRA Marg police have registered a case of rioting, assaulting policeman on duty and creating obstacles in discharge of duty under various sections of the IPC. “We have arrested seven Shiv Sainiks and four persons from MNS. They are in the police station and will be produced before a court on Friday,” said an officer.
 
    Senior officials at the collectorate said there had been no breach of the election code of conduct, but it was a criminal offence as it affected law and order. “As per the code of conduct, there should be only four people along with the candidate inside the returning officer’s (RO) premises. Also, as per the Election Commission rules, only three vehicles can be parked 100m from the RO’s office. Both rules were followed by the candidates,” one of them said.
    (Inputs by Chittaranjan Tembhekar,  Mateen Hafeez & Sumitra Deb Roy)


The Times of India, April 4, 2014

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Italian woman cries assault in Alibaug

Mateen Hafeez TNN


Mumbai: A weekend sojourn at picturesque Alibaug turned into a nightmare for a 39-year-old Italian national on Sunday. 

    Around 3.15pm, while taking a stroll on her own near the Kashid beach, the woman, who stays in Powai and works in a multinational company, was accosted by two unidentified men who sexually harassed her. 

    The duo passed lewd comments and tried to touch her. When the woman raised an alarm, the men tried to disrobe her, police sources said.  In a desperate attempt to escape from the clutches of the two, she ran into the sea and started crying for help. Her cries attracted the atten
tion of local villagers who came to her rescue and pulled her out of the sea. 

    Shaken by the attack, the woman returned to Mumbai the same day. She then approached the Gamdevi police station on Tuesday and requested the cops to file an FIR
through the Italian consulate. 

    A top police official said, “We are investigating the mat
ter and will ensure that the culprits are brought to book. We are in the process of filing an FIR and are in talks with the Alibaug police to expedite the process.”   The FIR will be registered at Gamdevi police station and sent to Alibaug police for further investigation. 
 

 Police hunt for two men who assaulted Italian

Mumbai: A 39-year-old Italian woman living in Powai and working for a multi-national company who was sexually harassed by two unidentified men in Alibaug has filed an FIR through the Italian consulate. “We have just received the complaint through the Italian consulate. It’s a serious matter involving a female foreign national. The local police have been alerted and we are in the process of filing an FIR. We will take the description of the culprits and sketches would be prepared,” said a senior police official. 

    Police said a case under Section 354 of the Indian Penal Code will be invoked against the two unidentified assailants.
 
    Two days ago, a Mumbai court convicted a 32-year-old salesman of a Colaba shop for molesting a Belgian woman and sentenced him to two years’ rigorous imprisonment. 
 
The Times of India, April 2, 2014

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

‘IM bomber was given job to shift Bhatkal’s wife to Nepal’

Mateen Hafeez TNN


Mumbai: Indian Mujahideen’s (IM) bomber, Tahseen Akhtar alias Monu, told his interrogators that he was entrusted with the job of shifting Zahida Khanum, wife of IM’s Indian chief Yasin Bhatkal, from Delhi to Nepal in the last week of August 2013. However, the plan did not materialize since Bhatkal himself was arrested on August 29 on the Indo-Nepal border and subsequently brought to Delhi.
 
    Bihar resident Monu (33), who was arrested by the Delhi Police’s special cell recently, is suspected to have planted bombs in the city on July 13, 2011 causing serial blasts. Besides, his involvement in Hyderabad , and Pune’s J M Road blasts is also being examined. 

    Investigators found that Bhatkal had planned with his
Pakistan-based mentor Riyaz Bhaktal and others to smuggle his wife from south Delhi’s Abul Fazal Enclave to Nepal where he was hiding. He wanted to shift his wife to Nepal to avoid police harassment as he had planned to carry out further terror strikes in India. 
 
    Initially they suggested the name of Pakistani national Waqqas alias Ziy-ur-Rehman, but Riyaz rejected it. Later, they zeroed in on Monu who knew Delhi well and was suitable for this job. “Initially it was planned that Khanum would be brought to my village in Samastipur, Bihar, by one of her four brothers, and from here I will take her to another place to send her to Nepal,” Monu is believed to have told the investigators.
 
    It was also decided that one extra person would also be there to keep a watch on others and would alert the ‘smugglers’ in case of eventuality.  Akhtar had met Khanum on August 25 and handed her over Rs one lakh and a dual SIM mobile phone. The NIA during its probe recovered the mobile phone and Rs 99,500 from Khanum.
 

‘Haider Ali told to head India module’

F ollowing arrest, Riyaz Tehseen Bhatkal Akhtar had ’s asked ‘Black Beauty’ (Haider Ali alias Abdullah) to head IM’s India module, sources in the security establishment said. This information came to light after the security agencies intercepted some phones reportedly being used by terror suspects across the border. TNN 
 
The Times of India, April 1, 2014