The Mumbai Police Crime Branch has picked up four persons, including the sister-in-law of fugitive gangster Munna Jhingada, and handed them over to the Rajkot police in connection with an alleged plan to kill a Jamnagar-based businessman, Ashfaque Khatri. The attack was allegedly planned due to rivalry in the Dubai gutkha market.
Soon after gutkha was banned in India, the market for it in Dubai grew manifold, with the brand ‘Goa Gutkha’ ruling the roost. However, in the past two years, another brand called ‘Hot Gutkha’, launched by Safdar Khatri, a Gujarat businessman, has taken over the market. According to investigators, this led Dawood Ibrahim’s brother, Anees Ibrahim, to threaten Khatri into joining hands with him, reportedly by ordering a hit on the latter’s relative in Rajkot.
The police, however, got a tip-off and managed to arrest four persons on their way to carry out the attack. Four others also alleged to be part of the plan were picked up by the Mumbai Police Crime Branch Saturday.
An officer from the Anti Extortion Cell (AEC) of the Mumbai Police crime branch received a tip-off about a hit job to be carried out by Ramdas Rahane, Sandeep Shivag, Anil Ghewar and Vinit Zhalte, all suspected to be henchmen of Dawood, the police said.
Unaware of who the target was, the police team led by senior inspector Vinayak Vast and Sachin Kadam started keeping tabs on them and alerted the Rajkot police, where the accused were headed. The Rajkot police arrested the four as they stepped off a luxury bus in Rajkot, with weapons on them.
During interrogation, the accused confessed they were to kill real estate developer Ashfaque Khatri and were to be paid Rs 20 lakh for it. Officers said the four had already received Rs 5 lakh through hawala routes.
The police found that four more people were involved in the plot, including two women who had gone to recce the businessman’s office in Rajkot. Based on the information provided by the Rajkot police, the AEC detained Jogeshwari resident Rizwana Shaikh (38), Tilak Nagar resident Ashwini Ranip (20), Vinod Hande (32) and Satish Kamble alias Satya (38) and handed them over to Rajkot police.
Investigators said Rizwana is the sister-in-law of Jhingada, a Dawood man, whose custody India is trying to obtain from Thailand.
DCP Vinay Kumar Rathod confirmed that they had detained four people on Saturday and handed them over to the Rajkot police.
An officer linked to the probe said that initially, when Hot Gutkha started taking over the market, Anees ‘offered’ to become partners with Safdar Khatri. Safdar refused, after which Anees started threatening him.
As Safdar was quite influential in Dubai, Anees could not target him there, an officer said, and hence decided to attack his uncle Ashfaque in Jamnagar. He then offered Rs 20 lakh to the arrested accused for bumping off Ashfaque through a Dawood aide currently behind bars.