Madoor Yusuf, 42, alias Isubu, a prisoner murdered on November 2 in a Mangaluru sub-jail when he emerged from his barracks for a bath, never met Mumbai underworld Chhota Shakeel. Yet, since his arrest in 2010, he was described as a close aide of Shakeel.
Having fled to Saudi Arabia in 2003 after a series of communal crimes in Mangaluru, Madoor was picked up by Interpol in Dubai, where he had gone hoping to meet Shakeel, police sources said. He was handed over to Indian agencies, and the Karnataka police declared in December 2010 that Madoor, against whom an Interpol red-corner notice had been issued, had been picked up at the Yeshwanthpur railway station in Bangalore when he arrived to meet an associate.
Madoor’s alleged activities since he set up base in Saudi Arabia in 2003 including fundraising for radical groups he was linked to in India, such as the Popular Front of India, and his criminal record in Mangaluru had kept him on the radar of both Interpol and Indian intelligence agencies.
A former Mangaluru resident living in Dubai, Rakesh alias Althaf — whose name emerged recently in connection with an attempt this year to gun down a bar owner in Bangalore — is believed to have been the conduit who arranged Madoor’s busted meeting in Dubai with Shakeel. “Madoor was essentially a communal criminal involved in killings in Mangaluru. He had established contact with some Chhota Shakeel aides and carried out extortion in Mangaluru. He was trying to meet Shakeel for a bigger tie-up,” says a former senior Mangaluru police official involved in bringing Madoor back to India.
Madoor’s rap sheet with 17 cases is one of the longest for the dozens of gangsters treading the thin line between criminal and communal activities in Mangaluru. His murder, police fear, could set off a fresh cycle of communal gangster killings in Mangaluru —something that had ebbed after peaking around 2005-06 and again in 2009-11. Twenty persons have been murdered in communal gang fights over the last decade.
Born in Madoor in Mangaluru, Madoor Yusuf was booked in his first major crime as a 26-year-old in 2001, one of rioting in Ullal in Mangaluru. In November 2003, Madoor and associates allegedly killed an autorickshaw driver, Narasimha Shettigar, in Ullal. He fled to Mumbai and then to Saudi Arabia after an attempt to kill a right-wing Hindutva leader, Chandrashekhar Uchil, in Mangaluru.
“He was a radicalised Muslim youth. While in Mangaluru, he was largely associated with the Karnataka Forum for Dignity (which in 2006 became the PFI). After he fled to Saudi Arabia he got involved in recruiting people and collecting funds for the PFI,” said a senior police official formerly involved with investigations against Madoor.
While in Saudi Arabia, Madoor is alleged to have planned and coordinated the murders of three right-wing leaders — Polali Ananthu of the Bajrang Dal on June 7, 2005, BJP leader Sukhananda Shetty on December 1, 2006, and the Hindu Jagaran Vedike’s Candle Santhu a.k.a. Santhosh on February 18, 2009. “Madoor was clearly involved in these three murders and even took direct part in one of them,” said a police officer.
In counter-violence, Hindutva outfits killed an advocate for Muslim criminals, Naushad Kashimji, on April 9, 2009, and Mohammed Kabeer, an accused in Santhu’s murder, in February 2011. The Mangaluru police killed Mulky Rafeeq, an associate of Madoor and a co-accused in the Sukhananda murder, in an “encounter” in 2007.
“If it was the Sukhananda murder that provided oxygen for radicalism for Hindutva outfits, the murder of advocate Kashimji fuelled Muslims,” said a retired police officer.
The murder of Kashimji — who was at the time representing Chhota Shakeel aide and Mangaluru-origin sharpshooter Rashid Malabari, arrested in Mangaluru while allegedly plotting the killings of right-wing leaders — is believed to have led to an association between members of the Shakeel gang and Madoor. After establishing contact with members of Shakeel’s gang, Madoor is alleged to have been involved in three attempts to extort from the owners of Baliga Jewellers in Bantwal in 2009. In one instance, bullets were fired in the showroom.
Following Kashimji’s murder, Madoor allegedly made attempts to kill Hindu lawyers in Mangaluru. Plans to kill advocates Harish Rai in April 2010, and Shanti Prasad Hegde and Jagadish Shenava in May 2010 were foiled by the police. Shakeel’s aide Malabari is a co-accused with Madoor in these cases.
Although he had 17 cases against him, Madoor was never convicted in any of them. Malabari on his part jumped bail and was last heard of in 2014.
“There were murder cases against Madoor. In the Polali Ananthu case he was not tried because the police had named others in the chargesheet. The other two cases were still in the trial stage,” a senior police officer said. Madoor was also acquitted in some early cases.
Though the Mangaluru police have claimed that Madoor met his end at the hands of Hindu gangsters linked to Vicky Shetty, an associate of Shakeel’s underworld rival Chhota Rajan — recently arrested — versions of the murder emerging from the prison indicate that it was as much a communal killing as a gangland one.
A senior prison department official said a preliminary prison investigation had revealed that Madoor was killed when he emerged for his morning ablutions on Monday by Nithesh, a Vicky Shetty associate, and four others who were mysteriously provided weapons “over the prison wall”.
He said a second man who was killed — Ganesh Shetty, also a Chhota Shakeel associate, was killed by Madoor’s supporters and not by Vicky Shetty’s. “There seems to have been some suspicion among Madoor’s men that Shetty had aided the killing,” a prison source said.
Mangaluru police commissioner S Murugan said the murders were still a matter of investigation. “We have not ruled anything out, the investigation is going to take some time,” he said. The Mangaluru police have not taken any of the accused in the murders into custody but kept them in judicial custody. “We will gradually take suspects into custody,” Murugan said.
“There was some setting with the jail staff for the murder. At around 11.30 the previous night a member of the jail staff brought a knife and gave it to the accused. The cells of the attackers were opened first on Monday morning against convention,” Faizal, an inmate of the sub-jail, told reporters in Mangaluru when he was being transported to court.
The killing of Madoor is suspected to be in retaliation to the October 9 murder by a Muslim gang, including some alleged members of the PFI, of Bajrang Dal activist Prashant Poojary, 29, who was attacked after he was involved in shutting down an illegal abattoir in Moodabidri province some 40 km from Mangaluru.
“Mangaluru has had cycles of gang violence over the years. After a lull there seems to be a surge again,” a police officer said. “Police need to be alert.”
Madoor Yusuf and his criminal background
Age 42, also known as Isubu, he was from Mangaluru; accused in many cases including of murder.
Said to have fled to Saudi Arabia in 2003, allegedly coordinated extortion and murders from there.
Was reportedly planning a meeting with Chhota Shakeel in Dubai in 2010 when arrested
The 17 cases
8 cases in Ullal PS from 2001 to 2004, including one of murder of Narasimha Shettigar in 2003 and one of murder attempt on Chandrashekar Uchil in 2004.
3 murder cases from 2005 to 2009 — in Bajpe (Polali Ananthu murder, 2005), Surathkal (Sukhananda Shetty, 2006), Bantwal Rural (Candle Santhu, ’09).
3 cases in Bantwal Town, 2009, relating to extortion from and shooting at Baliga Jewellers.
3 relating to murder attempts in 2010 — in Mangaluru North (attempt to murder advocate Harish Rai), Moodabidre (attempt on advocate Shanthi Prasad Hegde, Mangaluru North (advocate Jagadish Shenava).