Unwilling to pay dues of more than Rs 140 crore to the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) in licensing fees, the owner of The Connaught Hotel allegedly hired hitmen to kill NDMC legal adviser M M Khan, a day before he was scheduled to pass the final order on the hotel lease terms, police said.
On Wednesday, the owner of the four-star hotel, Ramesh Kakkar, was arrested along with six others for the murder of Khan, who was shot dead on Monday on his way home.
Deputy Commissioner of Police (southeast district) M S Randhawa told The Indian Express that they had arrested Kakkar and his security officers, Ram Phool and Israil, who used to work as bouncers at Kakkar’s nightclub in Greater Kailash, which closed down about five years ago.
“To eliminate the victim, Mohammed Moin Khan, who was not accepting their bribe, Kakkar contacted Ram Phool and Israil, who then approached local criminals from Batla House area. A contract for the killing was fixed with one Saleem Khan for Rs 2 lakh, of which Rs 50,000 was paid in advance. Three others, Amar Alvi, Anwar Omais and Bilal, were also roped in,” Randhawa said.
Police said some NDMC officials may also be questioned in the case.
Police said Kakkar’s hotel, which functioned on a property leased by the civic body, was sealed last year. The NDMC had even taken over the possession after hotel authorities failed to abide by the eviction order following expiry of the lease. The case is pending in the Delhi High Court.
On the directions of the High Court, Khan was made the Estate Officer, and was supposed to pass the final order in the matter on May 17. “Apprehending an unfavourable order, which would have resulted in huge monetary loss and eviction from the property, Kakkar hatched the conspiracy to eliminate Khan, who was known to be straight and fair in his job,” Randhawa said.
According to NDMC sources, Khan was in-charge of the eviction proceedings under the public premises act. “The Connaught Hotel owners had been seeking time and delaying the hearing. Last year, Connaught Hotel paid Rs 10.5 crore out of pending license fee dues of Rs 140 crore to the NDMC,” an NDMC source said.
Police sources said Kakkar was approached by a tout in the NDMC earlier this month. “The tout told Kakkar that he would settle the issue with the NDMC if Kakkar could keep Khan out of office till May 31,” a senior police officer said. He said that Kakkar then asked his security officers to hire goons to assault Khan.
Another police officer said, “Kakkar’s security officers first approached a local strongman in Dakshinpuri for the job on Saturday, but they refused. The strongman was a police informer and approached the police hours after Khan was shot.”
Police said that after sustained interrogation of the accused, they discovered that on Monday evening, Phool and Israil followed Khan’s car after he left office. When he was about to reach his Jamia Nagar home, Anwar and Bilal intercepted his car on a bike, broke open the window and shot him from point-blank range, police said. Saleem, a recovery agent by profession, and Amar, alleged to be a local criminal, helped with the logistics and monitored the execution of the plan, police said.
“The plan was meticulously hatched in 10 days and May 16 was chosen as the day to go for the kill. The gang conducted multiple recces and traced Khan’s movements for days before killing him. The case was cracked with the help of both human intelligence and technical inputs,” a police sources said.