Mumbai Police crime branch sources have revealed that one of the purposes behind the recent surge in the activities of a wanted fugitive, currently based overseas, was to send a message of intimidation to witnesses in the 2010-Oshiwara firing case, warning them against deposing about the involvement of Ravi Panjabi, a key operative of the fugitive who was convicted on Tuesday.
Panjabi, who was convicted in connection with the firing at a jewellery showroom in Oshiwara in 2010, in which the manager was injured, was an important operative of the wanted fugitive, who has been accused of sanctioning several crimes, including attempt to murder and extortion over past few months.
On Wednesday, sources told Newsline that one of the reasons behind the sudden activity was to try and convince the nearly 44 witnesses in the case that the fugitive was very much active and could hurt them.
“The fugitive wanted to send out a message and hence stepped up his activities over the past few months. Apart from this, there were also several direct attempts to intimidate the witnesses. However, we were in constant touch with the witnesses as well as with our own informants, and ample steps were taken repeatedly from 2013, when the trial began, to ensure that the witnesses appeared in court on the designated days and deposed without any pressure,” said a senior crime branch officer.
As someone who passed on information to the wanted fugitive about potential targets and also acted as an intermediary, Panjabi had significant value in the syndicate, said officials. Sources added Yusuf Kadri alias Yusuf Bachkana, according to investigations, now seemed to have been given a role similar to the one that Panjabi had been given at the time of his arrest in 2010.
“Being based out of the country, the fugitive needs someone who is connected enough and can manage operations on the ground level. By sanctioning the firing at builder Rajaram Manjaokar in 2013 while being based in the Belgaum central jail, Bachkana already proved that he could get things done while inside jail. The fugitive seems to have picked up on this, and Bachkana has been found to have been in touch with at least two modules working for him,” said another officer.
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