THE THANE police that arrested fugitive underworld don Dawood Ibrahim’s younger brother Iqbal Kaskar (60), along with two others, in connection with extortion, have at least two corporators on their radar for allegedly aiding the racket. The police, however, said they were yet to get more clarity on their roles and evidence before they could summon any of them for questioning. The Thane police had detained three others, including an alleged drug supplier, besides the brother-in-law of the late Haseena Parkar — Dawood’s sister who passed away in 2014 — from the residence of Kaskar on Monday night. The police are also looking for any “direct or indirect involvement” of Dawood and may name him in the case if his involvement is found.
Thane Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh said, “Kaskar, along with two accused from Thane, made extortion calls to several builders in Mumbai and Thane. We convinced a builder from Thane, who had been receiving extortion calls since 2013, to register a complaint. Accordingly, we registered an FIR at the Kasarwadavli police station in Thane and a team led by senior inspector Pradeep Sharma arrested Kaskar from his sister’s residence at Nagpada.” Sources said the builder, who had already given four houses and Rs 30 lakh after extortion calls in the past few years, was initially unwilling to give a complaint and had to be convinced to lodge a formal compliant.
The two arrested along with Kaskar were identified as Israr Ali Sayyed (52) and Mumtaz Ijaz Shaikh (48). “Shaikh was actually staying in one of the flats in Rosa Bella apartment at Ghodbunder Road in Thane that they had extorted from the builder. This will be strong evidence against the accused,” Singh said, adding, “We have found that the extortion racket operated by the accused also had help from some local politicians. We suspect at least two persons of corporator rank and above to have helped the accused and are investigating their roles.”
An officer linked to the case said one of the corporators, whose name had cropped up during investigation, was earlier arrested in connection with an abetment to suicide case registered in Thane. “We still do not have enough evidence to name anyone,” an officer said. Kaskar, who was deported from Dubai in 2003, was arrested in 2015 by the Mumbai police after estate agent Salim Sheikh lodged a complaint at the Byculla police station claiming that Kaskar and his men had demanded Rs 3 lakh from him. Kaskar was later released on bail. Thane police believe that ever since he had continued collecting extortion money in the name of Dawood. “We are looking into the possibility of invoking the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA). This will ensure that they remain behind bars,” said Abhishek Trimukhe, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Crime).MCOCA is a stringent law applied in cases of organised crime.
An officer said they had so far known about 10-20 builders who received extortion calls from the accused. “Builders including those in Mumbai, Thane and Navi Mumbai were receiving extortion calls from the accused. In fact, one builder in Vashi was so scared on receiving calls from the accused that when they sent men to vacate a plot, he left the city,” Singh said. Explaining the roles of the two arrested accused, an officer said that Sayyed was known to be close to Kaskar and Shaikh, a Thane-based estate agent. “It was the job of Shaikh to scout for disputed properties in Thane area. He would then inform Sayyed about such properties. Sayyed, in turn, would tell Kaskar who would make calls to the property owners and claim that he has papers for a certain part of the property and would strike a deal. No one dared to ask Kaskar to show the property papers which were, of course, non-existent or forged. Some local builders were also hand in glove with the accused,” an officer said. Apart from these calls, the accused would also hire goons from Bihar and get them to the city to vacate disputed plots.
On Tuesday, the Thane police produced the accused before a sessions court that remanded them in police custody for eight days. The police said they needed the remand of the accused to question them about the extortion calls. Defence lawyer Shyam Keswani argued that he was not allowed to meet his client even after his arrest. He argued that while a team of more than 50 officers raided the residence of Kaskar, they “could not even find a knife or a pin there”.