The prime suspect in the Mumbai hooch case that claimed 102 lives was arrested from a slum in Northeast Delhi’s Jaffrabad area, in a joint operation of the Mumbai Police Crime Branch and the Delhi Police on Tuesday afternoon.
The police said 26-year-old Mohammed Latif Khan alias Atique, a resident of Malwani in Mumbai, had been staying at a friend’s house in the area since Sunday. A Delhi court has given the Mumbai Police his transit remand for two days.
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DCP (Northeast) Veenu Bansal said, “The Mumbai Police Crime Branch had approached us with information on the prime suspect’s possible hideout in the Northeast district. We immediately formed a team comprising police personnel adept at technical surveillance, while others were sent out on the field employing human intelligence. The team, through technical surveillance, zeroed in on the suspect’s friend who lives in the jhuggi-jhopri clusters in Jaffrabad. During questioning, he admitted that the suspect was living in his house.”
According to the police, Khan reached his friend’s house in Delhi on Sunday. This friend puts together wooden crates for a living. The police traced his location by putting his cellphone. The police team then picked him up Tuesday and questioned him.
“Though the friend admitted that the suspect was living in his house, he said Khan had not told him about the hooch tragedy and the fact that he was evading arrest. The police team then raided his house around 12.30 pm and apprehended the suspect. During questioning, we got to know that the suspect used to source the illicit liquor from Gujarat’s Ahmedabad. The suspect’s father first entered the trade, and inducted him a few years ago,” a senior police officer said.
Meanwhile, the Mumbai Police Crime Branch Tuesday arrested one more accused in connection with the case, taking the total number of arrests to eight. The arrested accused is alleged to be the next link in the chain of supply from Gujarat.
A total of 102 Malwani residents lost their lives since last week after consuming spurious liquor from various liquor dens in the locality. Among those arrested was one Francis D’Mello from whose house the police seized 1,100 litres of spurious liquor on Sunday.
“D’Mello, during interrogation, named Mohammed Latif Khan alias Atique (26) as the person from whom he got the hooch. Accordingly, we started looking for Khan,” said a Crime Branch officer.
Deputy Commissioner of Police (Detection) Dhananjay Kulkarni said, “We initially had information that Khan was hiding in Uttar Pradesh. On Monday, we received a fresh tip-off that Khan was in Delhi and sent a team there and also contacted the Delhi Police for assistance.”
The Crime Branch team is expected to reach Mumbai with Khan by Tuesday night.
Another officer said Khan would pick up consignments of spurious liquor from Gujarat and deliver it to local suppliers in Mumbai, who would then sell it to hooch dens in Malwani and other areas.
“Khan had been missing since Thursday, when the first of the deaths was reported. He was in touch with some of the other accused before they were arrested,” said an officer. He said Khan had named a few suspects from whom he would pick up the hooch, adding that the police were verifying this.
Meanwhile, the Kalina-based Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) submitted its report on 10 samples to the Mumbai Police. The laboratory has, so far, received over 150 samples since Thursday, of which 50 have been tested.
FSL Director B B Daunkar said they would submit the remaining findings to the police in three days.
Miraculous recovery for 4
Four patients at the tertiary-care KEM hospital made a miraculous recovery from methanol poisoning. Hospital dean Dr Avinash Supe said the four were on ventilator support and in a critical condition. “We ensured proper control of acidosis. Additionally, dialysis was used to flush out the methanol. With medicines and proper care, we were able to relieve them of ventilator support,” he said. Currently, 12 patients in the hospital are stable, of which one is suffering from vision problem.