MOST PEOPLE even in the Thane police believed the four vehicles that left the office of the Thane Anti Extortion Cell (AEC) Monday evening were headed to Byculla jail to drop some accused. It was only later when photographs of Senior Inspector Pradeep Sharma followed by Iqbal Kaskar started doing the rounds that it came to light the vehicles were actually headed to the Gordon Hall building in Nagpada, the former residence of Kaskar’s slain sister Haseena Parkar, where he had moved recently.
“We had to keep the operation under wraps. When we left the office, the others were told that we were headed to the Byculla jail to drop some accused. The men accompanying us on the operation were told minutes before we actually drove off,” said an officer who was part of the team. He added: “In fact, we actually first went near the prison that is located a few kilometres away from the Gordon Hall apartments. A man was initially sent to check if Kaskar was present.” After getting a confirmation, a team of 25 men led by ACP N T Kadam and SI Pradeep Sharma went to the building.
“We deliberately did not take police vehicles that had beacon, which would otherwise alert the people. In an area like Nagpada, any outsider is instantly identified. We took normal civilian vehicles. None of us was wearing a police uniform,” said another officer. One of the officers went ahead and rang the bell. “A servant opened the door without realising who we were. As soon as the door opened, nearly six officers stormed into the house,” he added.
The police team found Kaskar and three men having biryani and watching Kaun Banega Crorepati on TV. Those present in the room apart from Kaskar were Iqbal Parkar, brother-in-law of Haseena Parkar, Mohammad Khwaja Hussain, an alleged drug dealer, and one Novar Fernando, who has a transport business. Kaskar’s niece was also present in the house. “Kaskar was taken aback. The element of surprise worked for us. He initially asked us ‘kaun hain tum log, kya chahiye?’ We then identified ourselves as policemen and told him we were there to arrest them,” said the officer.
Kaskar did not ask any further question and sought time to finish his dinner, which was provided. Along with Kaskar, the police picked Parkar, Hussain and Fernando too to find out what they were doing there. As the police team got Kaskar to the ground floor, a crowd of curious onlookers had already gathered. Several people started taking photographs and videos as Kaskar was being taken to the van by Sharma.
“Within a minute, we had bundled off Kaskar and the three others in our vehicles and fled from the spot. The fact that no one knew about the operation till the time we were almost done with it helped in a big way. It was no easy task to arrest him from the spot,” said the officer. By the time the police team had reached Dadar, photographs of Sharma taking Kaskar to the jeep were already circulated by the locals.