Yusuf Khan,an illegal immigrant from Myanmar who was arrested on Saturday,has been identified as the source of provocative messages that were in circulation around a week before the August 11 Azad Maidan riots.
For three or four months leading up to the riots,Yusuf was regularly in touch with a maulana in Baramulla district,a religious leader in Myanmar,and another person in Bangladesh. These people told him about local events and gave instructions to him. Yusuf,in turn,sent out provocative messages to people, said a Crime Branch source.
The Crime Branch is verifying Yusufs claims and ascertaining the identities of the three persons he was in touch with.
Yusuf was brought to the country illegaly when he was around eight. He still has an identity card issued in Myanmar,and claims he initially came to Delhi to collect donations. He stayed in UP before coming to Mumbai a few years ago. He then began working as a cleaner at a mosque in Garib Nagar in Bandra (East). A religious leader who was one of those who delivered speeches during the protest at Azad Maidan was from the same mosque. Significantly,this person had delivered an aggressive speech at Azad Maidan on the events in Myanmar, said the source.
According to officers,Salim Lightwala,another accused arrested on Saturday,was a trustee of the mosque. Lightwala had several cases of issuing threats and assault registered against him. He was externed from the area. However,he held meetings at the Garib Nagar mosque in the days leading up to the riots,during which he incited people, said the source. Crime Branch officers said Lightwala led a group of 35-40 people who were actively involved in the violence.
A day or two before the riots,a Muslim woman from Garib Nagar had sent a letter to the local police warning that Lightwala had planned some illegal activity. This woman will now be a crucial witness in the case, said an officer.
Lightwala allegedly owns several illegal tenements in Garib Nagar and provides illegal power connections,sources said. That is how he got the name Lightwala, said the officer.
Three accused granted bail
The Bombay High Court on Tuesday granted bail to three persons booked in the Azad Maidan riot case. The court observed that prima facie,charges of murder and attempt to murder were not substantiated against them. Amin Chaudhary,a computer engineer from Goregaon,Umair Ansari,a standard XII student and Nazar Siddhiqui,who suffered a bullet injury during the riots,are the first among the 63 arrested to secure bail.