THE THANE police on Thursday arrested Pankaj Gangar alias Pankaj Shah, who was allegedly the right hand man of matka kingpin Pappu Sawla once, identifying him as the financier of fugitive gangster Dawood Ibrahim’s brother Iqbal Kaskar and his chief lieutenant Chhota Shakeel, both named as accused in the extortion case.
Gangar, who was arrested for the murder of Shiv Sena corporator Kamlakar Jamsandekar in 2007, had been sending Rs 12 lakh to Chhota Shakeel, believed to be operating out of Dubai, every month, said police. The Thane police believe that it was Gangar, a Borivali resident, who provided ammunition to the henchmen of Kaskar who would be sent to developers to threaten them.
Deputy Commissioner of Police (crime) Abhishek Trimukhe said: “A fourth arrest of one Pankaj Gangar has been made in the extortion case involving Iqbal Kaskar on Thursday. Gangar, who was picked up from his Borivali residence, was the financier of the gang that extorted money from developers in Thane.”
An officer said Gangar, who was into illegal activities, was in touch with Shakeel and would send the gang Rs 12 lakh every month to take care of their expenses.
“Apart from this, whenever a developer did not give in to the threatening phone calls, the gang would then send two accused from Bihar to the spot to threaten them. It was Gangar who would foot the bill for the firearms. In short, he was the financier of the gang,” the officer said.
The police said the accused would buy land parcels across the country with the money collected through extortion.
While seeking his remand before a local court, the Thane police crime branch informed the court that Gangar had also been arrested in the past for the murder of Sena corporator Jamsandekar along with gangster Arun Gawli. “Even when it came to the Gawli gang, Gangar played the role of a financier. He was, however, eventually not convicted in the case,” an officer said. “Gangar, in a way, was a link between Shakeel and Kaskar,” the officer added.
With Gangar’s arrest, the total number of those arrested in the case has gone up to four, with the other three being — Kaskar, Mumtaz Shaikh and Israr Sayyad. The Thane police are looking for two Bihar-based shooters who were used by the accused to threaten developers.
Apart from the duo, the Thane police on Wednesday named Shakeel, who handled Dawood’s finances and fled to Dubai in 1998, as a wanted accused in the case. “We have information that there were some other people who also worked as intermediaries and the interrogation of Gangar should help us get more details about the other accused,” an officer said.
The local court remanded Gangar in police custody till October 5. So far, the Thane police have received two complaints, one from a builder and another from a jeweller about being extorted by Kaskar and his aides. While the builder told the police that he had to give four flats and Rs 30 lakh to the accused, the jeweller said the accused had forcibly taken jewellery worth Rs 15 lakh from his shop. Two FIRs have been registered against the accused.
Pankaj Jagsi Gangar, alias Pankaj Shah Gangar, was known to be the brain behind the Worli Matka, run by Pappu Sawla. It was believed that it was Gangar who ran the show in Sawla’s name. In July 2008, Gangar was arrested, along with Gawli, for his alleged role in the murder of Kamlakar Jamsandekar.
Prior to that, Gangar had been arrested, along with Sawla, for the 1997 murder of Vasant Shah, stepbrother of slain matka king Suresh Bhagat. It was this murder after which Sawla reigned over the matka business.