Mandsaur police and the district administration on Thursday demolished a bungalow spread over 6,000 sq feet, reportedly belonging to opium smuggler Mohammed Ayub, younger brother of Mohammed Shafi, one of the biggest smugglers in the country.
Shafi, who has been absconding for nearly two decades, is wanted in connection with 11 cases registered in Mandsaur district. Ayub, who ran the illicit business in the absence of his elder brother and is also on the run for nearly eight years, faces 20 cases registered in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, the police said.
The Central Bureau of Narcotics had initiated action against Ayub under the Prevention of Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act.
Mandsaur Superintendent of Police Hitesh Chaudhary told The Indian Express that the bungalow, with plush interiors, demolished on Thursday was worth crores. He added that the brothers were probably the biggest smugglers in the country.
According to police, Ayub’s two sons lived in the property that was demolished. They had moved the court against the demolition notice sent by the district administration but did not get a stay order.
The family members finally moved out on Wednesday, the police said. Ayub’s sons maintain that the bungalow was not registered in their father’s name, and that none of the other relatives were accused under NDPS Act.
The contraband sold by Shafi was famous as “Chand tara aphim” in the Mumbai market. According to the police, he was associated with late Mumbai underworld don Haji Mastan and built an empire selling the illicit commodity in Madhya Pradesh and neighbouring Rajasthan.
Shafi had reportedly taken to crime at an early age and was once convicted in a case of looting an opium factory in Neemuch, MP. Ayub had reportedly fled from the custody of Rajasthan police when he was brought for a trial in MP.
The brothers are among 25 people accused of violating the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act. The police said they are collecting details of the siblings’ other properties, which will also be demolished — either fully or partially.
The authorities in Mandsaur have started an unprecedented crackdown on opium smugglers, criminals, land mafia and people running prostitution racket on highways. The police have drawn up a list of 40 criminals, including the 25 accused under NDPS Act, who are either at large or in jail, an officer said.
Over last few days properties of people accused under NDPS Act, valued at between Rs 50 crore and Rs 100 crore, have been demolished in Mandsaur district, and Thursday’s operation was the biggest, officials said.
The action against Shafi and Ayub follows the demolition of a three-storey building belonging to alleged gangster Sudhakar Rao Maratha, known for his proximity with right-wing organisations, in Mandsaur. Maratha, who is in jail, ran a local cable network called SRM (Sudhakar Rao Maratha) from the building.
Mandsaur is among the three districts in MP where opium is legally cultivated but there is a parallel mafia involved in smuggling the contraband.
After the 2017 farmers’ unrest in the district, and death of five farmers in police firing, the then BJP government in the state had blamed anti-social elements involved in opium smuggling for stirring the violence during the unrest.
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