Nearly seven months after Abdul Munaf Shaikh wrote to the Mumbai Police expressing the fear that “criminals” were conspiring to kill him during his daily walk to the mosque, the high-profile businessman was murdered on Monday in exactly the same manner he had foreseen.
A Juhu resident who owned a range of businesses, Shaikh (55) was stabbed 12 times just outside Irla mosque in Vile Parle, of which, he was one of the trustees.
Shaikh’s brother-in-law Salim Baig, a former corporator, said Shaikh had been attending the first namaz of the day at Irla mosque for years.
“Over the last two years, because of the threat, instead of walking to the mosque, he would drive there. While at other times of the day, a bodyguard accompanied him, he used to go to the mosque alone in the morning, it was the only time he was alone,” Baig said. Though no congregations were being held due to Covid-19, the trustees assembled to pray every morning.
The incident took place around 6 am as Shaikh was about to enter the mosque. “It appears that two persons carried out the attack. There were 12 stab wounds, including a slit throat,” an officer said adding that they have found CCTV footage of one of the attackers.
Shaikh was rushed to Cooper hospital where he was declared brought dead. Later, a case of murder against unidentified persons was registererd by Juhu police.
Shaikh’s bodyguard Umar Qureshi said, “I come around 10 am and remain with him through the day. He went alone to the mosque.”
According to Shaikh’s family, letters informing about imminent threat to his life, along with names of those behind the threat, were being sent to the police for the last two years. “While one was sent on October 12, last year, the last letter was sent January 7, this year…”
A copy of the letter, whose subject line mentions “conspiracy to commit murder”— addressed to then joint commissioner of police (Crime) — stated: “…I was informed that few criminals from our area… have hatched a conspiracy to kill me during my walk… the said goons had waited for me, armed with weapons, on a few occasions to attack me.”
An officer from Mumbai Police said that they did receive a letter last October. “Inquiries were carried out then and statements of people against whom allegations were made were recorded. However, a cognisable offence was not made out,” he said.
Maharashtra Cabinet minister Nawab Malik visited the family.