April 3, 2021 10:39:37 pm
The Uttar Pradesh Special Task Force (STF) has named Thane Municipal Corporation corporator from the Nationalist Congress Party Najeeb Mulla as a conspirator in the murder of Maharashtra Navnriman Sena leader and RTI activist Jameel Shaikh.
Shaikh was shot dead by two bike-borne men in Thane in November last year. Even though the STF had named Mulla, the Thane Police, which are investigating the case, refused to acknowledge his role in the murder.
The STF, during an operation conducted along with the Thane Crime Branch on Saturday, arrested one Irfan Sonu Sheikh Mansuri, accused of being one of the shooters. The UP STF in a press release has claimed that Mansuri had carried out the attack at the behest of Mulla.
Deputy Commissioner of Thane Police Laxmikant Patil, however, refused to confirm whether Mulla is involved in the case. He said, “Mansuri is in UP. He will be brought to Thane. We will plan our future course of action after interrogating him.”
Shaikh was murdered on November 23, 2020, when he was returning home from a mosque in Rabodi, Thane. He was riding his bike when the assailants shot him and fled the spot. Shaikh, who is the MNS president of the Rabodi ward, was rushed to a local hospital where he was declared brought dead.
A case of murder was registered. During the investigation, the Thane Crime Branch learnt about the role of one Shahid Shaikh. Shahid was riding the bike, the police said. He was picked up from his house in Rabodi and placed under arrest.
“Shahid said two sharp shooters were brought from UP to kill the MNS leader,” said an investigator.
The crime branch officials, who knew their names, received information about Mansuri’s arrival at Kathota Jheel in Lucknow, UP. A team was immediately dispatched to UP. The team, with the help of the UP STF, laid a trap around the junction. “As soon as Mansuri arrived, he was nabbed,” an officer said.
Mansuri told the police that he was paid Rs 2 lakh to kill Shaikh. He was contacted by one Osama, who had given him the cash. Mansuri alleged that the killing had taken place at the behest of Mulla.
“Shahid was given the responsibility of identifying Shaikh for Mansuri. He was riding the bike. He was arrested on November 27. Shahid had also helped them (Mansuri and Osama) escape,” an investigator added.
The accused was produced in a local court in UP on Saturday that granted the Thane Crime Branch his transit remand. The team is expected to reach Thane on Sunday.
Mulla did not respond to calls and messages by this correspondent. He was previously arrested in an abetment to suicide case after a builder from Thane, namely Suraj Parmar, had shot himself in October 2015. Parmar had left a suicide note in which he had accused Mulla and several other political party workers of harassing him for bribes.
As the news of Mulla’s involvement in Shaikh’s murder started spreading, locals on Saturday evening pelted stones at Mulla’s Thane office.
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