` 2-cr heist: Cops have ma­jor lead based on ve­hi­cle num­ber

DNA (Daily News & Analysis) Mumbai Edition - - FRONT PAGE -

an APMC veg­etable dealer Arun Menku­dale’s house on Fri­day in which cash and jew­ellery worth Rs 2.09 crore were robbed at gun­point within 15 min­utes. The rob­bers posed as courier staff to gain en­try into the house.

Ac­cord­ing to the po­lice, four teams have been formed and the po­lice have CCTV footage of the ac­cused. An of­fi­cer claimed that they have iden­ti­fied two per­sons from the footage and have the regis­tra­tion num­ber of the ve­hi­cle in which they fled.

The po­lice claim that the rob­bery was pre-planned and the ac­cused may have acted on a tip-off. “We are on the look­out for them and the ar­rests will be made in a day or two if ev­ery­thing turned out to be ac­cord­ing to our plans,” said a se­nior po­lice of­fi­cer. The Agri­pada po­lice on Satur­day ar­rested a teenager from Gu­jarat for al­leged ex­tor­tion calls and mes­sages to four Mum­bai-based busi­ness­men us­ing fugi­tive gang­ster Da­wood Ibrahim and gang­ster Arun Gawali’s name.

The youth told the po­lice that he was in­spired by Ra­jinikanth-star­rer and wanted to be­come a ‘don’. He has been iden­ti­fied as Im­ran urf Mohsin Firoz Khan, 19.

Ac­cord­ing to the po­lice, the ac­cused ini­tially called a busi­ness­man and claimed that he is the right-hand man of Gawali and de­manded Rs 10 lakh. He threat­ened to kill his son. While in an­other in­ci­dent, he al­legedly sent mes­sages to three busi­ness­men in­tro­duc­ing himself as the right-hand man of Da­wood, de­manded Rs 5 lakh and threat­ened to kill their sons too.

“In the span of four days more than four peo­ple ap­proached us with sim­i­lar com­plaints. We reg­is­tered two sep­a­rate cases and be­gan our probe. We traced the caller’s lo­ca­tion to Vapi and ar­rested him. During the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, he con­fessed to get­ting the vic­tims’ num­bers from a store in Mum­bai where he worked for three months,” said a po­lice of­fi­cer. Tak­ing con­trol of the ma­jor fire that broke out in the Behram­pada area in Ban­dra east on Thurs­day was not an easy task for the Mum­bai Fire Brigade. Fire of­fi­cials claim the slum dwellers in the area are in­fa­mous for in­ter­rupt­ing the fire­fight­ing.

In 2015 too, the fire­men strug­gled with the lo­cals. Fol­low­ing the dam­age, a case was reg­is­tered in Nir­mal Na­gar po­lice sta­tion. How­ever, on Thurs­day too, the fire­men and po­lice ex­pe­ri­enced the same dis­rup­tion, in ad­di­tion to deal­ing with crowds during the de­mo­li­tion drive.

“The slum clus­ter has a his­tory of fires and the lo­cals try to dom­i­nate the fire­fight­ing op­er­a­tions. We not only take an ex­tra force of fire brigades but also have to be ready for self-de­fense,” said PS Ra­hang­dale, chief fire of­fi­cer.

Ac­cord­ing to sources from the po­lice, an ex­tra po­lice force had been de­ployed on Thurs­day. While the po­lice claim to have car­ried out the op­er­a­tions smoothly, the fire­fight­ers have a dif­fer­ent story to tell.

“They dis­con­nect the cou­pling at­tached to fire en­gines. In the past, they have taken charge of fire brigade ve­hi­cles. When­ever we get a fire call from Behram­pada, we have to ask for an ex­tra po­lice force to han­dle the crowd,” an­other of­fi­cer said.

“When­ever we get a fire call from the area, our fire­men get psy­cho­log­i­cally stressed as fac­ing the irate crowd is a chal­leng­ing task. The slum dwellers snatch the wa­ter noz­zle from while we at­tempt to con­trol the fire strate­gi­cally,” the of­fi­cer added. A day after the ar­rest of Shab­bir Khan, the po­lice have come across names of at least five to six more per­sons who were in­volved in the ar­son con­spir­acy.

The po­lice and BMC of­fi­cials claim that a fire takes place in the area ev­ery six months. The idea is that once the houses are gut­ted, the lo­cals claim that their doc­u­ments were de­stroyed, and as a re­sult, sev­eral new il­le­gal hut­ments soon crop up which they later sub­let.

Ac­cord­ing to the po­lice, the wanted-ac­cused in­di­vid­u­als had al­legedly poured kerosene on the roofs of hut­ments and Khan had al­legedly opened a gas cylin­der to let it blow up so that the de­mo­li­tion drive could be brought to a halt. The ac­cused opened the gas cylin­der after of­fi­cials reached the area to de­mol­ish hut­ments in com­pli­ance with the High Court’s or­ders.

Sources from the po­lice and BMC said that there will be a re­newed de­mo­li­tion drive in the area.

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