1993 Mumbai blasts convict, now wanted for attempted murder

Mohammad Ehtesham Ghulam Rasool Shaikh, who was convicted of handling and transporting arms and being an active part of the 1993 blasts conspiracy and served a 10-year jail term, is now wanted for kidnapping, assaulting and attempting to murder four people for ransom

1993 bomb blasts convict Mohammad Ehtesham Gulam Rasool Shaikh aka Ballu, who served a 10-year term for his role in the explosions, which killed 257 people, is on the wanted list of the police again. He has been booked, along with 15 other people, for kidnapping, assaulting and attempting to murder four men.

Mohammad Ehtesham Gulam Rasool Shaikh
Mohammad Ehtesham Gulam Rasool Shaikh

While 14 accused have been arrested, Shaikh and another person are absconding. Shaikh, a history-sheeter, was convicted for handling and moving arms and ammunition for the 1993 blasts and for being an active part of the conspiracy (see box).

The shop in Grant Road where the four victims were kept after being kidnapped
The shop in Grant Road where the four victims were kept after being kidnapped

Diamond lure
Speaking to mid-day, one of the victims, Imtiaz Vadgama, 40, said that he had been introduced to Imran Namakwala, the prime accused in the case, through a mutual friend. In early August, Imran offered Imtiaz and three of the latter’s friends a chance to gain a foothold in the diamond business by giving them R7.5 lakh to carry out a deal.

Imtiaz and his three friends bought diamonds with the money and sold them for R10 lakh. They gave R8 lakh to Imran, who asked for the remaining Rs 2 lakh as well. Imtiaz claims he had promised Imran he would give him the money in a few days.

Kidnap
Imran called Imtiaz and his friends on Monday to his shop, Janata Electronics, at D B Marg in Grant Road on the pretext of offering them another diamond deal. When Imtiaz and the others got there, however, they were kidnapped and put in a closed room in the shop.

“For three days, my friends and I were beaten up badly by at least 8-10 people. We were blindfolded and one of the men who was assaulting us claimed to be Mohammad Ehtesham Gulam Rasool Shaikh, a convict in the 1993 bomb blasts case. He said, ‘Pura Mumbai mujhe janta hai’ (The whole of Mumbai knows me),” said Imtiaz.

Imtiaz said that on Monday, the day they were kidnapped, he was forced to give his brother, Irfan, a call and tell him that he was going to Surat for 3-4 days with his friends. On Tuesday, however, Irfan got a call from Imran, saying that his brother, Imtiaz, and his friends had been kidnapped.

Imran demanded a ransom of R30 lakh each for them. he said, “My brother could not approach the police immediately because he was scared something would happen to us if he did. He kept watch at the shop on Tuesday and finally approached the D B Marg police on Wednesday evening.”

Rescue
Within an hour, two teams from the D B Marg police went to the shop and rescued Imtiaz and his friends from the room. Senior Police Inspector Suresh Hujband of D B Marg Police station said, “Imtiaz’s brother approached us on Wednesday evening, after which we reached the spot — Janata Electronics —and rescued Imtiaz and his friends.

14 accused, including the owners, were arrested, from the shop. Two accused are wanted in the case, including 1993 bomb blasts convict Mohammad Ehtesham Gulam Rasool Shaikh.”

The 14 arrested accused
are Imran Namakwala, Irfan Namakwala, Shafiquebhai, Mohammad Ramish, Nabibhai, Balram Yadav, Sajid Gudekar, Hussain Kakdiya, Sahil Shaikh, Ravindra Yadav, Aatif Chapra, Imtiaz Ahmad, Maksud Momin and Alim Topi. All 16 accused have been charged under Sections 364A (Kidnapping for ransom), 307 (Attempt to murder), 342 (Punishment for wrongful confinement), 387 (Putting person in fear of death or of grievous hurt, in order to commit extortion), 464 (Making a false document), 467 (Forgery of valuable security, will, etc.), 471 (Using as genuine a forged document or electronic record) and 114 (Abettor present when offence is committed) of the Indian Penal Code.

History-sheeter
Ehtesham Shaikh was first arrested in April 1993 after the serial bomb blasts that killed 257 people. In 1999, he was granted bail by a Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act (TADA) court. In 2001, he was booked for attempts to murder and under the Arms act at the Agripada and Pydhonie police stations.

As the criminal cases piled up against him, he was charged with the Maharashtra Prevention of Disruptive Activities (MPDA) Act. After his arrest, the TADA court cancelled his bail application. Five years later, in 2006, Shaikh jumped bail again. But, in 2007, the TADA court ordered all the 1993 blasts accused to be present before the court and Shaikh had to report to Arthur Road prison.

The same year, the court announced its verdict in the case and Shaikh, who had served 10 years in imprisonment, already as an undertrial, was released from jail.

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