Unit IX of the Crime Branch is on its toes these days. It’s trying to locate the whereabouts of Raju Khatri, the brains behind the plan to blackmail Dipesh Mehta, who is the lawyer to actor Salman Khan. On December 16, Mehta’s office at Bandra (West) received a bouquet with a live cartridge and a letter demanding Rs 2 crore.
The bouquet was delivered by Aftab Salim Sheikh, who was captured on CCTV cameras. Sheikh, a resident of Mahrolli Pratap Nagar, then called up the lawyer several times, demanding the money. The man has several cases of chain snatching registered against him.
The lawyer negotiated smartly on the phone with Sheikh and convinced him to accept Rs 2 lakh in cash, in exchange for legal help in the future, which would help him evade arrest (‘Lawyer sweet talks extortionist into arrest’, December 22). Sheikh took the bait and showed up on Saturday afternoon near Mehboob Studios to collect the money, where he was promptly arrested by the police who lay in wait. His accomplice Anthony Dias was also arrested.
Going after Khatri
During interrogations with Sheikh and Dias, Khatri’s name cropped up. In September 2012, Sheikh was arrested for chain-snatching and sent to Arthur Road jail, where he met Khatri and Dias. Khatri concocted the plot to extort money from the lawyer. “As we started collecting data on Khatri, we came to know that he had a girlfriend in his locality. We approached her and convinced her to call up Khatri and ask him to meet her, claiming she had a serious crisis to deal with,” said one of the crime branch officers on condition of anonymity.
According to the police, everything went as per the plan. The girl arrived at the Crime Branch’s Bandra office on Tuesday afternoon and called up Khatri on the instructions of the cops. “We were monitoring the conversation over the speaker phone. The girl spoke to Khatri for a while and then asked him to meet her and lend her some money, claiming that she needed it badly.
On hearing this, Khatri abused the girl and told her he was aware that she was talking at the behest of the investigators,” added the officer. The crime branch officers were left aghast on hearing this. Investigations have now come to a standstill, Khatri has been alerted and he has, in all probability, changed his cell phone number as well as his hideout.