Congress candidate's son stole tankers to fund father's campaign

Dhule MLA candidate Sabir Shaikh’s son, Abutala, was part of a gang that would steal unattended tankers and dumpers and then sell them as scrap; cops suspect this loot was being used to fund Shaikh’s election campaign

With the Assembly elections around the corner, a youth Congress leader has been arrested for stealing tankers and dumpers from the city. The youth’s father is an MLA candidate from the Dhule constituency, and police suspect that the income derived from the sale of the stolen vehicles may have been used to fund the poll campaign.

Abutala Sabir Shaikh Ali Hussain Mustaq Shaikh Aslam Khalil Shaikh
(Left to right) Abutala Mohammed Sabir Shaikh son of Congress Dhule MLA candidate Sabir Shaikh allegedly stole dumpers and tankers from the city with his accomplices Ali Hussain Mustaq Shaikh and Aslam Khalil Shaikh

According to the Sewri police, the youth was identified as Abutala Mohammad Sabir Shaikh, son of Congress MLA candidate from Dhule, Sabir Shaikh.

Two of his accomplices Ali Hussain Mustaq Shaikh (25) and Aslam Khalil Shaikh (50) had been arrested for vehicle thefts in the first week of October, and after they revealed Abutala’s involvement, the youth was arrested on Tuesday.

Modus operandi
Investigations revealed that Abutala has been involved in stealing dumpers since January 2013. The two drivers, Ali Hussain and Aslam, would look for heavy vehicles to steal from Indira Nagar in Sewri. “If they noticed any dumpers or tankers without a driver, they would steal it on the spot,” said Rajendra Tikekar, assistant police inspector from Sewri police station.

They would then contact Abutala in Dhule to turn the vehicle into scrap and sell it from his yard. “In case the truck didn’t have sufficient diesel to reach Dhule, Abutala would enlist the help of one Raju Bhagat, who would supply diesel to them,” Tikekar added. Bhagat is wanted in the vehicle theft cases and is on the run.

With the arrest of the trio, police claim to have solved five cases of vehicle thefts, of which Abutala has a hand in at least three. “Abutala was handling the family scrap business in Dhule which his father used to take care of earlier.

Since it is the only family business, we think the illicit income was routed for campaign funding,” said an officer from Sewri police station, requesting anonymity.

Break through
Police got a lead in the thefts in the last week of September, when Ali Hussain was seen driving one such dumper. An eyewitness informed the police about this, and, accordingly, police laid a trap and nabbed Hussain from his Indira Nagar residence on October 2. He revealed the role of Aslam, who was picked up on October 5, and Abutala, whom police arrested from Dhule.

Police said the youth leader tried threatening the policemen and using his political clout to evade arrest, but the officers brought him in nevertheless. Tikekar told mid-day, “Six cases of dumper thefts were reported since January 2013, of which we have recovered one dumper from Abutala’s possession in Dhule.”

When asked if the money had been used to fund poll campaigning, Tikekar replied, “There is an indication, but we are  investigating from all possible angles.” The cops are yet to ascertain whether the MLA candidate’s son regularly dealt in stolen vehicles.

The trio was booked under Sections 379 (theft), 418 (cheating with knowledge that wrongful loss may ensue to person whose interest offender is bound to protect) and 34 (common intention) of the Indian Penal Code, and remanded in police custody till October 13.

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