50 disguises helped gangster evade cops
Underworld don Ejaz Lakdawala's gang-member Zakaria Bashir Khan, alias Jiku alias Salim (40), has a wardrobe as varied and diverse as that of an actor.
In the course of his many assignments, the gangster has tried out many a disguise, each designed with painstaking care to evade the long arm of the law. The gangster reportedly donned different outfits every time he trafficked consignments of arms and ammunition for his gang.
Crime Branch officials who searched Khan's Mahim residence after his arrest, have recovered all kinds of outfits, including a salwar kameez set -- stacked inside his cupboard.
Dressing the part
"It was like a theatre's greenroom. We found at least 50 different kinds of attire from his residence. The man himself has confessed that he got different haircuts for every assignment. The new personas were used to elude cops," a crime branch officer from Unit III divulged, on condition of anonymity. Members of the unit arrested five members of Lakdawala's gang last month -- Prashant Rao (32), Nilesh Jatanna (24), Riyaz Hussain Sheikh (43) and Khan -- under various sections of the Arms Act as well as on charges of extortion.
Khan's predilection for sartorial variety emerged while cops were interrogating him.
Asked why he had shaved his head off, he hesitated, and confessed that he often experimented with his looks, to confuse cops.
"Initially Khan was reluctant to reveal his trade secret. He tried to mislead us when we asked him why he was bald," the officer added.
Capitulating eventually, Khan disclosed that he had hidden several outfits at his Mahim residence. A team was dispatched to the spot to recover the garments that served as the tools of his trade. All the clothes are now part of evidence recovered for the case.
Khan's assignment in the gang was to hide weapons shipped by Lakdawala from abroad, and thereafter dispatch them to different gang members according to their requirements.
Khan, who has been booked under Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act, has been arrested in the past as well.