Accused confesses to stealing over 200 cars and relaying them to UP, where some were sold and others were used his brother's election campaign
The symptoms of the feverish electioneering in Uttar Pradesh prior to the February polls have been manifested in Mumbai. During the course of a murder probe, the police uncovered an auto theft racket organised to fund and facilitate campaigning in the northern state.
Nusrat Ali Khan
On December 26, the Navi Mumbai police arrested Nusrat Ali Khan alias Jabir Ali (37), a Turbhe resident hailing from UP, for murdering a city trader. After interrogating the murder accused, cops learned that he was also the kingpin of a vehicle theft mafia. While he was being grilled, he confessed to stealing over 200 cars from the city to be sold and employed for his brother's UP poll campaign.
His statements reveal some startling facts on how the cars stolen from the city are sold to politicians in northern India.
Officials said that Khan was arrested with three others for murdering a Ghatkopar-based scrap importer, Ashish Bhansal (40) in December. The other accused have been identified as Amir Khan (27) who resides in Khopoli, Asif Hussain (28) who resides in Mumbra and hails from Rajasthan, and Rizwan Wadia (21), a Uttar Pradesh native who resides in Dharavi.
"Bhansal was kidnapped by the accused for a ransom of Rs 50 lakh. The accused called up his family and managed to extort Rs 41 lakh from them. But after receiving the ransom, the accused shot him dead," said Senior Inspector Sanjeev Kamble of Navi Mumbai Crime Branch. Officials found out that two of the cars involved in the murder were stolen, and that like most vehicle lifters, Khan must be part of a major syndicate.
Car-nama:Two of the cars, also stolen, that were involved in the murder
of a trader from Ghatkopar, who was killed by Nusrat ali Khan and his
associates last month. pics/Gopal Shah, Atul Kamble
While questioning, Khan confessed that he was not only involved in but was pivotal to stealing over 200 four-wheelers from Mumbai and exploiting them for canvassing in UP, while channeling the funds from the sale of some of them to the campaign.
"This is evident as the accused's brother Barkat Ali is contesting elections from Pratapgarh in UP as an independent candidate. Since he does not have a strong political backing, the vehicles stolen from the city are being used for his election campaign. We have learned that the vehicles were sold to random people in order to finance the campaigning expenses. We are interrogating him to get to the truth," confirmed Senior Inspector Shamsher Pathan of Antop Hill police station.
After Khan's confession, several police stations in the city and the Crime Branch have made a beeline to get his custody in cases related to vehicle theft registered in their jurisdiction.
"Already Bandra, Wadala, Matunga, Sion and Navi Mumbai police have approached us for the custody of Khan. But the Antop Hill police station where the accused is involved in stealing a credit card and a Pajero, are the first one to get him," said a Navi Mumbai police officer.
The growing number of vehicle thefts is a major cause of concern for the Mumbai police. On Tuesday, while addressing the media, Joint Commissioner of Police Himanshu Roy said that, "As elections gets closer, there is always a drastic rise in vehicle theft cases. These vehicles are used for election campaigning."
To tackle the crime, the Mumbai Crime Branch has formed a special squad that will only investigate cases of vehicle thefts in Mumbai.
The number of vehicle theft cases in Mumbai in 2011
The number of vehicle theft cases in 2010