Mumbai: Chhota Rajan gang member threatens witnesses in jail
Chhota Rajan gang member called two witnesses to Arthur Road jail and threatened them, saying “anything could happen” if they didn’t turn hostile, right under the noses of jail authorities
In shocking proof of just how unsafe witnesses are, a Chhota Rajan gang member called two witnesses to the Arthur Road jail and threatened them, saying “anything could happen” if they didn’t turn hostile, right under the noses of the jail and police authorities.
Rashad Abdul Rashid Shaikh even threatened the mother of one of the two witnesses. Representation pic
What’s worse, the police found out about the incident only after one of the threatened witnesses spoke about it in court in January. A chargesheet was filed in May. The accused, Rashad Abdul Rashid Shaikh, is one of the seven members of the Chhota Rajan gang who allegedly killed the driver of Iqbal Kaskar, who is the brother of gangster Dawood Ibrahim, on May 17, 2011 (see box).
The witnesses are two of Shaikh’s friends, Wahid Azmi and Ahmad Khan (names changed). A few days before the murder, Shaikh had allegedly kept three weapons used in the firing at Khan’s house and Azmi was present when Shaikh handed over the bag containing the weapons to Khan.
In November 2014, Shaikh’s brother, Asim Shah, went to Teli Mohalla near Bhendi Bazaar, where Azmi and Khan live, and asked them to visit Shaikh’s lawyers and tell them that their statements against Shaikh were taken forcefully by the police. Azmi and Khan, however, refused to comply.
In his statement to the Crime Branch, Azmi said, “Then, in the first week of December 2014, Shah came to my house when I was going out with my mother and told me that Shaikh had called me and Khan to Arthur Road jail, where he was lodged. My mother was very scared. I gave the message to Khan and he was also afraid of meeting Shaikh.
Since many relatives of Shaikh reside in our area, we did not even dare to complain about this to the police and avoided meeting Shaikh by giving various excuses.”
‘Anything can happen’
Shah kept calling Azmi’s mother to tell her that Shaikh had called her son and Khan for a meeting. In the first week of January, when Khan was at Azmi’s place, Shah went there and told them that Shaikh has asked to meet them at 3 pm on January 13.
Both witnesses told Shah that they wouldn’t be able to go as they were busy. Shah then told them that refusing to meet Shaikh could annoy him and that he could do anything if he was annoyed. Azmi stated that, “On January 13, when Shah came to pick us up, we refused to go, but Shah said that members of Shaikh’s gang could harm us. So Khan, my mother, and I went with Shah to Arthur Road jail to meet Shaikh.”
Shaikh met Azmi and Khan and told them to turn hostile before the court. When Azmi and Khan refused, Shaikh got angry and said that several Chhota Rajan gang members were not in jail and could do anything to the duo. He even threatened Azmi’s mother.
On January 30, Azmi went to the Special MCOCA court at Arthur Road jail, where the Pakmodia firing case is being heard, and, after recording his statement, he told the court about the threat. The judge asked the police to investigate the matter.
A senior official from the Crime Branch said, “The chargesheet against Shaikh was filed in May-end at the Esplanade Magistrate’s court. The chargesheet also names Shah as an accused, as he had also threatened the witnesses.
We have call and location records of the witnesses and Shah, and CCTV footage from the jail as evidence to prove that both witnesses did meet Shaikh. While in police custody to investigate these allegations, Shaikh also confessed that he had threatened both witnesses to weaken the prosecution’s case.”
On May 17, 2011, two gunmen had fired outside the house of Dawood Ibrahim’s brother, Iqbal Kaskar, on Pakmodia Street in south Mumbai, killing Kaskar’s bodyguard-cum-driver Arif Syed Abu Bukha. Kaskar was not present at the site when the incident happened.
Police had arrested seven accused; Indralal Khatri and Bilal Mustafa Ali Sayyed, who had pumped five bullets into Arif; Umed-Ul-Rehman, an alleged Chhota Rajan gang member who was suspected to have hatched the conspiracy; Rashad Abdul Rashid Shaikh, Adnan Sayed, Aasid Jan Mohammed Shaikh and D K Rao.