The Navi Mumbai police who are investigating the shooting incident targeting underworld don Abu Salem inside Taloja Central Prison on Thursday, are in a quandary with Salem and his shooter Devender Jagtap alias JD making contrasting allegations as to who sanctioned the hit.
While JD has dropped the name of D-Company affiliate Chhota Shakeel, Salem has been suspecting the role of Mustaffa Dossa, who had attacked him inside the Arthur Road Jail in 2010. The cops are waiting to get Jagtap’s custody to interrogate him and get some clues to the man behind the firing.
“Only after getting JD’s custody will things become clearer to us,” said Additional Commissioner of Police Fateh Singh Patil, Navi Mumbai. JD earlier told cops that he got the supari (gangland slang for assassination order) from Shakeel to bump off Salem.
Foiling the merger
Mumbai Crime Branch sources speculate that D-Company had learnt that rival Chhota Rajan wanted Salem to join his gang, which has been thinning with many members having lost their lives or been arrested: Farid Tanasha killed in shootout, Bharat Nepali and Ijaz Lakdawala slain outside country, O P Singh killed in Nashik Jail by Rajan himself, Ravi Pujari quitting gang to float own outfit, Bunty Pandey lodged in jail, Guru Satam setting up his own gang and Santosh Shetty firmly behind bars.
“As a bunch of people had left the Rajan gang, he had been searching for associates and he thought Salem had the experience as well as the skill to execute the gang’s jobs. If the Portuguese treaty is adhered to, Salem can be sent to the European country where he may be set free and join hands with Rajan,” said an officer from Mumbai Crime Branch. All this was not to the liking of Shakeel, who may have ordered the killing to thwart an alliance between Rajan and Salem, the sources said.
After Shetty split ways with Rajan to form his own gang, he was arrested. He has now joined hands with Shakeel and for the last one year, Shakeel has been taking care of his expenses.
Supari passes hands
“Shakeel had given the job of killing Salem to Shetty who assigned it to JD, who was in the same jail as Salem. If the country-made pistol had not jammed, Salem could have been dead, considering that one of the bullets missed him, the second grazed his hand and the third got locked inside the pistol,” said the officer.
Cops said JD was in desperate need of money. Since he allegedly gunned down lawyer Shahid Azmi in 2010, he has been in jail. The police have decided to question his wife, who had met him before Thursday’s shootout, to find out who provided the firearm to him. He has named one Manoj Lahamane, who the police are on the hunt for.
“We are not ruling out other motives. There is a possibility that Salem planned the whole thing to show he is under threat and exploit the situation to ask the government to abide by the treaty and send him back to Portugal. He would be free there to join hands with Rajan,” said an investigator from Navi Mumbai police.