A set of exclusive photographs in mid-day’s possession show how under-trial gangster Abu Salem has been meeting the woman he has sought court permission to marry on train journeys to Lucknow and Delhi for various trials.
The photographs show Salem with not only Sayyed Bahaar Kausar, 26, but also several family members. On one occasion he is seen talking on a cell phone at a railway station waiting room. Salem, currently lodged in the Taloja Jail, has been travelling to Lucknow and Delhi for the hearing of his cases that are on trial. The photographs were taken between 2012 and 2015.
Last June, Kausar had filed an application in court seeking permission to marry Salem. She had said newspaper reports in 2014 that claimed she had married Salem had “ruined her life”. She had claimed that the situation had left her “ineligible” for marriage and marrying the gangster was her only way out. These photos, however, call the couple’s bluff.
November 2013: Soon after Abu Salem was convicted to seven years imprisonment in a fake passport case
A week later, Salem had replied, accepting her proposal. He had told the court that he appreciated the “bold stand” taken by the woman. Apologising for the situation “he had inadvertently put her” in, he had said he would like to marry her “so that the woman can freely move around and be able to meet and answer all relatives, friends and well-wishers’ [questions] with her head held high in society.” The special TADA court judge had said the application would be considered at the final stage of the 1993 blast case trial. The court is currently hearing the final arguments in the trial.
February 2014: The couple sharing a meal immediately after getting married on a train to Uttar Pradesh
Sources close to the woman’s family reveal that the first meeting of Kausar, a wannabe actress, and Salem was in jail. Salem promised to give her a break in Bollywood through his contacts, following which their meetings grew more frequent. It was during this period that the two apparently fell in love. Kausar continues to meet Salem during his court hearings.
Reports in 2014 said Salem married Kausar in a running train in February that year in the presence of relatives and a police escort team. (The photograph in which the couple is seen sharing a meal was apparently taken immediately after the wedding.)
Gangster Abu Salem is escorted by a police team on his arrival at the Kalyan station on July 1 from Lucknow. Pic/Sameer Markande
Escorts under scanner
Other photographs prove that Kausar’s train visits were not just personal affairs. On many occasions, relatives from both sides joined the couple on their journeys.
Abu Salem chats on a mobile phone at the waiting room of the Lucknow railway station while under police scrutiny
Another photo paints a rather disturbing picture: that Salem’s escort team had given him access to a mobile phone during one of his trips. In one photograph, Salem is seen talking on a phone while inside the waiting room of the Lucknow railway station.
As per procedure, when Taloja Jail officials need to produce an under-trial prisoner in a court outside the state, they write to the Local Arms unit, which provides the escorts.
Sadanand Gaikwad, superintendent of the Taloja Jail said, “As per the procedure, we send a letter to the Local Arms Unit to escort the accused with conditions that no family member, friend or relative be allowed to meet him while he is being transported. We also ask the escort team to restrict the undertrial from eating any outside food. We instruct the Local Arms Unit to provide a strong escort team.”
Dilip Sawant, DCP, crime branch, Navi Mumbai, said he will comment on any lapse in security only after seeing the photographs for himself.
Abu Salem with wife
‘Can’t step out in peace’
Sources in Mumbra, where Kausar lives, said the neighbourhood is abuzz with rumours that she is pregnant. On June 22, Kausar – who family and friends call Heena — met mid-day with the help of her maternal grandfather Abdul Razzak Menon in his office.
Dressed in a burqa, she removed her veil to confirm her identity. She refused to answer questions about her relationship with Salem and rumours of her pregnancy. “The media has defamed me a lot,” she said. “I don’t want to speak anything about Salem. We have appealed in the court and will follow the court orders what they decide. I want to be a professional lawyer and am studying in the second year law in a Mumbra college.”
Cases against Salem
>> In February 2015, a special TADA court convicted and sentenced him to life sentence in for the murder of builder Pradeep Jain in 1995.
>> A special CBI court in Hyderabad in November 2013 convicted and sentenced him to seven years of jail in a fake passport case of 2001.
>> Salem is also an accused in a fake passport case being heard before the Special CBI Magistrate court in Lucknow.
>> Delhi’s Patiala House court is trying him for an alleged attempt to extort R5 crore from a businessman in 2002. Charges are being framed now.
>> Another fake passport cases for which Salem is being tried at the Patiala House court. Charges are currently being framed here, too.
>> Salem is being tried in the 1993 blasts case. Final arguments are being heard in the trial.