Mumbai murder plot: Man hired to kill activist tells cops Dawood aide brainwashed him on Facebook

Updated: Jan 30, 2018, 19:22 IST | Suraj Ojha

It took the D-Company a mere eight days to find and convince a youngster on Facebook to come all the way from Punjab to kill a social activist

Ibrahim may be a fugitive, but his gang continues to extort Mumbaikars. File Pics
Ibrahim may be a fugitive, but his gang continues to extort Mumbaikars. File Pics

It looks like ISIS is not the only terror outfit that does its head-hunting on social media. In fact, it took the D-Company a mere eight days to find and convince a youngster on Facebook to come all the way from Punjab to kill a social activist in Bandra. Days after his arrest, the would-be killer revealed how Dawood Ibrahim aide Fahim Machmach recruited him for the hit and to assist in the extortion of poker tycoon Amin Rozani.

Also read - Mumbai Crime: Dawood's aide traps wife's lover to teach him a lesson

On January 27, Mumbai crime branch arrested Jagbir Singh, 22, for conspiring the assassination of Bandra activist and garment shop owner, Shabnam Shaikh. Singh told the police that he was recruited through Facebook chat by one of Dawood's trusted aides, Fahim Machmach (see box).

Fahim Machmach took over D-Company's extortion business after don Dawood Ibrahim and Chhota Shakeel fled the country
Fahim Machmach took over D-Company's extortion business after don Dawood Ibrahim and Chhota Shakeel fled the country

Establishing D-Link
Machmach is based in Pakistan currently, but runs Dawood's extortion business in Mumbai from there. Last year, the gang had allegedly attempted to extort Rs 1 crore from Shaikh, but when that failed, Machmach began to plot her murder. He turned to Facebook to recruit the killer, sending friend requests to eight youngsters at random. Singh accepted his friend request and began warming up to him almost instantly. Machmach managed to befriend the 22-year-old, and learnt that he was a Std V dropout and unemployed. In just eight days, he lured Singh with the promise of easy money, and convinced him to try and shoot Shaikh.

The target, activist Shabnam Shaikh, had allegedly received extortion calls from the gang last year
The target, activist Shabnam Shaikh, had allegedly received extortion calls from the gang last year

Took shelter at gurudwara
According to sources from Mumbai police, Machmach gave him instructions on WhatsApp, and sent pictures of the target, her vehicle and details of her schedule to Singh. Singh, a resident of Amritsar, came to Mumbai to carry out the job. He found shelter at a gurudwara at Antop Hill, where his stay and food were free. Machmach told him to wait at the shrine, where a weapon would be sent for the murder. Fortunately, the police caught up with Singh before this could happen.

How they caught him
The police had been on the trail of the gang ever since the target, Shaikh, lodged an extortion complaint last year. She claimed that she had received a call from a person who identified himself as Dawood Ibrahim alias Rajasab. The caller alleged that Shaikh had taken some money to settle a dispute with a Bollywood actor, and demanded that she cough up Rs 1 crore. She registered a complaint with the Khar police, who transferred the case to the Anti-Extortion Cell. The first breakthrough came when the cops arrested two gangsters — Harish Yadav from Delhi and Bilal Shamshi from Bandra. Upon interrogating them, the cops learnt about the shooter, Singh. They arrested the youth from his hideout at the Antop Hill gurudwara.

Copspeak
A crime branch officer said, "Singh was also instructed to find out information on a Bandra-based businessman and an Andheri-based builder." Deputy Commissioner of Police Dilip Sawant (Detection) said, "The investigations are on. We are yet to record the statements of people who were under threat from the gang." The cops have also named Dawood, Chhota Shakeel and Machmach in the case.

Not much of a poker face
The shooter, Jasbir Singh, also revealed that he was given the task of getting information on poker tycoon Amin Rozani, who is the founder and managing director of The Spartan Poker. In the first week of this month, Rozani had also complained to the police that he received an extortion call for Rs 50 lakh. Despite mid-day's attempts to contact him, Rozani and his public relations team remained unavailable for comment. Sources said Singh further revealed that he had a third target for extortion — a top builder from Powai.

Machmach ado about Fahim
In the late '90s, Fahim came into limelight for making extortion calls. He got the moniker Machmach (nagger) because of his habit of nagging his victims on the phone. In 1993, after Dawood was declared a fugitive following the bomb blasts, Chhota Shakeel took over the extortion business. But after Shakeel fled the country, the job was assigned to Machmach. He later joined Shakeel in Karachi and has run the gang's operation from there ever since.

Rs 1cr Amount the D-gang demanded from the target
8 No. of potential recruits to whom Machmach sent Facebook friend requests

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