Mumbai: Mumbra takes fight to peddlers after local druggie's arrest

Updated: Dec 19, 2017, 12:44 IST | Faisal Tandel | Mumbai

Residents put up hoardings all across the suburb, appealing the police to not stop their crackdown on narcotics and the suppliers

Mumbra is on a frayed edge - whispers, gossip, rumours, truth are all swirling in the air since the recent arrest of a drug peddler from the area. Ironically, a much-loved police informer until a few days ago, Kumail Anwar Ali Merchant was arrested on Saturday from Panaji after his name cropped up in authorities' investigation into narcotics and its supply.

One of the hoardings against drug peddlers put up in Mumbra
One of the hoardings against drug peddlers put up in Mumbra

Deciding they've had enough, residents have put up hoardings and banners across the suburb, appealing the Thane police to take strict action against all those involved in the supply chain as well as bust the political nexus connected to it.

The hoardings call on law enforcement agencies to not slow down their attack on peddlers and ensure that all the kingpins and big fish are put behind bars. The residents want the accused hanged for "destroying the younger generation in the city".

Fall from grace
Sources said Merchant, who is in his 30s, was found in the Goa capital with his girlfriend Nagma. As her name had not come up in the probe, she was released. He was produced in court on Sunday and sent to police custody for two days.

Deputy Commissioner of Police, Thane Crime Branch, Abhishek Trimukhe confirmed Anti-Narcotics Cell's (ANC's) arrest of Merchant. "We are investigating further to find out all the links in the drug supply chain and gather information on the involvement of the arrested accused and others. We will see to it that court extends his custody," he said.

From being a small-time peddler, Merchant became a trusted informer of the Thane police, giving officers a tip-off about a Nigerian in 2016, which led to the busting of a R2,000-crore drugs haul, in which involvement of Vicky Goswami and Mamta Kulkarni was revealed.

Thane Police Commissioner Parambir Singh himself had rewarded Merchant for his relevant information. Merchant, however, had been providing information only about those peddlers who would refuse to take MD from him. He also started sharing information in cases of chain-snatching, house break-ins and thefts to gain senior officers' trust.

Step-by-step trace
Revealing how they got to Merchant, sources said the Thane police, in the first week of November, arrested two people with 75 g MD, based on constable Mahadev Chabukvar's information. The two said they had bought the drug from Mumbra-based Siraj Munshi.

"We arrested Munshi, who spilled the beans on Merchant, saying he was working for him. During interrogation, Munshi revealed that Merchant used to take drugs from one Javed Ansari, a Kurla resident. On December 9, ANC arrested Ansari. Merchant, however, absconded, even as the police searched for him across Mumbai, Thane and Navi Mumbai. Having been an informer, he knew of the department's ways of working. Finally, he was traced in Goa," said an officer.

Police play
Sources from the investigation team revealed that Munshi, during interrogation, told them that the Kasarwadavli police had arrested him in a chain-snatching case based on Merchant's tip-off. And later, trying to show Munshi that he was on his side, Merchant himself had bailed him out. "Merchant had been using Munshi, getting him involved in peddling and making him work for him," said a police officer.

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