Stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) has been invoked against five people, including underworld don Dawood Ibrahim's younger brother Iqbal Kaskar and key aide Chota Shakeel, in an extortion case.
The MCOCA has been invoked against Kaskar and others in the first extortion case registered at the Kasarwadavali police station in Thane on a complaint filed by a builder.
“We have slapped MCOCA against all five accused in the first case of extortion. Two more cases have been filed against Kaskar. We have booked Dawood and Anees Ibrahim in one of the cases,” Madhukar Pandey, Joint Commissioner of Police, Thane, said,
Apart from the duo, MCOCA charges have also been slapped against Pankaj Gangar, Israr Sayyed, Mumtaz Shaikh, Abhishek Trimukhe, Deputy Commissioner of Police, Thane Crime Branch told Firstpost. Of the five, four have been arrested, while Shakeel is still wanted.
The Thane Police had been investigating extortion charges against Kaskar, after a Navi Mumbai based builder complained that Kaskar had made extortion calls to him demanding houses, the third such case against him in Thane.
"Kaskar had taken four flats from the builder and was demanding more," a police official said.
Kaskar, who was deported from the United Arab Emirates in 2003, is said to be operating his brother Dawood’s real estate business in the city, the police said.
However, it was Shakeel who is said to have masterminded the extortion racket. A police official, requesting anonymity, said, "Shakeel called builders and businessmen for extortion. He has been named as a wanted accused along with four others in connection with the extortion case."
The police had been preparing the groundwork for invoking MCOCA against the duo for some time now. According to a report in The Hindu, Thane Police had even asked the Mumbai Police to share details of cases registered against Shakeel as they could be useful in deciding whether the extortion cases could be considered an organised nexus. As Shakeel's role was established in the case, it became easy to invoke the tough law, an official said.
MCOCA is a stringent law in the state of Maharashtra which can be invoked only after the police can prove that the gang is organised and committing crime for pecuniary gains. It is also mandatory that at least two separate chargesheets have been filed against the accused people in the last ten years to slap MCOCA charges.
Under the MCOCA, an accused cannot obtain bail easily. Once these charges are invoked, the police is liable to get custody for the accused for a maximum of 30 days, as opposed to the 14-day limit under the Indian Penal Code (IPC). The accused is subject to a minimum of five-year imprisonment and a maximum of death sentence, if the charges are proven. Under MCOCA, the police also gets the leeway to file a chargesheet within 180 days, as opposed to the 60 to 90 day window under IPC. The law is essentially based on the premise that the accused will be considered guilty, until proven innocent.
“Dozens of chargesheets against Chhota Shakeel have proceeded to trial by the sessions court in the last 10 years," The Hindu report quoted a senior police official as saying.
Besides this, the involvement of another Mumbai-based businessman was also uncovered by the Thane Police. A businessman, Pankaj Gangar, was arrested by the Anti Extortion Cell (AEC) of Thane Police from his residence in Borivali for his alleged links with Kaskar, Trimukhe said. Gangar, reprotedly a Borivali-based 'matka' (gambling) king used to send Rs 10 lakh to Rs 15 lakh to Shakeel through hawala (illegal channel of sending money) per month, he said.
"Gangar was funding the extortion racket operated by Iqbal Kaskar. He was also involved in a cricket betting racket run by the gang," he said.
Kaskar was taken into custody from his house in Nagpada area in Central Mumbai on 18 September by a team led by encounter specialist and the anti-extortion cell's senior police inspector Pradeep Sharma after a complaint was filed against him by a builder, who was facing extortion threats since 2013.
In the first extortion case, the builder had paid Rs 30 lakh and given four flats to Kaskar and his aides as he was being threatened in the name of Dawood Ibrahim or his gang since 2013, he said.
Two more extortion cases were registered in Thane in which Kaskar, Shakeel, Dawood Ibrahim and his other brother Anees have been named as accused.
In 2003, Kaskar was deported from Dubai to Mumbai to face trial in a murder and the Sara Sahara case, which concerned the illegal construction of two shopping complexes on government land near Mumbai's Crawford Market.
With inputs from PTI
Updated Date: Oct 11, 2017 20:07 PM