TEN MEN, suspected to be aides of underworld don Dawood Ibrahim, were deported by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and taken in custody by the Mumbai Crime Branch on Tuesday.
The police are yet to formally arrest them. Meeran Borwankar, chief joint commissioner of police, Crime Branch, said the arrests would be made in the next few days on the basis of the cases pending against them and the investigations of 10 teams of officers.
But there is more to the deportation than is immediately apparent. An officer, requesting anonymity, said the deportation of the men was an indication of the growing rift between Dawood Ibrahim and his lieutenant Chhota Shakeel.
“Dawood is wary of Shakeel’s growing clout as he controls most of the shooters as well as the gang’s extortion and counterfeit-currency operations,” said the officer.
Police records show that 40 gangsters had been detained in Dubai recently. Of them, only 10 have been deported.
They are all Shakeel’s relatives and alleged associates. Among the relatives deported are Shakeel's brother-in-law Arif Shaikh alias Bhaijaan, who was allegedly involved in sheltering two assassins of Gujarat MLA Haren Pandya; Salim Qureshi, who reportedly runs Shakeel’s drug empire in Dubai and London, and Shahid Qureshi, who is named in several extortion cases.
Deputy Commissioner of Police (crime) Dhananjay Kamlakar said the Shakeel faction had been virtually crippled by the deportations.
Among the deported men are Shakeel Ahmed Shaikh alias Khota, who reportedly collected “protection money” from businessmen in south Mumbai, and Azim Fazlani, wanted in connection with the case against the film Chori Chori Chupke Chupke.