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Mumbai nightclubs now under scanner

The Rahul Mahajan case may well blow the lid off a drug cartel operating in Mumbai and Delhi.

india Updated: Jun 08, 2006 01:42 IST

The Rahul Mahajan case may well blow the lid off a drug cartel operating in Mumbai and Delhi. Spotting the telltale signs, police suspect that Sahil Zahroo and several of his high society contacts may be conduits in the operation. Highly-placed sources in the Delhi police told HT on Wednesday that they are looking for Haroon Sheikh, the owner of a popular Tardeo nightclub, and Sahil’s girlfriend Ria. She, the sources said, may well be the key to unravelling how widespread the cartel is, who its operatives are and who the kingpin is.

Police sources said that Ria, a former drug addict who underwent a protracted rehabilitation programme recently, owns a boutique at Napean Sea Road and is a known face in South Mumbai’s nightclubs.

The Delhi and Mumbai police have kicked off a joint effort to bust the cartel. On Wednesday, a team of officers from Delhi’s Connaught Place police station, led by Station House Officer Suresh Kaushik, arrived to meet Deputy Commissioner of Police (Zone I) Nawal Bajaj and other top officers of the Mumbai South region. However, Bajaj was away on leave.

Sources said Sahil had told interrogators that it was Sheikh who introduced him to Bibek Maitra, Pramod Mahajan’s former PA who died in the drug and alcohol binge last week. An analysis of Sahil’s mobile call list revealed that on the night of June 1, he made several calls to Mumbai, including to Sheikh. Interestingly, some of the calls are to Pakistani numbers.

The drug cartel angle to the entire case is getting stronger by the day since Abdullah, one of the three Nigerians arrested by the Delhi police in the case, has revealed his Mumbai connections. He is learnt to have said that he and his friends pushed drugs at some of Mumbai’s popular nightclubs. It was a police crackdown on these joints a year ago that forced him to shift to Delhi.

At Bajaj’s office, Kaushik was guarded in his comments. When asked why he was in Mumbai, he only said: “In connection with the Rahul case investigation.” When asked whether he was here to probe the drug cartel angle, Kaushik said, “The case is being investigated from all possible angles, including the drug angle.”

However, Additional DCP Manish Aggarwal, the senior Delhi officer who is supervising the case, told HT, “We are trying to limit the scope of our present investigation to this case. But, at the same time, we’ll pass on information about the drug cartel to the Narcotics Control Bureau in Delhi as and when we come across it. Otherwise, it will become impossible for us to handle both the cases.”