An alleged Chhota Shakeel aide, wanted by the Crime Branch in connection with a land grabbing case in Malad, was arrested on his arrival from Dubai early on Thursday.
Iqbal Atarwala (44) was whisked away by waiting Crime Branch officials through the Customs channel around 11.30 am.
“Atarwala’s interrogation may unfold another facet of the Bollywood-underworld nexus in the coming days,” said Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) Rakesh Maria.
Atarwala was not produced in the court for remand, which prompted his lawyer R. Kunjuraman to cry foul. “The practice of producing an arrested accused within a 24-hour deadline is not applicable to him since a first information report was already filed against him,” he said.
Maria, however, said the accused would be produced in the court on Friday “within the stipulated legal time limit”.
A resident of Andheri, Atarwala has been accused of forcibly grabbing land measuring 2,304 sq metre in Malad (West) in December 2004.
In his complaint to the Crime Branch, the original owner of the land had alleged that Atarwala threatened him at the behest of Shakeel. Five people had barged into the plot, pulled the watchman out and taken possession of the land, the complaint said, following which the five had been arrested.
But Atarwala, who had fled to Dubai a month earlier, and Shakeel, reportedly holed up in Karachi, remained out of the reach.
Last year the Interpol had on the Mumbai police’s request (through the CBI), issued a Red Corner notice against Atarwala.
Maria said the Crime Branch had stepped up its effort to bring Atarwala back from Dubai and even waited for his arrival at the airport since a week. He refuted Kunjuraman’s claim that Atarwala had voluntarily returned. “Why did he not come back earlier?” Maria retorted.
Refuting allegations made by
Atarwala’s lawyer that his client feared reprisals from a Crime Branch official who investigated the case earlier, Maria added: “We have already appointed a new investigating officer. There will be no room for any complaint.”
A case had also been registered against Atarwala with the Economic Offences Wing in November 2003 for allegedly floating a fictitious construction firm. “The scam ran into crores of rupees,” Maria said. He also faces a case of extortion where Dawood aide Fahim Machmach and Shakeel are the co-accused.