Shops and restaurants have downed shutters. Shopkeepers, peeping from behind half-open windows, have clammed up, too. Fear and uncertainty has gripped residents of Arab Galli in south-central Mumbai’s Dongri area.
Twenty-four hours after a local strongman with alleged mafia links was shot dead by two gunmen, police are clueless about the motive and assailants’ identity.
Locals were evasive about the incident. ‘Why do you want to know? By talking about it, we do not want to be the next to die,’ was the standard response.
On Wednesday night Zahid Hassan Mir (50) alias Chote Miyan and his nephew Arshad Abrar Husain Sayeed (50) were sitting in a shed outside an under-construction building with their employees Abdul Wali Qureshi and Jagmohan Pal, when two men fired five rounds at them and fled.
Zahid, who was hit on his head by a .32 bore weapon died on the spot. Arshad who suffered bullet injuries on his head died seconds later. Qureshi and Pal were admitted to J.J. Hospital.
“Zahid’s underworld connections were known. But he did not even carry a mobile phone and maintained a low profile,” said an employee of a restaurant that was among the few in the street which were open.
The police do not have details about the victims’ background even as they say it was a case of rivalry between underworld gangs. “We do not know who they were,” said Sanjay Kadam, senior police inspector with the Nagpada police station.
Rakesh Maria, joint commissioner of police (crime) said they were preparing sketches of the suspects and had sent the cartridges found on the spot for examination.
On April 3, after seven men stabbed to death police informer Irfan Chindi at J.J. Marg, it was alleged that Zahid had got the murder executed.
Kadam said the police were looking at all angles.
“We are verifying whether Zahid was actually a member of the Dawood Ibrahim gang or a regular businessman. We are also probing whether he had any involvement in Chindi’s killing.”
According to police sources Zahid owned a club named Bharat, a matka den and a guesthouse near his residence in Motiwala Chawl. He also had a share in a 15-storeyed under-construction building.
“We’ve also heard that he was involved in a match-fixing deal which could be one of the reasons of his murder,” said a police informer.