Over two decades after foraying into terrorism with the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts, it seems Dawood Ibrahim’s gang is turning its focus back to extremist violence.
The mobster’s D-Company and key lieutenant Chota Shakeel are trying to foment communal trouble in India and may have a key role in planning the murders of several BJP and Hindu outfit leaders across the country, a National Investigation Agency probe suspects.
Investigators have found a D-gang link to three such recent incidents – the murder of two BJP leaders in Gujarat’s Bharuch and conspiracy to kill a Hindutva leader in Karnataka. Similar killings were also in the works in Surat, officials said.
“It seems the D-company is under pressure from Pakistani spy agency ISI to do something to create communal trouble in the country,” said an investigator.
The revelations came a week after it emerged that India was planning to formally seek evidence from Pakistan in connection with the November murder of Shirish Bangali, former BJP president in Bharuch, and Pragnesh Mistry, the city’s youth wing general secretary.
“Letters Rogatories or judicial requests to assist in probe, will be sent to Pakistan soon to seek evidence with regard to Chota Shakeel and his key henchman Javed Chikna,” said NIA chief Sharad Kumar.
The decision was based on a probe that suggested the two leaders – who were shot by masked men – may have been killed at Chikna’s behest.
Last month, Karnataka Police arrested Syed Niyamath, an alleged criminal-turned-jihadi, on charges of planning the killing of a Hindutva leader on Chota Shakeel’s instructions. The NIA now intends to seek more information from Karnataka Police about the plot.
“The Bharuch killings were clearly a terror conspiracy to disturb the communal harmony of the area. The evidence gathered so far indicate a role of key D-Company henchman Chota Shakeel and Javed Chikna,” added the NIA chief.
Sources say the initiative to target BJP leaders in Bharuch came from the D-Company. They roped in criminals to carry out the killings through Chikna’s brother Abid Patel, who has been arrested.
Besides Bangali and Mistry, they had plans to kill at least three more leaders – Prakash Modi, Viral Desai and Jaykar Maharaj – in Bharuch. The accused, who are allegedly petty criminals, were told they would be made in-charge of betting and gambling networks in Gujarat in lieu of their cooperation in killings. In Surat, Chikna was to rope in criminal elements and ask them to draw up a hit list.
The D-Company’s first brush with terror came when Dawood and Tiger Memon carried out the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts that killed 257 people. The prime accused fled to Karachi after the attack and have been operating out of Pakistan ever since.