Even as the police continued to grope in the dark about the motive behind the murder or the identity of the killers of crime reporter J Dey for the ninth consecutive day, the crime branch on Sunday picked up informers and operatives from a particular notorious underworld gang for questioning in this connection.
Joint commissioner of police, crime, Himanshu Roy told the Hindustan Times that the operatives from the particular gang were part of the criminals, who were being questioned to get a lead in the scribe’s murder investigation.
“We are summoning criminals (apart from those summoned earlier), who could have possible links with the case or who could give us a lead about the killers,” said Roy, adding, “we are working on several leads before zeroing in on the most palpable ones.”
Meanwhile, highly placed sources in the crime branch told HT that the members of the underworld gang, who are presently being questioned have a traditional stronghold in the eastern suburbs of the city, Vikhroli/Mankhurd in particular. The gang specialises in gun-running and even supplying weapons for contract killing jobs for other gangs.
The kingpin of the gang, who is of South Indian origin, is suspected to be holed up in an African country at present.
Sources claimed that the members of the gang came under scanner as Dey had, in the past, extensively reported about the gang and its operation in the city.
The statement of assistant commissioner of police (ACP) Anil Mahabole was recorded by the police in connection with the allegations of intimidation made against him by Mid Day reporter TK Dwivedi (Akela). “He was asked about the allegations made by Akela against him and his statement was recorded,” Roy added.
Akela had alleged that Mahabole had visited him in the railway police lock-up in connection with a trespassing case and threatened him, following which Dey and his colleagues in the newspaper had lodged a complaint with home minister RR Patil. Patil had ordered an inquiry and an ACP level officer had recorded Akela’s statement in the case. Following Dey’s murder, Mahabole’s name had cropped up as Dey had been facing a defamation suit from the ACP alleging his underworld links in an article.
Though Mahabole denied the allegations, he had been shunted from his posting at the Azad Maidan division to the LA Control Room.
The Mumbai police later clarified that it was not a transfer but Mahabole had been attached to another place pending investigation in the Akela case.
The police on Sunday also dismissed the telephone call made from a Yemeni number to the Mumbai police control room, claiming Dey’s murder as a handiwork of terror group Indian Mujahideen as “bogus”. However, the work of tracing the caller is on.