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Land dispute behind shoot-out?

mumbai Updated: May 20, 2011 01:32 IST
Stavan Desai
Stavan Desai
Hindustan Times
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Was a property dispute behind Tuesday's gunning down of Arif Zaveri, driver of fugitive don Dawood Ibrahim's brother Iqbal Kaskar?

Though they were unwilling to go on record, sources in the Mumbai police said their investigation into the shooting at Pakmodia Street points to the possibility that the Chhota Rajan gang may have ordered the hit because it was shortchanged in a property deal by Zaveri.

During interrogation, two of the four alleged shooters - Sayed Bilal Mustafa, 29, and Inderlal Khatri, 27 - who were arrested after 44-year-old Zaveri's murder disclosed that a man named Rehman had contacted them 10 days earlier and contracted the killing. Passers-by and Kaskar's close aides, Tabrez and Zameer, had caught the duo and handed them over to police.

Investigating this revelation, the police have found that Rehman's real name is Umaid, a resident of Mumbra.

"Earlier, he used to live in Chembur. He is a close aide of Chhota Rajan," said a police officer involved in the investigation, on condition of anonymity, as he is not authorised to speak to the media.

Chembur has traditionally been Rajan's stronghold. Umaid had a property dispute with Zaveri and had called him several times before the killing, the probe has revealed.

Though the two mobile phones that Zaveri alias Turbo was carrying when he was shot are missing, three other cellphones were recovered from Mustafa and Khatri, and these have helped the police zero in on Umaid.

"Umaid sold cutlery at Pydhonie and used this business as a front for his underworld activities," the officer said, adding that Umaid fled the city with his wife immediately after the killing.

Teams have now been formed to trace and arrest Umaid.

"Khatri broke his jaw [when he was roughed up by the people who caught him]. So interrogation is slow. Also, they are giving conflicting statements," said police spokesperson Rajkumar Vhatkar.

Zaveri was killed on Tuesday near Kaskar's residence by four shooters.