To make a watertight case against those involved in the Malwani hooch tragedy that claimed 104 lives, the Mumbai crime branch is taking the statement of Irfan, a Gujarat-based transporter.
Crime branch sources said Irfan will not be made an accused as he did not know the reason behind Mansoor Latif Khan alias Ateeq ordering the methanol he transported.
“Irfan is just a transporter, who used to transport methanol, and give it Mansoor. He did not know Mansoor was running an illegal country liquor racket in Malwani. He will be one of the prime witnesses in the case,” said a crime branch officer, requesting anonymity.
The crime branch has also recorded the dying declarations of some of the victims, which will further strengthen the case against the accused. Officials, who are questioning Irfan, are trying to find out the places in Gujarat from where methanol is being supplied.
Preliminary interrogations have revealed that major dealers of methanol were in Vapi, Silvassa, Ahmedabad and Navsari.
“The focus of the investigation is to identify the dealers, and how they procure methanol. We also want to find out if they have the requisite licences to deal in methanol. Once we identify the suppliers, and if they are found operating illegally, necessary action will be taken against them,” added the officer.
Mansoor Latif Khan alias Ateeq, who was arrested from Delhi on Tuesday, told the police that he made connections with people in Gujarat because of his father. He said he used to accompany his father to Gujarat.
“His father also dealt in illicit liquor till his death in 2009. Mansoor later established contacts with dealers his father used to do business with, and carried the business forward,” said the officer.
Mansoor allegedly procured methanol from a Gujarat-based businessman and brought it to Mumbai in tempos with the help of Irfan, investigations revealed.
The latest batch of methanol was procured at Rs18,000 per drum, and Mansoor sold it to Francis D’Mello and Salim Shaikh alias Gentle for Rs27,000. The crime branch will now send a team to Gujarat to verify the claims made by both Irfan and Mansoor.