The Mumbai crime branch has initiated a drive to catch wanted and absconding criminals in previous cases. In the past three months, they have arrested more than 200 people for cases that have been pending for several years.
Some of the bigger names arrested include aides of Dawood Ibrahim and close relatives of Chhota Shakeel.
The drive has been started after looking at the number of pending cases and in most of them, the suspects have not appeared in court during the trial, despite several warrants.
During the drive, the police have arrested several suspects who were absconding for more than a decade and were living in different cities after changing their identity, said a senior crime branch officer.
The crime branch arrested Salim Mohammad Iqbal Qureshi alias Salim Fruit, who was involved in an extortion case registered against him in 2004. Salim is Chhota Shakeel’s brother in-law and a key member of Dawood Ibrahim’s gang.
Soon after Salim, unit 9 arrested Nadeem Ghulam Mistry, a former Dawood aide from Baroda in Gujarat, who was absconding for almost 20 years and was hiding in Gujarat after changing his identity.
On March 17, the anti-extortion cell arrested another one of Chhota Shakeel’s brothers-in-law, Arif Abu Bakr Shaikh alias Arif Bhaijaan, on charges of extortion.
Shaikh and Salim Fruit, along with eight others, had been deported to India from Dubai in 2006. Shaikh was arrested in connection with the murder of former Gujarat home minister Haren Pandya in 2003, but has been acquitted.
According to crime branch statistics, they have arrested 256 people, while 819 suspects, including wanted absconders have had warrants issued and proclamation formalities conducted against them. Crime branch officers said 138 people were arrested after warrants were issued against them, while nine wanted and 17 absconders were caught in the first two months of this year.
“We want to continue the drive until the figure goes down to zero. After two months, 342 wanted accused and 290 absconders are still at large,” said additional commissioner of police (Crime) KMM Prasanna.
A crime branch officer, on condition anonymity, said, “In most cases, the accused have changed their residential addresses and witnesses have also shifted, so it is very difficult to trace the suspects.”