A special Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) court on Wednesday sentenced three henchmen of gangster Chhota Rajan, convicted for their involvement in the 2011 Pakmodia street firing case, to life imprisonment.
The court had acquitted key conspirators and Chhota Rajan lieutenants Umed Ishrat Sheikh, DK Rao, Umed’s brother Adnan, and Aasid Jaan Mohammed Shaikh. The crime branch is considering challenging the acquittal.
The prosecution had earlier sought for the death sentence for the accused, but on Wednesday submitted they would not press for capital punishment.
The convicts are now preparing to challenge the order before the Bombay high court.
According to the prosecution case, on May 17, 2011, two gunmen had fired outside the house of Dawood Ibrahim’s brother, Iqbal Kaskar, on Pakmodia Street in south Mumbai, killing Kaskar’s bodyguard-cum-driver Arif Syed Abu Bukha. Kaskar was not at home when the incident took place.
Arif was standing at the doorstep of Dambarwalla building, which is home to Kaskar, to scan visitors before entering the building, when two shooters came on a bike, wished him and shot him five times with a .45 bore Smith & Wesson revolver. Afterwards, both the shooters, 29-year-old Sayyed Bilal Mustafa Ali from Mumbra and 27-year-old Indra Bahadur Khatri from Nepal, were caught by local residents and handed over to the police. Hindustan Times had first reported about Sheikh, Chhota Rajan’s henchmen, having planned and executed the shootout on May 18.
Umed was instrumental in giving the shooters Arif and Iqbal’s photographs, and also making them familiar with Pakmodia street and the neighbouring areas. Investigations into the case led the ATS to catch four suspects identified as Qayoom Sheikh, Ahmed Munshi, Sajid Parvar Khan, and Umed’s cousin Adnan Idayat Sayyed.
The four were later handed over to the crime branch. The crime branch also arrested Abdul Rashad and Abdul Rashid Sheikh for their alleged involvement in the conspiracy. It was alleged that Rashad had supplied the weapons.
The prosecution had booked a close aid of underworld gangster Chhota Rajan, Umed and his cousin brother Adnan and Rao for hatching the conspiracy of attack.
The prosecution alleged the attack was planned to prove supremacy over the other gangs.
The court convicted Sayyed Bilal Mustafa Ali, Indra Khatri and Abdul Rashad Sheikh on the basis of eyewitness accounts and FSL reports. But the court acquitted all others, including Umed, Roa and Adnan, for lack of evidence.