The role of a particular faction of the underworld, with long-suspected links to rogue elements in intelligence agencies abroad, is among the leads the Mumbai Police’s crime branch is pursuing in its investigation of the August 11 violence at Azad Maidan.
Sources close to the investigation claimed a businessman from the western suburbs is suspected of handling the funds and the logistics for the job for which 40-50 youth with criminal antecedents were handpicked from the Nehru Nagar, Shivaji Nagar and Kurla areas. “All of them have been identified from the CCTV grabs and photographs,” said a senior crime branch officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Trouble had started at Azad Maidan when a section of the crowd at a rally called by some Sunni organisation to protest the attacks on Muslims in Assam and Myanmar went on the rampage attacking policemen and passers-by and damaging vehicles, both public and private.
Two people were killed and 63 injured, mostly policemen, during the protest.
The sources claimed that this trouble had been conceived, funded and perpetrated at the behest of the underworld faction to create unrest in society. “It was a well planned diabolic plan, which was executed with such finesse that it took the police by surprise,” sources said.
Joint commissioner of police, Crime, Himanshu Roy, refused to comment on the “progressing investigation”, only saying, “we are probing the incident from all possible angles.”
The sources claimed the involvement of this particular gang surfaced after the police managed to track down the source of some of the inflammatory SMSes to senders from across the border.
The SMSes and doctored photographs had been circulated in bulk in the city in the run up to the peace rally at Azad Maidan on August 11.