On Tuesday night, Sayyed Billal Mustafa and Indra Khatri reached 15, Pakmodia Street and lay in wait for Arif Zaveri, the driver of Iqbal Kaskar. On spotting him, they shot him at point-blank range.
Kaskar is the brother of India’s most wanted don, Dawood Ibrahim.
Preliminary investigations hint at the hand of Chhota Rajan, a henchman of Dawood who turned against him the 1993 serial blasts. Rajan is thought to be hiding somewhere in South Asia.
“It could be a symbolic act, done just to show that Rajan can get to Dawood’s men. But we are investigating all possibilities,” said Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) Himanshu Roy.
The shooting is being referred to in police circles as a major hit because no gang has ever reached the doorstep of Ibrahim, now declared a global terrorist, or his family members.
Zaveri was a resident of Jogeshwari, and travelled alone every day to Kaskar’s office. “If Zaveri was the target, he could have been killed in Jogeshwari or anywhere else,” said Roy, pointing out that his murder close to where Kaskar lived was significant.
Arif was standing near Dambarwala Building, where Kaskar lives, scanning visitors when Khatri and Mustafa drove up to him on a motorcycle and shot him five times with a .45 Smith & Wesson revolver from close range.
“The shooters planned to escape in a taxi,” said Roy. “I have never heard of city gangsters using a .45,” he added.
Police sources said on condition of anonymity as they are not authorised to speak to the media that the hand of Rajan lieutenant Vicky Malhotra, who may have fled the country after getting bail, is suspected.
The logistics for the shoot-out were taken care of by a wanted Rajan gangster from Nagpada, known only as Umed. Police sources said Umed was helped Khatri and Mustafa get photographs of Zaveri and Kaskar and also got them familiar with Pakmodia street and its surrounding areas.
Crime Branch officials said the plot was hatched in Nepal. Khatri came to Mumbai and stayed in a cheap lodge near where the shooting occurred.
Khatri claims he came to Mumbai to look for a job.