More than 150 "highly paid agents" have been working in Bangladesh for underworld don Dawood Ibrahim and his aide Chhota Shakil manages their payment, an intelligence official has revealed after last week's arrest of Bollywood music baron Gulshan Kumar's killer.
"We are confident that Dawood [Ibrahim] has more than 150 agents in Bangladesh who are paid monthly by Chhota Shakil," an unnamed senior Detective Branch (DB) official told the Daily Star.
However, Chhota Shakil's close associate, detained Abdur Rauf Daud Merchant, denied knowledge of any such network of agents in the country.
He also denied having killed Gulshan Kumar and said a person named Anil Sharma killed Kumar and that he was implicated in the case with false charges.
Talking to the Bangladeshi daily, Merchant said, "It is not impossible that Dawood Ibrahim and Chhota Shakil have agents in the country. But I do not know anybody."
He, denying all allegations of setting up a network and other plans, said: "I have come here only to hide and I have been trying to start a business."
DB Deputy Commissioner Monirul Islam told the paper that "so far as we know, Dawood Ibrahim and Chhota Shakil have some agents in the country and we are trying to trace and arrest them."
Merchant told the paper that he managed a Bangladeshi passport with fake documents for Taka 50,000 through a broker. He said Chhota Shakil, who is now staying in Dubai, sent him to Bangladesh.
"I have managed a passport, fake nationality certificate and other papers as documents so that I can obtain a trade licence for importing motorbike from Mumbai," said Merchant.
"I have never met and talked to Dawood Ibrahim. But I had regular contact with Chhota Shakil. It is not known to me whether Dawood Ibrahim and Chhota Shakil have visited Bangladesh," he added.
On May 27, DB officials had arrested Chhota Shakil's close aides, Indian nationals Daud Merchant and Zahid Sheikh, along with their Bangladeshi host Kamal from Brahmanbaria. The DB is interrogating them on an eight-day remand from Saturday.
DB sources said fugitives in India, both Merchant and Zahid managed Bangladeshi passports and fake nationality certificates. Zahid also managed a national identity card. On their Bangladeshi passports, Merchant adopted the name Abdur Rahman and Zahid took the name Arif Sheikh.
According to officials, Brahmanbaria Municipality Mayor Hafizur Rahman Mollah issued the nationality certificate and a birth registration certificate to Merchant.