Chhota Rajan henchman ran extortion racket from jail

An investigation by the anti-extortion cell (AEC) of the Mumbai crime branch has revealed how gangster Chhota Rajan’s former henchman, Yusuf Suleiman Kadri alias Yusuf Bachkana, who has his own gang, was running an extortion racket from Hindalga central jail in Belagavi district of Karnataka, where he is serving a life term.
Bachkana, police officers said, ran the racket with the help of two people from Mumbai. (FILE)
Bachkana, police officers said, ran the racket with the help of two people from Mumbai. (FILE)
Published on Aug 08, 2021 11:57 PM IST
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ByManish K Pathak, Mumbai

An investigation by the anti-extortion cell (AEC) of the Mumbai crime branch has revealed how gangster Chhota Rajan’s former henchman, Yusuf Suleiman Kadri alias Yusuf Bachkana, who has his own gang, was running an extortion racket from Hindalga central jail in Belagavi district of Karnataka, where he is serving a life term.

Bachkana, police officers said, ran the racket with the help of two people from Mumbai — 57-year-old Tilak Nagar resident Habiba Khan, a widow of a Rajan gang member, and Prakash Kunchikurve, a sweeper employed with the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).

Born and brought up in Dharavi, Khan was married to Hussain Ahmed Khan alias Hussain Ustara, a smuggler and member of the Dawood Ibrahim gang, who died in 2002 due to cardiac arrest. Rajan used to visit his residence in Tilak Nagar with his other henchman DK Rao.

According to joint commissioner of police (crime branch) Milind Bharambe, Dharavi resident Kunchikurve was also on Bachkana’s payroll since long.

Both Khan and Kunchikurve were arrested by the AEC after Bachkana was booked in Mumbai on June 8 for threatening a Ghatkopar-based builder, and then arrested and brought to Mumbai on July 22.

Their interrogation revealed the modus operandi. Khan used to visit offices and new project sites of builders in Mumbai, Thane and Navi Mumbai, pretending to be a prospective flat or shop purchaser and used to collect all information about the builder, the firm, its partners, their old and new projects, and also look into their financial status and political links. She used to pass all the information, including personal contact details to Bachkana, who would then threaten the builder and force him to pay them a ransom.

In case of the Ghatkopar builder, Khan had visited the site in May 2021, pretending to be a flat purchaser. As usual, she visited the site alone and took an auto to reach the site. After gathering information about the developer, she contacted Bachkana through WhatsApp. Police officers said she also used other mobile apps to send messages and communicate with Bachkana. The builder started getting calls from May 19. Fed up with the calls, he lodged a police complaint on the basis of which Ghatkopar police registered an FIR on June 8. The case was later transferred to the AEC for further probe.

Initial investigation revealed that the threatening calls originated from Hindalga central jail in Belgavi where Bachkana was lodged. The extortionist had called the builder many times and sent his recorded clips and also threatened the builder with dire consequences if he failed to pay him Rs50 lakh.

“We then wrote to the jail authorities and the Karnataka government as well and obtained a production warrant for arresting and bringing Bachkana to Mumbai,” said deputy commissioner of police Prakash Jadhav, of the crime branch. “We have also asked the jail authority to investigate as to how Bachkana was allowed to use a mobile phone inside the jail and recover the used phone and send it to the AEC for further probe. But they have not yet recovered the phone,” added the crime branch officer.

During interrogation, Bachkana revealed the name of Kunchikurve who used to go to meet him in the court on hearing dates and on his direction, Kunchikurve had procured Khan’s latest mobile number and gave it to him. Bachkana also revealed that he spoke to Khan on the phone from jail. As per his instructions, Khan gathered information of the builder and passed the same on to him. Police officers said Bachkana has confessed that Khan had passed the Ghatkopar builder’s details and contact number to him, said police inspector Yogesh Chavan of the AEC.

The AEC then arrested Khan on July 22 from her residence and Kunchikurve was also arrested on July 24. Now both are in police custody till August 6.

A crime branch officer said Bachkana had also threatened a Navi Mumbai-based builder for extortion and part of the ransom was collected from the builder.

Kunchikurve’s role was to visit the court whenever Bachkana came to court on hearing dates in Mumbai and provide food, clothes as well as information to him and handle his finances. Police sources also said Kunchikurve was allegedly on Bachkana’s payroll and was paid 200,00 every month by Bachkana. He was said to be the right-hand man of Bachkana for several years.

Police officers said Bachkana had worked as a sharpshooter for the Rajan gang, and it was Rajan’s close aide Ravi Mallesh Bora aka DK Rao who had introduced Habiba Khan to Bachkana. At that time, the Tilak Nagar resident was arrested with Rao for trying to extort from a Badlapur-based builder and Bachkana was arrested for allegedly planning to kill filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt. DK Rao and Bachkana were old friends as both had worked for Rajan. Six months after her arrest, Khan was let out on bail and during court visits for the case, Rao had introduced her to Bachkana.

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