Top 10 crime cases in Mumbai in 2019

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Updated on Dec 31, 2019 01:36 PM IST
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ByHT Correspondents

This year has been a mixed bag for crime fighters. Between January and November, Mumbai saw 37,304 reported crimes, which is 732 less than the number reported for the corresponding period in 2018. However, the detection rate remained low and certain kinds of crime – including murder, extortion and crimes against women – saw a spike.

Of the 37, 304 crimes reported in Mumbai, here are 10 that that stood out in the line-up.

Vijay Mallya, Neerav Modi become FEOs

A special court set up under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) declared liquor baron Vijay Mallya and businessman Nirav Modi fugitive economic offenders (FEO). The two men have have been booked for fraud in different cases and India is fighting to extradite both from United Kingdom.

Mallya, the first Indian to be declared a fugitive under the Fugitive Economic Offenders Act, 2018, was declared an FEO on January 5. He has challenged the order in an appeal before the Bombay high court. Mallya, who is currently in the UK, has been charged with defaulting on bank loans of Rs 9,000 crore. He was the first Indian to be declared a fugitive under the 2018 enactment.

On December 5, the special PMLA court declared Nirav Modi, who is also in the UK, an FEO after Nirav was arrested in March this year. Nirav is the key accused in Rs. 23,780 crore fraud at the Punjab National Bank and had been absconding since 2018. In March, Nirav was arrested in London and is presently in UK’s Wandsworth Prison.

The Central Bureau of Investigation is now awaiting hearings on the confiscation of both Mallya and Nirav’s properties.

Harassment in the digital age

When the editor of a popular Marathi newspaper filed a complaint against one Narhar Sadhu Bodhare for posting communally-sensitive and abusive comments on the newspaper’s website, the police lodged a first information report and began to probe the case. Two months later, in February, the police landed up at Bodhare’s doorstep and discovered he was a 71-year-old man who had no idea that his name had been used to sign the offensive comments.

The police then tracked the internet protocol (IP) address from the comments and tracked down the real culprit: Siddhesh Khapre,31, who happened to be Bodhare’s neighbour. Khapre eventually admitted to creating 140 fake accounts in Bodhare’s name and posting 1,900 objectionable posts using those fake profiles – all to harass Bodhare. Khapre had even put an ad on an e-commerce website, in which he claimed Bodhare’s house was for sale. Khapre told the police that he bore a grudge against Bodhare because the latter would bully Khapre and his family. Azad Maidan police arrested Khapre.

Minor stalks, kills 13-yr-old

She was 13 and lived with her family in an affluent residential complex in Goregaon (East). He was 16 and occasionally worked as a delivery boy for his father’s hotel. They met at a tuition class and became friends. When her mother found out about the friendship, she told the girl to stop seeing the boy and the girl obeyed her mother’s directive.

A week later, on June 29, the boy asked the girl to meet him one last time, and she agreed. They met in the refuge area of the building where she lived. In a fit of rage, the 16-year-old boy told the girl, “Agar tum meri nahi ho sakti, toh kisi ki nahi ho sakti [If you won’t be mine, then no one can have you].” Then he picked her up and threw her off the eighth floor. According to the police, the girl was able to cling to the parapet for a few seconds before her hand slipped.

She was rushed to a hospital but succumbed to her injuries on July 5.

The police investigation revealed that the boy had rushed home and confessed his crime to his parents. His parents deleted all communication with the girl from the boy’s phone and sent the boy to stay with a relative in Sion. They had hoped that the girl’s fall would be considered an attempted suicide. The parents and the boy were arrested.

As of December 24, the boy is at the observation home in Dongri while his parents have been granted bail by court.

Child trafficking gang caught

The crime branch’s unit 6 busted an interstate child trafficking racket on July 1, and arrested 14 people including seven members of an all-women gang from Mumbai and Delhi. The gang had been operational for approximately eight years. The accused used to buy and sell male children, some of whom were barely days old.

Members of the gang worked as agents for egg donors and surrogate mothers, which made it easy for them to find buyers. They would keep a watch on poor pregnant slum-dwellers and if a boy was born, they would offer the family anywhere between Rs 50,000 to Rs 2 lakh for the infant. Buyers would pay between Rs 1.5 – 4.5 lakh for male offspring.

Sixteen children were also rescued and have been placed in a children’s home in Chembur. The process for making them eligible for legal adoption is underway and the parents who had previously adopted them may be able to adopt the children legally.

Student kills school principal

The tragic death of school principal Ayesha Aslam Husuyae, 30, was one that shocked many of the police officers investigating the case. It was the first time they were probing a murder case in which the prime accused was a 12-year-old.

On the night of September 16, the 12-year-old came to Husuyae’s house in Shivaji Nagar, where she used to offer private tuitions to students. The Class 7 student had been coming to Husuyae’s house for the past five years.

Later, the boy would tell the police that he was angry with Husuyae because earlier, in school, she had scolded him in front of his friends. For this reason, he carried a knife with him when he went to Husuyae’s flat in the evening and stabbed her when she opened the door to him.

A bleeding Husuyae, who lived alone, raised an alarm and was taken to hospital by her neighbours, but was declared dead on arrival. When the police arrived at the scene of the crime with the neighbours, the boy was seated inside.

The police investigation has not suggested the involvement of any other person in the case. The minor has been sent to the Dongri remand home.

Man throws three-year-old off building

Forty-three-year old Anil Chugani was charged with flinging his childhood friend’s three-year-old daughter from the window of Chugani’s seventh floor flat in Colaba. Chugani believed he was under the influence of black magic.

On September 7, Chugani, who divided his time between Morocco and Mumbai, asked his family friend Premlal Hathiramani if he could take Hathramani’s twin daughters and son to his place for the evening. Hathiramani agreed and sent Kakuli Mandal, his house help, to accompany the children to Chugani’s. That evening, he allegedly lured three-year-old Shanaya to his bedroom while the other two children were with Mandal, and flung Shanaya out of the window. Chugani then called the police.

Shanaya landed on the bonnet of a car and although she was rushed to a hospital soon after, she succumbed to her injuries.

Chugani told the police that he had been planning the murder since May. A colleague in Morocco had told him that he was suffering from health issues because he’d been a target of black magic and the only antidote was to offer a sacrifice of twins.

Maharashtra State Co-operative (MSC) Bank fraud

On September 24, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) registered a case against more than 70 executives and office bearers of Maharashtra State Co-operative (MSC) Bank , alleging a fraud was carried out at the bank over 2001 and 2011. Among those named were Nationalist Congress Party leaders Sharad Pawar and Ajit Pawar.

At the time, MSC Bank, Maharashtra’s apex co-operative bank which facilitates credit to the entire co-operative sector across the state, was being run by elected members of a board largely made up elected representatives from the NCP and Congress. According to the ED, loans were given in a fraudulent manner to co-operative sugar factories (CSFs), spinning mills and other processing units.

While mismanagement at the bank had been revealed in earlier reports, the ED action came on the heels of a case probed by Mumbai Police’s economic offences wing, on the basis of a petition filed in 2012 by Andheri-based activist, Surinder Mohan Arora.

Fraud at PMC Bank

Soon after the fraud at MSC Bank was uncovered, the year’s biggest banking fraud was discovered at Punjab and Maharashtra Co-operative Bank, where senior bank executives extended loans despite non-repayment to Housing Development and Infrastructure Limited and hid irregularities from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).

The Rs 6,670-crore fraud at PMC Bank made headlines because RBI imposed restrictions on the bank’s operations. Orders were issued on September 23, limiting withdrawals to Rs. 1,000 per account holder initially.

According to Mumbai Police’s economic offences wing (EOW), which probed the case and filed a 32,959-paged charge sheet on December 27, about 70% of the total loans extended by PMC Bank between 2008 and 2019, were to HDIL alone. The bank masked the loan accounts when the realty group failed to make repayments. To adjust its balance sheet, PMC Bank had created 21,049 fake accounts to ensure its master data tallied with the loan disbursals of Rs. 7,457.49 crore.

The five accused named in the charge sheet are Rakesh Wadhawan and Sarang Wadhawan (promoters of HDIL); Joy Thomas (former managing director of PMC Bank); Waryam Singh (former chairman of PMC Bank); and Surjit Singh Arora (former director of PMC Bank).

Charge sheet for Iqbal Mirchi

Muhammed Iqbal Memon got the nickname Iqbal Mirchi because his family was in the red chilli powder business. Since the first set of cases were filed against Mirchi in 1985, a lot has happened. Cases against Mirchi, who was allegedly gangster Dawood Ibrahim’s right-hand man, were dropped for lack of evidence. India tried to extradite him from the United Kingdom twice, but failed on both occasions. In 2013, Mirchi, at 63, died in London.

However, an old real-estate deal helped Mumbai Police finally book Mirchi in December 2019, when the Enforcement Directorate submitted a 12,000-paged charge sheet that named Mirchi, his wife Hazrat Memon, and their two sons, Asif and Junaid among the accused.

According to the ED, three properties in Worli – Sea View, Marium Lodge and Rabia Mansion – had been misrepresented as being owned by a trust, which was actually a front. Bought by Mirchi through his company Rockside, for Rs 6.5 lakh in 1986, the properties were embroiled in a court battle. The chairman of the trust misled the court in 2005 and thus cleared the way for the properties to be sold for approximately Rs 225 crore.

Claiming the properties were purchased from proceeds of crimes, ED has so far arrested four persons: British national Haroun Yusuf, Humayun Merchant, Ranjeet Bindra and Rinku Deshpande. Yusuf and Merchant were allegedly Mirchi’s aides while Bindra and Deshpande worked as brokers on the real-estate deals.

The ‘suitcase’ murder

On December 2, a suitcase washed ashore Mahim beach. Inside were the cut-up limbs of an unidentified male body and a few items of men’s clothing.

A remarkable investigation by Mumbai Police followed, in which the police identified the deceased using the clothes and trawling through Facebook. A label on one of the items of clothing took the police to a tailor’s shop in Kurla, where the tailor’s receipts offered up a name that the police searched on Facebook. The deceased was finally identified as 59-year-old musician Bennett Rebello.

When the police went to Rebello’s Vakola residence, they discovered a young woman, who claimed Rebello had informally adopted her as his daughter a couple of years ago. With her was a 16-year-old who she said was her boyfriend. The two eventually confessed to killing Rebello on November 27, dismembering him over the next three days and dumping the body in Mithi river after packing it carefully in four bags. They said they’d learnt how to chop the body up from videos on YouTube. Further investigation revealed Rebello’s ‘adopted’ daughter was a minor. She has since alleged Rebello had sexually abused her and that the minor boyfriend had previously gang-raped her with two friends. Both minors have been sent to the juvenile remand home.

A look back at some landmark verdicts that affected life in this metro:

Tree cutting at Aarey Milk Colony

The Bombay high court (HC) on October 4, 2019 upheld the August order, passed by the tree authority of Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), and allowed Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation (MMRC) to cut 2,185 and transplant 461 trees in Aarey Milk Colony to make way for a car shed for Mumbai Metro.

MMRC immediately made preparations to cut the required trees, which led to widespread criticism.

Three days later, further tree cutting was stayed by the Supreme Court, which did allowed MMRC to continue other works for the construction of the car shed.

Work on Coastal Road halted by HC, restarted by SC

In a major setback for BMC, the HC struck down the coastal regulation zone (CRZ) clearance for the civic body’s ambitious Rs14,000-crore coastal road project in July. The coastal road is part of the proposed Eastern Freeway, connecting connects Marine Lines with suburban Kandivli.

However, on December 17, the Supreme Court stayed the HC order and allowed the BMC to resume land reclamation. The civic body may not undertake actual construction of the eight-lane freeway until further orders.

Maratha quota gets HC nod

After hearing arguments in favour and against the state’s proposal to create a 16% reservation for the Maratha community, under the socially and educationally backward class (SEBC) category community, in government jobs and educational institutions, the bench of justices Ranjit More and Bharati Dangre upheld the government’s decision. They went through almost 5,000 pages of submissions by all parties involved and decided that the reservation should be limited to 12% in educational institutions and 13% for government jobs on the grounds of ratio of population versus representation. The previous government had failed to convince the HC to rule in favour of the quota.

HC orders demolition of 159 bungalows along Alibaug coast

At the start of 2019, the division bench headed by chief justice Naresh Patil had directed the District Collector of Raigad to expedite the demolition of the 159 bungalows that had been constructed in violation of the CRZ norms. Among the 159 was a bungalow owned by then-fugitive businessman and key accused in the PNB scam, Nirav Modi.

So far, action against 112 structures is pending due to stays granted by the city civil court. The demolition of Nirav Modi’s bungalow became a contentious issue when the Enforcement Directorate, which had attached it as part of its investigation, was initially not willing to permit the demolition. Later, it submitted to the HC order and handed over possession to the Collector. However, the Collector’s office said it does not have the machinery to carry out the demolition, which prompted the HC to direct other departments to provide the necessary machinery. Compliance of the HC order is expected to be submitted in January 2020.

Ban on animal slaughter upheld

In August, the HC upheld a notice issued by the BMC, which banned the slaughter of animals in homes and public places during the festival of Bakri Eid. The court said slaughtering outside the designated abattoir at Deonar was a hygiene issue, caused agony to the animals and inconvenienced people who did not participate in Eid festivities. When it was pointed out that there weren’t enough designated spots at the abbatoir, the court relaxed its order to allow slaughtering outside Deonar and directed BMC to ensure proper surveillance at the additional spots. Previously, the HC would pass individual restraining orders, but this order has set a precedent to curb unauthorised slaughter.

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