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Gangs of Arthur Road strike again

An undertrial is stabbed to death in a Mumbai prison revenge killing in retaliation for the murder of notorious robber John D?Souza, reports Debasish Panigrahi.
None | By Debasish Panigrahi, Mumbai
PUBLISHED ON JAN 29, 2007 01:00 AM IST

In a bloody revenge killing at Arthur Road Jail, undertrial Ashgar Ali Mehendi (25) was allegedly stabbed to death in his cell early on Sunday by four other inmates. The killing is said to be in retaliation for the murder of notorious robber John D’Souza last month — Ashgar was a prime accused in that case.

Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP), Zone III, P.V. Ugle, said Rajesh Choudhary, Irfan Sheikh, Istiaque Sheikh and Hassan Salim Sheikh were initially arrested on charges of attempted murder. They were later booked for murder by the NM Joshi Marg police after Ashgar died in hospital.

Ugle said initial investigation had established revenge as the motive behind the killing. He ruled out underworld rivalry.

The killing has again brought issue of gangs breeding within the prison and failure of the administration to curb use of weapons or such rampant violence on its premises.

The Arthur Road Jail houses over three dozen key underworld people among its 2,900 inmates. Besides D’Souza’s murder, the prison had last year thrice witnessed pitched battles between Chhota Rajan and Chhota Shakeel gangsters, which led to a few being hospitalised for injuries. Four guards were also injured in these attacks.

According to Ugle, the incident occurred around 7 am in Barrack no 11, where all those involved in the attack as well as the victim were lodged. Ashgar, who was recently remanded to judicial custody after being arrested for D’Souza’s murder, was stabbed with a small knife at least eight times in his chest. He succumbed to his injuries at JJ Hospital around 4 pm.

Asked why the attackers took so long to execute the murder even though Ashgar was lodged in the same cell as them, Ugle said: "Perhaps they were looking for the right opportunity to strike."

The police have confiscated the knife used in the attack. Asked how the attackers managed to smuggle the weapon into the Jail, Ugle said: "That can be answered by jail authorities."

However, despite several attempts, no official from the Jail was available for comment.

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