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Now, the don fears the underworld!

Salem tells court he's worried Mumbai's mafia might kill him for spilling secrets.

india Updated: Nov 24, 2005 17:23 IST

Abu Salem, one of India's most wanted men, an alleged mobster suspected of terrorising Bollywood and plotting bombings that killed hundreds, told a court on Wednesday that he was worried he might be murdered by Mumbai's mafia for spilling secrets. Police hope interrogations of the underworld figure may provide information about his network and another alleged Indian mobster, Dawood Ibrahim, accused by US officials of having Al-Qaeda ties.

On Wednesday, Special Judge PD Kode ordered Salem, who was extradited last month from Portugal after more than a decade on the run, to be held until his next hearing on December 7 and instructed police to increase security at the prison where he is being jailed. Salem also told the judge he feared being tortured by police during questioning.

"There is a threat to my life from the underworld," Salem said. "I fear being tortured by the police."

Salem, who was arrested in Lisbon, Portugal, in September 2002, is a prime suspect in 1993 bombings that struckBSE along with trains, hotels and gas stations, killing 257 people and wounding more than 1,100.

Police also suspect Salem in several high-profile killings, including attacks on Hindi film personalities, extortion and the 1997 murder of Indian music industry czar Gulshan Kumar. Salem is facing charges of committing a terrorist act, criminal conspiracy and supplying arms and ammunition. He could face life in prison if convicted.

The Mumbai bombings are believed to have been revenge attacks for the December 2002 demolition of the 16th-century Babri Masjid. The incident triggered riots that killed at least 2,000 people, mostly Muslims.

Salem is alleged to have planned the bombings with Ibrahim, who now reportedly lives in Pakistan, though Pakistani officials deny he is in the country.

Police say Salem fled India after the Mumbai blasts, but he says he left to elude other Indian mobsters chasing him over unpaid debts.

First Published: Nov 23, 2005 16:44 IST