A special National Investigation Agency (NIA) court in Mumbai has sent Mohammad Salim Mohammad Iqbal Qureshi alias Salim Fruit, brother-in-law of alleged D-gang member Chhota Shakeel to NIA custody till August 17. The agency had sought Salim’s custody for 15 days.
Salim is alleged to be an associate of underworld fugitive Dawood Ibrahim’s company. According to NIA, he has played an active role in extorting a huge amount of money in the name of Dawood associate Chhota Shakeel through property dealings and disputed settlements for raising terror funds in furtherance of terrorist activities of D company.
NIA had picked up Salim from his residence at Mumbai Central, Mumbai in a case relating to activities of D Company. On May 9, NIA had conducted raids at 29 locations across Mumbai. Goregaon resident Arif Abubakar Shaikh alias Bhaijaan and his brother Shabbir Abubakar Shaikh, a resident of Mira Road area of neighbouring Thane district, were arrested on May 12.
The case against D Company, registered suo moto by NIA on February 2, pertains to terrorist and criminal activities, smuggling, narco-terrorism, money laundering, circulation of fake Indian currency notes (FICN), and unauthorised possession or acquisition of key assets for raising terror funds and working in active collaboration with international terrorist organisations including LeT, JeM and Al Qaeda by Dawood Ibrahim and his associates.
The NIA told the court that Rs 25 lakhs were recovered Chhota Shakeel and said that their investigation was progressing on a day-to-day basis. A raid was also carried out at Salim’s residence on May 9.
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‘CHOTA SHAKEEL RAISED FUNDS FOR D COMPANY’
From Salim’s residence, documents were recovered and an investigation revealed the culpability of the accused. Five witnesses whose names we cannot reveal as there is a threat to their lives, have said that he was raising funds for the D Company and he was working on the instructions of Chhota Shakeel, under the guidance of Dawood. He was surreptitiously usurping properties in prime locations,” the NIA said.
The agency also told the court that Salim and the entire gang was ‘threatening builders, people are in fear of their names and crores of rupees have been extorted and sent across.’
Alleging that Salim was misguiding the investigating officer, the agency told the court that the investigating officer was not able to collect the incriminating articles.
“After taking the accused in custody, we need to find out about the other accused. There are forensic auditors who will be working on this and they have links with terror organisations. There are huge set of agreements that have been recovered from him. There are layered transactions and forensic auditors and investigators will be investigating all this and confronting the accused with it. There are 10,000 plus documents and electronic evidence in gigabytes,” the court said.
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‘NO FIR AGAINST CHHOTA SHAKEEL’
Advocate Viquar Rajguru appearing for Salim said that he is only a businessman who runs a chemist shop called ‘Everyday Chemist’ at Byculla.
“There are no antecedents shown by NIA which talk about extortion. No live FIR or chargesheet against him. On May 9 they raided at 6am they raided and took away everything including, children and wife’s laptop,” the lawyer of the accused said.
Rajguru said that “Salim also deals in real estate and has a reputation amongst builders so he has to keep documents. They have all the documents but not a single property has been identified. During the raid, they took away everything, including my blank letter head, that was kept to send legal notices.”
According to the lawyer, Salim was made to sit at the NIA office between 9am to 5pm from May 9 and he had cooperated.
“He is the brother-in-law of Chhota Shakeel and so he is being made an accused. He had a love marriage, so he had no connection with anyone. This man does not have even a single non-cognisance offence against him. Where is the question of sending money?,” argued Viquar Rajguru.
NIA then pointed out that in 2006 there was an extortion case registered against Salim and he was behind bars for 3 years. However, Rajguru clarified that he was acquitted from the case and that is why he was referring to a “live” case against Salim.
However, the NIA countered by saying that Salim was probably acquitted in the earlier case due to lack of evidence “but today we have evidence,” said NIA. The agency added, “If he was a chemist then why was he keeping lakhs of cigarettes? He is not to be taken lightly,” it said.
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