Friday, January 10, 2020

Arrest of ex-aide of Dawood could shed light on aviation pioneer's murder

The Mumbai Police has got a price catch on Wednesday, with which it hopes to crack the murder of a Keralite aviation entrepreneur by the underworld a quarter-century ago.
With the arrest of fugitive gangster Ejaz Lakdawala—wanted in connection with several cases of extortion, attempt to murder and rioting—police hope to solve the mystery over the murder of Thakiyudeen Abdul Wahid on November 13, 1995.
Wahid was the managing director of East-West Airlines, the first private scheduled airline to begin service after liberalisation. Wahid hailed from Edava near Varkala in Thiruvananthapuram district. He was killed in Mumbai when he was about to go home after a day at work.
Lakdawala, suspected to be a former aide of underworld don Dawood Ibrahim, was arrested by the Mumbai Police from Patna late on Wednesday over an alleged extortion case. He had been on the run for 20 years.
East-West Airlines, which commenced services in 1992, shut down in 1996 after his murder.
Three men, one of whom was Chhota Rajan’s trusted lieutenant Bunty Pandey, allegedly broke the wind-shield of Wahid’s car and fired 30 bullets during his drive from office at Bandra to his house around 9.30pm on that fateful day. His residence was about 1km away.
As per the charge-sheet, the accused in the case were Rohit Sharma, Joseph John D'souza, Sunil Malgorkar, Bunty Pandey and Ejaz Lakdawala.
Two people who had been accused by the police in the beginning of the case were exonerated in 1998.
Joseph John D'souza was arrested in 1998, but was exonerated by the sessions court for want of sufficient evidence. He was later killed in an encounter by encounter specialist Pradip Sharma. Sunil Malgorkar was arrested along with D'souza but was let off by the court for want of proper evidence.
Chhota Rajan, who is considered to be the kingpin of the case, was arrested from Indonesia in 2015. He is serving his jail sentence in Delhi's Tihar jail.
Pandey, who was later arrested, too is now in Tihar jail in connection with another case. He was arrested from Vietnam in 2010 for conspiracy in another murder case.
Rohit was killed by Dawood Ibrahim's gang in 2000. Both Pandey and Lakdawala were not named in the original charge-sheet but were included only at a later stage.
It was initially alleged that the police did not conduct a proper inquiry into those who were suspected in the case.
D'souza had given a statement that the murder was on the basis of instructions from Chhota Rajan.
During an interview with a weekly in 1996, Rajan had confirmed the words of D'souza. The reason Rajan gave for the murder was that Wahid had close connections with Dawood. Wahid's family has denied any connection with Dawood.
10/01/20 The Week
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