In a new twist, the Maharashtra government on Wednesday said that the slain driver-cum-bodyguard of fugitive don Dawood Ibrahim's brother Iqbal Kaskar was the target of the south Mumbai shooting incident and that Kaskar was not present when the gunmen opened fire.
"Initial questioning of those arrested in connection with the incident has revealed that their target was Iqbal's driver," Maharashtra's Home Minister R R Patil told mediapersons in Ahmednagar district.
To a query on whether the incident was a fallout of a gang war, he said, "There are no gangs left in Mumbai, so there is no question of a gang war". The comments came even as Joint Police Commissioner (law and order) Rajnish Seth said that Kaskar was not present at the time of the incident near JJ Hospital, but said he may have been the target of the firing in which his 40-year-old driver-cum-bodyguard Arif Syed Abu Bukha was killed. "Kaskar was not there at the place of firing. But this does not mean that he was not targeted," Seth said.
A spokesman of the Mumbai police Rajkumar Vadkar also said that on the basis of the information available with them, Kaskar was not at the spot at the time of the firing. A local court, meanwhile, remanded the two suspected assailants arrested soon after the incident in police custody till May 26.
The accused, identified as Syyed Ali (29), a resident of Mumbra, and Indra Khatri (27), possibly from Nepal, were caught on Tuesday night by locals while trying to flee after the firing.
The Mazgaon court, where the two were produced, was turned into a virtual fortress with over 100 policemen, bomb disposal and detection squad and quick response team personnel being deployed there. The police said they had recovered three firearms, five empty shells and some cartridges from the accused and the officials suspect involvement of four more persons in the attack.
Patil claimed that crime situation is under control in Mumbai. "The police have control over criminals," he said. A senior police official said although underworld don Chota Rajan's name has surfaced in the preliminary investigations in the firing case, it was premature to state anything now.
"It is yet to be verified. Just because Dawood and Rajan are rivals, we cannot hold the latter responsible for the incident," he said.
Bukha, who succumbed to his wounds before being admitted to a city hospital, had suffered six bullet injuries, police said. Kaskar, who was an accused in the Sara Sahara mall land grabbing case, was acquitted in 2007 by a special MCOCA court.
On revelations that Wazhul Kamar Khan, whose name figures in the '50 most wanted' fugitives list submitted by India to Pakistan, has been staying in Thane, Patil said, "It would be improper to speak further on this issue." "This matter pertains to foreign policy."