Mumbai Crime Branch invokes MCOCA against Dawood’s nephew, co-accused

Three remanded in police custody till August 5; Act makes it tough to get bail

The Mumbai Police Crime Branch on Monday invoked the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) against Rizwan Kaskar, the nephew of wanted terror accused Dawood Ibrahim Kaskar, and the other accused arrested in the case earlier this month.

The Anti Extortion Cell (AEC) of the Crime Branch had on July 15 arrested Ahmedraza Wadhariya, followed by Mumbai-based businessman Ashfaq Towelwala on July 17, and Mr. Rizwan on July 18. The trio has been in police custody since then.

Mumbai Police spokesperson DCP Pranay Ashok said the MCOCA has been invoked against all the three accused. “The trio were produced in court on Monday and further remanded in our custody till August 5.”

Application of the MCOCA against any accused makes them ineligible for bail for several months, and this period might extend depending on the seriousness of the case and the history of the accused. Mr. Rizwan’s father Iqbal, who is Dawood’s blood sibling, was arrested by the Thane AEC in 2017, and after the MCOCA was invoked against him, has still not been granted bail. He is currently lodged in the Thane Central Jail.

Due to the seriousness of the MCOCA, the law requires the investigating agency to ensure that certain criteria are fulfilled before the Act can be invoked.

The criteria include a concrete connection to an organised crime gang, indication of the crime being committed for monetary gain, and at least two prior charge sheets against at least one of the accused in the case.

“Dawood’s right hand man Shakeel Babumiyaan Sheikh alias Chhota Shakeel, who has also been named as a wanted accused in this case, has several charge sheets against him, and his involvement is a clear indicator of the organised crime connection. Further, the intervention in a monetary dispute on Mr. Towelwala’s behalf was in exchange for monetary gain,” an officer who is part of the investigation said.

The police have also named Sheikh Mohammed Faheem alias Faheem Machmach, a trusted aide of Shakeel, as an accused in the case. Sources said the complainant in the case had a monetary dispute with Mr. Towelwala, who turned to Mr. Wadhariya for help. Mr. Wadhariya allegedly got Mr. Faheem involved through Mr. Rizwan’s reference, after which Mr. Faheem started threatening the complainant, investigating officers said.

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