Maharashtra: Kasab hanging, Jundal deportation hog limelight
26/11 convict Ajmal Kasab is the first foreign convict to be hanged in India since Independence.
Mumbai: The hanging of 26/11 convict Ajmal Kasab, deportation of his handler Abu Jundal from Saudi Arabia, explosions in Pune, arrest of two girls over their Facebook post and August 11 violence at Mumbai's Azad Maidan grabbed the headlines in Maharashtra in 2012. In a secret operation, LeT terrorist Kasab was hanged in the high-security Yerwada Jail in Pune on November 21 after a four-year-long trial.
Kasab is the first foreign convict to be hanged in India since Independence. Before his hanging, a major breakthrough was achieved in the 26/11 probe as Syed Zabiuddin Ansari alias Abu Jundal, the handler in Pakistan who taught Kasab and other attackers Hindi and apprised them of the topography of targets, was deported in June by Delhi Police.
In a development that strengthened the case against Jundal, Mumbai's crime branch brought him face to face with Kasab in August at the Arthur Road Jail on August 10. Kasab identified Jundal as one of the main conspirators of the mayhem.
In one more terror related crime, four coordinated low-intensity explosions struck the busy arterial road in the heart of Pune on August 1 raising the spectre of terror. One person was seriously injured. While Maharashtra Police fanned across the country, Delhi Police nabbed four Indian Mujahideen terror suspects, claiming that the terror group engineered the pre-planned blasts.
In another development, Maharashtra Police faced flak for "suppressing" freedom of speech when they arrested two 21-year-old girls Shaheen Dhada and Rinu Shrinivasan after the former criticised in a Facebook post the November 18 shutdown due to Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray's funeral. Shrinivasan had 'liked' the post.
A local Sena leader complained against the girls and police arrested the duo on November 19, sparking an outcry. An inquiry was ordered in which two police officers, SP (Thane rural) Ravindra Sengaonkar and Palghar senior police inspector Shrikant Pingle were indicted and later suspended for arresting the girls. The police also decided to drop charges against the two.
Another controversial issue that caused abrupt shifting of Mumbai Police Commissioner Arup Patnaik was the August 11 rally at Azad Maidan organised to protest attacks on Muslims in Assam and Myanmar. Two persons were killed when protesters went on the rampage, attacking police, media persons and torching some vehicles.
Patnaik had come under fire for the "mishandling" of the Azad Maidan scene following which he was shifted with a promotion as Director General and posted as Managing Director of Maharashtra State Security Corporation. Sixty-four people, including organiser Maulana Ahmed Raza of Madina-tul-ilm, were arrested and of these, five persons were discharged as they were found innocent and 45 were granted bail. One of the accused is a juvenile.
In another development, in February, police registered an FIR against senior Congress leader Kripashankar Singh under anti-corruption law in connection with a disproportionate assets case, nearly a week after the Bombay High Court had directed it to prosecute him for "criminal misconduct". The former Mumbai Congress chief also faced charges of cheating, forgery, destruction of evidence and criminal conspiracy.
In a high profile case, police in May raided a posh hotel in Juhu and rounded up 90 patrons, including two IPL players - Wayne Parnell from South Africa and Rahul Sharma - and foreigners, following specific inputs about the use of drugs at the party. They were let off after their urine and blood samples were taken.
In July, Parnell and Sharma tested positive for consumption of drugs. Police received reports of blood samples of the 90 people in which 84 tested, positive. Among those tested positive include a few high profile personalities and television actors.
Among other crimes, suicide of Varsha Bhonsle, who was the daughter of legendary singer Asha Bhonsle, hogged the headlines. Varsha (56) was found dead with bullet injury on her temple on a blood-soaked sofa in the Pedder Road flat she shared with her mother, in October. A Belgian-make 0.6 calibre pistol was found in the house. The probe suggested she used a pistol belonged to her mother, who had lost it nearly three decades ago.
A rape case of a Spanish woman also raised question marks over the safety and security of women in the city. On November 6, the 27-year-old musician, staying as a tenant in a flat on the third floor of a building in upscale suburban Bandra, was allegedly raped and robbed in her house by a knife-wielding man in the wee hours.
A day after, police claimed to have achieved a breakthrough in the case with the arrest of a history-sheeter Mohammed Badsha Mohammed Ismail Ansari (30). The accused was the same person, who had been arrested on October 27 for allegedly stealing valuables worth Rs 12 lakh from the house of Bollywood actor Dino Morea in Bandra but later granted bail by court.