The Anti-Extortion Cell (AEC) of the Mumbai police has claimed that fugitive gangster Shakeel Babu Mohiddin Shaikh aka Chhota Shakeel, associated with Dawood Ibrahim, has been running a separate gang along with a few of his close associates including, Riyaz Bhati and his brother-in-law Salim Qureshi aka Fruit.
Riyaz Bhati is a builder and a gangster. Riyaz has been twice accused of forging passports – in October 2015 and in February 2020. On 28 October 2015, he was arrested while trying to escape to South Africa, and he remained in police custody for five days after which he was sent to judicial custody. Riyaz was granted bail on 3 November 2015. In 2020, Bhati was again arrested in violation of court orders on his bail after he was caught at the Mumbai international airport for attempting to flee the country to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), using a fake passport. In 2013, he was caught again with a fake passport.
According to police, Riyaz had travelled eight times abroad and 10 times from the Mumbai international airport between 2009 and 2012, using a fake passport as his original passport expired in 2006 that couldn’t get renewed on account of the criminal cases registered against him. In July 2019, Bhati was arrested for fabricating the documents and signatures of Wilson College trustees to get honorary membership of a club of the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA). According to MCA, Riyaz had been enjoying membership in the club since 2013. Riyaz Bhati was also one of the accused including the former Mumbai police commissioner Param Bir Singh and dismissed Assistant Inspector Sachin Vaze in the extortion case in 2021.
The AEC had recently filed a chargesheet against Fruit, Bhati and five others in connection with an extortion case registered by a city-based businessman with the Versova police. The 1,000-page chargesheet included statements from around 25 witnesses and other evidence against the accused persons. The agency claimed that Chhota Shakeel has been operating a separate gang since 1999.
The businessman had approached the Versova police in September last year, alleging that Fruit and Bhati had extorted a sum of Rs 7.5 lakh and also forcibly taken away his Range Rover worth around Rs 30 lakh. The case was registered with the Versova police and then transferred to the AEC. Apart from Bhati, and Fruit, AEC has also named Ajay Gosaliya, Firoz Shaikh, Sameer Khan, Amjad Redkar, and Javed Khan Alias Papa Pathan as accused in the case. In its chargesheet, the AEC claimed the probe revealed that the seven are active members of Shakeel’s gang.
Mumbai police have claimed that a probe has revealed that Shakeel’s own gang has been in operation since the year 1999 and that several new as well as old members are a part of it. It is further claimed that the seven booked in the case are old members of the Dawood gang and have worked together for many years. The AEC has claimed that the seven are active members and have been threatening people to terrorise them and extract financial benefits for both themselves and the gang.
In this case, the businessman had good relations with Bhati and hence, was invited to his birthday celebration at a five-star hotel in Andheri. It was at this party that he was introduced to Fruit. It was alleged that the complainant started playing cards with the accused and won around Rs 62 lakh in the game. However, on certain occasions, Fruit won the games and started demanding money. The complainant claimed that the accused started threatening him for money showing his connection with Shakeel.
The complainant alleged that Fruit forcibly took his Range Rover car and further demanded Rs 32 lakhs. When Fruit came under the radar of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED), Fruit had asked the complainant to urgently deposit Rs 6 lakhs to Rs 11 lakhs in some other account. Owing to continuous demands and threats, the complainant deposited Rs 7.5 to the account of a close associate of Fruit. In the meantime, Fruit was being questioned by the ED and also by the NIA. Bhati is alleged to have threatened the complainant and told him not to mention any transactions with Fruit to the agencies. Hence, the businessman finally lodged a case with the police.