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ISIS link, blasts dominate headlines in Maharashta crime scene

KalyanFour Kalyan youths joining the ISIS in Iraq, a low-intensity blast in Pune, enhanced underworld threat to Bollywood personalities and the crisis hit NSEL promoter’s arrest in an alleged Rs 5600-crore scam were some crime cases that hogged headlines in Maharashtra during 2014.

Terror menace resurfaced in the state on July 10 with a low-intensity blast, triggered by an IED planted in a bike parked in front of Faraskhana police station in the heart of Pune city that left four persons injured, one of them a constable.

Hours after the blast, Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad declared the blast prima facie, a terror attack.

While the state’s elite Anti-Terror Squad was connecting the dots to hunt down the perpetrators, in the month of August a shocking terror activity from Kalyan here came to light.

In a jolt to the security agencies, it was found that four civil engineering students from Kalyan town – Areeb Majeed, Shaheen Tanki, Fahad Shaikh and Aman Tandel — had in May left India on pretext of a visiting holy places in the Middle East only to disappear thereafter. They joined the terror group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

On August 26, Shaheen Tanki called up Areeb’s family and told them that their son had become a “martyr” claiming that the latter died fighting for ISIS in Syria. Accordingly the next day, Areeb’s family performed prayers in absence of the body in Kalyan.

In an intriguing twist to the episode, Areeb (22) returned to Mumbai on November 28 following which he was placed under arrest.

National Investigation Agency (NIA) booked him under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) on charges of conspiring to commit a terrorist act and being a member of a banned foreign terror group, and under the stringent section 125 of the IPC for “waging war against any Asiatic Power in alliance with the government of India”.

Areeb then elaborated his meticulously-planned trip from Kalyan to Iraq, the arms and explosives handling training he underwent in the insurgency hit region, how he had been instructed to carry out menial tasks like cleaning toilets or providing water to those on the battlefield, instead of being pushed into the war zone. In yet another terror related case, Maharashtra ATS in October nabbed city-based software engineer Anees Ansari (24) for allegedly conspiring to blow up US establishments here including a school. He sympathised with ISIS fighters and described, in his online conversations, the Americans as tormentors.

The crimes linking the business, Bollywood industry and politics too hogged limelight this year.

In a development that shook the business circles, former Financial Technologies and Multi-Multi Commodities Exchange (MCX) promoter Jignesh Shah had been arrested on May 7 by the EoW of Mumbai Police for his alleged involvement in the Rs 5,600-crore National Spot Exchange Limited (NSEL) scam.

Shah came under scanner last year, when his group company NSEL faced a payment crisis and nearly 18,000 investors allegedly lost millions in late July. He is out on bail now.

In a criminal complaint that jolted Bollywood, business as well as sports fraternities, actress Preity Zinta filed an FIR on June 12 alleging her boyfriend Ness Wadia outraged her modesty at the stadium on May 30 during the IPL match between Kings XI Punjab and Chennai Super Kings. Industrialist Wadia said the allegation was “false and baseless”.

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