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What if a billionaire gangster comes out of jail on bail?

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Abu Salem was known as an underworld gangster who terrorized the Bollywood film industry by extorting money from film producers and seizing overseas distribution rights. It is believed that Salem was the mastermind behind intimidating Bollywood film producers Gulshan Kumar, Subhash Ghai, Rajiv Rai and Rakesh Roshan. While his gang members assassinated Gulshan Kumar in 1997, they failed in their attempt to assassinate Rajiv Rai and Rakesh Roshan. He was also involved in several murders and extortion among other crimes.

In 2002, he was arrested in Portugal on charges of using a fake passport and extradited to India. He was tried and convicted in a few cases and was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2015. The Supreme Court on Monday said the Centre is bound to honour its commitment given to Portugal and release gangster Abu Salem on completion of his 25-year sentence in the 1993 Mumbai blasts case. He was convicted for the 1993 Bombay serial blasts case, and murder of Gulshan Kumar in 1996, shooting at Indian actress Manisha’s secretary, murdering a property builder and more than 50 other cases.

On 20 September 2002, Interpol arrested Monica Bedi in Lisbon, Portugal. They tracked his satellite phone using GPS technology. Monica Bedi was a film actress who reportedly had a relationship with him. In February 2004, a Portugal court cleared his extradition to India to face trial in the 1993 Bombay bomb blasts case. In November 2005, Portuguese authorities handed him over to India on the assurance by the Government of India that they would not give him the death penalty. When Salem was in Lisbon, fighting India’s extradition attempt, the only proof that he was indeed Salem was provided by the fingerprint and photographs taken after his arrest in 1991. Monica Bedi was also extradited to India and later convicted of passport forgery in 2006 and served her imprisonment but she was not involved in any of the businesses operated by Abu Salem.

A lower court in Portugal cancelled his extradition to India for violation of deportation rules by Indian authorities by instituting fresh cases against him that attracted the death penalty. In July 2012, the Portuguese Supreme Court of Justice questioned the legal right of Indian authorities to challenge the cancellation of the extradition order. On 27 June 2013, Devendra Jagtap, an accused person in the Shahid Azmi murder case inside Taloja Central Jail in neighbouring Navi Mumbai, shot Salem. Salem sustained an injury to his hand as Jagtap fired one round.

Abu Salem, Mustafa Dossa, and 4 others were convicted by a Special CBI court in Mumbai on 16 June 2017 in connection with the 1993 Bombay blasts case. Salem is currently lodged in Mumbai’s Arthur Road Jail. Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act Court Gives Life Imprisonment To Abu Salem in Mumbai 1993 Blast Case.  In 2010, a violent clash broke out between the gangster Abu Salem and Mustafa Dossa, which led to Salem’s face being slashed with a sharpened spoon.

On 7 June 2018, A Delhi court held him guilty of extorting Delhi businessman Ashok Gupta and sentenced him to seven years in prison. In 2002, Salem called Gupta asking him to call a number in Dubai. Salem had threatened Gupta and his family. In August 2013, Punjabi singer Sukhwinder Singh Maan alias Sukha Delhi Wala revealed that he would release a song composed by Abu Salem while lodged in Tihar Jail, in his next Music Album. The Music Album shall also feature many other celebrities like Rahul Mahajan and Vindu Dara Singh.

After spending years in jail Salem had said his sentence could not exceed 25 years as per a solemn assurance given by India to Portugal for his extradition in 2002. A bench of Justices S K Kaul and M M Sundresh said the Central government is bound to advise the President of India for the exercise of power under Article 72 of the Constitution and the national commission on completion of his sentence.

Abu Salem worked in the D-Company (Dawood Ibrahim gang) as a driver transporting artillery and contraband. Later he rose among the ranks after he introduced a new strategy of hiring unemployed youths from his hometown Azamgarh to come to Mumbai, execute shoot-outs and return to Azamgarh the next day remaining untraced by the Mumbai police. He is currently serving a life sentence in India. He played an active role in March 1993 Bombay serial bomb blasts which killed over 250 people and left 700 damaged properties worth Rs 270 million. In 1993, he left the country and moved to Dubai, United Arab Emirates when the police started rounding up suspects in serial blasts cases. Now Salem is seeking his bail and if he gets out of jail what would he be doing? He can become a politician or business owner or something else, is this not dangerous?

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Vaidehi Taman
Vaidehi Taman
Vaidehi Taman an Accredited Journalist from Maharashtra is bestowed with three Honourary Doctorate in Journalism. Vaidehi has been an active journalist for the past 21 years, and is also the founding editor of an English daily tabloid – Afternoon Voice, a Marathi web portal – Mumbai Manoos, and The Democracy digital video news portal is her brain child. Vaidehi has three books in her name, "Sikhism vs Sickism", "Life Beyond Complications" and "Vedanti". She is an EC Council Certified Ethical Hacker, OSCP offensive securities, Certified Security Analyst and Licensed Penetration Tester that caters to her freelance jobs.
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