“[The Jamim Shah murder] is a statement from New Delhi that it will not let off anyone it perceives as hostile to its national interests.”– A senior Nepali police officer
By Mukul Humagain, Anil Giri and Baburam Kharel
The Indian underworld gang run by Chhota Rajan could be behind Sunday’s killing of media entrepreneur Jamim Shah, Nepali police said, adding that it was zeroing in on the killers and the mastermind behind the killing. According to Superintendent of Police Ganesh K. C., chief of Metropolitan Police Range, Kathmandu, the role of international criminals has been established and the killers will soon be nabbed. “Shah’s murder has been carried out by someone from the Chhota Rajan gang,” K. C. told the Kathmandu Post. He said the phone calls made to Cable Television Association and Avenues TV on Monday (yesterday) and interrogations of more than a dozen people indicate that the killers had arrived in Kathmandu on a ‘mission’ to kill Shah.
Call details of Bharat Nepali who claimed responsibility for Shah’s killing obtained from Nepal Telecom and leads from people close to Shah and Yunus Ansari (who was arrested a few weeks ago for his alleged involvement in a fake Indian currency racket) pointed out the involvement of the Chhota Rajan group, according to police. Bharat had claimed that he was responsible for the murder because Jamim was involved in anti-India activities.
Interestingly, it was Rajendra Sadashiv Nikhale, aka Chhota Rajan, who claimed responsibility for the killing of Mirza Dilshad Beg, a lawmaker, in Kathmandu in 1998. Rajan had offered similar reasons for the killing: Beg’s anti-Indian position.
Shah’s murder took place 13 months after police arrested Rajan’s three hitmen in Kathmandu. All three — Ganesh Shah alias ‘Tinku’, Anil Baniya alias ‘Vikky’ and Mukesh Kumar Yadav — were arrested in March. Police had disclosed then that they were planning to kill “some high-profile people.” The hitmen were arrested with sophisticated weapons.
Apart from the government formed 5-member judicial panel to probe Shah’s murder, Nepal Police has formed a taskforce led by DIG Rajendra Singh Bhandari. SSP Rana Bahadur Chand, SP Milan Basnet and DSPs Diwas Udas and Jagat Man Shrestha. Likewise, the Office of Metropolitan Police Commissioner has formed a five-member probe team led by SSP Madhav Nepal.
Uncanny parallels between Beg’s and Shah’s deaths
“[The Jamim murder] is a statement from New Delhi that it will not let off anyone it perceives as hostile to its national interests.”– A Nepali police officer
By Akhilesh Upadhyay
Editor, The Kathmandu Post
The gruesome murder on Sunday of media entrepreneur Jamim Shah, 47, has brought back chilling memories of June 29, 1998. On that day, Mirza Dilshad Beg, a sitting lawmaker, was gunned down outside his home in Siphal, Kathmandu. It was a dark night and the hillside neighbourhood looked darker still due to load-shedding, when we (reporters and photographers from Kantipur and The Kathmandu Post) arrived at the scene, soon after the 9.30 hit-and-run incident.
The newsroom had received a tip-off from a local who had heard what he suspected were gun-shots. It was an innocent world in many ways. Nepalis were still unfamiliar with sounds of bombs and gun-shots, the Maoist-waged “people’s war” was still in its infancy, violent deaths still shook everybody, and political assassination was unheard of. But what shocked the Nepalis most was how ugly games from powerful external forces could play out in Nepal, as it watched haplessly. The incident also gave many of us in the newsroom a first-hand lesson on forces which operate from behind the scene. Two of the theories that made the rounds then clearly pointed at the cross-border nature of the operation; the third one was that Beg’s death had to do with “family problems,” which turned out to be false.
Of the first two, one was that Beg had a fallout with the underworld don Dawood Ibrahim (who is reportedly based in Karachi now) and the second was that Beg had been “eliminated” in a covert operation by an Indian agency for his allegedly shady links with the rival Pakistani intelligence. In a 2005 interview with Tehelka magazine, Chhota Rajan, Dawood’s once-lynchpin in India (the two later had a serious fallout) claimed to have killed Beg “in India’s interests.”Twelve years after Beg’s death, both the theories once again look eerily familiar. Many aren’t ruling out Shah’s alleged fallout with his present and past underworld bosses and colleagues. Media reports, including in Nepal, have claimed in the past that
Shah had links with Dawood and that he could also have been involved in a turf war with a new fake currency racket. “But he did maintain a very low profile lately,” said a source. Many others, like with Beg’s death in 1998, point at the possible involvement of an Indian agency. A frustrated New Delhi, according to this theory, has at various bilateral forums with Nepali officials repeatedly raised its concerns about the perils of the porous border and that Nepali officials have failed to address its national security concerns. Nepal has become a major conduit for the flow of fake Indian notes which come from Pakistan, according to Indian officials. The timing of Shah’s death on Sunday—not least the nature of his killing—is noteworthy. On Oct. 2, Majid Manihar was shot dead in Nepalgunj; his death still remains a mystery. On Dec. 25, Saukhat Beg was killed in Butwal by an Indian national, according to Nepal police. On Jan. 1, Yunus Ansari was arrested in Kathmandu for his alleged involvement in a fake currency racket.
Like Beg 12 years ago, all three have a few things in common. All are believed by the Indian establishment to have cultivated close links with the Pakistani intelligence and all are said to have worked against Indian national interests.
As much as the timing, it’s the nature of the killing that’s noteworthy: In broad daylight in Lazimpat, which is considered one of the safest neighbourhoods in the Capital — just outside the French Embassy, three other embassies are only at a stone’s throw (Indian, British and Japanese) and a five-star hotel is just round the corner. “It is no secret that the Indian establishment has been a little frustrated with our perceived inaction to take quick and decisive measures against individuals it has put on its scanner for a while,” said a senior police official with both operational and investigative experience on cross-border issues. “It is a statement from New Delhi that it will not let off anyone it perceives as hostile to its national interests.” That is, if New Delhi’s hand is established.
Gang war looms large over Nepal after Jamim Shah’s murder
The spectre of yet another tit-for-tat war between two powerful gangs loomed large over Nepal after Bharat Nepali called up Avenues TV and Nepal Cable TV Association on Monday (yesterday) and claimed responsibility for the gunning down of controversial media tycoon 24 hours earlier. Bharat Nepali was once a trusted lieutenant of gangster Chhota Rajan but now leads a gang of his own.
The call came as no surprise for Nepal’s intelligence agency, the National Investigation Department (NID). In 1998, Chhota Rajan had ordered the killing – in a similar manner – of Nepali MP Mirza Dilshad Beg. The 1998 killing was a fallout of the growing rivalry between Chhota Rajan and Dawood Ibrahim, who was running a fake Indian currency racket with the notes manufactured in Pakistan with ISI help, shipped to Nepal as cargo and then sent to India across the porous Indo-Nepal border.
Jamim Shah, though he had always denied allegations of having links with Dawood and the ISI, went underground after Beg’s killing, surfacing cautiously two years later when he thought it was safer. Having started his career with modest gold smuggling in the 80s, he formed an alliance with Beg and was introduced to Dawood by the latter’s aide Sunil Sawant. After the 1993 Mumbai blasts, Sawant went underground in Nepal where he lived as Arun Singh for almost two years before heading for Dubai. In 1995, he was killed in Dubai by a vengeful Rajan’s men.
Though Nepal’s State Home Minister Rizvan Ansari on Monday (yesterday) denied any links between politicians and Shah, Beg and their killings, according to NID sources, two major political parties had sheltered the group that also included former Nepali minister Salim Miyan Ansari and a prominent businessman in Kathmandu. However, after intense Indian pressure during the visits of Nepal’s Prime Minister, and Foreign and Home Ministers to India, the ruling alliance agreed to end the political patronage enjoyed by the group. As a result, last month Ansari’s son Yunus Ansari, also a budding media baron, was arrested following a haul of fake Indian currency that police said had originated in Karachi.
Shah’s murder comes after the killing of yet another fake Indian currency kingpin and ISI operative, Abdul Majid Siddiqui alias Majid Maniyar – in Nepal’s southern Nepalgunj town in October 2009. Prior to Maniyar’s death in a hotel, his son Vicky was arrested by Indian police. Neither the killers of Beg or Maniyar have been arrested yet.
It is also likely that Shah’s killers too would never be caught, the shooting in broad daylight in one of the most tightly guarded areas of the capital bearing the hallmark of professionals. Two men on a Yamaha motorcycle stopped close to Shah’s Pajero car as he was heading towards home after a sauna bath at the health club of the Yak and Yeti hotel. Taking advantage of the traffic snarl, the pillion rider, his face hidden behind a handkerchief, sauntered over to Shah and shot him thrice through the open window. The pair then fled with impunity though on that day the Lazimpat area was on tightest security with the president, PM and chief justice attending the swearing-in of the vice-president.
From Kantipur Daily:
‘जमिम हत्यामा छोटा राजनको हात:’
प्रहरीले स्पेसटाइम नेटवर्कका अध्यक्ष जमिम शाहको हत्यामा कुख्यात अन्डरवल्र्ड डन छोटा राजन समूहको संलग्नता रहेको र हत्यामा प्रत्यक्ष संलग्न आक्रमणकारी तथा योजनाकार नजिक पुगेको जनाएको छ ।
महानगरीय प्रहरी परिसर काठमाडौंका प्रमुख गणेश केसीले हत्यामा अन्तर्राष्ट्रिय संलग्नताको आशंका पुष्टि हुँदै गएको र हत्याराहरू छिट्टै पक्राउ पर्ने बताए । लाजिम्पाटको मुख्य सडकमा मोटरसाइकलमा आएका दुई आक्रमणकारीले आइतबार अपराह्न २:२० बजे ४७ वर्षीय शाहको गोली हानी हत्या गरेका थिए ।
‘अनुसन्धानबाट छोटा राजन समूहले नै हत्या गराएको बुझिन आएको छ । हत्यारा र योजनाकारको निकै नजिक पुगेका छौं,’ सोमबार साँझ कान्तिपुरसित उनले भने । केबुल टेलिभिजन एसोसिएसन र एभिन्युज टेलिभिजनमा राजन समूहका भरत नेपालीको नामबाट आएको टेलिफोन तथा दर्जनौं व्यक्तिसँगको सोधपुछमा ‘मिसन’ बोकेर आएको समूहले हत्या गरेको उनले जानकारी दिए ।
केसीका अनुसार भरतले सोमबार दिउँसो फोन गरी ‘भारतविरुद्ध लाग्नेको हालत यस्तै हुन्छ’ भन्दै हत्याको जिम्मेवारी लिएका थिए । लगत्तै टेलिकमबाट लिएको कल विवरण, जमिमनिकट व्यक्ति र केहीअघि भारतीय जाली नोट कारोबारमा संलग्न नेसनल टेलिभिजनका सञ्चालक युनुस अन्सारीसँगको कुराकानीबाट हत्यामा राजन समूहको हात रहेको बुझिएको एसपी केसीले बताए ।
पहिले एसोसिएसनको नम्बरमा ११:४४ बजे आएको फोन त्यहाँ कार्यरत एक कर्मचारीले उठाउनासाथ भरतले हत्याको जिम्मेवारी लिँदै धम्क्याएका थिए । ४६ सेकेन्डमै फोन काटिएपछि उनले पटकपटक फोन गरेका थिए । एसोसिएसनमा तीनवटा ‘मिस कल’ देखिए पनि टेलिफोन नम्बर टेलिकमबाट पत्ता नलागेको प्रहरीको भनाइ छ । त्यसपछि भरतले १२:१५ टेलिभिजन कार्यालयमा फोन गरी उही कुरा दोहोर्याएका थिए ।
टेलिभिजन कार्यालयमा भरतले १८७७४२७३३६८ नम्बरबाट करिब ६० सेकेन्ड कुरा गरेको प्रहरीले जनायो । टेलिकम स्रोतका अनुसार विश्वका धेरै मुलुकमा बसेर फोन गर्न सकिने यो नम्बर क्यानाडाको कलिङ कार्डको हो । भरतले १२:३५ मा पनि नम्बर नदेखिने टेलिफोनबाट एसोसिएसनमा फोनगरी ५४ सेकेन्ड कुरा गरेको टेलिकमको हवाला दिँदै प्रहरीले जनाएको छ ।
एसपी केसीका अनुसार नेपालकै अछाम र पाल्पा घर भएको चर्चा हुने भरत महाकालीपारी पिथौरागढतिरका सैनिक पृष्ठभूमिका व्यक्ति हुन् । सन् १९९७ मा सैनिक सेवा त्यागी राजन समूहमा संलग्न उनको अनुहार नेपालीजस्तै भएकाले नेपाली बताउने गरेको प्रहरीले बतायो । हत्या योजना भने भारत सीमावर्ती क्षेत्रमा क्रियाशील बब्लु नामका व्यक्तिले बनाएको स्रोतले बतायो । करिब दुई महिनाअघि डिल्लीबजार कारागार समेत पुगी थुनामा रहेका विभिन्न अपराधीसँग शाह र अन्सारीबारे बुझेको अनुसन्धानबाट खुलेको प्रहरीले जनाएको छ । ‘पहिलो निशानामा अन्सारी रहेको बुझिएको छ, उनी जेल गएपछि जमिमलाई टार्जेट बनाएको हुनसक्छ,’ स्रोतले भन्यो, ‘हत्यामा संलग्न दुई जनालाई बब्लुले हायर गरेको बुझिन्छ ।’
बब्लुले बोक्ने मोबाइल ट्रेस गर्दा लाजिम्पाट क्षेत्रमै रहेको र दुई आक्रमणकारीसमेत सँगै रहेको अनुमान छ । योजनाकारको विवरण सोमबार अबेर खुलेको र लोडसेडिङले गर्दा राति राम्ररी मोबाइल ट्रेस गर्न समस्या परेकाले अपराधीसम्म पुग्न नसकिएको प्रहरीले जनाएको छ । ‘भीआईपी निवास क्षेत्र भएकाले पनि खोजतलास गर्न अप्ठेरो छ,’ एक प्रहरी अधिकृतले भने । यसबीच सुरक्षामा लापरबाही गरेको भन्दै लाजिम्पाट प्रहरी वृत्तका हवल्दारसहित ४लाई निलम्बन र एक असईलाई निलम्बनका लागि सिफारिस गरिएको छ ।