DHAKA - Underworld don Dawood Ibrahim and his aide Chhota Shakil run a network of over 150 “highly paid agents” in Bangladesh, authorities here have said after last week’s arrest of Bollywood music baron Gulshan Kumar’s killer.
Kumar’s killer Abdul Rauf Daud Merchant denies knowledge of any such network, but confessed to not knowing “everybody”.
The Indian authorities have for long alleged that Ibrahim runs a network of agents across South Asia. However, this has been denied by India’s neighbours.
An unnamed senior Detective Branch official told The Daily Star newspaper: “We are confident that Dawood (Ibrahim) has more than 150 agents in Bangladesh who are paid monthly by Chhota Shakil.”
Merchant denies having killed Kumar. The contract killing took place after Kumar refused to pay extortion money.
Merchant was tried and convicted in Mumbai. He, however, says one Anil Sharma did the job in 1997.
A fugitive from Indian law, Merchant was nabbed from Brahmanbaria town in eastern Bangladesh last week.
During his stay he managed to get a fake Bangladeshi passport and a nationality certificate.
“I have managed a passport, fake nationality certificate and other papers as documents so that I can obtain a trade licence for importing motorbike from Mumbai,” Merchant told The Daily Star newspaper.
“I have never met and talked to Dawood Ibrahim. But I had regular contact with Chhota Shakil. It is not known to me whether Dawood Ibrahim and Chhota Shakil have visited Bangladesh.”
Thirty nine-year-old Merchant’s mother, wife, a 14-year-old son and a 12-year-old daughter live in Mumbai.
Dhaka authorities suspect that Merchant was in Bangladesh “on a mission” and are probing his possible links with a 2004 arms haul case in which a Dubai-based firm and agents of Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) are allegedly involved, New Age newspaper said Monday quoting Bangladesh police officials.
Detected accidentally, the Chinese arms were meant for United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), a militant group leading a separatist movement in northeastern India.
Merchant denied being part of any ‘mission’ and said he was in Bangladesh simply to hide from the Mumbai Police after he jumped furlough - the two week home leave he availed under Indian law.
He told The Daily Star reporter how he had managed a fake Bangladeshi passport on payment of Taka 50,000 ($820 approx.) to a broker.
Bangladeshi authorities are probing how Merchant managed nationality certificate and an identity card.