Abu Salem remanded in seven days’ Delhi police custody


New Delhi : Extradited mobster Abu Salem, facing trial in Mumbai for masterminding and funding the March 1993 serial terror bombings of the metropolis, was Tuesday remanded in Delhi Police custody for interrogation on his role in an extortion bid five years ago.

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Delhi's Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Seema Maini remanded Salem in the custody of the Special Cell of police for seven days to enable them to interrogate the mobster on his role in a futile bid to extort money from a south Delhi-based businessman in 2002.

Maini dismissed his counsel Ashok Sarawagi's contention that the gangster could not be on remand for questioning in any criminal case as India had agreed to Portugal's request before his extradition that he would be put on trial in only four cases related to the Mumbai serial bombings.

Refuting Sarawagi's contention, Additional Solicitor General Vikas Singh, appearing for Delhi Police, said that Salem had many criminal cases registered against him all over the country, and the agreement nowhere bars the police from questioning him for his role in various criminal cases.

He said that Delhi Police needed him for interrogation over his role in trying to extort Rs.10 million via his henchmen from south Delhi businessman Rajat Nagrath, who owns a firm Allied Communications in East of Kailash.

Salem is also involved in a similar case in which he had tried to extort Rs.50 million from another south Delhi-based businessman Ashok Gupta in April 2002, as "protection fee" to shield him from the threat of other gangsters.

The Special Cell had earlier arrested three people, Ishtaq, Sadiq and Chandu Prakash in connection with the case. The trio had confessed that they had called up the businessmen at the instance of the gangster.

Salem, attired in a green shirt and dark grey trousers, stood quietly as counsels argued the matter. If he had any emotions, he betrayed none.

Earlier, police had transformed the Tis Hazari court premises in north Delhi virtually into a military camp, deploying over 1,000 policemen to ensure smooth passage of Salem to the courtroom.

But the police had a tough time, weaving their way through a battery of cameramen and television crews, to escort the gangster.

Salem was brought to Delhi from Mumbai Monday evening by the Golden Temple Express.

Salem was extradited to India Nov 11, 2005, – 12 years after he allegedly masterminded the terror blasts in Mumbai. He was brought to India along with his companion Bollywood actress Monica Bedi.

Apart from the Mumbai blast case, the 36-year-old mobster is also wanted in 54 cases ranging from murder to extortion.

Salem and Monica were arrested at a Lisbon shopping mall Sep 18, 2002 following an Interpol red corner notice issued at the CBI's behest.