Dhaka probing Gulshan Kumar killer’s terror links


Dhaka : Bangladesh is ascertaining possible terror links of Abdul Rauf Daud Merchant, convicted killer of Bollywood music baron Gulshan Kumar, who was nabbed while hiding in a town in the eastern region, media reports here said Friday.

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Bangladesh is specifically probing Merchant’s possible link to the haul of a huge arms shipment in 2004. He is believed to be part of the gang of Indian fugitive Daud Ibrahim Kaskar.

The shipment of Chinese arms to Chittagong in April 2004 was meant for banned Indian militant outfit United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA).

Merchant, 37, was detained early Thursday by a team of detectives in Brahmanbaria, a town close to the Tripura border in north-eastern India.

He was supposed to have entered Bangladesh illegally from Akhaura and had acquired a Bangladeshi passport under the name of Shomar Patel, the Daily Star said.

Police also arrested Kamal Miah, who sheltered Merchant in his house, and Zahid, the man who put the two in touch.

Zahid is also an Indian national posing as a Bangladeshi citizen, the newspaper said.

From the call list on Merchant’s mobile phone, the police suspect that he also has contacts with notorious underground mafia don Daud Ibrahim, the New Age newspaper said.

Gulshan Kumar, owner of Indian music company T-series, was shot dead on the streets of Mumbai on Aug 12, 1997. He is believed to have been murdered by contract killers after refusing to pay extortion money to gangsters.

Merchant, a mercenary sharp-shooter, was convicted for killing Kumar. He was declared absconding by the Mumbai police after he escaped during his furlough, the 14-day leave allowed once in two years to a convicted prisoner to meet the family members.

Dhaka newspapers said Merchant had been living in the guise of a Bangladeshi citizen for the last one month.

He had told Kamal Miah that his name was Mujahid and he was a car spare parts dealer.

A Chittagong court is hearing the case of the arms haul in which two former generals of the Bangladesh Army, who headed the National Security intelligence (NSI), are being questioned.

Asked whether Merchant has any link to the smuggling of 10 truckloads of arms and ammo seized in 2005, a top Detective Branch official seeking anonymity said: “Only after primary interrogation can we say if he was just hiding in Bangladesh or if he came here with a mission.”

“After primary interrogation we’ll decide if he needs to be quizzed in the sensational arms haul case in which name of Daud Ibrahim came up in the confessional statement of some accused,” he was quoted as saying by The Daily Star.

According to the confessional statement of detainees, former NSI director general Brig Gen (retired) Abdur Rahim had a meeting with the ARY Group in Dubai on the smuggling of seized firearms. Daud Ibrahim was allegedly present at the meeting.

Asked whether the detainees will be deported to India, the official said the government would decide that.