The recent arrest by the Thane police's Anti-Extortion Cell of Iqbal Ibrahim Kaskar, the youngest brother of India's most wanted fugitive, Dawood Ibrahim, has brought to light the new formula of extortion he had devised to make pot-loads of money.
Iqbal Kaskar, the kid brother of the dreaded gangster, was for long not actively involved in the gang’s operations. But it seems that after the death of his elder sister, Haseena Parkar, in July 2014, Iqbal actively got involved in what for them is family business. This included extortion, land grabbing and various other criminal activities. Before that, Iqbal was known to maintain a miniscule set of close associates who would carry out petty dealings and small-time extortion for him.
Iqbal was arrested from the Gordon House residence of Haseena Parkar as he had to shift out of his home in the Dambarwala building on Pakmodia Street of Thane after a neighbouring building collapsed killing more than 30 persons. Iqbal had recently shifted to the Gordon House residence of Parkar, when he was picked up by the Anti-Extortion Cell of Thane police. The team headed by encounter specialist Pradeep Sharma arrested Iqbal on the basis of a case registered by a Thane-based builder.
New areas of operation
Iqbal's gang members had spread across areas like Thane, Navi Mumbai and even Nashik, where a sudden rise in real estate prices post 2010 had made the extortion business even more lucrative. The gang members would identify potential victims and then they were contacted or called to meet Kaskar. Demands made were in keeping with the victim’s assets and it could be anywhere between 5 to 10 per cent of the project cost.
Threats used were similar as those meted out in the old days of the Dawood Ibrahim gang, but the only difference was Kaskar utilised resources from outside the state. Shooters from Bihar were called on a need basis and duly sent back after the operation or sending out of the threat.
Areas in Thane, like Ghodbunder road, saw a large number of huge construction projects post 2010. Also, other areas like Kalyan Dombivali and Nashik saw a splurge and consequent rise in property prices. This was the perfect hunting ground for Iqbal and to a large extent he was successful. With Haseena gone, he had taken over the areas controlled by her and it had made him even stronger.
Investigators reveal that the modus operandi used by Iqbal and his men for extortion was different from what his brother and elder sister had used in the past. The gang would now target people who were dealing in disputed properties and when the victim met Kaskar, the gangster would put across his demand.
Though extortion was carried out using his elder brother’s name, Iqbal had roped in some newbies to form and expand his gangs operations. Though around this time Iqbal had developed an urge to prove that he was no less than his brothers and sister in running the gang operations, the problem was in identifying victims efficiently.
Iqbal's new gang members operated in a discreet manner and it included people who were estate agents, local politicians and small businessmen. These people helped him identify the victims who would be targeted. The trick was very simple: the victims would be called in to meet Kaskar and once they arrived, there would be a full show of strength.
Before meeting the victims, Kaskar kept them in rooms full of his gang members to scare them into submission. After the scare tactic had worked itself into softening his victims, Iqbal would walk in followed by his bodyguards and demand whatever extortion money he sought. The trick had been successful most of the times and the extortion racket grew bigger by the day.
Iqbal's new gang members didn't have any criminal record, which helped the gang even more, giving them an unbroken spree of success for a couple of years. Barring one case of extortion registered at JJ Marg police station, there weren't any FIRs lodged in cases of either extortion or even threatening and criminal intimidation against Iqbal and his gang members in any of these areas.
It might be sheer bad luck for Iqbal that Pradeep Sharma, after his reinstatement, joined the force and got posted at the Thane crime branch. Once Sharma joined, he utilised his huge network of informers and collected precious information on some of the victims. The Thane commissioner of police, Parambir Singh, provided support to his team and this helped persuade the first complainant and then the second.
A large number of cases are yet to be lodged against Iqbal, which will be followed by several arrests, chiefly of those affiliated with the gangster. The neta-criminal nexus is already being investigated, but the fact that Iqbal's gang gained out of corporate disputes also is something that cannot be sidelined. Businessmen whose names have cropped up, used the gang’s services to target rivals, and it was a win-win situation for all those involved.
With the court sending Iqbal to eight-day custody in the first case, and with MCOCA (Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act) charge hanging over his head like Damocles sword, the notorious gang would very soon be wiped out of operation forever.