The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Dawood brother’s power door ajar
- Kaskar let off for lack of evidence

Mumbai, June 13: Dawood Ibrahim’s brother can now hope to lord over Mumbai, or at least a slice of it.

Iqbal Kaskar was today acquitted of involvement in an illegal shopping complex construction case, throwing open the doors for him to take a most-wanted political plunge.

A lookalike of his more famous brother minus the moustache, Kaskar had filed nomination for the October 2004 Assembly polls. But he got the heebie-jeebies at the last moment and pulled out of the race.

With a special court today saying there was no evidence that he connived with civic officials to build the Sara-Sahara shopping complex on government land, Kaskar can now happily eye the 2009 elections.

“I will think about it later,” a relieved Kaskar said when prodded about his political ambitions after the verdict.

Taking back-to-back congratulatory calls from family and friends from Dawood’s den in Pakmodia street, he added: “I would like to take some rest before I begin social work.”

Kaskar was among six accused acquitted by crime court judge Mridula Bhatkar this afternoon. Three of his associates were sentenced to jail terms of five to seven years and directed to pay fines going up to Rs 25 lakh.

He was originally deported from the UAE in 2003 in connection with the murder of a customs informer, but was later booked in the Sara-Sahara case under the Maharashtra Control of Crimes Act.

Earlier acquitted in the murder case, he had been cooling his heels in the Arthur Road jail over the Sara-Sahara charges.

A confidential crime branch report had some time ago revealed that Kaskar’s mission in India was to safeguard Dawood’s benami properties and help fulfil his brother’s political ambitions.

Kaskar’s acquittal is a big blow to the crime branch, which had used 65 phone transcripts of conversations between him and his associates to nail him.

One of his key aides, Tariq Parveen, also named him in his confession. But the court convicted Tariq and let Kaskar off on grounds of inadequate evidence.

“The tapes were not accepted by the court as it did not find direct evidence of Kaskar issuing threats,” Kaskar’s lawyer Jagdish Shetty said.

“The confession of Tariq Parveen was also not accepted as the deputy commissioner who recorded it did not inform Parveen that it could be used against other co-accused.”

The joint commissioner of police (crime), Meeran Borwankar, put on a brave face, saying the state would appeal the acquittal.

“We tried our best to prove the case. It is difficult to establish links between foot soldiers and their bosses. The fact that the court convicted three accused shows the organised underworld was involved.”

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