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Himesh on hit list over TV show
Himesh

Lucknow, July 25: Himesh Reshammiya, who apparently refused to back a gangster’s nominee on talent show Sa Re Ga Ma Pa, and Rajkumar Santoshi were the targets of a murder plot hatched by extortion mobsters, Uttar Pradesh police said.

Four alleged plotters — Anis Radiowala, Namdev alias Sagar and Mohammad Rahim Khan of Mumbai and Israt Warsi of Thane — were arrested today in Deva Sharif, 30km from Lucknow, with weapons bought here for prospective hitmen.

“Our duty was to procure the weapons and fix the targets (watch their movements to fix a suitable time and place for the killings). We were given Rs 50,000 for the job. I am a full-time worker of the Ejaz Lakdawala gang. I get a monthly salary of Rs 25,000,” Anis told a news conference, where DGP Vikram Singh was present.

The police have seized from them a pistol, three revolvers, a mobile phone and a Qualis. The weapons were bought for Rs 50,000.

Anis, who appeared to be the leader, said Himesh and filmmaker Santoshi were targeted because they had refused to cough up “protection money” demanded by Lakdawala, once a member of the Dawood Ibrahim gang who now operates on his own from Australia and New Zealand. Himesh, a mentor-cum-judge on the Zee show, also refused to promote Lakdawala’s candidate, Anis added.

“Lakdawala had a candidate — a budding singer who was from Australia. He wanted Himesh to take the singer in the Sa Re Ga Ma contest. But Himesh had refused to do so,” Anis said. The contestant lost out in the initial rounds.

Shailaja Mishra, additional director-general, STF, said Lakdawala was possibly grooming the contestant as a contact in the entertainment industry. “The idea was to use him later to gather information. Himesh was alert about this and he refused. That is what we have been told by Mumbai police,” Mishra said.

Dawood is alleged to have had a similar contact in a famous composer, who was named in the Gulshan Kumar murder case.

Talent hunts on TV, which have replaced saas-bahu serials as drawing-room favourites, offer successful contestants instant stardom and a shortcut to showbiz.

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