9A Short Street
Police on Thursday arrested Rajesh Damani, a land broker whose signatures were allegedly found on many papers related to the sale of 9A Short Street.
The Howrah resident — on the run since the November 11 trespass on 9A, which led to the gunning down of two bouncers — was picked up from in front of South City Mall around 1pm.
Around the same time, a government lawyer submitted in Bankshall court in a related case that Damani had acted at the behest of real estate agent Parag Majmudar, another accused in the 9A trespass now behind bars.
“Majmudar is the key conspirator behind the trespass. He had hired Damani to get the Short Street plot vacated,” public prosecutor Krishna Chandra Das submitted while opposing the bail plea of Majmudar. Magistrate Biswarup Seth extended Majmudar’s police custody till November 26.
The police said Damani had brought land broker Pinakesh Dutta, also behind bars, to Majmudar. “Dutta said during interrogation that Damani had approached him early this year.... Majmudar paid Dutta Rs 1.5 crore to get the plot vacated. Damani had knowledge of the two attacks on 9A — on September 15 and November 11 — aimed at evicting the occupants,” said an officer.
Dutta had allegedly paid Rs 50 lakh to a loan recovery agent, who police sources identified as Mohammad Riaz, for organising the September attack. “When the attack proved unsuccessful, Dutta paid Rs 3 lakh to lawyer Partha Mukherjee for hiring bouncers of a private security agency, who stormed 9A on November 11,” said an officer.
Mukherjee is in custody while the police said they were looking for Riaz.
In his submission on Thursday, public prosecutor Das said industrialist Sanjay Sureka had paid Majmudar Rs 8 crore as advance in 2010 for buying 9A. “The money was deposited to the accounts of three companies — Heartline Estate Private Ltd, Ritman Estate Private Ltd and Sreeji Flat Holders Private Ltd — run by Majmudar.”
A police officer said Majmudar had showed two of his aides, Dilip Das and Rajesh Damani, as directors of Heartline.
Damani’s wife Vineeta said she had no idea that her husband was a director of a Mumbai-based company. “He was a small-time land broker. We live in a 400sq ft flat off Foreshore Road in Howrah. We are struggling to bring up our three children. I can’t recall the last time we went on vacation.... On November 11 he had got a call around 9am and left home immediately. Since then he did not return,” Vineeta said.
The police have claimed to have traced 10 bank accounts of Majmudar. “The sleuths have written to the bank authorities seeking Majmudar’s transaction details. His laptop has been seized. The police hope the laptop will reveal some incriminating information,” Das submitted, while pleading with the magistrate against granting bail to Majmudar.
The lawyer also submitted that the November 11 trespass was Majmudar’s brainchild.
“Sureka wanted the Rs 8 crore back as Majmudar had failed to get the property vacated. Majmudar was planning a resale of the property to raise the money. Out of desperation he organised the trespass,” Das submitted.
Majmudar’s lawyers, however, denied the charges. “He is a prominent architect and owns property worth Rs 300 crore. The court should grant him bail as he will not abscond,” said Majmudar’s lawyer Sudipta Mitra. The court rejected the plea.