Monday, 11 July 2011

Gangster stayed at Arambol for 57 days

ARAMBOL: They came, stayed for 57 days, two were arrested on Thursday by the Mumbai police, and yet, the Goa police knew nothing till the news hit the headlines on Saturday. In fact, key shooter in the Chhota Rajan gang, Umaid-ur-Rahman, stayed with his wife, parents and an aide in two rooms of an under-construction building a mere two-minute walk from the Pernem police outpost at Arambol in North Goa. 

Pernem police have submitted a report to the district magistrate that the owner of the two rooms, Maria Mascarenhas, has violated the collector's orders by not filing the mandatory form 'C' (tenant verification form) with the police. They further stated that Mascarenhas did not enter into a contract with Rahman to rent the rooms and didn't know for how long the five would stay. Police have requested the magistrate to initiate action against Mascarenhas. 

On Saturday, STOI visited the two rooms rented to Rahman at Rs20,000 a month and found four cellphone batteries, six cellphone chargers, petty cash in denominations of Rs50 and Rs10, a watch, two Sim cards, four bags full of clothes, a copy of the Konkan Railway timetable, religious books, two TV sets with cable connections, cooking oil, spices, honey, nuts, rice, flour, eggs, etc. 

'They told me they were tourists from Mumbai' 

Locals told TOI that Rahman, his wife, parents and the aide turned up at Arambol around May 20, three days after the shooter allegedly orchestrated the murder of gangster Iqbal Kaskar's driver-cum-bodyguard Arif Bael outside Kaskar's residence on Pakmodia Street in Mumbai. Initially staying at 'Arambol Plaza', they asked the cook at the guesthouse to arrange for a cheaper place about 10 days later. Around May 30, Rahman and his family approached Mascarenhas who lives at Madhalawado just behind 'Arambol Plaza'. 

The 60-year-old agreed to rent two small rooms (approximately 15 sq m each) with attached bathrooms on the first floor of her under-construction, twostorey building. Mascarenhas lives on the ground floor. While Rahman and his wife Yasmeen stayed in one room, his parents and the aide, stayed in the other, said Mascarenhas. "They told me they were tourists from Mumbai and had come to Goa for a change of climate. They said their previous guesthouse was costly at Rs 2,000 a day and that they wanted a cheaper residence and wanted to cook their own food," said Mascarenhas. 

Rahman also wanted TVs in their rooms to watch the news. "They told me 'aunty, humein TVchahiye, newsdekhna hain, zara arrange kardo," said Mascarenhas. She accordingly got TVs from her house installed in the rooms together with cable connections. The five stayed without any problems for 57 days. In the last week of June, Rahman's parents even travelled to Mumbai for medical reasons and returned after four days, said Mascarenhas. They also shopped in Panaji (evident from the shopping bags from stores based in the capital city that TOI saw in the rooms). 

"Their behaviour was normal. They owned two cars and would step out every evening for movies, shopping and to go to other places. They normally woke up around noon," said Mascarenhas. Recalling what happened on Thursday, the owner of the rooms said, "Around 12:45pm, 5-6 well-built men, not speaking Konkani, arrived at the rooms and handcuffed Rahman and his aide. Though Rahman's parents tried to intervene, the men, who I found out later were Mumbai crime branch police officers, took the two away. They also searched the rooms and seized some items." 

Admitting that she did not file form 'C', Mascarenhas said, "Whenever foreigners stay we file form 'C'. I am sorry I took it so casually this time. I didn't know these people were criminals, I would never have rented my rooms to them."

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