Bombay: In Mumbai underworld tales of the 1990s, one incident has consistently been cited as defining the relationship between the glitzy Bollywood industry and its gang lords. It was the cold-blooded, daylight murder of music label founder and T-Series film producer Gulshan Kumar.
Last week, the Bombay High Court closed the 24-year-old case by upholding the life imprisonment imposed on Abdul Rauf Dawood Merchant, a henchman of gangster Dawood Ibrahim, and sentenced his brother Abdul Rashid to imprisonment. life for murder Kumar, managing director of Super Cassettes Industries, owner of the music label.
The case is akin to a Bollywood pot, involving a professional rivalry, conspiracy with gangster Abu Salem, and threatening calls to Kumar, known as “Cassette King”, before killing him completely.
Mumbai police filed a 400-page indictment in 1997 indicating that the plot to kill Kumar had been hatched in the office of Anees, Dawood Ibrahim’s brother, in Dubai.
Police arrested 19 people in the murder and the prosecution interviewed 45 witnesses. In 2002, a Mumbai court acquitted all the defendants, including Rashid. Only Rauf was found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment.
The Bombay HC on Thursday dismissed Rauf’s appeal challenging his conviction and convicted Rashid as well, saying there were enough eyewitnesses who identified the two brothers as two of the three attackers who shot Kumar.
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Murder in the light of day
According to the prosecution, Kumar used to visit a temple of Shiva in the western suburb of Andheri in Mumbai every morning and evening. He had sponsored the renovation of the temple in 1976.
On August 12, 1997, Kumar drove to the temple in his red Opel car with his driver Rooplal, who later became a prosecution witness, as usual. He prayed for 15 minutes, made his offerings and was assisted, as always, by Ramchandra Lavangare, the president of the Shiv Temple Management Association.
On the way home, just as Kumar was opening his car door, someone hit his back with a pistol and fired a volley of bullets. Taken aback, Kumar only turned to receive more bullets to his chest. A second assailant emerged and fired more bullets, and as Kumar struggled to escape, walking a few steps forward, a third assailant flooded him with more bullets.
The owner of the music label was rushed to nearby Cooper Hospital, but was returned dead. Lavangare and Rooplal have become key prosecution witnesses.
Prior to his assassination, Kumar had received threats on August 5 and 9, 1997, the prosecution said.
At the end of the month, Mumbai police declared Nadeem Saifee of the music songwriting duo Nadeem-Shravan as a co-conspirator. Nadeem was in London at the time and refused to return.
âThe attackers had no enmity or personal grudge towards the deceased. They had committed the horrible act while they had been hired by Nadeem Saifee and Abu Salem who wanted to satisfy their personal vendetta against the deceased, âobserved Bombay HC while passing the order Thursday.
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Court records indicate that Kishan Kumar Dua, the younger brother of Gulshan Kumar and director of Super Cassettes Industries, shed light on Nadeem’s alleged involvement in the crime as a prosecution witness.
In 1996, Nadeem produced an audio album, Hi Ajnabee, and wanted Kumar to buy the audio rights, but Kumar was reluctant. According to Kishan Kumar Dua, his brother refused Nadeem’s offer saying he was not a good singer. Kumar, however, ended up buying the audio rights to the album and also shot a music video for its promotion.
âThe album was released in March 1997, but was a big failure. Annoyed by the failure to sell the album on the market, Nadeem confronted the deceased, blamed him for the failure, as he felt that the deceased had not given his album the proper publicity. and threatened him with terrible consequences, âsaid the prosecution, according to the HC order dated July 1.
The prosecution said Nadeem and the gangster Abu Salem got along and conspired to kill Kumar. Salem had fled India after the Bombay explosion in 1993, but was extradited from Portugal in 2005.
During the trial, Kishan Kumar spoke to the prosecution about two calls from gangster Salem that rocked his brother.
During the second such call, on August 9, 1997, Gulshan Kumar allegedly explained to Salem that he had given enough publicity to Nadeem’s album and that the only reason he had failed was because Nadeem’s voice was was not good.
According to Kishan Kumar’s testimony, Gulshan also asked why his life should be in danger at Salem’s hands because of Nadeem.
Other witnesses said that Nadeem allegedly paid Salem money to have Kumar murdered.
Nadeem and Salem have been presented as fugitive defendants in the case and the trial against them has not taken place.
Ramesh Taurani’s alleged involvement
During their investigation in 1997, Mumbai police also arrested Kumar’s main industry rival, Tips Industries owner Ramesh Taurani, alleging that he paid Rs 25 lakh to Kumar killers with Nadeem.
The Mumbai Sessions Court acquitted Taurani in 2002, but the state government challenged that acquittal in the Bombay High Court, which upheld the trial court’s verdict on Taurani.
On Thursday, the court said: “There are serious gaps in the investigation and there is no compelling and compelling evidence to support that Taurani spoke to Abu Salem in Dubai.”
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