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Thursday, 25 October, 2001, 16:52 GMT 17:52 UK
Bombay police seek mafia boss
Chhota Ra
By the BBC's Sanjeev Srivastava in Bombay

Police officials in Bombay say they will send a team to the Gulf state of Sharjah soon with finger prints and other relevant identification records of underworld gangster Abu Salem.

Salem was reportedly arrested in Sharjah on Tuesday.

However, officials in Delhi and Sharjah have not been willing to comment on the move.

It is not the first time that there has been such confusion about the whereabouts of a Bombay mafia leader - everything about them remains cloaked in mystery.

Underworld figures, of course, would prefer to keep their affairs under wraps and even the authorities prefer not to comment on record till they are absolutely certain about what is going on.

Early reports

Initial reports of Abu Salem's arrest in Sharjah on Tuesday began circulating in Bombay late Wednesday evening.

According to Maharastra State Home Minister Chagan Bhujbal and Bombay City Police Commissioner, M.N.Singh, the arrest has indeed been made and Salem - wanted by the Indian police in dozens of cases of extortion, murder and the Bombay bomb blasts case of 1993 - is in the custody of authorities in Sharjah.

Destroyed taxi outside the Air India offices in Bombay 1993
Wreckage of the 1993 Bombay bomb campaign

On Thursday, authorities in Bombay even announced they would be sending a team of Bombay police officials to Sharjah with Abu Salem's finger prints in an effort to help identify the man arrested in Sharjah.

Indian gangsters operating from outside the country often use an alias or false identity.

But home ministry officials in Delhi, as well as the Central Bureau of Investigation - which also represents Interpol in India - have so far chosen to remain non-committal on reports of Salem's arrest.

Officials also point out that even if Salem has indeed been arrested it may not be so easy to bring him to India despite India having an extradition treaty with the Gulf state.

They say that although Abu Salem was arrested in Dubai in 1997 he was finally let off as he could not be positively identified.

Salem was then reported of holding a Pakistani passport.

See also:

23 Feb 99 | South Asia
Bombay evicts 'gangster chief'
04 Nov 98 | South Asia
Bombay gets tough on gangsters
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