Authorities are concerned about the safety of lawyers representing Hindutva leaders as well as those accused of “Hindu terror”, fearing they may be targeted by underworld elements to avenge the killing of Shahid Azmi, counsel for the 26/11 accused Fahim Ansari, in Mumbai.
Suspicion is that Azmi, who was himself detained under the now-defunct anti-terror law Tada, was bumped off by gunmen belonging to the Ravi Pujari gang. Pujari’s hand was also suspected in assassination of Naushad Kasim, counsel for Yusuf Malabari, who had been contracted by Chhota Shakeel to eliminate Siddharth Luthra, a city lawyer defending BJP’s Varun Gandhi in the “hate speech” case.
With two successful hits against lawyers representing “Islamic terrorists” and the underworld elements belonging to the minority community, authorities are wary of a retaliation against counsels for the Sangh Parivar leaders as well as those engaged by the accused in the Malegaon and Nanded cases — both allegedly the handiwork of Hindu gangs.
The killing of Azmi puts the underworld elements seeking to portray themselves as champions of the minority community under pressure. More so, because their plots against the lawyer representing Pragya Thakur, the sadhvi arrested for her alleged involvement in the blast in a Malegaon mosque, came a cropper.
Authorities here have watched with concern the zeal of the members of the underworld belonging to the majority community to target lawyers of terror accused and suspected ISI operatives both here and abroad.
The past one year or so has witnessed the killing of three alleged ISI operatives in Nepal — Parvez Tanda, Majeed Manihar and Zameem Shah. Of the three, Shah has, in particular, been a thorn in India’s side for long.
One Bharat Nepali has owned up the killing of Shah who, working at the instance of ISI, used his cable network and TV channel to hurt India’s interests and promote those of Pakistan. Indian agencies are yet to make a determination, suspecting that Nepali’s claim could be a red herring thrown by Chhota Rajan who has styled himself as a Hindu don or, to be more precise, the community’s defence against Dawood Ibrahim and Company.
The communal divide in the underworld dates to the time Dawood collaborated with ISI to engineer the Mumbai blasts in 1993 — the first case of terror involving serial bombing — in retaliation against communal riots in Mumbai.