Mahesh Bhatt escapes attempt on life for the third time

Well known Bollywood filmmaker, Mahesh Bhatt escaped with his life on 15th November when three shooters planned to fire on him. The shooters were all arrested by the Crime Branch officers. During the interrogation, the accused said that they had previously made attempts in September and in October. During the first attempt, one gave a signal as Bhatt left in his car and the other two followed on bike but they soon realized that there was no passenger in the car. During the second attempt, they had followed Bhatt for some distance but then got cold feet.

According to reports, in mid November, Obaid Merchant, a New Jersey based businessman with criminal connections had called his brother Mohammad Anees Merchant and took him to task for failing to kill Bhatt. Though Anees reassured his brother, the third attempt too has failed and Crime Branch officers have successfully arrested the entire team of 13 members.

Inspectors Jagdish Sail and Dheeraj Kohli of the Crime Branch acted on a tip, searched the homes of the 13 accused and have confiscated a total of six weapons. On interrogation, it was learnt that these men were also involved in shooting at the bungalow of Karim Morani in August in order to force him to give the overseas rights of the film, ‘Happy New Year’ to New Jersey-based event organizer Sunil Raniyal alias Bittu Singh.

The police believe that the gangster was shooting at Bhatt only for credit. "He wanted to create a sensation by hitting the well-known figure and then start extorting money from the film industry, but now we will cut his roots,'' said an officer.

Bhatt thanked the police and especially Rakesh Maria, the Mumbai police commissioner and stated, "The film fraternity must stand shoulder to shoulder with Mumbai police and fight the menace of organized crime. If we try and buy peace by giving in to their demands, we would be giving blood transfusion to this monster that is taking its last gasp. The police have demonstrated that they have the expertise and the resolve to protect our freedom and life."

In a related issue, the police detained a businessman from Jogeshwari who claimed that he received money from a hawla operator and turned it over to Anees. The man also claimed that he had received Rs 11 lakhs. He had distributed Rs 5 lakhs to the ten of them and used the rest to buy weapons.