x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Alleged right-hand man of Mumbai gang boss arrested in London suburb

Iqbal Memom, alias Iqbal Mirchi, is claimed to be the former right-hand man of Dawood Ibrahim, the Mumbai underworld boss who heads the D-Company, a worldwide organised crime syndicate.

NEW DELHI // One of India's most wanted men was arrested in the UK yesterday.

The alleged drug baron is accused of orchestrating the Mumbai bombings of 1993 that killed more than 250 people.

Indian authorities said Iqbal Memom, alias Iqbal Mirchi, was the right-hand man of Dawood Ibrahim, the Mumbai underworld boss who heads the D-Company, a worldwide organised crime syndicate.

Mr Mirchi has lived openly in the London suburb of Hornchurch since the early 1990s, despite an Interpol Red Corner notice pending against him since 1994 and a report by the United Nations in 2005 which placed him among the top 50 drug barons in the world.

India's Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) confirmed his arrest in London yesterday and said interrogations were under way.

Further details, including charges, were not available.

Mr Mirchi, 61, was previously arrested by Scotland Yard in 1995 on drugs and terrorism charges but the case was later dropped and an extradition request by the Indian government turned down because of lack of evidence.

India has accused him of being the mastermind behind the bombings in Mumbai on March 12, 1993, in which 13 coordinated blasts killed an estimated 257 people and injured more than 700.

It was the most lethal terrorist attack ever to hit India.

The bombings were thought to be a reaction to the destruction of the Babri Mosque in Uttar Pradesh the year before, which triggered violent Hindu-Muslim riots across the country.

The CBI said last night that they would renew their appeal for extradition in light of the arrest.

The son of a police constable, Mr Mirchi is said to have started his underworld career in the mid-1980s as a smuggler before making his way up the ranks of the D-Company to take charge of the gang's drug operations.

As well as drugs and terrorism, the D-Company is implicated in arms smuggling, extortion and counterfeiting.

Mr Mirchi has repeatedly claimed his innocence and has said that the allegations stem from the fact that he is a successful Muslim businessman.

Under pressure from the police, he moved to Dubai shortly after the Mumbai attacks but was forced to leave after India made it clear they would seek his extradition.

In an interview with The Observer newspaper in Britain in 2005, he admitted meeting Mr Ibrahim, who is now in hiding in Pakistan, during his stay in Dubai, but said he had never worked for him.