The CBI has taken over the probe into the murder of Hanif Kadawala, an accused in the 1993 Mumbai blasts case who gave an AK-56 rifle to actor Sanjay Dutt. The CBI has registered a case against gangster Chhota Rajan and his accomplices in this regard.
"The agency has taken over the probe into Kadawala's murder," CBI spokesperson RK Gaur said.
Sources said the investigating agency took over probe after a reference from the Maharashtra government in this regard. As per norms, the agency starts its probe from the FIR registered by the state police.
They said a case has been registered against Chhota Rajan, his gang member Guru Satam and others under relevant sections of the IPC and Arms Act in connection with Kadawala's murder.
Kadawala, who transported weapons to Mumbai (then Bombay) on the instructions of Tiger Menon which were used in the 1993 serial blasts, was killed on February 7, 2001 in his office by three men.
Mumbai Police suspected that the killing was a handiwork of Rajan after the 12 blasts that had left 257 dead and more than 700 injured.
Rajan, once considered a henchman of Dawood, parted ways with him after the blasts.
It was alleged that Kadawala along with another accomplice had hid the consignment of weapons used in the blasts in the garage of Dutt's house. The actor had, however, denied any knowledge of conspiracy of blasts and was acquitted from charges under TADA in the case.
The actor was convicted under the Arms Act. Kadawala was arrested on April 16, 1993 under TADA for being part of the conspiracy and transporting weapons from Gujarat coast to Mumbai but was released on bail five years later.
In 2001, it was alleged that a person introducing himself as Yusuf repeatedly sought appointment with Kadawala regarding a deal. On February 7, 2001, three persons allegedly entered his office at Bandra (West) in Mumbai where two of his employees were also present.
After a brief discussion, Kadawala was allegedly shot with a .32 revolver. He was severely injured and rushed to a hospital but he succumbed to injuries.
The sources said agency has also initiated a probe into the murder of hotelier Jaya Shetty who was on May 4, 2001 killed allegedly by the members of Chhota Rajan's gang. Shetty was the owner of Golden Crown hotel in South Mumbai.
They said a case under IPC sections related to criminal conspiracy, murder and provisions of the Arms Act has been registered against Rajan, notorious criminal Hemant Pujari, Ajay Mohite, Sameer Manik among others.
Manik was acquitted in the case by the Special Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) court in 2008. However, three other gang members -- Ajay Mohite, Pramod Dhonde and Rahul Pansare -- were convicted by the court in connection with Shetty's murder.
Rajan was arrested at Bali airport in Indonesia on October 25 last year and deported to India. He is an accused in around 70 cases in Maharashtra, including the 2011 J Dey murder case.
The Maharashtra government has handed over all these cases to CBI.