Mumbai: Gangster Abu Salem, who was shot at inside the Taloja Central Jail (TCJ) on Thursday, is said to have plotted the attack on himself in a bid to put pressure on India to be allowed to return to Portugal.

Meanwhile, the gangster was brought back to the jail on Friday morning after being treated at a hospital.

Raising doubts over the incidence, sources inside the prison said, “How the shooter, Devendra Baburao Jagtap, could have fired on Salem, as the two are known to be close friends.” The source further added, “Perhaps Salem wants to return to Portugal; he may well have staged the entire firing to put pressure on India.” The source also questioned how Jagtap missed Salem and only managed to hit the hand.

According to other sources though, Salem had an altercation with Jagtap, an accused in the advocate Shahid Azmi murder case, over protection money paid within the jail a few weeks ago. He had also threatened Salem.

Salem returned to his cell on Friday morning after being treated for the bullet injury, a police official said.

"He was admitted and treated at the MGM Hospital, Vashi on Thursday evening and kept there overnight. The accused was transferred back to TCJ on Friday morning. There is no cause for any concern on his health condition," a senior police official, preferring not to be identified, said.

When asked whether he would be shifted elsewhere from Taloja jail, the official declined to comment saying the decision would be taken by the jail administration in consultation with the Home Department.

Salem, accused in the 1993 Mumbai serials blasts and other major cases, was attacked inside a jail for the second time in four years after he was deported from Portugal in 2005. The firing took place in an open area near the jail mess. JD is an associate of Santosh Shetty, Vijay Shetty and Bharat Nepali. JD is currently facing several cases of extortion, murder and attempted murder.  He was fired at 4 times. One bullet hit him in the hand, the other three missed.

Speaking to MiD-DAY, Additional CP (Navi Mumbai) Fatehsingh Patil said, “A fellow inmate had smuggled a gun into the prison. Just as Salem stepped out, he was fired at and sustained bullet injuries to his right hand and fingers.” Police are currently tight-lipped as to the identity of the would-be assassin.

Sources from NMMC hospital Vashi, where Salem was admitted, informed that a pellet was present between the web of index and thumb of his right hand.

Police investigations are likely to focus on how a gun was smuggled into the Central Jail. The shooter, whose identity is being withheld, is currently being questioned by police. The Khargar police are busy conducting a panchanama within the confines of the jail.

The shooting could lead to diplomatic tension between Portugal and India, since Portugal had in March questioned the charges Salem was currently being tried under. The terms of extradition state that Salem would not be charged with any offence punishable with the death penalty. It had also been agreed he'd not be kept behind bars for more than 25 years, as per European law. The terms also include a clause that states that Salem could return to Portugal if he's life is under threat. However, the Delhi and Mumbai police have slapped several cases against Salem where the maximum punishment is death. A Portuguese court has already ‘cancelled’ his extradition.


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