MUMBAI: Four Kalyan youths joining the ISIS in Iraq, a low-intensity blast in Pune, enhanced underworld threat to Bollywood personalities and the crisis hit NSEL promoter's arrest in an alleged Rs 5600-crore scam were some crime cases that hogged headlines in Maharashtra during 2014.
Terror menace resurfaced in the state on July 10 with a low-intensity blast, triggered by an IED planted in a bike parked in front of Faraskhana police station in the heart of Pune city that left four persons injured, one of them a constable.
Hours after the blast, Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad declared the blast prima facie, a terror attack.
While the state's elite Anti-Terror Squad was connecting the dots to hunt down the perpetrators, in the month of August a shocking terror activity from Kalyan here came to light.
In a jolt to the security agencies, it was found that four civil engineering students from Kalyan town – Areeb Majeed, Shaheen Tanki, Fahad Shaikh and Aman Tandel -- had in May left India on pretext of a visiting holy places in the Middle East only to disappear thereafter. They joined the terror group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
On August 26, Shaheen Tanki called up Areeb's family and told them that their son had become a "martyr" claiming that the latter died fighting for ISIS in Syria. Accordingly the next day, Areeb's family performed prayers in absence of the body in Kalyan.
In an intriguing twist to the episode, Areeb (22) returned to Mumbai on November 28 following which he was placed under arrest.
National Investigation Agency (NIA) booked him under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) on charges of conspiring to commit a terrorist act and being a member of a banned foreign terror group, and under the stringent section 125 of the IPC for "waging war against any Asiatic Power in alliance with the government of India".
Areeb then elaborated his meticulously-planned trip from Kalyan to Iraq, the arms and explosives handling training he underwent in the insurgency hit region, how he had been instructed to carry out menial tasks like cleaning toilets or providing water to those on the battlefield, instead of being pushed into the war zone. In yet another terror related case, Maharashtra ATS in October nabbed city-based software engineer Anees Ansari (24) for allegedly conspiring to blow up US establishments here including a school. He sympathised with ISIS fighters and described, in his online conversations, the Americans as tormentors.
The crimes linking the business, Bollywood industry and politics too hogged limelight this year.
In a development that shook the business circles, former Financial Technologies and Multi-Multi Commodities Exchange (MCX) promoter Jignesh Shah had been arrested on May 7 by the EoW of Mumbai Police for his alleged involvement in the Rs 5,600-crore National Spot Exchange Limited (NSEL) scam.
Shah came under scanner last year, when his group company NSEL faced a payment crisis and nearly 18,000 investors allegedly lost millions in late July. He is out on bail now.
In a criminal complaint that jolted Bollywood, business as well as sports fraternities, actress Preity Zinta filed an FIR on June 12 alleging her boyfriend Ness Wadia outraged her modesty at the stadium on May 30 during the IPL match between Kings XI Punjab and Chennai Super Kings. Industrialist Wadia said the allegation was "false and baseless".
Next day she left for the US and returned in the last week of the June. While the actor was away, fugitive underworld don Ravi Pujari jumped into the controversy by allegedly making threatening calls and sending a text message to two personal secretaries of Wadia Group on June 16. He warned their "business will be in trouble" if the actress is harassed.
Police, probing the episode, recorded the statement of Zinta, several others including Indian Premier League COO Sundar Raman and BCCI Secretary Sanjay Patel, in connection with the case. Zinta took firm stand and gave a detailed account of her controversial saga at the Wankhede. The investigators are yet to record the statement of Ness Wadia.
Mumbai police in second week of November arrested 14 Pujari men, who conspired to eliminate veteran film producer-brothers Mahesh Bhatt and Mukesh Bhatt.
With their arrest, the city police claimed to have not only thwarted a plot to kill the Bhatt brothers but also cracked the case of firing in the air outside the residence of Karim Morani, producer of blockbuster movie 'Chennai Express'.
By killing Bhatt brothers, Pujari wanted to send a signal that he is still operating fearlessly and he could have effortlessly extract money from film personalities, police said. Months before his men's arrest, Pujari had even threatened Shah Rukh Khan. As precautionary measures, city police accorded protection to all those who received threats from underworld in the past two years.
In a setback to NCP, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on December 12 gave the go-ahead for probe by the ACB against state's former Deputy CM Ajit Pawar and top party leaders Sunil Tatkare and Chhagan Bhujbal in various cases.
In a crime that defamed the state police department, DIG Sunil Paraskar was accused by a model in July that the 57-year -old officer molested and sexually assaulted her on two occasions in December 2013.
A city court granted pre-arrest bail to Paraskar, observing that "it appears from the behaviour of the complainant and her e-mails that the act must be committed with consent".
As far as the developments at Mumbai Police administration level are concerned, city's top cop Satyapal Singh in a surprise move had resigned from his position on January 31 to join BJP, becoming first IPS officer to step down before completing the term.
Subsequently Mumbai Police Commissioner's post was occupied by senior IPS officer Rakesh Maria, who was then heading the Maharashtra ATS.