Thu, Jan 01, 2009 - Page 20 News List

Criminals target India cricket captain in extortion attempt

BLAST THREAT A man who claimed to be the henchman of a notorious mob boss said Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s house was at risk of being blown up

AGENCIES , NEW DELHI

Indian cricket team skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni has received extortion threats from a local criminal that his family would be harmed if a demand of 5 million rupees (US$100,000) was not met, officials said yesterday.

Mohammad Taslim, claiming to be a henchman of the country’s most wanted gangster Dawood Ibrahim, allegedly sent two letters threatening to blow up Dhoni’s house in Ranchi, capital of the state of Jharkhand, if the payment was not made.

The letters also warned the cricketer not to take the threats lightly and not to inform the police about the letters.

Ranchi police chief Sampat Meena told reporters that the extortion letters were sent to Dhoni’s residence on Monday and yesterday and were the “handiwork of local criminals.”

“After preliminary investigations we have found that it is the handiwork of a local criminal called Taslim and his other gang members,” she said.

Taslim’s claim of being Ibrahim’s associate is also being investigated, Meena said.

The underworld boss has eluded authorities for the past 15 years and is believed to be hiding in Pakistan. By the 1980s and 1990s, he was one of Mumbai’s top gangland leaders, with a billion-dollar vice empire spanning gambling, drugs and prostitution.

The Indian skipper’s security has been beefed up, with 45 commandos deployed at his residence.

Dhoni had already received extra security cover after Maoist rebels made death threats against him last year, police said.

But he was unhappy with the arrangements and applied for government permission for his security to carry more sophisticated weapons

Dhoni, one of India’s cricket icons, has a massive fan following in the country.

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