One of India's most wanted men, an alleged mobster suspected of terrorizing Bollywood and plotting bombings that killed hundreds, told a court Wednesday that he was worried he might be murdered by Bombay's mafia for spilling secrets. Police hope interrogations of underworld figure Abu Salem may provide information about his network and another alleged Indian mobster, Dawood Ibrahim, accused by U.S. officials of having al-Qaida ties.
On Wednesday, Special Judge P.D. Kode ordered Salem, who was extradited last month from Portugal after more than a decade on the run, to be held until his next hearing on Dec. 7 and instructed police to increase security at the prison where he is being jailed. Salem also told the judge he feared being tortured by police during questioning.
"There is a threat to my life from the underworld," Salem said. "I fear being tortured by the police."
Salem, who was arrested in Lisbon, Portugal, in September 2002, is a prime suspect in 1993 bombings that struck Bombay's stock exchange along with trains, hotels and gas stations, killing 257 people and wounding more than 1,100.
Police also suspect Salem in several high-profile killings, including attacks on Hindi film personalities, extortion and the 1997 murder of Indian music industry czar Gulshan Kumar.
Salem is facing charges of committing a terrorist act, criminal conspiracy and supplying arms and ammunition. He could face life in prison if convicted.
The Bombay bombings are believed to have been revenge attacks for the December 2002 demolition of a 16th-century northern Indian Muslim mosque by Hindu extremists. The incident triggered riots that killed at least 2,000 people, mostly Muslims.
Salem is alleged to have planned the bombings with Ibrahim, who now reportedly lives in Pakistan, though Pakistani officials deny he is in the country, reports the AP. I.L.