Rioter who snatched gun from cop arrested

The Mumbai Police Crime Branch on Thursday arrested a rioter who was seen waving a self-loading rifle (SLR) one of two snatched from the police in photographs of Saturday's riots around Azad Maidan. The suspect, Salim Allahrakha Chaukiya (24), was handed over to the Crime Branch by the police.

Police sources said the SLR had a loaded magazine. When the weapon was found, the ammunition inside the magazine was missing.

Crime Branch officers said Chaukiya was nabbed from Jogeshwari (West) by the Oshiwara Police after they circulated among the police stations in the city a 'documentary' of CCTV recordings and images of persons who had participated in the violence.

"Chaukiya has confessed to the crime. We will be produce him in court on Friday," said Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) Himanshu Roy.

In his statement to the Crime Branch, Chaukiya said he came to the rally and was among the miscreants who indulged in violence. Chaukiya has allegedly confessed to snatching the weapon from a police personnel. A broken SLR was found in the vicinity of Azad Maidan. Officers said they were probing if it was the same SLR that Chaukiya had snatched.

"He has told us that when the mob saw him with the SLR, they surrounded him and began shouting slogans. When the police personnel saw what was happening, they regrouped and charged towards the mob. In the melee that followed, Chaukiya abandoned the weapon and escaped. However, we will have to verify his claims," said Roy.

The police were unwilling to divulge details of when Chaukiya arrived at the protest venue, and whether he belonged to a particular organisation. "He works as a salesman at an electric appliance shop in Musafirkhana and had not reported to work for the past two days. He claims that he learnt about the rally through an SMS and during the Friday prayer, which he attended in Jogeshwari (West)," said Roy.

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