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30 May 2023

Murdered Dubai-based businessman mourned

UAE-based businessman Abdul Salam Haji who was murdered in his house in Trikkarippur in the district of Kasargod in the southern Indian state of Kerala recently.

By V M Sathish

Police in the southern Indian state of Kerala have detained two alleged culprits from a gang of six that allegedly murdered Dubai- based Indian businessman, Abdul Salam Haji (58 in his house in Trikkarippur in the northern district of Kasargod last Monday.

Reports quoting Kerala police’s investigating officials said the two, who are said to be relatives of the deceased, were arrested by Kasargod police and a search is on for the remaining four or six members of the gang that tried to rob the NRI businessman’s home, after gagging and tying up Abdul Salam Haji in front of his wife and children.

On August 4, Haji was murdered by an eight-member gang who smashed his head with a chair, tied him up, gagged and suffocated him by using masking tape to cover his mouth and nose, causing his death due to suffocation.

Reports indicate that the main objective of the gang was robbery and the two culprits nabbed by a special police team, headed by the police chiefs of Kasargodu and Kannur districts, have got some information about the gang from a mobile phone call that one of the gang members received while they were at the NRI businessman’s home during the operation.

The murder of Haji, who was for a long time president of the KMCC’s Trikkarippur unit in Dubai, has saddened his friends and community members, because he was killed on the eve of inaugurating a new free dialysis centre for kidney patients from the area, especially returnees from the Gulf.

However, there could be other angles to the murder, especially business rivalry with UAE-based partners. Police is also looking at the recent land deals of the deceased in Kerala and the alleged involvement of ‘quotation gangs’ in the murder.

According to sources, the deceased was undergoing treatment for throat cancer and the murder happened when he had started recovering from the disease. He used to visit the UAE but was mostly stationed in his hometown.

“We at the KMCC are worried about the safety of non-resident Keralites and their families living in Kerala because such high profile crimes are happening again and again. The victim was an active community worker and a supporter of many charity initiatives here and back home.

“After coming to the UAE, he made money in business and built a dream house in Trikkarippur. It is unfortunate that he was murdered in the dream house that he built with much passion,” said Hussain R Haji Edachakkai, Vice President of Kerala Muslim Cultural Centre’s (KMCC) UAE committee.

The murdered man was head of KMCC’s Trikkarippur unit in the UAE.

“Abdul Salam Haji planned to open a dialysis centre in Trikkarippur with five machines for free or subsidised dialysis for kidney patients. Many Gulf-returned expatriates in the area suffer from kidney problems and it is sad that he was murdered before he could inaugurate the centre,” he added.

Abdul Salam Haji and family lived in a huge house of 22 rooms with all high tech security systems like remote controlled gate and CCTV inside the house. However, these systems were either not working or were tampered with before he was murdered.

According to the statement of the two youngsters in police custody, the robbers did not intend to murder Abdul Salam and that he died accidentally from suffocation. The masking tape that they used to gag him to prevent him from shouting for help, caused the suffocation, according to reports.

Kerala’s ‘Mathrubhoomi’ newspaper has reported that all the gang members were from the victim’s neighbourhood. Local police said two members of the gang wer arrested from Kottappuram near Neeleshwaram in Kasargod.

According to the police, the gang travelled in two vehicles. While the robbery was progressing, one group contacted the other on the mobile phone and it was the call prompted the police to investigate signals from the adjacent mobile phone towers. The gang used two SIM cards purchased from Neeleshwaram. Investigators spotted the gang after tracing the mobile phone signal. The mobile phone was used only for the robbery operation and then abandoned.

According to sources, there are three possible reasons for the murder. One was robbery, second business rivalry related to Abdul Salam Haji’s recent real estate deals and the third an alleged business dispute with someone close to his family.