Yesterday, I wrote how the better half of the ‘Mumbaiya’ dons participated in the crime activities with their husbands in the underworld era except Hasina Apa who was sibling of Dawood Ibrahim Kaskar. Today, I will explain you involvement of lieutenant of underworld don. It’s a notorious first, but nonetheless a first. The second generation of Dawood Ibrahim Kaskar’s family has now entered crime, making theirs the First Family of Mumbai’s Underworld. Dawood (56), started off alone in the 1970s, but six brothers and one sister of the family’s dozen children are in the same ‘line’, with cases pending against them all. Joining the criminal brotherhood are Dawood’s nephews, who have been arrested for kidnapping, extortion, and criminal conspiracy. Going by police records and underworld whispers, Dawood, a dropout of Ahmed Sailor’s High School at Nagpada, never expected his siblings to follow in his footsteps. Dawood started out by selling smuggled foreign goods through his electronics store. He entered police records for the first time in 1978, when he killed a vendor at Tardeo in south Mumbai. Dawood and his siblings grew up in a 10×10-ft house on the first floor of an old chawl in Pakmodia Street.
Rajendra Sadashiv Nikalje alias Chhota Rajan is also the boss of a major crime syndicate. He is a former key aide and lieutenant of Dawood Ibrahim. Starting as a petty thief and bootlegger working for Rajan Nair also known as Bada Rajan (Big Rajan), Chhota Rajan took over the reins of Bada Rajan’s gang after Bada Rajan’s murder. Later, he was affiliated with and operated at the behest of Dawood in Mumbai and eventually fled India to Dubai in 1988. He is wanted for many criminal cases that include extortion, murder, smuggling, drug trafficking and film finance. His brother is said to have produced films financed by Rajan. He is also wanted in 17 murder cases and several more attempted murders.
He parted away with Dawood Ibrahim after the latter’s involvement in the 1993 terrorist attack on innocent civilians in Mumbai suburban trains. Chhota Rajan and Dawood Ibrahim are now considered to be arch-rivals, with a long and bloody feud between their respective crime syndicates.
This middle-class Chembur lad began by peddling cinema tickets in black in the 1980s. Then he met mentor Bada Rajan. Once Bada Rajan was killed, Nikalje received the throne and the title Chhota Rajan. For a short period, Dawood Ibrahim, Rajan and Arun Gawli worked together. Then Gawli’s elder brother Papa Gawli was bumped off over a drug deal and a rift began. Rajan went to Dubai in 1989 to attend the wedding of Noora, Dawood’s brother. He never returned. With the serial blasts flinging a spanner into the works, Dawood and Rajan fell out. There were even reports that he tipped off the Research and Analysis Wing about Dawood’s network. The Dawood-Rajan party was over, the messy end comes in September 2000, with Shakeel’s plan a deadly attack on Rajan in his Bangkok hotel room.
It is speculated that religious differences between the two – Rajan is a Dalit Hindu and Dawood, a Muslim – contributed to the split. After the split, Rajan formed his own gang. Reports of bloody shootouts between Rajan and Dawood’s hoodlums have been common since the split. In 1994, Rajan lured one of Dawood’s favourites – the flamboyantly charming, yet dreaded young Pathan “narco-terrorist” Pillu Khan alias Bakhtiyar Ahmed Khan- to a hotel room in Bangkok, where he was tortured to death having being betrayed by his closest aide and sidekick Mangesh “Mangya” Pawar.
Both Pillu and Mangya were involved in the 1993 blasts as Police had filed cases on 15 March 1993 “against a 26-year-old Hindu (Mangesh Pawar) and a 30-year-old Muslim (Pillu Khan)” alleging their involvement in the blasts.
In September 2000, Dawood tracked down Rajan in Bangkok. Sharad Shetty, one of the Hindus in Dawood organisation post the Mumbai bombings, used his links with Mumbai based hotelier Vinod Shetty to track down Rajan in Bangkok, Dawood’s aide Chhota Shakeel then led the hit. Posing as pizza delivery men, they gunned down trusted Rajan hitman Rohit Varma and his wife. However their aim of killing Rajan failed, with Rajan making a dare-devil escape through the hotel’s roof and fire-escape. He then recovered in the hospital and slipped away to evade capture.
Dawood Ibrahim confirmed the attack on telephone to a media, saying Rajan tried to escape by jumping out of the window of the first-floor room where he was attacked. He, however, broke his back in the fall and was taken to hospital, the don said. This failed assassination attempt proved costly for Dawood. Chhota Rajan’s associates tracked down and shot dead Vinod Shetty in 2001 in Mumbai, as well as Sunil Soans – another Dawood associate. Both Vinod and Sunil had provided information to Dawood’s associates of Rajan’s whereabouts. While the killings of Vinod Shetty and Sunil Soans did not significantly disrupt D-Company, on January 19, 2003, Chhota Rajan’s associates then gunned down Sharad Shetty – Dawood’s chief finance manager and money-laundering agent – at the India Club in Dubai. This brazen killing was an emblematic of the shift of power between Dawood and Rajan. Not only was the execution in a very public setting, it was at a location that Dawood considered his operational backyard. Intelligence reports have suggested that Sharad Shetty’s death was a crippling blow to D-Company, since much financial and monetary information of the crime syndicate operations managed by Sharad Shetty was never fully recovered by Dawood. While the Indian government has no overt links to Rajan, the Intelligence Bureau, India’s internal intelligence agency is suspected of having passed information they collected of Dawood’s operations to Chhota Rajan when they’ve found so to be convenient to weaken Dawood. Chhota Rajan claims himself to be a staunch Indian nationalist.
Other dons of Mumbai
There was a time when Karim Lala (1911 – February 19, 2002), born as Abdul Karim Sher Khan in Kunar province of Afghanistan, was popularly known as the ‘don of Mumbai’ in India. He is widely recognized as the founder and pioneer of the Indian mafia in the Mumbai area. He went to work in Mumbai’s docks in the early 1940s via Peshawar, but his rise to prominence, along with Haji Mastan and Varadarajan Mudaliar, is now part of Bollywood film lore. Karim Lala and his fellow mafia leaders were based in Mumbai. They were involved in smuggling jewellery, running gambling and liquor dens, extortion rackets and selling Hashish. Karim Lala was an ethnic Pashtun.