Dawood Ibrahim Kaskar’s assets were auctioned by the Maharashtra government. A farmland, a restaurant and a car were auctioned, which once belonged to India’s most fugitive Mumbai underworld don. Not even Mumbai Police but Interpol also failed to trace him for decades, but for as little as Rs. 4,000 ($60), bidders snapped up a car he purportedly owned – a green Hyundai Accent Sedan now parked in a working-class Mumbai suburb. USA had traced down Osama Bin Laden but still they cannot nab Dawood Ibrahim, after 10 years of declaring him International terrorist. The properties, sequestered more than a decade ago, make up only a tiny fraction of Dawood’s assets. Already, some have been put up for sale but mostly goes unsold because buyers stay away because of don’s property. A crowd gathered outside a down-at-heel south Mumbai hotel where this auction took place, along with a tight security.
Haji Saheb (by name his group members call him) according to various intelligence reports is hiding in Pakistan. He runs D Company, a crime syndicate Indian authorities accuse of engaging in murder, extortion and weapon-smuggling. He is also accused of financing militant groups and of masterminding bomb and grenade attacks in Mumbai in March 1993 that killed 257 people and wounded more than 700. Kaskar fled India in the 1980s and has since eluded the authorities, although the arrest last month of a former partner in Indonesia – Rajendra Nikalje, known as Chhota Rajan – is thought to be part of a strategy to hunt him down.
Dawood still has strong hold on Mumbai city; he has his deep rooted connections in government and police force. The congested Bhendi Bazaar area of south Mumbai is witnessing India’s largest urban redevelopment programme, with crowded streets and dilapidated buildings giving way to a planned urban centre. The Rs. 4,000-crore project, handpicked by Modi as a showcase smart city project in July 2015, will transform a chaotic and unplanned south Mumbai community into organised modern living and shopping destination. The project, however, also captures how the Dawood Ibrahim gang continues to flourish in the city more than two decades after he carried out the 1993 serial blasts in the commercial capital and took refuge in Pakistan. In a detailed investigation, almost fully based on technical surveillance details from various agencies, concluded that the powerful criminal syndicate continues to play a crucial role in many segments of Mumbai’s economy, despite the Indian security establishment dedicating much resource and personnel to Indian state’s enemy No 1.
Intercepts show how Dawood Ibrahim and several of his family members, as well as his key aide Chhota Shakeel, through their proxies, have major interests in the project. Unknown to SBUT officials, Dawood’s associates are involved in obtaining consent of residents of Bhendi Bazaar, deploying their goons to intimidate recalcitrant residents, executing some of the projects such as demolitions through proxies, and in recent years have been dedicating a significant part of their time to their activities surrounding the massive project in the heart of South Mumbai.
The project is to come up on over 16.5 acres between Mohammed Ali Road and Nagpada. It is close to Temkar Street, where Dawood grew up. It has a few thousands housing units, over 1,250 shops and offices, and 250 buildings. It is home to over 20,000 people. Once the project started in 2009, intelligence agencies have been receiving a stream of intercepts from Pakistan, the UAE and Mumbai, between key members of the Dawood gang, detailing how they are deeply involved in the project through various proxies.
Expressively, the rare reliable inputs of Dawood’s personal dealings also show his active interest in the project. His brother Iqbal Kaskar, brother-in-law Saud who is married to Dawood’s sister Farzana, and his sister Haseena Parkar’s son Ali Shah are all involved somehow in the project. It is not clear, though, whether the involvement is with the officials involved in the project. However, it is Chhota Shakeel, Dawood’s key aide, who seems to control the operation. A stream of inputs shows that Shakeel controls most of the activities mostly through the UAE, from where the D Company controls most of its Indian operations. According to the intercepts, Shakeel is involved in the proposed demolition and redevelopment of the Musafir Khana building at 33, Pakmodia Street in Bhendi Bazaar, where Dawood and family once lived. He is also closely involved in the developments around Damarwala building, which is among the 11 properties of Dawood attached by the Income Tax Department in 2001. The I-T Department’s efforts to sell off the property have yet not succeeded, but intercepts show that the Dawood gang is actively involved in its possible demolition and redevelopment. Moreover, two close relatives of Shakeel are closely involved in the project as proxies for the underworld operative. Through at least one of these proxies, the intercepts say, Shakeel has deployed several criminals to threaten shopkeepers and residents opposed to the project. In the intercepts, the gang actively discusses people signing up for the project, the need to maintain secrecy, and the need for local political support for the project.
Anyway, all those meager properties which were in limits of Maharashtra government are auctioned but successful bidders have to put all their resources to take the possession of the property. With this auction, Dawood may not incur huge losses nor will the government make profit. However, question still remains, when will he be deported to India?