angsters have been idealised by cinema, but the children of Mumbai’s dons – men who emerged from anonymity to become feared names – seem to prefer the daily grind. Many of their parents are still on ‘wanted’ lists, but all the young brigade wants is a good education, as they feel that it will lead to a good life. One gangster, who very well remained in India, nurtured his children and mentored them in the politics; now topped an exam on Gandhism With Flying Colours. The change has begun; the old-time criminals are on realisation and their children are choosing their path. Arun Gawli is currently lodged in Taloja jail for the murder of Shiv Sena corporator Kamlakar Jamsandekar. Earlier, his men had allegedly plotted the killing of Dawood’s brother-in-law. Known as ‘Daddy’ to his followers, he floated his political outfit in 1997, Akhil Bhartiya Sena, and won an assembly election in 2004. His nephew Sachin Ahir is an NCP MLA while his daughter Geeta Gawli is a BMC corporator from ward number 205 (Chinchpokli, Byculla, and Mominpura). Geeta (36) was a student of the English-medium St Agnes High School, Clare Road, Byculla. She chose her career path, got married to a clean guy, settled in her life but did not disown her parents. But at the same time, she refused to carry his legacy too. She debuted in the film industry as a producer by making a film on her father’s life.
Chhota Rajan who is in India at present, his two daughters, Anita Nikalje (25) and Mala Nikalje (21), are following a different track. After studying in Goradia English Medium High School, they pursued engineering in the city colleges, they are now working with an IT firm. His youngest daughter, Pallavi Nikalje (15), is in Class 10. Anita studied at the top universities abroad and expects to be called from another couple of places. Anita passed her Class 10 exam with 80 per cent marks from Fatima High School, a reputed Christian Convent School in the central Mumbai of Vidya Vihar, in 2005. She is said to be a bright, studious girl who never visited her mother, Sujata Nikalje, in prison or in the court after she was arrested under MCOCA the same year on the charges of running her fugitive gangster husband’s syndicate of organised crime in India.
The extortion case against Nikalje was registered related to housing projects in her neighbourhood in Tilak Nagar, Chembur. The Enforcement Directorate accused Nikalje that she had purchased the properties from the extortion money. Rajan, the son of a mill worker, grew up in this locality, graduating from a cinema ticket tout to a gangster. The Rajan gang forcibly took over reconstruction projects at Tilak Nagar from other builders and transferred them to Sujata’s construction firm, Khushi Developers. More than 20 cases including smuggling, extortion, land grabbing, murder are pending. Recently, court has found him guilty for hatching conspiracy to kill a senior journalist of Mid-Day.
Gawli’s daughters want to remain out of their father’s crime syndicate and they are also petrified to acknowledge by their father’s name. In such catastrophes, the daughter prefers to disown their father and his criminal legacy. They don’t want their name to be linked by their father that can be a blot on their career or future ambitions. Chhota Rajan too is now on the spiritual path, he stopped his criminal activities and is facing trials in a hope to return to a normal life.
Girish is the eldest son of the fugitive gangster Guru Satam. Girish, who studied civil engineering, is now a developer. Guru Satam, the Parel-based extortionist was a terror for businessmen in central Mumbai. He fled the country in 1995 and is believed to be in Bangkok. Satam, was virtually bankrupt. His family is still in Mumbai. Satam, who started his illegal business by stealing iron scrap from the railway workshop in Parel, started his own gang and joined hands with Chhota Rajan. He fell out with Rajan and joined Dawood Ibrahim. Somehow from there also, he was shown doors, his health later had deteriorated. Satam depended heavily on his son and other gang members for extortion business. But as several of his aides have either been killed in encounters or put behind the bars, Satam’s name in the underworld has lost its shine, and he landed up begging money. Interpol wants even Dawood Ibrahim in many criminal cases, but his children are well-settled in business or jobs, leaving their father’s unlawful inheritance aside.
Reshma Naik was only 11-year-old when her gangster father Amar Naik was killed in a police encounter on July 10, 1996. However, Naik’s wife planned both her daughters’ education meticulously. Reshma, now 30, completed her commercial pilot’s flying training course from an aviation academy in Florida, United States. Her younger sister Aditi (27) is a doctor.
The thirst for education also touched their extended family. Archana, the daughter of Amar Naik’s younger brother and erstwhile don Ashwin Naik, has done a course in dentistry. Like her cousin Reshma, Archana too studied in an English-medium school, prefers western outfits and a chic straightened-hair look. Archana was, in fact, an anonymous face till she made a media debut with her father when he met the then Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray years ago. At that time, rumours were widespread that Naik was joining a political party, but he insisted that he had only gone to seek Thackeray’s blessings. Naik was earlier arrested for the alleged murder of his wife Neeta, but was later acquitted by the court. There is a famous web series on Netflix, the “Sacred Games”, which has dramatised his character in it.
Jailed diesel smuggler Mohammed Ali Shaikh, cooling his heels in a special cell in Arthur Road jail for plotting the murder of a shipping firm owner has also focused on his children’s education. Daughter Rukhsar did her MBA (finance) from a city college and was offered a job in a well-known bank; she is now working as a financial advisor. His son, an arts graduate, looks after his father’s Shipping Management Company. Mumbai is at peace, and the crime syndicate somehow came to an end. They all became reel characters. But their children walked own path and became role models.
(Any suggestions, comments or dispute with regards to this article send us on [email protected])