Once upon a time, Iqbal Mirchi was known as Dawood Ibrahim’s right-hand man. He is India’s most wanted criminal because there are several extortion and money laundering cases pending against him. Mirchi was often called a drug baron for his thriving narcotics business across Asia, Africa and Europe. On 1 June 2004, he was sanctioned under the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act. Mirchi first gained notoriety in the early 1990s as one of the world’s top drug lords, and a major figurehead in the 1993 Bombay bombings.
Memon’s family originally owned shops selling chillies and spices and thus he got the nickname ‘Mirchi’ means Chilli. Mirchi’s affluence wheeled after he began smuggling in banned meth tablets, heroin and Mandrax. He also owned a disco called The Fisherman’s Wharf at Worli seafront in Mumbai which was a hotbed for narcotics.
In May 1986, Mirchi was first nabbed by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence in connection with the seizing of 600 kg of heroin — valued at around Rs 9 crore — from a farmhouse in Thane. However, prosecutors could not link Mirchi with the farmhouse and he was let off. When the heat became too much, Mirchi left India in the late 1980s first to Dubai and later to London. The front for all his businesses in the UK was a rice mill called Eden Fine Rice.
He was first arrested by Interpol in London in April 1995, following a red corner notice for his arrest issued by the CBI. An extradition request was made on the basis that Mirchi was wanted for ordering a murder, and was the prime suspect in two drug seizure cases. However, in 1999, all investigations of Iqbal Mirchi were called off for lack of evidence. The Indian government also lost its extradition proceedings against Mirchi.
Also read: Decoding Iqbal Mirchi’s donation to BJP
Mirchi died of a heart attack in London, at the age of 63 in 2013. At the time of his death, a new investigation went underway, linking him to Indian Premier League match-fixing and several drug offences. Mirchi always claimed that he was a victim of persecution and that all the allegations against him were unfounded and biased. In an interview with The Guardian in London, Mirchi maintained his stance, explaining that was how he won his extradition proceedings. Mirchi also denied being associated with Dawood Ibrahim in any way.
Though many allegations were produced in the media against Mirchi, he was never formally charged or convicted of any crime. In April 2016, Mirchi was named in the Panama papers for stashing black money in foreign bank accounts. Mirchi till his death was in gloves with Dawood.
Iqbal Mirchi’s first wife is Hajira Memon, by whom he has two sons, Asif and Junaid. All of them live in the United Kingdom. Mirchi’s second wife is the former actress Heena Kausar, daughter of the famous filmmaker K. Asif a producer-director of the epic Mughal-e-Azam by his third wife, the actress Nigar Sultana. Mirchi and Heena got married in 1991 and they had no children together. Heena also continues to reside in the United Kingdom after Mirchi’s death. Mirchi’s family has a business setup and most of them are in real estate.
Mumbai Enforcement Directorate (ED) had secured a Letter-Rogatory to Hong Kong authorities, seeking details of the conviction of late gangster Iqbal Mirchi’s close aide Humayun Merchant in a 40-year-old cocaine smuggling case in which his wife too was arrested. The agency also sought details of the bank account of the Merchant, if any, from the Hong Kong police.
Merchant, a close aide of late gangster Mirchi who allegedly looked after the drugs trafficking business of the Dawood Ibrahim gang) was arrested in 2019 by the ED in a money-laundering case. The agency claimed that Merchant had helped Mirchi acquire properties in Worli way back in 1986 using money earned through crimes like smuggling, drug trafficking and extortion. The agency claimed that Merchant was arrested in Hong Kong in 1980-81 for smuggling cocaine from Mumbai to Hong Kong through his second wife Nasreen Farid Edroos. It was claimed that Edroos was acquitted for want of cogent evidence, but Merchant was convicted and sentenced to seven years imprisonment.
Last year the Enforcement Directorate (ED) confirmed the attachment of properties of former minister and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Praful Patel in the Iqbal Mirchi case. The attached property includes four floors in the prime property Ceejay House at Worli belonging to Praful Patel and his family. Praful Patel will have to evacuate these four floors now from the prime property of Ceejay House in Worli. ED said that the attachment was done last year, and now the adjudicating authority has confirmed the attachment of the said properties.