he kingpins of the city’s underworld have fled; some are under trial and some are dead. While some are still on the haunt, some have changed their destiny by joining politics. They all were in fear to get killed in encounters. But their GenX is stepping out of parents’ dreaded shadows in search of a new identity. Some of them are working as bankers, doctors, engineers, pilots and developers. The underworld dons have created their terror and established dirty games in the city. Times have changed; families of these gangsters are well acquainted with the pitfalls of their lives and choose not to follow their parents’ footsteps. The youngsters today want respect in the society and a bright future. They don’t want to be termed as ‘underworld heirs’ and they are trying to build their own character. They are bold enough to say no to the crime world that their parents have established and prefer to lead a normal life.
Chhota Rajan, who is in India at present, his two daughters, Anita Nikhalje (25) and Mala Nikhalje (21), are on a different track. After studying in Goradia English Medium High School, they have pursued engineering in city colleges; Namrata and Mala are now working with an IT firm. His youngest daughter Pallavi Nikhalje (15) is in class 10. Anita studied from a top university 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 Vidyavihar, in 2005. She is said to be a bright, studious girl who never visited her mother, Sujata Nikhalje, in prison or in court after she was arrested under Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) the same year on the charges of running her fugitive gangster husband’s syndicate of organised crime in India.
The extortion case registered against Nikhalje is related to the housing projects in her neighbourhood in Tilak Nagar, Chembur. The Enforcement Directorate accused Nikhalje 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. These girls want to remain out of their father’s crime syndicate and they are also petrified to acknowledge by their father’s name. There are more than 20 cases including smuggling, extortion, land grabbing, murder are pending. Recently, the court has found him guilty of hatching conspiracy to a kill senior journalist of Mid-day.
In such catastrophes, the daughter prefers to disown their father and his criminal legacy. They don’t want their name to be linked to their father that can be a blot on their career or future ambitions.
Chhota Rajan’s daughters are not an exception; even other gangsters are too disowned by their own family. Some have entered in politics. The only don now living in Mumbai is Gangster-turned-politician Arun Gawli. He 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 Akhil Bhartiya Sena in 1997 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 (34) 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 a making film on her father’s life.
Reshma Naik was only 11 years 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, 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 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.
Gangsters 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 it will lead to a good life. Jailed diesel smuggler Mohammed Ali Shaikh is cooling his heels in a special cell in Arthur Road jail for plotting the murder of a shipping firm owner; he has also focused on his children’s education. His 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.
Then there is Girish, the eldest son of 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 the 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 and his health has gone worst. Satam depended heavily on his son and other gang members for the extortion business. But as several of his aides have either been killed in encounters or put behind 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 inheritance aside.
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