[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he kingpins of the city’s underworld have fled, been killed in encounters or called it a day. But GenX is stepping out of their parents’ feared shadows in search of a new identity in Mumbai as bankers, doctors, engineers, pilots and developers. Underworld Dons created their terror and established dirty underworld and its games. Times have changed; families of these gangsters are well acquainted with the pitfalls of their lives and choose not to follow their elder’s footsteps. The youngsters today want respect in society and a bright future. They don’t want to be termed as ‘underworld’s heirs’ but are trying to make their own identity. Dons’ children say no to the crime world that their parents have established and prefer to lead normal life. Like father, not like daughter. Chhota Rajan’s daughters, Anita and Mala, are on a different track. After studying in Goradia English Medium High School, Namrata and Mala graduated whereas youngest daughter Pallavi is studying in school.
Anita studied at the top universities abroad, and expects to be called from another couple of places. Anita, of who very little is known, passed her Class 10 exam with 80 per cent marks from Fatima High School, a reputed Christian convent in the central Mumbai suburb of Vidya Vihar, 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 MCOCA the same year on charges of running her fugitive gangster husband’s syndicate of organised crime in India. The ED’s case was that the properties were purchased from the extortion money. Chhota Rajan, the son of a mill worker, grew up in Chembur 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. Khushi is the name of Rajan’s daughter. Rajan has three daughters. These girls want to remain out of their father’s crime syndicate and they are also scared to acknowledge by their father’s name. There are more than 80 cases including smuggling, extortion, land grabbing, murder pending against Rajan. In such crisis the daughter prefers to disown father and his criminal legacy. They don’t want their name and career to be blotted by their father’s bad name.
This is not the only case of Chhota Rajan, even other underworld gangsters too are disowned by their own children. Some have opted to enter politics. The only don now living in Mumbai is Arun Gawli. He is currently lodged in jail for the murder of Shiv Sena corporator Kamlakar Jhamsandekar. Earlier, his men had allegedly plotted the killing of Dawood’s brother in-law, Ibrahim Parkar. 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 Ahire is Sharad Pawar led NCP leader. Gangster-turned-politician Arun Gawli’s daughter, Geeta Gawli, a student of the English-medium St Agnes High School, Clare Road, Byculla, is currently a municipal corporator.
Reshma Naik was only 11 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 had completed her commercial pilot’s flying training course from an aviation academy in Florida, United States. Her younger sister Aditi is a doctor. The family plans to open a hospital in the city for the poor. 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 Shiv Sena Chief Bal Thackeray in 2008. At that time, rumours were rife that Naik was joining a political party, but he insisted 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 glamourised by cinema, but the children of Mumbai’s dreaded 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 better life. 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 (25) did her MBA (finance) from a city college and was offered a job in a well-known bank. His other child a son, an arts graduate, looks after his father’s shipping Management Company. Sources close to Shaikh say he always wanted his children to study well to give them a new identity.
Then there is Girish, the eldest son of fugitive gangster Guru Satam. Girish, who studied civil engineering, is now a developer. The children of underworld figures want to make a name for themselves minus the crime records of their elders. They are studying and getting good opportunities in MNCs as well. 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, police say, is virtually bankrupt. His family still resides in Mumbai. Ashwin Naik, an engineering graduate, with several cases registered against him, was paralysed after being shot at in April 1994 by a rival gang on the premises of a Sessions court at Fort.
Many gangsters’ daughters and sons made their entry in the glamour world also. Some of them are film producers while some others have become entrepreneurs.
The next generation of underworld chose the path that their father missed.
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