The Dawood Ibrahim Gang24
Dawood Ibrahim is the most powerful Mumbai Mafia ‘don’, with a countrywide network and extensive linkages abroad. He is one of the most powerful gangsters involved in transnational crimes, including narcotics smuggling, extortion and contract killing. He has lived in Dubai and is currently based in Pakistan. He had a phenomenal rise within a short time. The son of Ibrahim Kaskar, a former Criminal Investigation Department (CID) constable,25 he started off as a petty criminal and had the sympathies of Bombay (now Mumbai) Police due to his father’s connections. He used to assist smugglers to recover money from those who did not keep up their ‘word’. In the nineteen seventies, other gangs had become relatively weak and he took advantage of the vacuum, taking up smuggling of gold and silver. He built up his criminal empire with the help of his brothers and close associates, and was responsible for the elimination of hundreds of criminals belonging to rival gangs. The liberal bail policy pronounced by the Supreme Court helped him consolidate his gang. In the nineteen eighties, he became the most feared gangster of Mumbai. However, fearing for his life at the hands of rival gangs, he fled to Dubai, though his criminal network remained virtually intact. He currently controls his gang’s operations with complete impunity, as there is no extradition treaty between India and Dubai or Pakistan, and authorities in these countries have refused to extradite him – and, indeed, deny his presence on their soil despite overwhelming evidence. He also attempted to win social respectability by playing host to many influential politicians and film stars in Dubai.
Dawood’s brother Anees Ibrahim looks after the smuggling, narcotics trafficking and contract killing operations. Another key associate, Noora, looks after film financing and extortion from film personalities. Iqbal, a low profile operative, looks after his ‘legitimate’ business activities, including trading in the share markets of Hong Kong and jewellery and gold businesses. His gang consists of about 4,000 to 5,000 men. Fifty per cent of the Dawood gang members hail from Mumbai and the neighbouring districts and 25 per cent, including Abu Salem, his close lieutenant, hail from the State of Uttar Pradesh.
Due to changes in fiscal policies, the smuggling of gold and silver has become less lucrative. Currently, the primary activities of this gang are extortion, contract killing, film financing, drug trafficking, smuggling computer parts and illicit trade in arms and ammunition. The Dawood gang has been supplying arms both to criminals and terrorists.
Dawood Ibrahim has also invested heavily in ‘legitimate’ business ventures. His brother Anees owns a trading company in Dubai and Dawood has invested approximately Rs. 20 crores in the Diwan Shopping Centre in Mumbai and is also reported to have financial stakes in the Diamond Rock Hotel in Mumbai. Noora runs the Suhail Travel agency in Mumbai, which has since come under severe enforcement pressure. Dawood also reportedly has huge financial stakes in East West Airlines. His ‘legitimate’ business empire is estimated to have a turn over of approximately Rs.2,000 crores a year.
Dawood’s gang was secular in character before the year 1993 and used to attract ‘volunteers’ from both the Hindu and Muslim communities. However, after his involvement in the serial blasts in 1993, most of the Hindu gangsters have parted company from him. Sunil Samant, a dreaded gangster who continued to be loyal to him, was killed in Dubai in year 1995 by the Chota Rajan gang. Apart from his brothers, who are his chief counsellors, he continued to run his empire through Abu Salem26 and Chota Shakeel.
The Chhota Shakeel gang initially used to be a wing of Dawood Ibrahim’s ‘D Company’. Currently operating as an independent gang, though not in dispute with the Dawood gang, it is active in the south, central and north-west areas of Mumbai.
Arun Gawli Gang
After the death of Ramya Naik, the mantel of leadership of his gang fell on the shoulders of Arun Gawli. There have been several inter-gang killings against the Dawood gang, and they have also targeted each other’s political and economic interests. This gang consists of about 2000 to 3000 persons. Interestingly, Arun Gawli was sent to prison in 1990 and even though he was granted bail by the Courts, he chose to remain in jail primarily to escape the wrath of the Dawood gang. He continued to run his criminal empire from within the jail premises by passing instructions through his visitors. His gang is involved in the collection of protection money from rich businessmen and also contract killings. He came out of prison and started a political party, the Akhil Bhartiya Sena. He has been sent back to jail for his alleged involvement in a contract killing case. Arun Gawli is politically very active and has considerable influence in the slum areas of Mumbai. He even posed a significant political challenge to the dominant Shiv Sena party in the State of Maharashtra.
Amar Naik Gang
This gang originated in the year 1980 and commenced with the collection of protection money from various vegetable vendors in the Dadar area of Mumbai city. When Ram Bhat, the leader of this gang was sentenced to imprisonment in a robbery case, Amar Naik took over the reigns. The main thrust of his criminal activities was to collect hafta (extortion money) from vegetable vendors, hawkers, bootleggers and smugglers. Due to a clash of interests, his gang had several violent skirmishes with the Arun Gawli gang, not only outside jail but even within the jail premises, where members of both the gangs were lodged, resulting in several killings. This gang has a strength of about 200 criminals. Amar Naik was killed on August 9, 1996, and the mantle of leadership has now fallen on the shoulders of Ashwin Naik, his younger brother, an engineer by profession.
Chota Rajan Gang
Chota Rajan commenced his criminal career with the Dawood Ibrahim gang. Hailing from Mumbai's eastern suburb of Chembur, he started out with extortion rackets centred on the Sahyadri Krida Mandal, which organises the annual Ganesh festival at Tilak Nagar.27 Subsequent to the 1993 serial blasts in Mumbai, Dawood’s gang was divided on communal lines and Chota Rajan fell out with Dawood and fled from India. He raised a new gang in 1994-95. According to an estimate, the membership of this gang numbers about 800. His areas of operation are in the States of Maharashtra, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi. He is essentially a drug-trafficker and contract killer. He joined hands with Arun Gawli and was responsible for the killing of Sunil Samant, a trusted lieutenant of Dawood Ibrahim, in Dubai in 1995. It was a retaliatory killing. He has targeted many Dawood loyalists and his gang has also suffered in retaliatory actions. Chota Rajan is presently operating from South East Asia.
Characteristics of Mumbai Gangs
Based on the study of the Mumbai underworld, V.K. Saraf developed the following profile of membership and activities:28
- 66.5 per cent of gangsters in his sample were in the age group of 19-28 years; 26 per cent in the 29 to 38 years category; and 6.5 per cent were above 40 years.
- 29 per cent studied up to primary school, 42.5 per cent up to secondary school and 5 per cent had college education.
- A majority were drawn from a poor economic background and were propelled into the world of crime due to economic difficulties.
- A majority of the gangsters hailed from outside Mumbai and approximately 30 per cent came from outside the State of Maharashtra.
- The gangs were not based on region or religion, but after the 1993 serial blasts, Hindu gangsters have largely disassociated themselves from the Dawood Ibrahim gang.
- A typical Mumbai gangster is a cool-headed schemer and ruthless and un-hesitatingly employs terrorist tactics when he perceives his interest is being jeopardised. He is prone to violence at the slightest provocation.
- There is no initiation ceremony or ritual for the members. However, a ‘hopeful’ is involved in a criminal situation to test his mental capacity.
- The gang leaders have a caring attitude towards the members. The families are well looked after by the leadership when the members are killed or are in jail.
- A gang leader is not a total autocrat. He consults experienced people in the gang. After the death of Sunil Samant, Dawood Ibrahim relied on his brothers and his decisions were/are executed through Abu Salem and Chota Shakeel.
- There is evidence of a loose confederation of gangsters. A smaller gang may merge into a bigger gang but does not lose its identity completely. The smaller gang carries out the decisions of the main gang but is left free to involve itself in any activities of its choice so long as it does not clash with the interests of the main gang.
- The gangsters are required to display unflinching loyalty to the boss. Lack of loyalty means death.
- The gangsters are divided into three categories, namely, sharp shooters, money collectors and liaison agents. The liaison agents deal with lawyers and law enforcement officials and assist in legal problems relating to incarcerated gangsters. Each gang has a certain number of auxiliary members. They have a history of being involved in criminal activity and generally provide shelter to the gangsters and act as a repository for weapons. Their premises are used for holding meetings and making telephone calls by the gangsters.