Dongri to dubai six de.., p.16
Larger Font   Reset Font Size   Smaller Font       Night Mode Off   Night Mode

       Dongri to Dubai - Six Decades of the Mumbai Mafia, p.16

           S. Hussain Zaidi

  Manya realised that the only way to ensure the downfall of Dawood and Sabir was to divide and rule, in other words, to separate the one from the other, and take them out singly. Again, he fell back on his Headley Chase novels, and came up with a novel idea. Much planning and strategising later, Manya and a gang of Pathans were ready for the Kaskars.

  Sabir did not suspect a thing when, on one of his frequent night-time visits to the prostitute Chitra, he saw a wedding car pull up behind him. Black-tinted windows and adorned with flowers and silk, it was like any other wedding car. Sabir dismissed it from his mind, dreaming of the delights of the flesh that he would soon experience.

  Armed with machine guns and pistols, the gang of Pathans and Manya followed Sabir discreetly, knowing that they would never be suspected. The Pathans followed Manya’s instructions to the letter, and choosing the correct, pre-assigned moment near a petrol pump at Prabhadevi, riddled Sabir’s car with bullets, leaving Sabir to bleed to death.

  Dawood was always known to be unforgiving. He decided to avenge his brother’s killing and eliminate each and every person involved in the murder. He had no personal enmity with Manya, and so, he could not fathom why Manya should have gotten involved in the ongoing vendetta between the Pathans and the Kaskars. But Manya will have to pay for this, Dawood swore.

  Meanwhile, the police themselves were shaken with Manya’s unabated run of violence. After a string of murders, violent robberies, and kidnappings, the then Police Commissioner Julio Ribeiro formed a special squad of policemen to hunt down Manya late in 1981. The squad included Senior Police Inspector Isaac Samson; Inspector Yashwant Bhide; and Sub-inspectors Raja Tambat, Sanjay Parande, and Ishaq Bagwan. Officers of the squad visited all the places where Manya had committed crimes and spoke to several of his victims, including Mastakar and Patil. They also visited some of Manya’s associates in jail, where a couple of them promised to inform on Manya’s movements if the police helped them get out of jail. The squad then arranged for some lawyers, who helped these informants get out on bail.

  The constant evading of the law had instilled into Manya a tendency to be ever ready for a confrontation. In fact, Dombivali residents recall that he used to move around with a bag of hand bombs, the way people carry chickoos in their plastic bags. No one ever dared to cross his path. He never went anywhere without arming himself with a gun, a dagger, and a bottle of acid, something which no other gangster was ever known to do. He trusted no one and in order to avoid being caught, he did not keep even his aides fully informed of his movements.

  But finally, it was the love of a woman that proved to be his Achilles’ heel. The police hit squad, which was on Manya’s tail for two months, hit pay dirt on 11 January 1982, when they learnt that Manya would be meeting his girlfriend near the Ambedkar College in Wadala and taking her to Navi Mumbai. He was in a relationship with a woman from his locality, and she had been living with her parents after her husband died.

  The squad immediately swung into action and set about laying a trap. One team was dispatched to Sector 17 in Navi Mumbai, to lie in wait for Manya in case he managed to escape from the police’s clutches from Ambedkar College. Meanwhile, Tambat, Bagwan, and Parande, all in their mid-20s at the time, donned jeans and T-shirts and started loitering outside the college posing as students, while two older officers lay in wait posing as professors. All of them had guns concealed in cavities cut out in the pages of thick books. The cavities were a couple of inches larger than the guns, to enable the cops to draw them quickly when the action began.

  Things began to heat up when Manya’s girlfriend arrived and stood waiting at the bus stop outside the college. The cops’ informant, through signals, informed them that she was the woman who would be meeting Manya, and the cops discreetly stationed themselves around her.

  At around 10:45 am, Manya approached in a taxi, which drove past the bus stop and stopped several feet ahead. Oblivious to the trap, Manya got out and started back walking towards his girlfriend, right past Tambat and his ‘college-mates’.

  Bhide recognised Manya first, and signalled to the others, who immediately moved in, surrounded the gangster with weapons drawn and called out the warning: ‘Manya Surve, thamb! Aamhi police aahot [stop, Manya Surve, we are policemen]!’

  With a snarl on his lips, Manya drew a Mauser pistol from under his shirt and pointed it at Tambat and Bagwan, who were directly in front of him. Both cops dove for cover behind parked vehicles as Manya opened fire. In retaliation, Tambat and Bagwan each shot Manya thrice.

  Even six bullets in his torso could not subdue the lean, muscular criminal, who had hated the police with all his being ever since his arrest. Manya reached inside his sock for the bottle of acid that he always kept with him. However, he was overpowered and disarmed.

  The police had already kept several private vehicles on standby outside the college, and Manya was carried into one of them, spitting up blood and curses. He died before he reached the hospital. Tambat, along with Sub-inspector Bagwan, were later awarded the president’s police medal for gallantry.

  Manya’s arrest in 1969 and the encounter were the only two times when he actually came face-to-face with the police. He had managed to give even Ribeiro’s special squad the slip on three to four occasions.

  Manya’s aide Sheikh was killed in an encounter, also by Bagwan and Tambat, shortly thereafter, and Bajirao was arrested. He now lives in Matunga and is believed to be reformed. However, one mystery has never been unravelled till date. How did the police know the exact location and time of Manya, who was known to be obsessively secretive about his movements? Some say his woman betrayed him. Newspapers reported that he was supposed to pick up a prostitute who was actually a decoy set up by the police, and he walked into the trap completely unaware. The prostitute was said to have been pressurised by the police to trap Manya; her name was never disclosed. There is also a strong suspicion among a section of the police that it was actually Dawood who had kept a watch on Manya for days and finally tipped the police off about his visit to Wadala. Some even believe that the mysterious woman was working at Dawood’s behest, and knowing Dawood and his way of using the police machinery, this actually seems highly believable. In fact, Current, which was the most widely read weekly in those days, said as much in their spot report on Manya killing on 23 January 1982, ‘The shooting of Manya has acquired an aura of mystery. Whatever actually happened on that day, the fact remains that both the cops and the public have heaved a sigh of relief (Current, 23 January 1982, Manya Shot Dead).’


  The Fallout

  Khalid Pehelwan had gotten himself inducted into the two-storey building on Mohammad Ali Road—Musafirkhana. Dawood had deemed him loyal and trustworthy enough to live with him and his brothers, and after the death of Sabir in February 1981, they both became closer; almost like blood brothers. Khalid was an intelligent man with a sharp eye for detail. He realised that there was more money to be earned than the meagre amounts collected from extortion or the petty money made from cheating and robbing people.

  Dawood had made several trips to Dubai and established contacts with the sheikhs, but could not establish a strong base in the Gulf region. Also the Kachra Peti line and other means of smuggling gold was not that revenue oriented. Khalid began exploring ways and means to ensure they could enhance their turnover by smuggling big time, instead of making small-time profits. He was looking for opportunities to try and generate bigger profit margins through larger turnovers.

  The idea was simple—while smuggling through air there were limitations in terms of volume, but by sea the cargo could be much bigger. They just had to ensure they dodged the customs cleverly.

  Dawood was very interested in the idea but had no experience on this front. However, Khalid assured him this campaign would succeed, and laid out his plans before him. Small fisherman boats would set out to the high seas or the coast lines of Raigad and Ali
baug. He said that they could use the jetties of Srivardhan and Mhasla. These small boats could meet the steamers or ships with the smuggled cargo of gold or silver, which would get to Indian waters. The fishermen’s boats would then ply the cargo back onto the shores across the coast of Maharashtra and the Union Territory of Daman. It would take an estimated four hours for the barges to get to the Indian coasts, thereby avoiding coastguards and customs.

  After a couple of successful test runs, Dawood began to see the ingenuity of Khalid’s ideas. Musafirkhana had now expanded as the smuggling centre of Dawood’s gang, and this foray into smuggling increased Dawood’s stature as a don.

  However, most of the smuggling business was handled by Khalid Pehelwan, while Dawood handled the distribution business. When he was not involved in the distribution and marketing, he looked after the extortion business. Having grown up on the streets of Bombay, Dawood was not suave when it came to interacting with Arab Sheikhs, which came with the territory of dealing in smuggled gold and silver. He was not aware of the finer nuances of the smuggling business either. The bigger money, rich businessman and sheikhs, were being handled by a more polished and intelligible Khalid, who spoke Arabic.

  It was not long before Dawood began to feel sidelined by Khalid. Khalid orchestrated the entire campaign of landings along the Bombay coastlines to Daman. While Dawood sat in his office behind his desk, Khalid was busy entertaining Arab sheikhs and brokering deals. In a business where complexes develop as quickly as alliances are dishonoured, Dawood’s impassive, less involved take on this aspect of business strengthened Khalid’s position as a leader. Susceptible to gossip, Dawood began to listen to his flunkies when they spoke of how Khalid was becoming too big for his own boots and how Dawood would soon be only his minion and nothing else. This disconcerted Dawood greatly. He needed to be the boss and decided to speak to Khalid about it.

  Although Khalid tried to explain his position and how the business was always about the gang, he knew only too well that a rift had already grown. This presented a huge dilemma for Khalid, but his nobility would not allow his relationship to sour. He had developed his partnership and friendship with Dawood for over seven years, but knew that the growing discomfort between them was straining these ties. Finally, a few months after Sabir’s death, he decided to part amicably and slowly withdraw from the gang. Planning to retire with his wife and child, he bought himself a bungalow in Karol Bagh in New Delhi. Dawood heard about this but did not discourage him.

  As Khalid was contemplating an amicable departure, Dawood went to seek the advice of police informer and bootlegger Jenabai Daruwalli. Dawood wanted advice regarding Khalid and the growing pains of his insecurity. He did not want any sort of enmity with Khalid since he had brought his own people into Dawood’s life and his gang.

  Jenabhai did not say much, only stating that she would sort this out for Dawood. She only wanted a small piece of information—the next landing of the smuggled goods.

  Once the landing took place and cartons of gold and silver were brought into the office at Musafirkhana, Dawood called on Jenabai and told her that the consignment would be lying in the office for a day or two before dealers and customers showed up and took them away.

  That very day, customs officials closed in on Musafirkhana and clamped down on the office. While most of the people who were involved managed to escape customs’ clutches, the smuggled goods of gold and silver were all seized and taken away.

  Khalid Pehelwan was aghast. No one knew about the consignment and its dealing and placement in the office save Dawood and he. Appalled by Dawood’s treachery, he could not, however prove that Dawood had deceived him. While his growing distrust in Dawood left Khalid with little to say to him, he did not want any violence within the gang. He resolved to leave but not before fortifying the gang. In spite of their personal tug-of-war, Khalid was loyalist to the core, especially because after taking him over from Baashu Dada, Dawood had shown a lot of trust in him. Besides, the underworld is a one-way street. Practically speaking, if Khalid sabotaged the gang in any way, they would come after him eventually. This way, he could protect himself from Dawood’s ire, and at the same time protect himself if rival gangsters came after him.

  He looked around at his men and thought to himself, why not have non-Muslim members as well? His rationale stemmed from the fact that Dawood’s arch rivals—the Pathans — were also a Muslim gang. Both gangs were vying to be on the right side of Allah and be the righteous gang. So, people were changing sides from here to there without flinching; loyalty was less binding as religion bound them both.

  Khalid realised that if the gang had non-Muslim members, they would not change sides once they pledged their undying loyalty to the gang. Moreover, while the Pathans were originally Afghans, Dawood had the advantage of being a Maharashtrian. Locals would definitely have an affinity towards him more than the Pathans. Playing on all these sensibilities, Khalid began working on strengthening ties with other gangsters who had so far shied away from the gang on the assumption that it was only for Muslims.

  Khalid, being an old timer within the Bombay circle, roped in a number of emerging Maharashtrian dons including the BRA gang comprising Rama Naik, Arun Gawli, and Babu Reshim, who more than willingly joined the gang. This also drew other Hindu boys to the gang like Sunil Sawant alias Sautya, Manish Lala, and Anil Parab.

  This was a big boost to the gang’s ranks, and realising his work was done, Khalid Pehelwan left for England to the Isle of Man, where grocer- turned-drug-baron Iqbal Mirchi had offered him a partnership in his drug business. He later moved to Dubai, where he eventually settled down. In the future, he would meet Dawood fleetingly at parties and such, but the two never shared the kind of bond that they had had earlier.

  In the meantime, Dawood grew stronger with the passing of each day. In 1981, Dr Datta Samant had called for a mill strike. This strike had escalated the joblessness and unemployment among Maharashtrian youth in central Bombay. Lack of job opportunities forced these youths towards the world of crime, and these young Maharashtrian boys had begun to gravitate towards the Dawood and Gawli gangs.

  There were more and more non-Muslim members being inducted now, and Dawood’s gang had a greater outreach than any other gang in Bombay.

  He now had two Rajans in his gang—South Indian Bada Rajan and Maharashtrian Chhota Rajan—and two Shakeels—Shakeel Lamboo because of his height and Chhota Shakeel. Apart from the Hindu dons that Khalid had inducted, Danny, Sanjay Raggad, and Sharad Shetty were all reaching out to other gangs. The Muslim criterion previously requisite for those who wanted to be in Dawood’s gang was forgotten, waning into the dusk of the Middle Eastern shores.

  Khalid, the architect of the secular gang model, bid adieu to Dawood and his insecurities and chose to retire from the active mafia life. This was perhaps the only split in the mafia that took place without any violence and bloodshed. Perhaps that is why Dawood continues to harbour the guilt of being unfair to Khalid—the man who was instrumental in elevating him to lofty heights.


  Mafia’s Bollywood Debut

  The white Fiat came to a screeching halt. Even before Mushir Alam could understand what was happening, three men came out of the Ambassador which had just intercepted his car, rushed towards him, and dragged him out. At a busy Worli intersection in broad daylight, Mushir could not believe that he was being kidnapped by men brandishing swords, a chopper and a gun in their hands. It was later learnt that the men were part of the most dreaded organised syndicate of the time—-Amirzada, Alamzeb, Abdul Latif, and Shehzad Khan.

  Even before Mushir could raise a word of protest or raise an alarm for help, he was bundled into the rear seat of the white Ambassador whose engine was still running and the driver behind the wheel was warily looking outside. The men forced him to sit in the middle and two of them sat on either side of him, while the other one sat in front. Mushir was blindfolded w
ith a strip of white cloth and the kidnappers left the car behind on the road and escaped. Bombay’s biggest kidnapping so far was over in a matter of less than a minute. The Bollywood mogul, Mushir Alam of Mushir-Riaz fame was abducted within yards from his office. Mushir-Riaz were known for making films with Dilip Kumar and they had shot to fame with movies like Safar, Bairaag, and the latest blockbuster Shakti starring Dilip Kumar and Amitabh Bachchan. Such an incident had never happened in Bombay.

  On that fateful day, as usual Mushir had left his office M.R. Productions at Filmistan building in Worli at around 4:30 pm. He had an appointment in south Bombay. He had barely gone a few yards on the Annie Besant Road when he was ambushed.

  What Mushir did not know was that he was being tailed by the white Ambassador soon after he had left the office. The car driver kept irritating him by coming dangerously close instead of keeping a safe distance. Only once he had an uncomfortable feeling about the car but he had promptly brushed that aside. But his heart leaped to his mouth when he saw the Ambassador suddenly swerve towards a side and abruptly brake in front of him. Mushir almost rammed into the Ambassador. Before he could give vent to his anger and scream his lungs out, the men shoved him into their car and took him to an unknown location.

  Mushir grimaced with discomfort and tried to raise his head and peep through the slit that was left between his nose and corner of the eye. Abdul Latif, one of his tormentors, saw him peering furtively from the hood and pushed him down to the floor of the car.

  The movie magnate Mushir was lying at the feet of the thugs. But he realised soon that they would not kill him but extract some money out of him. Mushir was trying to catch some glimpses of the place that he was being taken to. Suddenly, he caught a major rush of colour which he soon realised was a poster of Sholay. Mushir realised that he was somewhere close to a hoarding of the film. Little did he know that this would be a vital clue in tracing the whereabouts of his kidnappers. After ten minutes of further driving, the car halted and all of them trooped out. Mushir was helped out of the car.

Turn Navi Off
Turn Navi On
Scroll Up
Add comment

Add comment