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1

When the state takes extreme steps that make no sense, I get curious. 's hanging being scheduled for the 30th of this month, while the key accused of the blasts are still at large is one such bizarre move. So I went around hunting for information on what else was going on. Here are some of the things I found out. They raise more questions than answers.

Chhota Shakeel tried to kill Chhota Rajan in Australia

On the 2nd of July, Times of published a report that described intercepted conversations between Chhota Shakeel and a key Rajan aide, who was convinced to reveal Chhota Shakeel's whereabouts in Newcastle, Australia. Times of India claims to have a copy of the intercept. A team from middle east was allegedly immediately sent to Australia. However, Chhota Rajan had already escaped after receiving a fortuitous tip off. The article also describes the 's relentless determination to eliminate an aged Chhota Rajan who is no longer a threat to them and describes previous attacks by Dawood's men to eliminate Chhota Rajan.

Dawood was involved in Chhota Shakeel's attempt on Chhota Rajan

Another report in the Times of India, also on the 2nd July said that a voice in the background, heard during a pause in the intercepted conversation between Chhota Shakeel and Rajan's aide was that of as confirmed by layered voice analysis. What the voice said is not reported.

This report also gives us an idea of the approximate date of the attempted on Chhota Rajan when it speaks of Chhota Shakeel being on the move for a month since mid-April when he went to Newcastle for the attack on Chhota Rajan. The report presumes he dropped off the radar after the intercepted conversations or the intelligence agencies would have approached the to arrest Shakeel (but not Rajan?).

*********************

Some background: Chhota Rajan was among key men of Dawood's gang before he split from Dawood due to internal rivalry and differences that got cemented after the 1993 Mumbai blasts. After the split, he escaped to Dubai with the help of Indian intelligence agencies in return for information on Dawood Ibrahim's operations. Intelligence agencies have also allegedly helped Chhota Rajan evade attempts on his life since then. Current NSA and then ex- head, Ajit Doval had also been caught once with Chhota Rajan's hit man Vicky Malhotra. Chhota Shakeel is still Dawood's key man. Chhota Rajan and Dawood Ibrahmin have since been bitter and bloody rivals with constant attempts to eliminate each other. Among India's plans for Dawood Ibrahmin remain a possibility for Chhota Rajan taking Dawood out.

An article in the Daily Mail News from November claims NSA Ajit Doval is forming links with ISIS to encourage an ISIS - TTP collaboration to destabilize Pakistan.

Given that Indian Intelligence agencies are unlikely to leave copies of intelligence intercepts lying around in public places or something, Times of India clearly got the tip off from them about a failed operation "early in the year" - as in, the news was not fresh.

Yasin Bhatkal could get help from Damascus

On 3rd July, 2015, a report in the Times of India stated that Yasin Bhatkal had told his wife that he would get help from Damascus to escape jail. This would seem unrelated to the Yakub Memon issue, except... Yasin Bhatkal used to allegedly be financed by Muzzaffar Kola of the Dossa gang which reported to..... Dawood Ibrahim.

Last year, Yasin Bhatkal's lawyer had received threats from underworld don Ravi Pujari who is currently said to be in Australia and is close to.... Chhota Rajan. Yasin Bhatkal had hardly made any news for months before this.

Chhota Shakeel reveals that Dawood Ibrahim wanted to return to India after 1993 blasts

On 4th July 2015, Times of India published a report of a telephonic interview with Chhota Shakeel in which Shakeel alleged "When we wanted to come back after 1993, you people, your government didn't allow. Bhai had himself spoken that time to Ram Jethmalani, that too in London... baat ho gayi thi... But your ministry... that Advani played the game,". This naturally led to a flurry of accusations and denials.

Other Chhota Shakeel quotes from the article:

"When agencies can hear me plotting against him (Rajan) and know where he is, why don't they get him picked up? Has he not killed people? Is he not a criminal?"

"Every time a new government comes, they make the first statement about us. Usko leke aayenge... ghus ke laayenge... Kya halwa hai? Bakri ka bachcha samajh ke rakha hai kya? Lana hai toh usko (Rajan) lao na,"

"He ran away like a mouse," Shakeel said. He claimed that not one but three key members of Rajan's group had crossed over to his side because of their confidence that they would be taken care of. "I look after even the family of Rajan's aides who had been killed by members of D-Company," (On the attack planned on Chhota Rajan reported by Times of India on the 2nd)

"Haven't killed anyone in Mumbai in the past 5-6 years. I don't want to kill innocents. He (Rajan) brings shooters from UP and gets people killed in our name. I want to continue my business. I invest money and take it back." From another report of the same interview.

On Chhota Raja's image as a Hindu gangster "This is 's job. Take him in the army, send him on the border if he is a patriot. (Patriot hai to army me le lo na... border pe bhejo na! Mulq ke liye kaam karega. Hindu don ka concept logo ka... media ka hai. He has killed all Hindus for money,"

On whether he thinks Indian intelligence agencies are soft on Chhota Rajan "We don't care. They can support him all they want, we will find him and kill him."

* An earlier interview by Chhota Shakeel to Rediff (after their first attempt on Chhota Rajan's life in Bangkok) establishes that the D-Company sees him as a traitor who grew large with their favor and betrayed them as well as stole gold from them.

** The part about Chhota Rajan killing Hindus in India is true. Among recent high profile murders is that of Jyotirmoy Dey, an investigative journalist working for MiD DAY. He is wanted in India in many criminal cases related to extortion, , smuggling, drug trafficking and film finance.

*** Dawood Ibrahim and Chhota Shakeel are no saints either.

Chhota Rajan still in Australia

On the 5th of June, Times of India published another news report citing an unnamed source in the intelligence agencies that Chhota Rajan was still in Australia and had not left Australia (as reported in previous piece). Chhota Shakeel also was apparently aware of this fact and had not called off his hit men tracking Chhota Rajan in Australia.

Yasin Bhatkal claims threat to life and demands 24/7 surveillance

On 6th July, 2015, Yasin Bhatkal pled before a special court for NIA cases for CCTVs to be installed in his and for constant surveillance not only in jail, but also when being moved to court and back for hearings. Outside the jail, he pulled a letter from his pocket and threw it at reporters standing there. In the letter, he denies telling his wife about any help from Damascus or for escaping jail and fears that he could be killed in an encounter staging his escape.

refused to entertain a plea to bring Dawood Ibrahim back

8th July, 2015. The Supreme Court dismissed a plea by a previous Madhya Pradesh to bring Dawood Ibrahim back to India and that a special investigating team headed by SC judge be set up to probe why indian authorities were unwilling in bringing tje don back to country to face trial in various cases.

Daya Nayak suspended

9th July, 2015. Daya Nayak of the 83 encounters and disproportionate wealth and dubious dealings was suspended after he refused to go to Nagpur after he was transferred, citing a threat to his life.

warrant for Yakub Memon

On 15th July, 2015, a TADA court signed a death warrant for Yakub Memon, even as his mercy petition was pending in court.

Supreme Court turns down Yakub Memon's mercy petition.

22nd July 2015 Supreme Court turns down Yakub Memon's mercy petition "paving the way for his hanging" as expressed by the media.

White House Bar was demolished

28th July 2015, The White House dance bar, run by Ganesh Kamath, understood to be affiliated with Chhota Rajan's gang and owned by Meenakshi Singh, widow of Chhota Rajan's affiliate O P Singh, was demolished.

Supreme Court turned down Yakub Memon's curative petition

29th July The Supreme court turned down Yakub Memon's curative petition. The governor turned it down as well. The President's decision is awaited, but the indications are that the MHA is recommending against it. Other eminent persons are seeking an audience for another petition.

Yakub Memon hanged

30th July 2015. Yakub Memon was hanged early in the morning, on his 53rd birthday in Nagpur jail.

Is Yakub Memon's death warrant a message?

Numerous reports indicate that after the came to power this time, the gangwar is heating up again (if at all it ever cooled). Ajit Doval has a long term mission of bringing Dawood Ibrahim down. The D-Company, on the other hand seems to have stepped up the heat on Chhota Rajan, perceiving him to be an asset of the Indian intelligence (apart from their usual issues with him).

Yakub Memon is the brother of Tiger Memon, though the only place his name appears in relation with the underworld is the case where he's now got the death sentence. Both gangsters and their gangs have extensive networks in India. For example I later discovered from a source that the illegal White House dance bar, where the journalists were attacked and Raghavendra Dube got killed is a front for Chhota Rajan's activities. The source speculated that the journalists could have been attacked for trying to extort advertising revenue (as the too had accused) from the biggies of extortion, so to say. Four aides of Chhota Rajan were arrested from Dahisar by Mumbai police for extorting 15 crores from a businessman.

Ram Jethmalani stated that opposed the move to bring Dawood Ibrahim back to India when he had offered to return, fearing that their connections with him would be exposed. Sharad Pawar claimed that he refused Dawood Ibrahim's offer to return because one of the conditions of his return was that he would not go to jail! Apparently it was one thing to break a promise to Yakub Memon, sidekick with dubious culpability in actual attacks and quite another to bring the kingpin Dawood Ibrahim to India under false pretenses and then break a promise. South Africa had provided a RAW officer intel on fake identities used by Dawood Ibrahim as early as 1994. V Balachandran shares that the Indian government took his report and sat on it to date.

The Sunday guardian reports that according to US intelligence, 26/11 would not have been possible without Dawood Ibrahim's extensive network and contacts in India. Yet not only did an investigation into the Indian angle never happen, the sole attacker captured was put to death in a clandestine manner. Various people had raised questions around this at various times, from the Mossad conspiracy angle brought up by Great Game India blog to questions around Karkare's death and random anomalies like reports of a woman accompanying an attacker or white skinned attackers. Who was being protected and why?

Chhota Rajan indeed owes his survival to Indian intelligence agencies who are rumored to even tip off his people about raids by Mumbai police and seem to be counting on him to eliminate Dawood Ibrahim, even as threats, murders and crimes by his people in India mount. India has never issued a red corner notice against him, regardless of his crimes. Maharashtra government had briefly made a noise about asking to issue a red corner notice against him in the wake of the high profile murder of Jyotirmoy Dey by his hit men, and that news appears to have sunk without a trace, since. Indian intelligence clearly knew where Chhota Rajan was, when Chhota Shakeel called the hit on him. Yet the news reports only indicate that Shakeel would be arrested with the help of Australian government if he hadn't dropped off the radar. Why was there no question of Chhota Rajan being arrested?

These are both dangerous gangs that have committed crimes in India engaged in a blood feud.

Is the Yakub Memon death warrant or Yasin Bhatkal's claim of threat to his life in a staged encounter, coming on the heels of Chhota Shakeel's attempts on Chhota Rajan a message "to whomsoever-it-may-concern" to lay off Chhota Rajan "or your people could die"? Is it a way of getting Tiger Memon to pressure his associates to back off from their chase of Chhota Rajan?

More importantly for India, is our system becoming a pawn in a gang war?

Note: I am no expert on the underworld, and this is merely a compilation from news reports in the public domain.

5

Ever since Aam Aadmi Party's stunning win in Delhi Assembly elections, there is a rash of analysis and advice for Modi government (which has mostly fallen on deaf ears, and no surprise there - they know their support base).

I have several opinions around this issue that differ from the common consensus, so sharing them.

Development or Hindutva?

Several people are looking at BJP's stunning defeat in the Delhi Assembly elections as a rejection of their communal agenda by people. This couldn't be further from the truth. As Yashwant Sinha rightfully pointed out in his piece in the Economic Times, BJP's vote share hasn't really dropped all that drastically. The last time Delhi saw a BJP government was in 1993. In 1998, BJP got dislodged by the Sheila Dixit led Congress Party governments right up to the previous election where AAP formed a minority government. BJP's vote share for Assembly Elections has not really changed much.

[tweetthis twitter_handles="@Vidyut, @_AamJanata"]BJP has lost Delhi with a higher vote share than it had when it got the most seats in 2013[/tweetthis]

BJP got 34.02% votes in 1998, 35.22 in 2003, and 36.34 in 2008 - all three of which it lost to the Congress. The splitting of the decaying Congress vote between Congress and AAP in 2013 saw it get the most seats in the 2013 elections with just 33.07% of the votes - actually lower than all the intervening years when it lost. They didn't have the numbers to form a majority government, but they did get the most votes.

This, to me indicates that around slightly more than a third of the voters - give or take - are with BJP no matter what - regardless of how it plays out in the results. This number has sustained through several losses - it is now the fifth time BJP has failed to form a government in Delhi. I would see this as an ideological base to a large extent - which it has retained. And the numbers pretty much show that as long as one viable alternative exists, whether Congress or AAP - BJP remains out of power in Delhi.

So what is it about the "Mandate for Development"?

That is the part BJP supporters omit. When Modi was campaigning for the Lok Sabha Elections promoting development, the BJP vote share was NOT around a third and approached closer to half at 46%. In this election, it went back to normal. In other words, if anyone believed the development propaganda, they have stopped believing it now.

This was inevitable, because it was the throwaway mandate by design. What is telling about this mandate is that even if we ignore the Lok Sabha vote share, what is immediately evident is that BJP failed to gain votes from the complete decimation of a party that ruled Delhi for 15 years - it actually lost votes even if not a large percentage. Congress votes simply went over to AAP while even BJP share dropped slightly as though AAP stepped into the vacuum left by Congress seamlessly while adding other voters as well. In other words, no one other than loyalists seem to have remained with BJP in Delhi. AAP, which didn't exist two years ago got a vote share of 54% - an actual majority of votes as well (even if not as representative of remaining 46%).If this doesn't scream irrelevance to the realities and changes happening in Delhi, I don't know what does.

Why can't BJP just start focusing on development again?

They are focusing on development. They never stopped. Only after elections, the development focus has been made clearer as the development of the large corporate mandate - which has been the hidden third mandate no one spoke about all through. The victory was a result of all three mandates. The Hindutva wing provided ground support and volunteers through unaccountable funding, while radicalizing the masses to consolidate the Hindu votes. The crony capitalist mandate provided the finances as well as control of media to extend the reach of campaign propaganda, as well as attack opponents and cover up things that would not bring popularity to BJP. The development mandate provided the votes that took Modi's government beyond the "Delhi standard" vote share.

The last was the domain of most of Modi's speeches and one never intended for delivery - which is how all the U-Turns started popping up as soon as the government came to power. Given that the corporate world and the unwashed masses have always been at odds, it was absolutely impossible that the Modi government could deliver on both development as well as crony capitalism.

While positions of power and social impunity went to the ideological mandate, Hindutva (appointments, social "reforms" like gharwapsi or text book alterations); profits and economic impunity went to the corporate mandate (sabotaging of land rights, environmental protections, and much, much more - this is HUGE MONEY). Delivering to the common man at large was never the intent - this was a consolidation of power and control, not service task. Some things may be done that don't inconvenience either of the other two "real" backers. They will be publicized to the hilt to create a perception of vast service to people, but there is only so much you can tell people they are experiencing prosperity if they aren't. We saw that this elections.

But what about secularism?

What about it? It is lip service. Communal control over country is what the Hindutva brigade got for its investment in the Modi government. Secularism is not compatible with it. Would Modi like to be communal? I don't think so. Modi is a narcissist. He is rather besotted with his image as a progressive leader, which is opposite of regressive. Which is how, in spite of altering textbooks to more Hindutva friendly versions or pretending not to notice the rise of the fan clubs for Nathuram Godse, he continues to use Congress leaders when trying to impress people. It is the best he can do. To pretend he does not see the rise of communalism and give them the impunity of his silence.

Not that he has much choice, because if he endorses secularism, his Hindutva supporters (almost his entire vote bank at this stage) will simply ignore him. Not even the lowliest troll shows an iota of respect for Modi when he calls for religious tolerance.

So, I disagree with a lot of columnists when they recommend things that Modi should do to regain his popularity. Modi cannot regain his popularity by speaking of development, since he hasn't delivered it. Modi cannot regain his popularity by endorsing secularism because his core vote bank will not allow it. The disillusioned voters who get swung on hope, have swung AAP's way this time. All Modi will end up doing if he tries to get secular is piss off his supporters. All Modi will end up doing if he actually tries to deliver on promises is piss off profiteers who are in no mood to share.

His best bets are to keep his head low and siphon off as much profit to his sponsors and power to his mentors as he can. It is going to be very difficult to pull off a second con this close to the first.

Every predator is someone else's prey

However, Modi is going to need to find new ways to hook voters. The AAP victory has made a mockery of his claims of development - a fact no other state going for elections will forget. When Nitish Kumar praised Trinamool Congress, BJP supporters were quick to sneer at an anti-BJP front, but both Uddhav Thackeray and Sharad Pawar too have taken pot shots at Modi in recent days. Incidentally, this would be the same Sharad Pawar of the Nationalist Corrupt Party that Modi gushed over on Valentine's Day as the one to support him when the UPA was in power.

This is going to be a problem. Because Modi will be a laughing stock if he tries to rule forever with ordinances. At the same time, without winning in states, he is going to find it very difficult to get any bills through the Rajya Sabha.

If a runaway victory for AAP creates a potential democracy crisis in Delhi Government, it is countered by the control exerted by a hostile center government.

Similarly a runaway victory for the BJP government is held in check by the "anti-BJP" fronts mushrooming. The Delhi Elections may have dazzled everything else out of the spotlight, but the AAP government was endorsed by the extremely unlikely pair of CPI as well as TMC in Delhi - who both asked their followers to vote for AAP. Nitish Kumar as well. At least three other political leaders of other parties have voiced skepticism over targeting of AAP via AVAM just days before the elections. Bihar sees another unlikely pair willing to cooperate to defeat BJP with Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad Yadav burying their legendary hostility to defeat the BJP. Aditya Thackeray welcomed the rise of AAP in Maharashtra (more a taunt to BJP than any real wish to embrace AAP values or compete on such a premise at all).

Given such a climate, BJP appears to have few choices beyond counting on its Hindutva loyalists to deliver miracles and the corporate mandate to do PR as well as damage control while they use every dirty trick in the book to discredit opponents. I am amazed they haven't yet applied their phenomenal strategy skills to splitting opponent votes between two strong opponents rather than this harder way of discrediting or dummy candidates and such, but I am delighted they haven't. In any case, I don't imagine any change of methods is on the cards for BJP at this stage.

Thus, any pleas to Modi to deliver development or embrace secularism, in my view are highly unlikely to materialize - no matter how many columnists think they are a good idea.

2

Bare facts of the matter as reported by ANS activist Krishna Chandgude

जातपंचायतचे कौर्य : महिलेच्या योनी मार्गात मिरची ची पुड कोंबली..अंनिसमुळे गुन्हा कागदावर.

बारामती जवळील झारगडवाडी येथील हनुमंत शिंदे यांच्या मुलाचे लग्न पंचांना पसंद नसणार्‍या (स्वजातीय ) मुलीशी केले. त्यामुळे वैदू जातपंचायत ने त्यांच्या परीवारास जात बहिष्कृत केले . पुढे त्यांच्या मुलीच्या साखरपुड्यातील वर्‍हाडींना पंचांनी पिटाळून लावले.दि.19 डिसेंबर रोजी ग्रामपंचायत च्या आवारात जातपंचायत बसली.सरपंच ही हजर होते(लोकशाहीची थट्टा ! ).पुन्हा जातीत घेण्यासाठी पंचांनी पाच लाख रुपयांची मागणी केली. पिडीत परीवारास गरीब असल्याने अर्थातच त्यांनी त्याला नकार दिला. पंच चिडले.भांडण झाले. पिडीत परीवार घरी गेल्यावर पंचांनी काठ्या, कुर्‍हाड, तलवारीने हल्ला केला. परीवारील एका महिलेला अर्धनग्न करून मारहाण केली तर दुसर्‍या महिलेच्या योनी मार्गात मिरचीची पुड कोंबली. आवाज ऐकून काही गावकरी मदतीला धावून आले. मात्र आमच्या जातीचे भांडण आम्हीच मिटविणार,इतरांना तो अधिकार नाही, असे सांगून त्यांनीही मारहाण केली. शेवटी आठ गंभीर जखमींना बारामतीच्या रुग्णालयात दाखल करण्यात आले. काल अंधश्रद्धा निर्मूलन समिती च्या कार्यकर्त्यांनी पिडीत कुटुंबियांची भेट घेतली. पोलिसांनी गावकर्याची तक्रार दाखल केली मात्र पिडीतांची जबानी घेतली नसल्याचे समजले. आठ दिवस होऊनही जबाब नोंदवून घेतले नसल्याने पोलीस निरीक्षक चंद्रकांत कांबळे यांच्याशी चर्चा केली.या प्रकरणी राजकीय दबाव जाणवत होता. कारण राष्ट्रवादी काॅग्रेसचे सरपंच असुन इतर जखमी गावकरी राष्ट्रवादी काॅग्रेसचे दुसर्‍या गटाचे आहेत. पोलिसांनी पिडीतांचा पुरवणी एफआयआर व खंडणीचे 385 कलम लावण्याचे कबूल केले. लगेचच कारवाई सुरू केली. परिसरातील अन्य जातपंचायत बंद करण्यासाठी पंचांनी सुसंवाद साधण्याच्या प्रबोधन मोहिमेला त्यांनी होकार दिला.लढू या...बारामती चे 'वार' बघितले.. पवारांच्या भागातील सामाजिक न्यायाचे धिंडवडे पण पाहिले.

अधिक माहितीसाठी संपर्क कृष्णा चांदगुडे 9822630378

In Zhargadwadi near Baramati, Hanumant Shinde decided to marry his son with a girl not approved of by the local caste panchayat. As a result, the caste panchayat (an unconstitutional, social body formed along the lines of caste hierarchy) boycotted them from the caste. Further when his daughter got engaged, the caste panchayat members also chased away the groom's family members.

On the 19th of December, the caste panchayat met in the premises of the gram panchayat (the constitutional, elected representatives of the village), in the sarpanch's (chief representative) presence in a complete mockery of democracy and rule of law. There, they demanded a payment of rupees five lakh in order to reinstate Shinde's family into the caste community. The family in question being poor, naturally declined to pay the amount. The panchs (representatives) got angry and an argument ensued. When the family returned home, the panchs attacked them with sticks, axes and swords.

The panchs stripped a woman from the family naked and beat her up. They stuffed chilli powder in the vagina of another woman from the family.

On hearing the commotion, some villagers came running to assist. Declaring that this was a caste matter and that it would be dealt within the caste and others had no right to interfere, the panchs also attacked the villagers who had come to help.

In the end, eight grievously injured villagers were admitted to the hospital in Baramati.

Members of the Andhashraddha Nirmulan Samiti met the villagers to understand the case. The police have recorded a complaint but not the statements of those injured. Since it had been eight days since the incident without statements of the victims being recorded, the ANS workers met Police Inspector Chandrakant Kamble. They realized that there was political pressure being exerted to suppress the case. The sarpanch in question belonged to the Nationalist Congress party while the injured villagers were not.

Baramati is the stronghold of the Nationalist Congress Party and Supriya Sule, the daughter of the Chairman of the Party, Sharad Pawar is the elected Member of Parliament from the constituency.

The police took the statements of the injured and promised to apply section 385 to the case and started proceedings accordingly. Panchs committed to strike dialogue to shut down caste panchayats in the region.

Observations and questions

The section applied by the police is 385 which states:

385. Putting person in fear of injury in order to commit extor­tion.—Whoever, in order to the committing of extortion, puts any person in fear, or attempts to put any person in fear, of any injury, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both.

This essentially amounts to the legal case being reduced to scaring the injured party and extorting money from them. However, there are several other things that are illegal that happened - caste discrimination and crime, assault, outraging the modesty of a woman and RAPE. The police appear to not notice this. In effect, the criminals roam free still.

Proper sections of the IPC need to be applied against the accused in the case and the police officials in question must be investigated as accomplices to the crime who are essentially contributing their effort to let the criminals flee after the crime. The elected representatives who misused their authority to enact a crime must be removed from office and arrested. Failure to do this should result in investigation of pressure leading to inexplicable refusal to uphold the law of the land.

I will post updates as more information becomes available or developments happen. In the meanwhile, you can demand accountability from the government of Maharashtra and the leadership of the Nationalist Congress Party. The more attention the case gets, the less likely it will be to be brushed under the carpet and the safer those fighting for justice will be.

2

Criticism of Ajit Kumar Doval's appointment as National Security Advisor has led to a dangerous new propaganda initiated by Modi supporters. They claim that Doval had to create Chhota Rajan to counter Dawood Ibrahim creating some kind of romantic fiction of the flawed hero who steps over to the dark side for a good cause. Sells his soul so that yours may remain in tact, etc. This couldn't be further from the truth. Chhota Rajan isn't a creation of India's intelligence agencies, he's a gangster and a one time crony of Dawood Ibrahim who became a rival. Dawood Ibrahim became untouchable after the Mumbai blasts, but had merry patronage of politicians as well, including the oh-so-patriotic Shiv Sena (remember the others who got guns from the same source, though Sanjay Dutt alone got arrested for it?).

Gang rivalry led to intel on rivals to security agencies, not patriotism. Chhota Rajan wasn't exactly going to volunteer and die when Dawood's men attacked him if Dawood had been a patriotic gangster. Nor did IB exploiting the rivalry for law enforcement mean that the side that got used was somehow noble. We are talking extortion rackets, bloody gun battles, smuggling, extortion, drug trade, kidnapping, murders and more signature characteristics of Mumbai's underworld, not a Hindi film script, though those too are known to be sponsored by gangsters. Perhaps film producers are patriotic in accepting black money too.

Here is a quick reminder of what is getting glamorized and whitewashed into BJP's invented war of good gangster and evil gangster - it is as fake as "good Taliban and bad Taliban".

There is no such thing.

The Dark Face of Mumbai

By Prabhat Sharan

25 October, 2010
The Verdict Weekly

Blood stained brown gold and mean streets of Mumbai housing mafia and Mumbai underworld

It was business as usual in the infamous Kamathipura lane - prostitutes were busy preparing for the long night that laid ahead, the pimps were luring customers to the buildings, and the lanes thronged with people on sundry errands. On that June evening Kamathipura had an unusual visitor: Bharatiya Janata Party MLA Prem Kumar Sharma and his family, who had come to celebrate his daughter’s success at the intermediate examination with a dinner at the famous Delhi Durbar restaurant.

Scarcely had Sharma got down from the car that the waiting assailants pumped bullets into him. The din of the street drowned out the pistol shots, and it was only after his wife and daughter started screaming hysterically that the passers-by came to the rescue of the family. By then it was already too late: the BJP MLA was dead and the assailants had escaped in the ensuing confusion. Subsequent police investigations traced the cause of the murder to dubious land deals in south-central Mumbai. The murder shook the city, even as the police after the serial bomb blasts had claimed to have broken the spine of the criminal syndicates. This was in 1993.

Three years later in April, the picture of respectability that the Kukrejas had created for themselves was suddenly torn apart, much to the dismay and bewilderment of the real estate developers in Mumbai. On that hot sultry afternoon the tinted glass walls of the Kukrejas’ Chembur office in north-east Mumbai was spattered with blood as three visitors took out their guns and sprayed a sleeping Om Prakash Kukreja with bullets.

Om Prakash had only joined the elite circle of real estate developers and builders, men who fashion their dreams in steel and cement, raising skyscrapers to accommodate a growing population and pocketing millions in the process. The killing of Om Prakash Kukreja did indeed send a ripple of shock in the city.

Eight years later: Land developer and builder - Suresh Wadhwa in the rain drenched satellite town Navi Mumbai was sitting in his office and three persons sauntered in his office and saturated his plush office walls with bullet holes. Wadhwa escaped by ducking under his mahogany table. After a long respite, the builders lobby has once again been shocked out of its stupor. The down in the dumps real estate business, is once more looking up optimistically and the organised criminal syndicates ever on a lookout has slowly started uncoiling its tentacles once more in the city. But despite the shock waves unleashed by a series of attacks on developers in the city coupled with a grim realisation that very soon they are going to be the main targets the business goes on as usual for the developers. And why not?

Mumbai is a city where the land is scarce, the resources unlimited, the greed simply insatiable - a few dead bodies is considered worth the money raked in by those involved in land grabbing and illegal constructions - both in and around the city.

However, transgressions of laws means the network must be spread far and wide. Unscrupulous real estate developers could only work in the shadow of the gun, and the link with the underworld was gradually formed. Soon the dividing line between the two became blurred. They needed protection from the police and politicians were drafted in, obviously in exchange for a substantial cut.

It was sooner or later bound to blow up in the face of the politician. And it did with the alleged murder of Ramesh Kini whose dead body was left behind in an empty cinema hall. A wailing widow’s allegation of foul play saw the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) pick up Bal Thackeray’s nephew, Raj Thackeray, for questioning. The show in the city of dreams had truly begun.

The one worrisome question perpetually dogging those sloshed with slush funds is: Where and how to launder the ill-gotten wealth so as to convert black into white? Export-import businesses and films are the obvious avenues. The films with their overseas rights, during the late nineties and early 21st century cleaned a substantial chunk of tainted money, which saw the film stars and film producers grabbing headlines not for their celluloid impact but for their links with criminal syndicates.

However, both films as well as import-export businesses simply lack the one unique property real estate in Mumbai boasts of - the losses are rare and minimum, and the initial investment multiplies at an astonishing rate, every year, even during the economic crashes.

This factor saw the convergence of interests of both the criminal syndicates and the real estate developers, and the connection forged between the two in the Fifties and Sixties gradually tilted in favour of the city’s dreaded gangsters. In the Eighties, the new generation of criminals began to use their formidable muscle power to grab prime plots of land for themselves. This had two distinct advantages: Not could they launder money profitably but also sport the veneer of ‘respectable’ land developers.

Earlier, in the Fifties and Sixties, smugglers like Walcott, Gawandi Ram, Gafoor Supariwalla, Ibrahim Patel, Haji Mastan, and Sukur Narain Bakhia had a profile and lifestyle completely different from their ambitious successors of today. They were swashbuckling adventurers who lived their lives, as if there was no tomorrow. Their dreams had limits, their desire for wealth a certain proportion.

But soon the situation changed rapidly: The world of crime became more organised, the technology of killing more sophisticated and modern, the structure of the underworld decidedly more corporate and the inter-gang relationship chillingly more interpersonal. They were now eager to compete and, as it is true of the corporate world, each perceived the other as potential rival. More significantly, the crime syndicates were prowling about the bustling city in search of new and profitable ventures.

Paucity of land goaded the syndicates into eyeing the Congress Government’s decision to reclaim Backbay, and the nexus between gang leaders and the political class soon came to the fore. The then Opposition leader Mrinal Gore moved the court against the VP Naik Government’s proposal to sell plots in Backbay at a price in excess of the prevailing market rates. Gore won the case, but lost the war, the politicians and gangsters were now willing to strike a deal.

The hegemony of the Congress obviously meant the Congressmen had the largest share of the booty. But the Shiv Sena, hitherto lagging behind was taking a different route: it decided to exploit the grassroots terrorism and fight the civic elections to control the bureaucracy. And it did this with enviable success.

The nexus between the political class and the criminal syndicates changed the profile of land developers and builders. The pipe-smoking real estate speculators and developers were replaced by a new crop of builders like Lokhandwala, Raheja, Dr Maker and Rizvi. To this list could be added the names of dreaded smugglers like Umar Malbari, Manu Narang, Gafoor and Ibrahim Supariwalla.

These men had only one thing in common - political patronage. If Dr Maker had the support of the Congress, then Yusuf Patel, Manu Narang, Gafoor Supariwalla could bank on Rajni Patel. Thus, both the political class and the underworld were neatly split, every camp attempting to carve out its own turf and guard it zealously against poaching. This laid the foundation for a gang war that was to shake the city more than a decade later.

The syndicate entered the arena dramatically. On a wintry December night of 1979, the congested Belassis road was suddenly engulfed in fire; high flames leapt out of the stables that lined the road: hundreds of horses neighed to death, and the fire brigade mysteriously failed to reach the spot in time.
Yusuf Patel later erected buildings on the ashes.

He was not alone. Smuggler Manu Narang was already going haywire with constructing buildings and hotels. The message had gone home loud and clear, and scores of small-time builders and contractors were making a beeline for the offices of smugglers like Manu Narang, Vardrajan Mudaliar—seeking investment as well as help for grabbing land and evicting legitimate tenants.

Vardrajan Mudaliar, though a wharf king, taught the embryonic world of criminal syndicates the importance of grabbing the land, housing the mushrooming slums. Even though his reign period was small, he also drove home the importance of developing contacts with influential men and use of the police force through tipping them on the whereabouts of small-time lackeys of the crime world as well as the use of the media.

One of these small-timers learnt the lesson well and soon emerged as the most dreaded person in the construction business. He was Arvind Dholakia, a scrap cloth dealer and errand boy for smuggler Supariwalla. The latter helped his disciple to parachute into the building industry. Arvind Dholakia emerged as the city’s most sought after builder.

But Arvind and his bother Mahesh went a step further: They moved into the hotel business and effectively used the cover to start pick-up joints. Slip Disc, Hotel Ceasar’s Palace and Fishermen’s Wharf entitled the Dholakias to establish their monopoly over the flesh trade and develop contacts among the city’s bigwigs hungry for exciting night outs on the sly.

In the early Eighties, with Vardarajan Mudaliar’s power on wane, the Dholakias were no doubt firmly entrenched, but were gradually feeling the heat in the underworld rivalry. Dawood Ibrahim had arrived; he was the new contender who wanted the mantle of the undisputed Godfather.

In the political arena a fresh alignment was being worked out between the then Chief Minister AR Antulay and Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray who was soon to realise that charismatic power could match, or even be deadlier than the formidable clout of the underworld.

The new phase in the war was inaugurated with Chief Minister Sharad Pawar’s decision to de-reserve land in the western suburbs of the city. A mad rush ensued, but the first to establish his sway over the new turf was Sharad Shetty alias Anna. Once, a ‘stockist,’ of Dawood’s contraband, Shetty was receiving huge amounts from builders, wishing to enter the construction business there.

This only escalated the rivalry between the Dholakias and Dawood, and blood spill was inevitable. Mahesh Dholakia was the first victim of the war; he was shot dead on the neon-lit swanky Peddar Road. There could now be no hope of truce.

But so strong is the lure of land in Mumbai that is has the potential of driving a wedge in even the powerful and tightly knit gang empire. Thus, Dawood’s most trusted hit man Rama Naik, who controlled the eastern side of Central Mumbai, staked his claim to a plot in the far-flung Jogeshwari area. His problem was that Sharad Shetty too had similar designs. The Jogeshwari slums were cleared off in just 12 hours, but the gunmen of neither of the dons were willing to back out.

This war was a classic case for the intervention of the Godfather. Dawood interceded on behalf of Sharad Shetty, and his monolith empire split vertically. The subsequent gunning down of Rama Naik in a police ‘encounter,’ saw Arvind Dholakia who had started developing Mahakali, Andheri and Jogeshwari change his allegiance; he began financing the Arun Gawli mob to keep Dawood at bay.

The first big blow in this new round was delivered by Gawli; his trusted aide Ashok Joshi intercepted Satish Raje’s car in the busy Byculla crossing, smashed his head with a hammer mowing him down with bullets.

The murder of Raje infuriated most members of the Dawood gang for an important reason: He was their finance man who kept the account of benami transactions as well as investments in the real estate and other lucrative ventures for laundering black money.

The reaction of Raje’s murder drew the battle lines afresh - Amar Naik and Arun Gawli struck a deal, promised not poach on each other’s territories, and joined hands to strike at Dawood’s empire. The builders as well as the small fries of the organized crime world thought it prudent to jump on the Dawood’s bandwagon.

What about the political class? Changing political equations saw the political parties revise their strategies. A major chunk of Shiv Sena took the side of Dawood Ibrahim. But in the underworld, allegiance to money and turf predominates, and Shiv Sena MLA Vithal Chavan was gunned down precisely for this reason - he fell out with Dawood’s mobster, Guru Satam (who later left the folds of Dawood), over the issue of sharing the spoils of the protection racket that they were running together in eastern-central Mumbai.

The Dawood-Sena link, firmly established in the early Nineties, came under the increasing strain of Hindutva politics of Bal Thackeray. His diatribes against the Muslims needed a visible symbol and Dawood, who had fled to the safer confines of Dubai, was one easy target he could easily exploit. Indeed, charisma could be pitted against gun-power and capture of the State machinery could provide a clout sufficient enough to match the arsenal of the dreaded underworld don as well as challenge the hegemony of the Congress.

Thackeray could be reckless, never mind the fact that a substantial chunk of Sena corporators owed allegiance to Dawood. For one, the Amar Naik-Gawli pact had weakened Dawood, who found that ruling the crime world through remote control was not quite the same as being there on the scene. And then came the serial bomb blasts, the disclosure of Dawood’s role the planning of it, overnight changed the scenario for the mafia king dramatically. The Dubai-based don was now a liability whom only a foolhardy politician would court.

It was probably the new political equation that saw some of the Sena corporators assert their independence---and pay dearly for it. So BJP MLA Prem Kumar Sharma was bumped off because he allegedly tried to take a lion’s share in the spoils of illegal constructions. Soon Shiv Sena MLC Ramesh More was killed by Chhota Rajan’s (a long-time Dawood’s crony who later branched out into a formidable independent branch) men who wanted to establish their own protection racket in the discos and pubs located in the western suburbs of the city.

The Shiv Sena, once the wind started blowing in its favour, openly patronized Amar Naik and even gave tickets to its relatives to fight the municipal corporation elections. It probably had little option. For, with Gawli leaving the Shiv Sena fold after Chhagan Bhujbal joined the Congress, the Shiv Sena had to woo Amar Naik lest it was deprived of firepower and support of the lumpen elements who ruled the roost in the central Mumbai.

It was due to this nexus that the Shiv Sena-BJP Government maintained a deafening silence over the killing of industrialist Sumit Khatau, which was linked to the controversy over the multi-crore Khatau mill land. Nothing could be more eloquent testimony to the political patronage extended to the underworld - and all for a land in a city teeming with millions.

The collapse of the smuggling rackets, due to the liberalization policies juxtaposed with the crunch in the real estate business and serial bomb blasts, brought the chinks in the monolithic empire to fore and gangsters desperately seeking legitimacy by hobnobbing with film stars, doling out interviews to the media to keep their clout alive.
Notwithstanding the oft-repeated claims of the Mumbai police of destroying the mafia through encounters of small-time hoodlums, the organized criminal syndicates itself had gone into hibernation. The law-enforcing agencies know this fact very well, and several of them used this as a cover to their own nefarious activities.

And the wheel continues to rotate. Wherever and whenever elections are round the corner and political parties need campaign funds, builders, developers and land grabbers all poise themselves to extract concessions from the political parties.

The result: A boom in the real estate. With substantial tainted money floating in the city needing to be cleaned, the hydra-headed organized criminal syndicates, rear its head spitting blood and fire. And since in the organized crime chessboard, names and personalities do not matter, the turf-war clashes continue. No peace, no lasting truce for the players. And Mumbai continues to grope in the darkness of an endless night.

The author is a senior journalist, writing on environment, issues, labour and human rights, politics and crime. He may be contacted at theverdict@sify.com

28

While there is no denying that in a country like India, there is a need for identification that people can create easily and use nationwide, the Aadhaar card project goes way beyond that, and in the process, messes up the basics as well. There are several problems I have with the Aadhaar card. Chief among those are:

Privacy concerns from Aadhaar leaks

Biometric data is not something you can change if cases of misuse crop up. There does not seem to be appropriate care taken by the government to protect the data from unauthorized access.

  • The data is to be privatized through NIUs (National Information Utilities), where once the data is stable, it would not even belong to the government but private utilities, controlling it as a monopoly. The citizen, urged by the government to create the cards is not informed about how their personal information will be used or controlled.
  • Foreign companies with links to foreign intelligence organizations have been given access to the Aadhaar database.
  • Recent revelations show that data once entered in the UID system cannot be removed. This basically means that once you get an Aadhaar card made, your information is out of your control and you will not be able to cancel your own identification data.
  • Storage on servers in the US. The US is getting increasingly data hungry and alarming disclosures of illegal access to databases, where even Google had to encrypt internal traffic to protect privacy have come to light. The US can legally get access to data stored on servers within the country - regardless of your permission or the permission of government of India.

The cost of the Aadhaar project

India is a developing country. We have many priorities on our funds, and it is unclear how an expense of an estimated 150,000 crore rupees helps the Indian citizen or does anything that a far cheaper identity card couldn't. For example, the cost of India's census was 2200 crore in 2011. And the census reached every citizen (at least in theory), and has produced information that is of tremendous utility and diverse applications. This is several times our entire health budget encompassing subsidized education, running hospitals, vaccinations, medicine costs, teaching hospitals and what not nationwide.

In contrast, India seems to have spent some 2,500 per card so far, though the citizen is not required to pay anything. Much of this large cost appears to be due to the expenses involved in collecting and working with biometric data, yet the biometric data is neither collected in an efficient manner, nor used at all in verifying identification. Then why is the expense done?

Additionally, while the investment is done using government funds, ready databases will be controlled by private entities (who will profit from offering identification services), and the government will be paying customers of the databases it has already spent a bomb to create. Of course, no citizen has been given any power to refuse his or her information being used for profit by private entities with the blessings of the government.

Coercion to register for Aadhaar - voluntary and mandatory?

What is increasingly evident as a project that will profit specific entities is being forced on citizens who wish to avail of their rights as citizens. Attempts to tie UID identification with everything are increasing. The idea of government subsidies is being replaced by citizens buying at market prices and being reimbursed by the government into their "Aadhaar linked" bank accounts. In other words, spend more on food and fuel, or give us your biometric data. Several instances of schools requiring Aadhaar card details of students have come to light, which is probably a violation of the Right To Education act, since refusing education to children for any reason is punishable under the RTE.

In a country where a fifth of the population is under a poverty line that belongs on "extreme survival" type shows rather than a Planning Commission planning for the well being of a country, essentially this amounts to a direct order to spend what it takes on travel to your Aadhaar card center, get whatever proofs are needed or pay some corrupt officials, invest some money in creating a bank account, raise the money to purchase necessities at market price and wait for the refund to come. Or you can buy at market price and not get a refund. This is as good as holding a gun to the stomachs of the poor and telling them to register for an Aadhaar card.

No legal basis for the UID project

There is no legal basis for UID. The draft bill was rejected by a standing committee in 2010 and has never seen the Parliament ever since. Courts have ruled over and over that people cannot be forced to create Aadhaar cards and they cannot be refused their rights for the lack of Aadhaar cards, but it has no impact on a rogue government that continues to push more and more essentials into dependency on Aadhaar identification, regardless of lack of any legal authority to do so.

False claims of preventing corruption

India is a country where the corrupt are the first to get false papers made. The idea that an Aadhaar card will prevent corruption is bogus. Completely bogus. It has been demonstrated over and over that false Aadhaar cards are being made. These Aadhaar cards can easily be used to create bogus bank accounts or gas connections and so on. With elections coming up, one only wonders how many Aadhaar cards were used to create multiple voter IDs in different places by various elements engaged in election rigging. Replies to RTI clearly demonstrate that the Aadhaar card number attached to various accounts is not verified using the very expensive biometrics. Unsurprising, considering that earlier exposes of fraudulent cards have demonstrated cards for a coriander plant and cards for people who never visit the Aadhaar center as long as they provide a photo. So what biometrics would they be verified against?

The new bailout plan for banks

As bad loans and debt in banks make news, only to fall silent quickly, the government bright idea of forcing citizens to make bank accounts if they want their right to affordable food and fuel is not something to be sneezed at. In a country of the size of India, people keeping a token balance in a bank account will also rapidly total up to a large amount of money. This is in addition to the various entities that will earn interest from the citizen's investment of the additional price that will later get refunded (only for other citizens to make the investment and so on). This clearly provides the controllers of various services close to power cartels a quick source of cash. At the cost of the citizen, the poorer among which will have no credibility for proper loans and may end up caught in vicious cycles with loan sharks to raise money for the expensive purchase. I am not joking. I imagine over half of India's population won't be able to come up with a thousand rupees for a gas cylinder without borrowing from someone to be repaid when salary happens and so on. The refund they will eventually get will earn interest to some already powerful entity for the duration till they get it.

Potential for misuse

As stated earlier, Aadhaar cards can be made very easily and with little verification raising potential for criminals to create alternative identities easily. In a state where police are often found complicit in crimes, syping and persecution, it may be possible for vested interests to plant records of biometric details matching someone they want to target among evidence. Multiple identification can be used to get around limits to profit from government schemes, like getting employment under multiple names under MNREGA or getting more cylinders of gas using subsidies under multiple identities.

Considering that the biometric data is not used to verify identity, there is nothing stopping a person from making several cards in several names at different places - say - in one place for each phase of the polls... to take Sharad Pawar's "joke" into completely realistic possibility.

Illegal immigration and terrorism

Aadhaar cards could facilitate regularization of illegal migrants or terrorists leading to cartelization of such practices and exploiting government facilities and adding burden on the state. They could be used by political parties for election rigging by manipulating demographics of a place. Given some time, it will be impossible to distinguish an Indian citizen from a migrant, since all their documentation will essentially be authentic.

Unauthorized use of Aadhaar cards

There have been instances reported in newspapers where banks contacted people who got their Aadhaar cards made offering to open a bank account that would link to the card. How the bank got the person's information including name, Aadhaar card number and address to send the offer to.... should be a thought that will get any sane person paranoid.

And the obvious problem

If at some point we start using the UID data to verify people, there is no proof that it will work, given the extensive problems with the data revealed so far.

There are many other reasons. Basically Aadhaar is a project that has profited many with interests ranging from profiteering to "a historic experiment" and the "largest biometric database in the world", but it has little to offer the common man that simple registration and cards without biometrics wouldn't. It isn't even like we are using the biometrics, or that they are reliable anyway.