V Pattabhi Ram
There is hot news in air; a great one at that. One of India’s dreaded extortionists, Chota Rajan, has been arrested in Bali, following a joint effort of the police force of Australia, Indonesia and India. Minister of State, V K Singh, reportedly played a key role in the operation that has potentials of opening a can of worms in the Indian political scene.
To those who don’t know, in particular the nineties generation, Chota Rajan (aka Rajendra Sadashiv Nikalje) has been a fugitive, on the run for over two decades. A former aide of international terrorist, Dawood Ibrahim, the duo ran a parallel economy that had its basis in threats, extortions and executions. Rajan was the D-company’s mastermind, and Bollywood, which oozes, breathes and mouths patriotism at the fall of a hat, was under their vice-like tentacles.
A little bit of history is in order. Rajan, son of a Bombay mill worker, began his life in crime by touting cinema tickets, before graduating to organized crime and slowly rising in the echelons of power of Bombay henchman, Rajan Nair (aka Bada Rajan). Some 35 years ago, in 1982, in a scene straight out of a Hindi movie, Nair was sensationally assassinated, inside a Bombay Court. Rajan took a leadership role in the power struggle that followed.
He then began his famous partnership with the man who would be India’s underworld don, Dawood Ibrahim. Rajan was a bootlegger for the gold smuggler. When, in 1984, Dawood fled India, he asked Rajan to take care of his Mumbai operations. Rajan did better than that, adding more territories, and the relationship blossomed.
With time, the duo fell apart. One reason was their rumored difference of opinion over the carrying the Bombay serial blast of 1993. A second view: the growing strain had to do with ego trips and mistrust, seeded and blossomed by those around them. Over time, they parted ways.
The parting was so bitter that it peaked, at the turn of the millennium, when Dawood’s men made a daring bid, in Bangkok, on Chota Rajan’s life. Rajan was grievously wounded; he survived and dramatically escaped from the hospital.
Over time, Rajan is believed to have settled down in another country under an assumed identity, in return for acting as an informant for India’s intelligence agencies. He was tracked down to Australia and it is rumored that the D Company tipped off the Australian Police.
Former Mumbai Police Commissioner, M N Singh is not excited by the arrest given history and given how India let the opportunity slip in 2000 when the gangster escaped from a Bangkok hospital, right under the nose of Indian policemen in what was a slap to the establishment.
All told, it now appears that the impossible has happened. The long arm of law has finally caught up. It now needs to be seen if our criminal justice system will quickly bring this man to book or whether it would go the more famous Indian judicial way: getting lost in its labyrinth and ending only with the death, on a future date, of Rajendra Sadashiv Nikalje (aka Chota Rajan).