Most books on the underworld have focused on gang wars, bloodshed and police encounters, but a new book chooses to dwell on its economics.
DRI And The Dons , written by B.V. Kumar, an Indian Revenue Service officer, talks about activities such as smuggling of gold, drugs, arms and ammunition, besides extortion and contract killing, and how they directly affected the economies of India and other nations. It mentions various gangland figures, including Dawood Ibrahim Kaskar, Haji Mastan, Iqbal Mirchi, Vicky Goswami, Mustafa Dossa, Daman-based gangster Sukur Naran Bakhia and Alamzeb, one of the original gangsters of Mumbai who ran extortion, protection and smuggling rackets before anyone had even heard of Dawood.
The book was launched in Mumbai on Wednesday by Indian Police Service officer D. Sivanandhan, who retired as director general of police, Maharashtra. Actor Naseeruddin Shah was the guest of honour. Now retired, Mr. Kumar has served in various postings, including director general, Revenue Intelligence; director general, Narcotics Control Bureau; and director general, Economic Intelligence Bureau in Delhi.
Describing his and his colleagues’ efforts in curbing the smuggling rackets, Mr. Kumar said, “We monitored those with distinct characteristics at the Delhi airport in order to look out for possible mules. Those wearing jackets in summer or rushing to catch a taxi in an undue hurry were on top of the list.”
Mr. Sivanandhan said Mr. Kumar has always been his inspiration. “I am honoured to be sitting beside the legendary B.V. Kumar. He has written a well-researched book that not only talks about the stories of the gangsters, but also explains the perspective of the authority. There is a chapter in the book in which he describes how, during an exchange of fire with gangsters, a bullet grazed his neck,” Mr. Sivanandhan said.
Mr. Sivanandhan, during his career, has witnessed his own share of gangland activities. He served as joint commissioner of police (Crime) in Mumbai when the underworld was at its peak. The character of joint commissioner of police Srinivasan in Ram Gopal Verma’s movie Company , played by actor Mohanlal, is said to be based on Mr. Sivanandhan during his tenure as the Mumbai Crime Branch chief.
Mr. Shah, on the other hand, said he ‘fortunately’ had little contact with the police. “Once, my small apartment was examined by the Income Tax Department when they caught a whiff of my success in the initial phase of my acting career. After conducting the inspection and giving me a clean chit, the officer thanked us saying, ‘Wherever we go, people always take someone else’s name and tell us to check their houses. It is not as if we enjoy this kind of work.’ I realised that being an officer of the law is a very serious job and we should not take it for granted.”