Mumbai

After 20 years on the run, fugitive gangster Ejaz Lakdawala arrested by Mumbai police

Ejaz Lakdawala

Ejaz Lakdawala   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

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He fled the country some time between 1998 and 1999; was wanted in a string of cases; has been charged under the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act

After spending over 20 years on the run, gangster Ejaz Lakdawala was arrested by the Crime Branch of the Mumbai Police in Patna on Wednesday. Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh lauded the police’s efforts at a press interaction in Mumbai.

Lakdawala, 50, who fled the country some time between 1998 and 1999, was wanted in a string of cases, including murder, attempt to murder and extortion, registered since 1989. Crime Branch officers said that so far, they had 25 cases registered against him, apart from 80 applications pending with various police stations and agencies. His daughter Shifa alias Soniya was arrested by the Anti Extortion Cell on December 28 last in a fake passport case, and has been in police custody.

“We stepped up our efforts to apprehend him in the past six months and received a lot of information, which we verified with multiple sources, including the Central intelligence agencies. The arrest of his daughter further increased the pace of our efforts, as we got a lot of information about him from her,” Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) Santosh Rastogi said.

On Wednesday, the Anti Extortion Cell received information that Lakdawala would be in Panta and rushed a team there. “A team of the Mumbai police sought our assistance in arresting someone under the Jakkanpur police station last night [on Wednesday night] and the local police helped it arrest Ejaz Lakdawala… After his arrest, the Mumbai police completed the legal formalities, and Lakdawala was handed over to them,” Bihar Additional Director-General of Police (Law and Order) Amit Kumar told journalists in Patna.

However, sources in Bihar’s Police Department told The Hindu that Lakdawala was arrested at the Mithapur bus stand under the Jakkanpur police station in Patna, and he was planning to board a bus bound for Darbhanga-Madhubani.

The reason for his return to the country has evoked curiosity, with the police believing that he could have come down to help his daughter come out of jail.

Lakdawala grew up at Dongri in Mumbai. The influence of the erstwhile gangsters like Dawood Ibrahim Kaskar and his own violent tendencies pushed him into a life of crime. He was still a teenager when the Dongri police booked him for allegedly assaulting his teacher, a woman, with a compass. He spent several months in the juvenile remand home at Dongri before being released. He was subsequently recruited by Rajendra Nikalje alias Chhota Rajan as a footsoldier. Then, Rajan was with Dawood, working as an enforcer-cum-recruiter for the gang.

Crime Branch officers said the first murder case against him was registered in 1989 and the second in 1998.

“After Rajan broke with Dawood in 1993, Lakdwala stayed loyal to Rajan and started working for him. In 1998, he killed an accused wanted in the 1993 bomb blasts. To promote his image of being a “patriotic don”, Rajan had announced a vendetta against the perpetrators of the serial blasts and killed several of the people accused in the case. After the murder, Lakdawala fled the country and joined his boss in Malaysia,” a Crime Branch officer said.

In 2002, Lakdawala survived an attempt on his life, when Dawood’s henchmen shot at him in Bangkok. He sustained seven bullet injuries and was rumoured to have died for months before he resurfaced and resumed his place on the wanted list of law enforcement agencies.

Lakdawala parted ways with Rajan in 2008 and started working independently. Sources said the relations between him and Rajan began to sour after the attack on Rajan in Bangkok. After the attack, Rajan started suspecting all his henchmen of informing the Dawood gang of his movements. Several of his aides, including Ravi Pujari, broke with him. The tension, which started simmering between Rajan and Lakdawala in 2000, reached the boiling point in 2008, owing to issues over payment, officers said.

“Since then, according to our information, Lakdawala has travelled to Canada, the United Kingdom, the United States, Malaysia, Cambodia and Nepal, and is said to have property in Canada, Malaysia and London. Our information also indicates that he has had several aliases and travel documents...,” Mr. Rastogi said.

(With inputs from Amarnath Tewary in Patna)

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Printable version | Jan 27, 2020 7:49:48 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/fugitive-gangster-ejaz-lakdawala-arrested-by-mumbai-police/article30521628.ece

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