Mumbai

Mumbai gangster’s compulsive habits gave him away

Nowhere to run: Crime Branch is interrogating Ejaz Lakdawala about his activities in the last 20 years, and also about the 25 cases and 80 applications received against him.

Nowhere to run: Crime Branch is interrogating Ejaz Lakdawala about his activities in the last 20 years, and also about the 25 cases and 80 applications received against him.  

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Lakdawala’s dressing style, brand of cigarettes helped Crime Branch zero in on him at crowded Patna bus stop

A flashy dressing style that gangster Ejaz Lakdawala had been using for decades helped the Mumbai Crime Branch team to spot him in the middle of a crowded bus stop in Patna on Wednesday. Besides, his preferred brand of cigarettes and the marks left by an attack on him further confirmed his identity.

Mr. Lakdawala (50), who had been on the run for over 20 years, was arrested in Jakkanpur and brought to Mumbai on Wednesday night. He is wanted for a series of crimes, including murder, attempt to murder, and extortion, in Mumbai and Thane.

According to Crime Branch officers, the challenge for the anti-extortion cell was to positively identify him. Sources said even his daughter Shifa, who was arrested on December 28, did not have a current photograph of him and could only provide a rough description.

“After we reached the spot where Mr. Lakdawala was supposed to be coming, we only had that rough description. The dossier on him mentioned that he had a taste for flashy clothes, and his daughter had confirmed that he still retained it. We first spotted him as he was entering the bus stop wearing a dark brown leather jacket, with a pink scarf tied around his neck,” a Crime Branch officer said.

The officer said when he was asked about his identity, he responded with a made-up name. A search of his pockets, however, revealed a pack of Marlboro cigarettes, which has always been his favourite brand. The AEC team also examined his neck and found marks consistent with a surgery. The Crime Branch dossier on him said when he was attacked in 2002, he took seven bullets, including some on his arm, upper torso, and neck.

“The scarf was as much a device to hide the distinctive marks on his neck as it was a fashion statement,” the officer said.

Inquiries indicate that after the attack, which forced him to spend several months recuperating in hiding, Mr. Lakdawala became extra-careful to the point of being paranoid. He stopped trusting anyone within his gang and preferred to travel alone, never even informing his gang members about his movements.

“The precaution was for two reasons. First, every gangster has one or two trusted aides that he always keeps in the loop and by default, these people are looked at as his successors. But the risk is this might give rise to a desire in the aide to replace his boss before time, which Mr. Lakdawala wanted to avoid. Secondly, he had started suspecting that the attack on him had been executed with the help of a mole in his gang,” another officer said.

Ironically, it was for this same reason that relations soured between him and his former boss Rajendra Nikhalje alias Chhota Rajan, who is now lodged in Tihar Central Jail, Delhi.

The Crime Branch is interrogating Mr. Lakdawala about his activities in the last 20 years, and also about the 25 cases and 80 applications received against him. The last case against him was registered on January 5, after he allegedly called up a Mumbai-based builder on January 3 to extort him.

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Printable version | Jan 20, 2020 6:32:21 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/mumbai-gangsters-compulsive-habits-gave-him-away/article30538546.ece

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