Confusion over Rajan’s custody

CBI will take the final call, say Mumbai police.

Updated - November 17, 2021 02:12 am IST

Published - November 04, 2015 01:03 am IST - Mumbai/Delhi:

Handcuffed Indian fugitive Rajendra Sadashiv Nikalje, known in India as "Chotta Rajan," center, is escorted by plain-clothed police officers for questioning in Bali, Indonesia, Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2015. The alleged organized crime boss, wanted for  involvement in several mafia killings and other major crimes in his homeland, was arrested last week after arriving at Bali's airport from Sydney based on information from Interpol and Australian authorities. (AP Photo/Firdia Lisnawati)

Handcuffed Indian fugitive Rajendra Sadashiv Nikalje, known in India as "Chotta Rajan," center, is escorted by plain-clothed police officers for questioning in Bali, Indonesia, Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2015. The alleged organized crime boss, wanted for involvement in several mafia killings and other major crimes in his homeland, was arrested last week after arriving at Bali's airport from Sydney based on information from Interpol and Australian authorities. (AP Photo/Firdia Lisnawati)

Even as the deportation of Mumbai underworld don Chhota Rajan from Bali was delayed on Tuesday due to the closure of the local airport following a volcanic eruption, speculation was rife over where he would be taken first after returning to India. Mumbai Police Commissioner Ahmed Javed told The Hindu that “though eventually Chhota Rajan will be brought to Mumbai, it will be the Central Bureau of Investigation [CBI] which will take a final call on his custody.”

Earlier in the day, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had >said that all security arrangements were in place to bring him to Mumbai. Stating that the Mumbai Police were “prepared for all eventualities,” Mr. Javed said: “The CBI is the nodal agency for Interpol in India, and could hold him back for interrogation in New Delhi for as long as they like. That is the protocol. We cannot speculate how long the CBI may want him in the capital.”

Confusion prevailed in Delhi for the greater part of the day over where Rajan was headed. Till Tuesday afternoon, Home Ministry officials maintained he would be flown to Delhi where he would be kept in transit at the airport before being put on another flight to Mumbai. By evening, senior officials said arrangements were being made to put him on an early Wednesday morning flight to India. “He would still come to Delhi airport first, be kept in transit and then moved to Mumbai by afternoon.”

For this purpose no special aircraft was being arranged. Rajan was to be brought back on a commercial flight. Officials were seeking to book about 10-12 seats for him as well as a team of CBI, Mumbai and Delhi Police officials who had travelled to Bali.

The curious arrest of a don

The arrest throws up more questions than answers

1. How did Rajan get a fresh passport from the Indian consulate in Sydney on July 8, 2008?

No G9273860 issued in the name of Mohan Kumar, a resident of Mandya, Karnataka.

2. Was there insider help for Rajan to get the passport issued in Sydney?

3. Was there an effort to keep Rajan away from Mumbai where he faces many criminal cases and bring him to Delhi? Will he not be safe with Mumbai police?

4. Many officials claim they have been closely monitoring Rajan in Australia for a long time. Then why wasn't pressure mounted on the authorities there to hand over him to India?

5. Were Rajan's trip to Indonesia, the tip-off to the Australian authorities about his flight to Bali and subsequent arrest synchronised? A couple of senior government functionaries are hinting they were aware of his imminent arrest for the last few weeks.

6. How will Rajan's arrest help India get to Dawood?

Officials said Mount Rinjani near the popular tourist island had erupted, leading to several flights being cancelled

On the allegation made by Rajan that some Mumbai Police officers >were in collusion with his rival Dawood Ibrahim , a Home Ministry official said: “There is some truth to his allegations but all those police officers have retired. We are making adequate arrangements for his security.”

On Tuesday evening, in a media briefing on Rajan’s custody, Mr. Javed said: “Chhota Rajan’s arrest is significant from the point of view of law and order in Mumbai. There have been other important gangster/criminal cases that have come to fruition in the recent past. The Rajan case is one such.

“We are not staking a claim on him. We will go by the rules, and adequate security will be provided while taking his custody.”

Charge of collusion As for Rajan’s allegation on police collusion with Dawood, Mr. Javed said, “I do not want to respond to an allegation made by a gangster.”

He told The Hindu that the charges are very clear against him. “Once the CBI is done with its procedures, he will be handed over to the concerned police [Mumbai Police]. There are more than 75 cases against him, and the Crime Branch is sequencing these numbers. At the end of the day, we want his custody and we will get it.”

Mr. Javed said he expected his department to handle the case well. “We have deftly handled similar high-profile cases in the recent past, but somehow this one has been highlighted more than the others.”

The Grand Commissioner of Police in Bali, Herry Vianto had earlier said Rajan would be flown to India on Tuesday night. However, media reports in Bali said that volcanic ash had cancelled flights out of the Indonesian island province. Officials in Mumbai and sources in Bali said the don is now most likely to be deported on Wednesday, if weather conditions allow.

( With PTI inputs )

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