National

D-Company still has a strong grip on Mumbai real estate

One of the major areas where the Dawood gang is involved actively is in dealing with disputed property in Mumbai, and settling scores among builders, investigations show.

Gangster Dawood Ibrahim’s involvement in several redevelopment projects across Mumbai has come to light following a >detailed investigation by The Hindu into the city’s underworld.

Officials who have kept a close watch on his gang say the syndicate has a highly organised system of controlling, extorting money from or taking part in many of the redevelopment projects. Technical surveillance done by Indian agencies gives credence to the statement. On rare occasions, when Indian agencies have been able to zero in on Dawood Ibrahim’s activities, there have been strong hints of his interests in the construction business — in both Mumbai and the UAE. One of Dawood’s associates told him in May 2013 that he had given 2 million (it is not clear if it is rupees or dollars) to someone after completing the documentation. The associate talks about one Abbas Bhai who has opened a real estate business in Mumbai. In turn, Dawood tells him that he has ceased his previous partnership and has now tied up with one Abid Bhai.

In a series of phone calls in early 2013, the Pakistan-based Dawood carried out detailed discussions on property purchases in Mumbai. India’s most wanted criminal told one of his UAE associates not to buy property in a particular locality.

However, it is Dawood’s key aide Chhota Shakeel, also based in Pakistan, who runs the show in the construction sector, as is the case in most other sectors where the D company is involved. Shakeel controls most of the operations related to redevelopment projects through an associate called Rizwan in Mumbai. It is clear that the syndicate is actively involved in monitoring many of the court cases related to redevelopment projects, and that Rizwan briefs Shakeel regularly of them.

In conversations that took place between Shakeel and some of his Indian associates in December 2013, Shakeel makes it clear he was not interested in making a few lakh rupees, and those are small issues they should sort out among themselves. When his Indian contacts discuss a murder and tell Shakeel that they were not involved in it, he says he has paid Rs. 3 lakh for the killing, and has seen the CCTV recording of the murder.

Settling scores

One of the major areas where the Dawood gang is involved actively is in dealing with disputed property in Mumbai, and settling scores among builders, investigations show.

In January 2013, the Dawood syndicate was involved in dealing with an unclaimed property then worth at least Rs. 60 crore. One Shafiq based in the UAE seeks Shakeel’s assistance in claiming the property, and is offered 15/20 khokhas (a khokha is a crore).

In April 2014, Chhota Shakeel is in detailed conversations with his key associate in the UAE about construction of a factory in Mumbai, and also the Rs.4,000-crore Bhendi Bazaar redevelopment project.

Sometime in early March 2014, one of Shakeel’s associates, based in Thailand, calls about construction-related issues. He talks about a leading Mumbai builder involved in redevelopment schemes. The builder was to accompany one of Dawood associates to Thailand for a meeting.

In 2014, one of the things that were exercising Chhota Shakeel was his 50 per cent partnership in a property he owned along with Romesh Sharma, a Dawood aide in the national capital. He discusses the details of the project with his UAE-based associate Gulam Dastkeer Sarkar. During the conversation, Shakeel also mentions the name of a famed sharpshooter of the Mumbai police, referring to his involvement in the particular property deal. The property has been lying unused for over a decade since Romesh Sharma was jailed in Delhi.

From the activities of Shakeel and his associates, it is clear that they have varied interests in the property and construction sector of Mumbai.

Shakeel paid Rs. 1.5 crore to what is referred to in the conversation as “Marwaris” to take back a case over one of his properties, which is held in proxy by one Mohammad Hussain Nilchi. During a conversation, Shakeel complains to Gulam Dastkeer Sarkar that the new generation of Marwaris were not keeping good relations with the Dawood gang. The reference seems to be to the new generation of construction magnates of the city.

Occasionally, the dealings of the D company in Mumbai spill out in the open in much detail, as it happened on November 7, 2014 when Shakeel called one of his associates in Mumbai. His operative told Shakeel that he had arranged a meeting with a businessman and one Kalia, and the former had agreed to pay Rs. 3.60 crore to Kalia. However, Shakeel told him to demand five apartments in the project, which was estimated at Rs. 10 crores — each being a relatively luxurious apartment of Rs. 2 crore each.

A few days later, the conversation is around a project in Andheri. His UAE associate tells Shakeel that one Shah Mohammad Bhati has told him about his partnership with one Jadwani in the Andheri project. An infuriated Shakeel tells his gang to kill Bhati, to which the UAE associate says: “I will kill him, kill him in his office and cut him into pieces.” However, there was no police report of any builder’s killing during the period in the city.

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Printable version | Aug 4, 2020 1:38:48 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/dcompany-still-has-a-strong-grip-on-mumbai-real-estate/article7946411.ece

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