Dealing with a fugitive

October 28, 2015 12:05 am | Updated November 17, 2021 02:12 am IST

In the shadowy world where organised crime and intelligence agencies have their interplay all the time, nothing is what it might appear to be. The >arrest of Rajendra Sadashiv Nikalje , or Chhota Rajan, may not just be an important achievement for the Indian security establishment; it may be part of a larger narrative from a world where the activities of intelligence agencies, police organisations, and the criminal underworld all overlap. It is the latest twist in the bizarre story of the Mumbai underworld that started off in the realms of smuggling and black-marketing, moved on to controlling real estate and the world of movies with its financial clout, then wreaked havoc in the very city that was its playground, before dispersing globally. Those underworld gangs have hardly disappeared; in fact, they have grown in strength and stealth capabilities. Rajan’s arrest in Bali upon his arrival there from Australia, which had become his home for many years after his being in South East Asia and Africa, symbolises the global tentacles of the Mumbai underworld. His mentor-turned-archrival >Dawood Ibrahim reportedly lives in Karachi , and both have financial interests spanning different continents. While such criminal syndicates have operated on a global scale, Indian intelligence agencies and the police have had to remain mere onlookers, unable to do much to counter them. In the wake of the >1993 Mumbai serial blasts , while Dawood was blamed for it all, Rajan emerged as a ‘Hindu don’ and a hero to even some in the security establishment. Thanks largely to the official patronage extended to him, Rajan was able to survive, and flourish even while in alien territories.

Rajan may have been of use to both the Mumbai police and Indian intelligence to a limited extent in their efforts to deal with the Dawood Ibrahim gang. However, his entire career, especially his activities during the period since he split from the Dawood gang, raises serious questions not just about him but also about the official patronage he enjoyed. There have been murmurs about Rajan aiding the partisan agenda of sections of the security establishment. The February 2010 >killing of advocate Shahid Azmi , who represented Muslims who were allegedly framed in various terror cases, raised disturbing questions about the exact role that Rajan played in covering up certain unprofessional acts of the Mumbai police and the intelligence agencies while investigating terror cases. Dawood’s role in aiding anti-India terror has been proven in Indian courts and acknowledged by foreign governments and United Nations agencies. Rajan is no angel either. He is wanted for long in India for running an organised crime syndicate, conspiracy, murders and other serious criminal acts. He has been part of the criminal underground that challenged the Indian state for years, weakened its institutions and poisoned the body politic. The government must take every possible step to ensure that Chhota Rajan is brought back to India and tried under the laws of the land. He should be dealt with as a criminal and as a fugitive, no less.

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