It makes me very happy that Hussain has finished his magnum opus, Dongri to Dubai, so that the general reader can now benefit from his expertise. This book. Dongri to Dubai is the first ever attempt to chronicle the history of the Mumbai mafia. It is the story of notorious gangsters like Haji Mastan, Karim Lala. decex1books - Get book Dongri To Dubai: Six Decades of The Mumbai Mafia by S. Hussain Zaidi. Full supports all version of your device, includes PDF, .
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complete book published in dailey UMMT(21st oct to 22nd dec ) 60 episodes. URDU translated by Abdul Qadir ENGLISH WRITTEN BY S. HUSSAIN ZAIDI Biography CRIME BIO TRUE EVENTS dawood ibrahim s hussain zaidi indian underworld d company. Black Friday_ the True Story of - S Hussain. Where can I download a free e-book of "Dongri Se Dubai Tak" (a Hindi translation of "Dongri to File formats: ePub, PDF, Kindle, Audiobook, mobi, ZIP. Dongri To Dubai by Hussain Zaidi | PDF | • E-BookPool Books To download. Visit Six decades of Mumbai Mafia A boy from Dongri, Son of a Police Inspector. Story.
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On 1 January , stray knife attacks were reported at Lalbaug, Agripada, and Dongri. The police arrested nine people and launched a drive to nab the culprits involved. Within days on 8 January, the Anti- Corruption Bureau seized carving knives from a flat on Marine Drive but could not arrest anybody. The same day, a social worker was stabbed in Parel. Deorukhkar, a municipal councillor, was also murdered, an incident that shocked the city and raised an alarm. Even before the cops could take a breather, there was another incident, but this time, they showed amazing alacrity.
On 11 January, the police arrested two Pathans who had looted a bank within ninety minutes of the crime being committed. The robbers had entered a bank in south Bombay and decamped with the booty in a waiting car.
The car, bearing the registration number BMX they had covered the license plate on the back of the car with a red cloth was making a getaway at full speed when a constable with the Esplanade Police Station, now known as the Azad Maidan Police Station, intercepted it and hauled them to the police station, where they were arrested. Ah, the power of the constabulary! Once upon a time, the constables were the backbone of the police force in Mumbai. In the next couple of days, on 14 January, the police busted a gang of racketeers operating at the parcel booking office at Victoria Terminus now called Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus.
The members of the gang would approach people and ask for money, assuring in return that their parcels would reach their destination earlier than via the usual route. Needless to say, the parcels never reached. Most criminals from in and around Dongri became increasingly emboldened in their modus operandi as their crimes went undetected. Others from the area joined the fray when they realised that it was a chance to make easy money with very little chance of being caught.
Thus, the boys from Dongri began making their mark in the crimedom. The boy from Dongri who became a don from Dubai. Up, Close, and Personal n the nineties two things happened in India that changed the fortunes of the mafia in Mumbai. When I was writing about the Mumbai mafia back then, it had I been a decade since Dawood had left its shores. Three years earlier Dawood had emerged as a key player in the serial blasts of Mumbai in March It was also at this time that Prime Minister P.
Narasimha Rao woke up to release the country from the grip of the Licence Raj and ushered in the liberalisation of the Indian economy. When the Indian perestroika happened, it released a flood of economic opportunities and the first to smell the potential profit was the mafia, by then already entangled with Bollywood.
Suddenly there were so many real estate opportunities. There was talk of mill land sales. At the time, the many mills in Bombay were closing down fast, which meant that there was a whole lot of land in the real estate business to play around with. The only surviving mafia don at the time in Mumbai, Arun Gawli, spent most of his time behind bars. Ashwin Naik was absconding and Dawood was still in remote control mode in Dubai. His brother Anees Ibrahim was more active on the ground.
And then there was the breakaway Abu Salem. Chhota Rajan had broken off with Dawood and anointed himself a Hindu don.
The Mumbai police were blushing at the horrific body count. One police commissioner even recommended using hockey sticks for the public to defend itself. It was a great time to be a crime reporter. Although I had missed out on the earlier generation that saw Dawood actually emerge as a don, I was there for the part of the action that resulted in the meltdown of the Mumbai mafia.
As I wrote their stories, taking swipes at them, describing their hidden dens and their networks, their interests, their women, their colourful lives, their hold over Bollywood and real estate deal-meddling, I met with the dons themselves to hear their stories firsthand and set them down.
As a crime reporter, however, my repertoire would not be complete until I had interviewed the one man who had left the shores of Mumbai but still held sway over his city from afar. By then, of course, everybody was writing about Dawood but access to him had trickled away. Although Dawood had given interviews to journalists before , he had simply vanished off the media radar after Dawood had just relocated to Karachi at this time and was virtually inaccessible on the phone.
I decided to take the second best option. Within a few months, I was one of the first journalists to crack a hotline to Chhota Shakeel. Eventually I asked Chhota Shakeel to set up an interview with Dawood. So finally Dawood Ibrahim did agree to an interview.
The terms for the interview were set: A big price to pay. This is how it was to work. My instructions were to wait patiently; Dawood would contact me whenever it suited him.
For a long time after that, there was no beep on my pager from my source. Then Outlook magazine ran a story on how Dawood was public enemy number one. This hit him badly—so much that he sent his men to attack the Outlook office. The office was badly vandalized although nobody was hurt. Within a couple of days, my pager beeped and I was asked to call on a local number.
I was in a rickshaw passing through Kalina so I got off and called from a local restaurant. I was asked to wait for a couple of minutes, and soon after I received a call at the number I had just used. The caller spoke in a very polite manner. His phone manner was perfect, enough to put a well-bred Lucknowi to shame.
I was amused, thinking to myself that the don had done well for himself and hired some really cultured phone attendants. I believe you wished to speak with me. Can you give me an exhaustive interview?
If he did not like a question on the phone, I was not to repeat it on the fax. I agreed. He gave me a date and time and the number of a PCO, where I was supposed to wait. On the appointed day, he called exactly at the designated time, The interview lasted for fifty minutes. I called my editor, Meenal Baghel at the Indian Express afterwards. She sounded pleased, as she usually did, with my big stories.
She gave me a compliment too: Here is the gist of the interview, which appeared on the front page of the Indian Express in September Excerpts from the interview, sans comment: In which part of the globe are you now? How do I know who is watching me?
They never tell you, do they? There are reports that you have invested heavily in real estate in Karachi, that you are at present involved in constructing a few shopping plazas there? This is absolute nonsense. What do you think of that country? Pakistan is an Islamic country and the next door neighbour of India. Have you retired from your gang activities? Who controls your gang now?
Except for my short stint with the underworld in Mumbai, I was never engaged in any gang activity. So where is the question of my being involved with them now? Any comments on your flourishing extortion rackets and your expanding drug empire? I have never extorted money from anybody. These are baseless charges. And your drug business? Zaidi saheb, because I respect you, I pardon such an irreverent line of questioning. I was never into the drug business. I hate this stuff and also hate those who deal in it.
Is it not true that among your men, Ejaz Pathan is executing drug deals for you? Ejaz Pathan is not my man. He does not do any business for me. Then how come there are so many charges against you? As you know, I am not in India at the moment. Which civilised nation would ever allow an expatriate to engage in drugs business in their land? The recent offensive has been launched against me with political motives. But the people behind this malicious propaganda cannot deceive the international anti-narcotic agencies.
Do you still consider yourself to be a patriotic Indian? How do you think one feels about the country of his birth, where his family and mother still live? Then why did you engineer bomb blasts killing more than people? The bomb blasts were a conspiracy to distance me from the people who loved me.
As I have stated earlier, I had nothing to do with the Bombay blasts. Every day I see the blasts being mentioned in one newspaper or the other, but I have rarely seen newspapers condemning the people who orchestrated the demolition of the Babri Masjid and forced million Indian Muslims to reassess their future in this country.
But tell me, why are you threatening and killing the film industry people? This is absurd. I would like to tell the film world that there is no need to be afraid of me. Also, those who terrorize them in my name are not my people.
Who are your friends in the film industry? I have shared an excellent relationship, based on mutual respect, with a number of film personalities, though in the present climate of suspicion I would not like to name them. Only after Reuters filed the story from Mumbai. Is it true that Abu Salem carried out the killing without informing you? The press and the Mumbai police should talk to the people who have publicly claimed to have full knowledge about the killers. These important people are ready to unravel the whole mystery.
The police must now stop blaming me for every death in Mumbai. Thank God I was not around in ; otherwise I would have been blamed for the Partition. Are you financing films? What do you think about Nadeem? Is he innocent or guilty? To the best of my memory I have never met him. Somebody should ask the police to stop chasing shadows.
What do you think of Mumbai police? Do you approve of encounter killings? Mumbai police is degenerating. Once the most respected police set-ups in the country, it is now framing false cases and getting innocent people killed in fake encounters. It is fast losing the respect of Mumbaiites. Which political party you are close to? To tell you very frankly, before the Babri Masjid demolition I used to have pretty liberal political views and had held two different national political parties in very high esteem.
After the Babri mosque demolition I have developed this rigid political opinion that the Muslims of India must only associate with the Muslim league. What do you think of Gawli and Rajan? Arun Gawli and Chhota Rajan, your rivals, who are after your life. My views about them are similar to that of an average Mumbaiite. For me they are street hoodlums.
Are you supporting Ashwin Naik? I am a businessman not a don. Have you ever thought of coming back to India? Several times. Once the government of India withdraws false cases against me, my friends and family members, I will catch the first flight to Mumbai. I will then go and offer my prayers of thanks at the Jama Masjid. After this, he might have spoken to journalists but he never allowed them to publish the conversation as an interview.
During the several conversations I had with him, I found him to be an intelligent, witty, and softspoken man. He displayed a cool, baseline temperament that did not spike at any point during the conversation. He showed no trace of arrogance or power as a don but kept dropping hints and clues of his well-informed network within the police department and his own intelligence network.
Dawood did not like any kind of aspersion to be cast against himself, any negative image of himself to be painted. He hated the way in which the Outlook article portrayed him as traitor. He wanted to be the Don. He became numero uno through his skill and a certain amount of luck. What follows is the tale of all these men and the empires they built.
Ask Dawood Hasan Ibrahim Kaskar: When Dawood, leader of the infamous criminal outfit D Company, was dubbed a global terrorist by the US Treasury Department in , there were no furrows in the brows of his henchmen, spread all over the globe.
He had one in Dubai until , and when he shifted base to Karachi, his new headquarters became The White House; and there was another White House in London. Like the original White House incumbent, Dawood juggles deals with several countries—the difference being that most of the people he deals with are the shadowy ones who fuel the black economy of most countries.
In the years after he left Indian shores in , the ganglord kept pining for his home country and made many attempts to stage a comeback. So while in enforced exile in Dubai, Dawood would recreate India in Dubai or Sharjah, by getting Bollywood stars to dance to his tunes or cricketers to do his bidding in his adopted country of residence.
Dawood had managed a pleasant lifestyle, a home away from home. But he would frequently send feelers about his wish to return to India through some politicians whom he was close to; it would be stonewalled, he would try again, and so on. Then the March serial bomb blasts happened and Dawood realised that he had to finally cut the umbilical cord. Named as one of the accused, Dawood understood that he had no hopes of ever returning to his motherland.
His rise to international fame began after ; until then he was chiefly involved in real estate; gold, silver, and electronics smuggling; and drug trafficking. Dawood loved Mumbai and was the quintessential Mumbai boy, sharing with the city its zeal for living and ability to persist in the face of adversity.
On the other hand, Pakistan beckoned and it was offering him refuge, a new name, a new identity, a new passport, a new life, if not much else.
There was a catch of course; he would be a pawn in their hands. But then he was Dawood Ibrahim, he would change Pakistan and make the country dance to his tunes, he thought. Since he held the purse strings, this would not be a problem. So, leaving his beloved Mumbai behind, he chose to cross borders. In the last forty years, two people have changed the equations between India and Pakistan; one is Dawood Ibrahim and the other was former president of Pakistan General Zia-ul-Haq.
If Zial-ul-Haq got Salafi Islam to Kashmir and changed the Sufi Kashmiris of India by giving more impetus to militancy in Kashmir, Dawood Ibrahim has soured the relations between the two countries to the point of no return.
The situation has become a standing joke. The Indian government has been shrilly seeking custody of Ibrahim, and Pakistan, with a straight face, has been denying that he is on their soil. Both countries are aware that Dawood holds the key to the peace process between India and Pakistan.
But when he had a son called Moin, after having had three daughters in a row Mahrooq, Mahreen, and Mazia , he built a sprawling mansion called Moin Palace in the same neighbourhood, in celebration of a long-awaited male heir.
Moin Palace is the most guarded villa in the area today, with a huge posse of Karachi Rangers on round the clock vigil. The house boasts opulent Swarovski crystal showpieces, has a waterfall, a temperature controlled swimming pool, a tennis court, a billiard court, and a jogging track. His special guests are housed in Moin Palace while other less important ones are accommodated in a guesthouse in the vicinity of the Palace.
Obviously, Dawood lives life king size. His dapper suits are from Savile Row, London. A collector of timepieces, he wears exclusive Patek Philippe wristwatches and sometimes Cartier diamond studded ones, all worth lakhs of rupees.
He smokes Treasurer cigarettes and wears Maserati sunglasses, sports shoes from Bally and signs with a diamond-studded pen that must be worth more than 5 lakh rupees.
Dawood has a fleet of cars, but moves about in a black bomb-proof Mercedes. When he is on the move a cordon of Pak Rangers escorts him, putting the security of the Pakistani president to shame. Dawood is an insomniac; he drags himself home only in the wee hours of the day if he has not brought the party home already. He sleeps during the day and works in the evening. He often throws lavish mujras dance recitals for Pakistani politicians and bureaucrats, a former caretaker prime minister of Pakistan included.
Those who have met him at his villa say that various chief ministers of Pakistani provinces were found queuing for an audience with him in his waiting hall. Even those who were made to wait for hours at a stretch did not murmur a word in protest though; one meeting with the don could change their fortunes. He also has a home in Orkazai near Peshawar. Starlets from Pakistan receive his special attention and are more than willing to entertain him. Despite being in Pakistan, he still calls the shots in India.
Until some time back, Indian movie moguls and gutkha barons asked him to arbitrate disputes. And in Mumbai, many businesses—from real estate to airlines—carry the invisible Dawood logo. In that sense, he has not let go of Mumbai. He operates several real estate projects and companies in Mumbai via remote control. The police and politicians from India are still in touch with the don; many policemen in Mumbai have in fact lost their jobs after they were exposed as having links with his gang.
Dawood is 5 foot 11 inches with a menacing gaze. So what makes the man tick? He has presence; there is the way he talks, a kind of charm with a convincing quality about it; our very own Al Pacino. Born on 26 December , Dawood is now 56 years old. Affluence and age have increased his waistline and the paunch is visible though not overly offending. For a man of 56, he looks fit. The boss of the D Company is a billionaire many times over and it is said that his parallel economy keeps Pakistan afloat.
His net worth is allegedly more than 6 billion rupees. He trades in the Karachi bourse and in the hundi hawala system. He has invested heavily in the Sehgal Group and is very close to Javed Miandad, son-in-law of one of the Sehgal brothers. He has thirteen aliases, one of them being Sheikh Dawood Hassan. In Pakistan, this is his identity. Some of them also call him David or Bhai. In Mumbai or Delhi, when he used to call friends, the person who made the call for him introduced him as Haji Sahab or Amir Sahab.
The D Company has many businesses in Mumbai and, it is believed, carries out billions of dollars of operations in Mumbai alone, much of it in Bollywood and real estate. Dawood is believed to control much of the hawala system, which is a very commonly used unofficial route for transferring money and remittances outside the purview of official agencies.
Its turnover is much bigger than Western Union and Moneygram put together. Dawood is the ultimate twenty-first century businessman: He knows how to manipulate relationships with his cadre, the mafia, the terrorist networks, and with the bigwigs in the Pakistan government and the ISI. Strange that a man with so much talent and potential ended up being an antelope on the savannah, a prisoner of another country, a pawn, one that is being played by both Pakistan and many other countries including the USA, who are aware of his activities in Pakistan.
Strange that the man who had the guts to take on the might of the humongous Pathan syndicate has botched his chances for a life. Dawood has managed to turn the tide in his favour on several occasions in the past.
It is said that now, he is deliberately lying low. Empires built with his money would collapse and many skeletons would tumble out of the closet if he was ever brought back home. The powers that be would rather have Dawood Ibrahim stuck in Pakistan. And so the cult of Dawood will be perpetuated. Movies with his trademark moustache and the cigar tucked in between his lips will continue to be made, and Dawood will be discussed between India and Pakistan forever.
The man, of course, will forever be elusive; the real Dawood may remain a myth. This book is an attempt to understand what is known of him and his world.
Bombay — ven in the fifties, people from all over India were drawn to Bombay like a moth to the flame. The city had earned a reputation for its nurturing abilities, in the E way it welcomes in all newcomers who get the opportunity to grow in their lives. It never seemed short of resources and, despite the influx, it was growing in affluence, power, and importance.
Like in New York of yore, which drew the masses into its embrace, poor youth from all parts of the country were landing in Bombay by the droves. There were few Biharis though, because until then, the Biharis regarded Calcutta present day Kolkata as the golden bowl and refused to look beyond the eastern capital of the country. Uttar Pradesh residents however, were sharp enough to figure out the difference between Calcutta and Mumbai.
After all, Calcutta was more of a socialist set-up, where new enterprises would find it difficult to flourish, unlike in Mumbai. Also, Mumbai has always been the financial capital of the country, and has always been known as the land of opportunity. Escaping a life limited to ploughing their fields, these north Indians rooted for Mumbai hands down. At the time, the population of south Mumbai was pegged at a meagre two lakh.
The north Indian migrants began living in ghettos of their own, divided on the basis of the cities and villages back home. But slowly the boys realised that without education they could not make much headway in the city of gold; thus a few frustrated youth turned towards the task of acquiring easy money. As Napoleon Hill said, necessity may be the mother of invention but it is also the father of crime. In those days, the easiest crime to perpetrate was accosting late night travellers or families and relieving them of their valuables.
The art of picking pockets was yet to be learnt and perfected. Wielding a shiny blade of a knife, sword, or chopper was enough to send shivers down the spine of peace-loving citizens of Mumbai. The criminals were emboldened when a few crimes went undetected; it was regarded as the success of their modus operandi. And soon, other players entered the fray. According to records maintained at the Byculla Police Station in south Bombay, Nanhe Khan, who hailed from Allahabad, was the first history-sheeter, who threatened people with a long knife and robbed them of valuables.
Moreover, Chinka Dada was technologically savvy and possessed something his boss never even dreamt of; two country-made revolvers at the either side, tucked in his belt.
Byculla was regarded as the epicentre of criminal activities at the time. Even in those days, Byculla residents were either Christians or Muslims. The Byculla Police Station divided the stronghold of two communities: You cannot have a gang without an adversary gang.
While Byculla don Nanhe Khan and Wahab Pehelwan were busy getting their names permanently embedded in the pages of police rosters, three Christian brothers from the Christian portion of Byculla were giving them sleepless nights.
The Allahabadi gang and the Johnny gang often engaged in skirmishes and a miniature turf war soon broke out between them. But when the gang graduated from street-level crime to drug trafficking with the Pathans, they left behind a void in the Byculla area which soon turned into more turf wars between two budding gangs in the area: These two gangs, however, could never make it big because they lacked the required chutzpah; the police and the Criminal Investigation Department CID soon neutralised them with quick arrests and an intensive crackdown.
The Rampuri gang—before beating a hasty retreat from the Mumbai crime scene—left behind a relic: The knife could be folded and hidden in the trouser pockets and it was meant to be thrust in the rib cage to savagely tear apart the innards of the stomach from one end to another.
And to date, the Rampuri Chaaku is the first weapon of the neophyte gangster in Mumbai. None of these turf wars had ever turned very ugly or communal. After the Allahabadi gang bowed out of petty crime, the new incumbent, Ibrahim Dada managed to fend off other gangs on the rise by the sheer force of his charisma. Rival gangs like Kanpuri, Jaunpuri, and Rampuri had few educated young people in their ranks whereas Ibrahim Dada was the first matriculate amongst them, a well-dressed gangster who could speak English.
Popular gangster lore has it that when Ibrahim Dada had gone to the American Consulate at Peddar Road to meet a friend at the consulate he met the receptionist, Maria. Fair Maria could not resist the raw appeal of the tall, robust, and brawny Ibrahim.
It was love at first sight. Soon Maria began visiting Ibrahim at his residence on Sankli Street. Stop seeing that girl at once. You have loved and not committed a crime, so why hide? It left Johnny fuming and helpless. He tried to scare Maria off by invoking religious sentiments, but to no avail.
Soon Ibrahim and Maria were married and the girl embraced Islam. This enraged Johnny Dada, who saw their union and subsequent conversion as a personal humiliation. Johnny decided to take matters in his own hands. One day when Ibrahim was alone, he cornered him with a group of his hoodlums near Bombay Central station, and assaulted him with lathis, iron rods, and knives.
Ibrahim was severely battered at first but soon summoned his reserves of strength and rallied, attacking Johnny and his men.
Though they all escaped eventually, some of them were injured grievously. Ibrahim decided to teach Johnny a lesson.
He cornered Johnny in the Kamathipura area one day and challenged him to a one-on-one dual. Ibrahim beat his adversary mercilessly, humiliating him, and leaving him on the verge of death.
His retaliation was finally effected: Johnny then disappeared from the scene. Both his brothers also met an equally tragic end. Chhota Johnny used to terrorise the shopkeepers and loot their cash boxes at the end of the day. The hapless shopkeepers, mere traders by profession, could not summon enough strength or resources to retaliate. But, the story goes, a Bohra shopkeeper decided to take care of Chhota Johnny at last, even if it meant losing his life in the process.
The shopkeeper devised a crude, makeshift weapon by fitting nails on the end of a stick. Chhota Johnny had become so careless in his confidence that unlike others of his ilk he did not even carry any weapons on his person, and when he staggered in, inebriated, the shopkeeper assaulted him mercilessly. He continued to hit him until Chhota Johnny collapsed on the ground in a pool of blood; witnesses recall that he continued to hit him long after he was dead.
Fellow traders were surprised; Bohras are Gujarati Muslims, essentially a trader community found in all corners of the world plying their trade peacefully, simple businessmen who rarely turn violent. But something in the man had broken, it was evident. The shopkeeper was booked for manslaughter but the police made a weak case against him and let him off.
Chikna Johnny, the Casanova of the family, became the ringleader of his own fledgling gang. His story ended when he failed to return from a picnic with his girls. He had gone to the Gorai beach with some girlfriends and drowned while swimming. With even the runt of the family gone, the gang ceased to exist and its members switched loyalties and merged with other gangs like the Jaunpuri gang, the Kashmiri gang, and some other stray ones. Meanwhile, Ibrahim Dada was arrested on murder charges in another case and convicted.
He was sentenced to life imprisonment. Maria continued to live in his house at Sankli Street and gave birth to his son. With Ibrahim Dada behind bars, Johnny Dada doing the disappearing act, and the neutralisation of other gangs, the star of the Allahabadi gang of Nanhe Khan was on the rise again.
The gang had grown in size, numbers, clout and money, and came into focus. Kamathipura, incidentally, has attracted gangsters for business as much as for pleasure.
The red-light district housed a Kashmiri betting club run by one Sumitlal Shah who was the personal secretary of Habib Kashmiri, head of the Kashmiri gang. Ayyub, incidentally, was also a police informant, much to the chagrin of his gang members. Once a fight ensued between him and Habib with the latter reprimanding him for telling on the other gangs.
Ayyub on his part, was justifying that he did so only to remain in the good books of the cops. However, no consolation would placate Habib and they soon split their gangs. Arriving in , they tried their hand at various odd jobs, finally managing to set up a small mechanic shop where they repaired cycles and two-wheelers in Bengalipura, near Crawford Market.
The father-son duo laboured hard from eight in the morning till late in the night. But 8-year-old Mastan soon realised that even after all this toil, he could only make a meagre 5 rupees a day.
As he walked home to his basti from Crawford Market, he would often walk past the grandiose southern Bombay area of Grant Road, which housed those marvellous theatres, Alfred and Novelty. Every time he noticed a huge, sparkling car whizz past him or walked by the plush Malabar Hill bungalows, he would look down at his dirty soiled hands and wonder if a day would come when he would be able to own these cars and bungalows.
This, more than anything else, stirred a certain feverish desire in him to think of ways and means to become bigger, richer and more powerful.
But uneducated and unskilled, with the additional burden of supporting his family, Mastan could see only a bleak road ahead of him. When the boy turned 18, he boldly decided to quit the cycle repairing business for good to try his hand at something else. While allowing him to join the workers at the Bombay docks, he reminded Mastan that he had brought him up right and that he would not be around forever to supervise him all the time; hence Mastan must refrain from stealing, fighting, and using dishonest means to better himself.
In , Mastan joined the Bombay dock as a coolie. His job was to unload huge boxes and containers of ships coming from Eden, Dubai, Hong Kong, and other cities.
Bombay was not such a large dock at that time but it was still bustling with activity. As India won its freedom in , Mastan completed three years as a coolie, at the Mazagon docks in Bombay. Mastan, in those three years, saw that the British used to charge import duty and that there was a good margin to be made if this import duty could be evaded.
In those days, Philips transistors and imported watches were hugely popular in Bombay. Mastan realised that if the goods were never passed through custom, there would be no question of duty, and so, he could instead make a quick buck by passing this evasion on to the owners.
And if he helped the owners evade customs duty, they would give him a cut, which, taken into account the numerous goods passing through the customs, turned into quite a substantial amount of money for Mastan. To him, this was really not a question of honesty. He believed customs duty was a British legacy and could be justifiably evaded.
Mastan knew that if he could manage to import these transistors and watches without paying import duty, he could make a small fortune for himself, which would supplement his salary of 15 rupees per month. While he thought out this devious scheme, he serendipitously met a man named Shaikh Mohammed Al Ghalib, an Arab by descent. Ghalib was also looking for someone young and energetic who was willing to support him in his illegal activity of evading import duty.
At the time, smuggling was not a full-fledged activity and people were not yet aware of the massive amounts of money they could make in the business.
The only smuggling operations that existed consisted of small-timers trying to bring in imported goods in permissible quantities, which back then consisted of such prize catches as six watches, two gold biscuits, four Philips transistors, and so on.
Ghalib explained to Mastan that it would be easy for him to stash a couple of gold biscuits in his headband, a few watches in his underwear, or a couple of transistors in his turban, as he was a coolie and worked on the ground. Mastan asked him what he would get in return for the work. Ghalib promised him a good reward.
Both struck up a good rapport and decided to work together. Within months, Mastan realised that his measly salary of 15 rupees had now become 50 rupees. He was now a coolie to watch out for. Importantly, his reputation and the fact that he enjoyed special treatment by an influential and affluent Arab caught the attention of local hoodlums.
One such dada or local goon was Sher Khan Pathan, who at the time used to have his way at the Mazgaon dock. These were the days when there was no unionism at the dock. He would extort money from coolies and anyone who refused to pay would be beaten up by Pathan and his men. Mastan witnessed this day in and day out. He wondered why someone like Pathan who did not belong to the docks and was not even a coolie or a government servant should be allowed to come to the docks and threaten and extort money from hard working coolies.
Enterprising lad that he was, he decided to take on Khan. Mastan gathered a couple of other strong people, sat with them, and told them that Sher Khan Pathan was also a human being like them.
If Sher Khan could beat them up with his own hands, they had the stronger hands of labour: If their strength could collectively be channelled to beat up Pathan and his goons, the coolies could ensure that their community was relieved of the goons. Next Friday, when Pathan came for his weekly round of extortion, he realised that ten people were missing from the huge queue. Before he could get a grip of the situation, Mastan and ten of his men attacked Pathan and four of his cronies.
Pathan had his Rampuri knife and guptis stiletto and Mastan and his people had lathis and rods. Pathan had only four men, while Mastan had ten. Finally, a bleeding and battered Pathan and his acolytes had to run for their lives. Soon after, in , Morarji Desai, the chief minister of Bombay presidency, imposed prohibition of liquor and other contraband in the state. With such imposition in place, the mafia had a brilliant opportunity to increase their profits—provide the illegal goods not available to interested customers at exorbitant prices.
This was the time when Ghalib and Mastan came into their full form. Within months of the imposition, they started raking in money. Mastan bought himself a bicycle. Soon, he managed to download a house of his own. He became the leader of the coolies in the early fifties, but his joy did not last long. The thought of whether he should use the money to get more material from Eden or whether he should leave the box intact for Ghalib to return tormented him for a while.
Tempted as he was, Mastan did not embezzle the money. The box remained in his house—hidden and untouched. Ghalib had been sentenced to three years imprisonment. Mastan returned to his life of helping small-time coolies and smugglers for these three years.
Ghalib, after he served his sentence returned a broken man. In those three years, he had suffered huge losses fighting his case. His family was also in trouble. He was contemplating investing in horses for the derby, or starting a hotel or even relocating to Dubai, which was his hometown.
He could not make up his mind, on which would be the best option. For weeks Ghalib remained confused and he tried to sell off his property to support his lifestyle. It was in this confused state of affairs, that he met his old employee one day. It was very discreetly hidden below heaps of dirty clothes. How did you manage to hide it for three years?
Nobody would have missed you. You would have been a rich man, Bambai ka baadshah [emperor of Bombay]! He realised that in a world plagued by distrust and deception, there were still men, albeit very, very few, who were trustworthy and honest despite the strongest temptations. Mastan smiled. The two partners shook hands. It is a known fact in the world of business and crime that gold in any form could have impurities, but the yellow metal in its biscuit form is regarded to be in its purest.
In , Mastan was richer by 5 lakh rupees. He did not need to be a coolie or a dockworker any more. He immediately quit his job and decided to take up smuggling as his full-time business. He, along with Ghalib, came up with a scheme of importing gold.
Ghalib had already told Mastan that they were now 50 per cent partners in the business. Ghalib went to Eden, Dubai, and other African countries and started sending gold, wristwatches, and other valuables to Bombay. His clout had grown and he was growing richer.
In , Mastan came in touch with Sukur Narayan Bakhiya, a resident of Daman and also the biggest smuggler in Gujarat. Bakhiya and Mastan also became partners and they divided certain territories among themselves. Mastan used to handle the Bombay port and Bakhiya used to handle the Daman port. Mastan recognised early on in life that money alone was not enough to remain powerful in the city.
He also needed muscle power if he wanted to establish his supremacy across Bombay. And it is in search of this muscle power that Mastan is later found forging friendships with two of the most renowned musclemen in the city—the unlettered but influential Pathan Karim Lala and the don of central Bombay, Varadarajan Mudaliar alias Vardha bhai.
Haji Mastan. Photo courtesy: Press Trust of India. Haji Mastan with his adopted son Sundar Shekhar right. Dawood Ibrahim with the Pathans after their truce in the eighties.
Dawood Ibrahim in later years. Manya Surve after being shot dead in an encounter on 23 January David Pardesi, the assassin of Amirzada. Abdul Kunju, the assassin of Bada Rajan. Dawood Ibrahim with Chhota Rajan before they fell out. Chhota Shakeel Photo courtesy: Around the same time that Mastan was struggling for his livelihood at the Bombay Port Trust in the dockyards of Bombay, Varadarajan Mudaliar, another coolie, was trying to make a living at the landmark railway terminus.
Both of them were oblivious to the fact that their destinies would be closely intertwined with the other and that their lives would be entrenched in a similarly heady mix of crime, money, and power. He is said to have changed an institution, and put in its place, another: The fizzy liquid was substituted for chai because of this singular coolie.
According to stories from the time, at many police stations across the central belt of Bombay, the chaiwallah tea-vendor who brought his daily quota of tea several times a day in chipped glasses would walk in with glasses filled with the fizzy cola instead.
The chaiwallah would leave this drink only on the tables of the senior officials in the police station and walk away without charging any money for the drink. In what seemed like an unwritten law, junior officials would immediately clear the room, people who had come to register complaints would be told to empty the premises, and the senior officials would put all other work on hold.
The black liquid was a message sent to the officials that kala babu, was on his way to the police station. I am coming to meet you. Make necessary arrangements. He had the whole force serving him. If the anecdote has any truth in it, it is certainly further evidence of a phenomenal rags-to-riches story. For this kala babu who started his life in the city at the Victoria Terminus station as a cooliewent on to become one of the most powerful Hindu dons to rule over the city.
Varadarajan Muniswami Mudaliar was born into a feudal Mudaliar family with scarce means in the small town of Vellore, in Tamil Nadu. It was and he had begun working when he was just 7 years old as an errand boy at a photography studio at Mount Road in Madras present day Chennai.
He never completed his studies, but was the only boy who could read and write in English and Tamil in his family. With nothing but a sheer force of aspiration, Varadarajan moved to the city of dreams and settled into one of the lanes adjoining the then Victoria Terminus.
As much as his hard-working nature brought him under the radar of his employers, his name became synonymous with a person with a heart as large as the nameless crowd that he passed every day in the crowded station. Varda used to visit the year-old shrine of Bismillah Shah Baba, which was located just behind the main concourse of the long-distance terminus at VT. Starting off with a small amount of food for the poor every day, he began organising food for them at a massive scale as he flourished.
Even as he progressed in his life—from a simple errand boy to a porter and eventually to a notorious figure in Bombay—the dargah continued to receive food from the Mudaliar household and he continued to rub shoulders with the people with whom he started out his life—the porters. Till today, his family has maintained the tradition of giving niyaz every year in June, where over 10, people are fed. The police circles however refute the good Samaritan history.
The police had never documented that he was a helpful type; for them Varda was only a crook. The innocent boy from Vellore with nothing on his side but sheer drive became a man much before his time in the hard and rough lanes of Bombay.
His circle of friends went beyond the porters that he worked with every day to include local thieves and he was quick to learn easier means of making money through these friends. The daily toil may have earned him only a few annas and lots of abuse from passengers, but this new route also offered him a circle of friends that was bound by solidarity in an otherwise lonely city.
When Morarji Desai imposed the prohibition of liquor and other contraband in the state in , the ban, especially of liquor, only provided licence to a growing illicit liquor trade. This trade required brawn and this proved to be the first turning point in the life of Varadarajan Mudaliar. His local network brought him closer to goons who were already engaged in this trade. It is that attribute of his which made him dearer to the liquor mafia. They needed men who could talk and get the work done.
Varda had that in him. He could convince anyone that he was right. Even if he had just killed an army, he could legitimise it. It was this area that was going to turn Varda into Varda Bhai. The geography of Dharavi, Sion, Koliwada, and Antop Hill was the greatest advantage for the illicit liquor trade with nothing but hutments everywhere.
In fact, even the police found it difficult to enter and patrol the area. The poorest people along with illegal migrants had their address in Antop Hill and Dharavi in those days. Each boasted of FIRs as one would about awards. Men would be ridiculed if they were caught in silly offences.
With the help of the local network and bribes to the police, the trade made way to bars in Bombay. Varadarajan started gaining entry into the trade when it was still in its early days. The area was mostly occupied by non-Brahmin Tamilians who operated and maintained the bhattis furnace in khaadis marsh lands. The number of bhattis ran into hundreds, with each one having a capacity of making around litres of concentrated hooch each night.
He also identified similar pockets across central Bombay and even moved the production of illicit network to Sion- Koliwada, Dharavi, Chembur, Matunga, and some other areas to create a stronger, tighter network. The logistics of work those days were very nominal.
The trade, mostly active after midnight, would consist of a few who knew how to mix liquor, and another set of people who provided the security cover and kept vigil. The next set-up was of foot soldiers who, along with retired cops, worked in the nights round the week to provide liquor to many small shops across the city, especially close to the access points of the city.
These carriers, ironically are by and large from the ranks of retired or suspended police personnel who have switched sides because of the lure of money.
These are transported in gunny-bags, car trunks and other innocuous places. Its function was to intercept police vehicles which would suddenly be blocked by a car whose ignition had conveniently failed. And slowly but surely, Varda Bhai was transforming from just another illicit liquor producer into a big don. People started pouring into the city in groups, especially from southern India—Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala— and with each day the slums lined across the central region began to grow.
It would not be an exaggeration to say that Varadarajan, in a small way, had much to do in making Dharavi the biggest slum space in Asia. Such was the allure of his might, that people started working blindly for him. Press reports during the sixties peg his trade of illicit liquor to around 12 crore rupees a year. In those years, that was a huge footprint considering the clandestine nature of the trade. The aura of his power had engulfed not only his trade but also the psyche of the people around him.
An Antop Hill Police Station diary entry records a very sketchy detail about a man from Uttar Pradesh who went missing. He lived with his wife and two children at one of the first floor corridor-houses in Antop Hill. His name is still registered under the missing list at the Antop Hill Police Station records. However, as was widely reported in several newspapers at the time, his wife had another story to tell: Varda, however, knew too well that he needed to be very far-sighted in his approach in handling the network that chose to function under his name.
While he handicapped the intelligence network—as bribes ensured that the informers in the backstreets were kept satisfied—he also ensured that the other end was well oiled. The rate for police protection for the addas [where hooch was sold in public] was Rs 5, per adda. Each police station had on an average 75 to addas in its area. The economics worked at 10 rupees per glass for diluted hooch, which means anywhere around 1 crore rupees a month.
He also divided his work area-wise, and let individuals from each local area handle their own business, making the areas more work-efficient while completely eliminating ego hassles. It was not long before Varda slowly edged out rivals in the trade to the point of achieving a complete monopoly.
It was also during these early days that he started getting cheap migrant labour into the city. Slowly, his men started grabbing government land and allocating space to the new entrants for a price and with that, south Indians began to dot the cotton mill-dominated central Bombay of Dadar, Sion Matunga, Dharavi,and Wadala.
Although Varda was never directly involved, he was aware that his men were pouring profits into this very vicious trade. That is where we would like to believe that he was equally involved. Innocent girls were brought from poverty-stricken areas in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu and were left in the care of eunuchs for a few days.
The eunuchs would follow a certain initiation system whereby initially they would lure the girls with the money they would earn by selling themselves. If their sweet talk did not work, force would be applied. Houses in Antop Hill and Dharavi became hotspots for this flesh trade and though Varda Bhai was never seen at the forefront of the business, he certainly was a benefactor of the trade. The big share of the pie was still in gold smuggling with the business tilted to the side of Muslim dons who had the right contacts in Arabia.
One of these was Haji Mastan. But the burning ambition to achieve more still remained. So, once when in the course of O conversation his collaborator Bakhiya told him that he should first consider becoming Bambai ka Baadshah before venturing towards Gujarat, Mastan was badly stung.
To the up and coming smuggler, such a blatant dismissal was a slap in the face. He made up his mind to take over the city but he knew he could not accomplish this alone. He needed the help of powerful musclemen to reach where he wanted to. Varda seemed to be the perfect man for the job. For, while Varda was a don based in central Bombay, he had the clout to get things done all across the city. Mastan was waiting for an opportunity to befriend Varda.
What followed was a strange twist of fate: Varda was arrested for stealing antennae from the customs dock area. The consignment was meant for a top politician in the Union ministry. Initially, customs officers and the cops remained clueless about the mastermind behind the theft.
However, a tip-off led them to pick up Varda from his den in Dharavi. The captured Varda was told by the police that if he refused to tell them the whereabouts of the consignment they would be forced to unleash the third degree on him, as it was their neck on the line. According to this possibly apocryphal story, as Varda was mulling over the threat in the night in the loneliness of the Azad Maidan lockup, he saw an affluent looking man, dressed in a white suit approaching him.
The man was smoking a cigarette and exuded a certain calmness. The man walked up to the iron bars, and not a single one of the cops on duty stopped him. But ironically, the two were as different as chalk and cheese. While Mastan was known for his suave ways, Varda exuded the aura of a ruthless ruffian.
Mastan walked very close to Varda and surprised him by greeting him in Tamil. Varda was taken aback for a moment—both with the greeting in Tamil and the choice of words.
No one had even spoken to Varda in a civil manner ever since he had been dumped in jail. So the irony of the greeting appeared starker. Of course it was being used partly because Mastan was using their common language so the policemen would not understand what they were saying; as he had a business offer for Varda, he could not take the risk of the police smelling an unholy alliance.
He could never imagine Mastan being the spokesperson for the customs and the police.
Dongri to Dubai: Six Decades of Mumbai Mafia S. Hussain Zaidi August 10, Dongri to Dubai is the first ever attempt to chronicle the history of the Mumbai mafia. It is the story of notorious gangsters like Haji Mastan, Karim Lala, Varadarajan Mudaliar, Chhota Rajan, Abu Salem, but above all, it is the story of a young man who went astray despite having a father in the police force. Dawood Ibrahim was initiated into crime as a pawn in the hands of the Mumbai police and went on to wipe out the competition and eventually became the Mumbai police?
The narrative encompasses several milestones in the history of crime in India, from the rise of the Pathans, formation of the Dawood gang, the first ever supari, mafia?
This story is primarily about how a boy from Dongri became a don in Dubai, and captures his bravado, cunningness, focus, ambition, and lust for power in a gripping narrative. The meticulously researched book provides an in-depth and comprehensive account of the mafia? Hussain Zaidi is a Mumbai based journalist, a veteran of investigative, crime and terror reporting in Mumbai media. He lives with his family in Mumbai.
Reviews Review Policy. Published on. Flowing text. Best For. Web, Tablet, Phone, eReader. Content Protection. Read Aloud. Flag as inappropriate. It syncs automatically with your account and allows you to read online or offline wherever you are. Please follow the detailed Help center instructions to transfer the files to supported eReaders. More featuring true crime. See more. The Tangled Web: Michael J. Richard Cain is one of the most notorious figures in Gangland history.
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