A government auctioneer will sell on Wednesday farmland, a restaurant and even a car which officials say once belonged to the country’s most wanted man, fugitive Mumbai mafia boss Dawood Ibrahim.
Police have been unable to trace him for decades, but for as little as 4,000 rupees ($60), bidders can snap up a car he purportedly owned - a 15-year-old green Hyundai Accent sedan now parked in a working-class Mumbai suburb.
The properties, confiscated more than a decade ago, make up only a tiny fraction of Ibrahim’s assets. Some have already been put up for sale but remain mostly unwanted, as buyers stay away.
On Wednesday, a crowd had gathered outside Hotel Diplomat where the auction was taking place, kept outside by tight security.
Ibrahim, reported to be hiding in neighbouring Pakistan, runs D Company, a crime syndicate Indian authorities accuse of engaging in murder, extortion and weapon-smuggling.
He is also accused of financing Islamist militant groups and of masterminding bomb and grenade attacks in Mumbai in March 1993 that killed 257 people and wounded more than 700.
Ibrahim fled India in the 1980s and has since eluded the authorities, although the arrest last month of a former partner in Indonesia - Rajendra Nikalje, known as Chhota Rajan - is thought to be part of a strategy to hunt him down.
The government has battled for years to confiscate properties held not only by Ibrahim but by his relatives in Mumbai, and has been held up by repeated appeals.
Journalist-turned-activist S Balakrishnan on Wednesday made the highest bid of Rs 4.28 crores in the public auction for the ‘Delhi Zaika’ Hotel, one of the seized properties of underworld don Dawood Ibrahim.
“We had made a bid of Rs 4.28 crores which is leading at the present. Burhani had made a bid of Rs 4.27 crores and then I extended the bid by one lakh,” Balakrishnan told the media.
Seven properties were auctioned on Wednesday. Four other properties located in Nani Dammanna Agricultural area were auctioned separately.
“We have already deposited Rs 30 lakhs and rest amount would be paid within one month,” he said.
The first bid for the property was made by Balakrishnan, who has alleged that he was threatened by Dawood’s top aide Chhota Shakeel to back out.
When Dawood Ibrahim fled India, he left behind property worth crores, whose value has gone up significantly in the past few years.
Balakrishnan, who runs an NGO, has participated in the auction this time as he wants to set up an education centre for poor at Pakmodia Street that was sealed in 2013.
(Reuters and ANI inputs)