Central agencies had sought permission to seize properties owned by fugitive Mumbai gangster Chhota Rajan and his associates time and again, but their efforts were thwarted and the government never initiated any action against the mobster arrested in Indonesia two days ago, police sources said.
Enforcement Directorate (ED) officials first moved a proposal to attach Rajan’s properties -- immovable assets and bank accounts -- in 2008, but it was rejected without any reasonable reasons, said police sources. There was some buzz about a similar plan in 2011 and the agency has been mulling the proposal again since the beginning of this year but has not been able to act on it.
ED officials in Mumbai refused to comment. But sources said the agency was not able to curtail the gangster’s activities in Mumbai because of his association with intelligence agencies that has been well-documented after his key lieutenant, Vicky Malhotra, was arrested by Mumbai police from a former IB chief’s car.
Rajan’s association with Indian intelligence agencies strengthened particularly after Dawood Ibrahim attempted to kill him in Bangkok in 2000. Rajan had an axe to grind after a bitter falling out over the 1993 blasts, and intelligence agencies used him to gather details about Ibrahim’s whereabouts, said sources in the intelligence bureau.
A plot to kill Ibrahim almost materialised with Vicky Malhotra chalking out a plan, which police said was sketchy. But eventually the plan was shelved and Dawood was alerted of the danger. The attempted dare-devilry, however, increased Rajan’s association with central agencies.
Rajan has about 70 cases against him ranging from extortion to murder and had been on the run for two decades before he was arrested on the resort island of Bali on Sunday.
The ED registered a case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) after the Mumbai crime branch arrested his wife Sujata Nikhalje, his brother Prakash and three others in December 2005. Sujata was booked under the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) where Mumbai police alleged she was running Rajan’s syndicate in the city.