A purported slip of the tongue that seems like a slice out of celluloid led to the unmasking and consequent arrest of fugitive gangster Chhota Rajan at an Indonesian airport last month.
When a suspicious immigration official asked for his name, the mob boss blurted out “Rajendra Nikalje”, his real name, instead of the alias “Mohan Kumar” which he had used on his passport and to hide in Australia, sources in the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) said.
The disclosure came on a day officials from the CBI as well as Delhi and Mumbai police brought Rajan to the national capital to face charges for dozens of serious crimes following his deportation from Indonesia nearly three decades after he fled India.
The CBI will now verify whether Rajan’s revelation was a slip-up or a ploy to get detected and return to India. He was arrested at Bali’s Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport late last month on the basis of an Interpol red corner notice issued in 1995, which was renewed in June this year.
Though his cover was blown, Rajan denied his real identity and refused to sign any documents, said a source.
“Indonesian police and airport authorities did efficient verifications,” he said. “Experts from Indonesia’s national fingerprinting authority found that his fingerprint features matched on 11 counts with the records available with the Interpol, which was a confirmation since there are only 18 such counts.”
The CBI is yet to get official communication from police in Maharashtra and Delhi about 80-odd cases against the mobster being handed over to the central agency, officials said.
“Indonesian national police and ministry of justice and human rights cooperated excellently with us for the deportation,” the source added. “The CBI-led team had set up a 24/7 control room in Bali to coordinate with the agency’s director Anil Sinha who personally supervised the efforts.”
CBI sleuths, assisted by a team of senior officers drawn from the Delhi police’s special cell, Intelligence Bureau and Research & Analysis Wing interrogated Rajan in the agency’s ground-floor lock-up at its headquarters in the city that resembled a fortress since Thursday night with a multi-tier security blanket.
“Rajan was asked about fresh details on the whereabouts in Pakistan of 1993 Mumbai blasts’ prime accused Dawood Ibrahim and Tiger Memon, as well as names and designations of officers of Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence who sponsored them,” said another source. Rajan was reportedly a close ally of Dawood, who is suspected of masterminding the blasts that killed more than 250 people. He parted ways with his former boss after the attacks.
“Information furnished by him would be verified,” said another agency source. “Rajan was also asked about the alleged role of Pakistani state actors in the blasts.”
Between Thursday and Friday, Rajan ‘s custody changed thrice: from Indonesian police to Interpol Indonesia on the tarmac of Bali airport and then to Interpol India and CBI on Friday at Palam air force station, the source said.