On January 19, 2003, prominent hotelier Sharad Shetty was shot dead by two men at the lounge of the popular India Club in Dubai. Shetty, 45, was then considered to be the brain behind Dawood Ibrahim’s finances.
The genesis of the killing lay in another murderous attack three years ago in Bangkok when gangsters of Dawood’s D-Company critically injured Chotta Rajan. His right hand man Rohit Verma alias Hammer succumbed to 32 bullets sprayed on him from machine pistols.
Chotta Rajan believed that Shetty had played an important role in organising the attempt on his life.
The two attacks are considered classic examples of the underworld gang rivalry that reached its pinnacle after Dawood Ibrahim and Chotta Rajan parted ways in 1993 following the Mumbai serial blasts. Rajan used the 1993 serial blasts as an excuse to split from Dawood, and to form his own gang, primarily because his relevance in the gang was undermined by the rise of Chotta Shakeel.
By 1994, Rajan had fled Dubai for Kuala Lumpur and had taken with him a large chunk of Dawood’s key gang members.
The rivalry and bloodbath then started from as early as 1995 when Chotta Rajan’s men gunned down Dawood’s key henchman Sunil Sawant in Dubai. Dawood retaliated by shooting Mumbai hotelier Ramnath Payyade, said to be close to Rajan. And Rajan retaliated by killing three of Dawood’s gangsters.
The killings and counter-killings saw some prominent people fall prey to bullets of the gangsters including then head of East-West Airlines Taquiddin Waheed in 1995,
Mirza Dilshad Beg, a former Nepal minister, in June 1998 and Shiv Sena leader Mohammad Salim Badgujar in March, 1998.