A Hyundai Accent car that once drove around India’s most-wanted criminal Dawood Ibrahim was sold for Rs 32,000 in Mumbai on Wednesday as authorities auctioned off a clutch of properties allegedly belonging to the mob boss who continues to elude them.
While a restaurant once purportedly owned by the gangster was purchased for over Rs 4 crore, other pieces of real estate reportedly belonging to him also went under the hammer, fetching several lakh rupees.
The auction was held under the Smugglers and Foreign Exchange Manipulators (Forfeiture of Properties) Act, 1976 and a private agency, Ashvin Auctioneers, was appointed for the proceedings.
However, confusion prevailed over the previous ownership of the properties as the auctioneers did not clarify if they indeed belonged to the don.
Hotel Rounaq Afroz, located in Dawood’s den Bhendi Bazaar, was bought by former journalist S Balakrishnan, who was representing an NGO, for Rs 4.28 crore. Balakrishnan reportedly received an SMS threat from Dawood’s associate, Chhota Shakeel, ahead of the auction, leading him to believe that the property indeed belonged to the don.
“The fact that I got a threat proves that the hotel was owned by Dawood. I cannot comment on the other properties,” he said. “The honour of the motherland has been upheld. Even after a threat from across the border, we could participate (in the auction). I want the people of this patriotic country to help us financially.”
Balakrishnan also said he will not use the property for commercial purposes.
“My trust will be using the property to run a computer institute for the children of Bhendi Bazaar. The institute will be named after freedom fighter Ashfaqulla Khan,” he said.
Swami Chakrapani of the Hindu Mahasabha picked up the Hyundai Accent car.
“We will use it as an ambulance and if it is not fit for it, we will burn it as an effigy of D-company,” he said, adding that his organisation wants to prove that there is no longer any fear of the gangster.
Dawood is accused of masterminding the 1993 Mumbai blasts that killed more than 250 people and wounded over 700. He fled India in the 1980s and is reportedly hiding in Pakistan.
Indian authorities last month arrested his former aide Chhota Rajan and believe he could lead them to Dawood.
Aamir Siddhiqui, owner of the Delhi Zaika chain of restaurants one of which once occupied Hotel Rounaq Afroz, said, “We had taken the place on rent through an agent in 2010 and left the place in 2013. The place allegedly belonging to Dawood is no more being operated as Delhi Zaika. The restaurant was shifted to Grant Road in 2013. The place was sealed and hence we were ordered to not remove our name plate or our belongings inside the restaurant. “