Police could struggle to prove the three dozen cases registered in Mumbai against underworld don Rajendra Sadashiv Nikhalje, better known as Chhota Rajan, as the crimes were committed years ago and witnesses are likely to be wary of deposing against the dreaded gangster, sources say.
The 55-year-old organised crime boss who was captured in Bali by Indonesian authorities on Sunday would have considered all legal options before being arrested, officials said.
Two recent cases could spell trouble for Rajan -- the murder of journalist J Dey in 2011 and a shootout the same year at the doorstep of gangster Dawood Ibrahim’s brother Iqbal Kaskar in which his driver was killed.
A senior officer said police weren’t hopeful of complainants and witnesses coming forward to cooperate with government agencies especially in cases registered against Rajan in the 1980s and ‘90s.
“Though only key witnesses are enough to run the cases in court, there are chances that they will try to avoid legal wrangles,” he said.
The same problem is plaguing the Enforcement Directorate (ED), which has booked the mafia kingpin in a money laundering case.
“Lack of a well-oiled witness protection programme is a major hurdle primarily because the names of witnesses who have helped us build the case would be revealed,” said an ED official.
Indian agencies are likely to send a team to Indonesia this week to bring back Rajan and Mumbai police are hopeful of getting him into custody.
Former top cop MN Singh said it would be an uphill task for police to substantiate cases against the mobster in court.
“There are cases against him from the eighties and many of them would have withered away, untraceable, died,” he said.
“Police will have to give confidence to the witnesses and there are provisions in the law to protect their identity and protect them.”
Others were more optimistic.
“There are evidences like telephonic intercepts,” said lawyer and former IPS officer YP Singh. “The erstwhile gang members may also testify against him.”