D-Company is now low-profile | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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D-Company is now low-profile

In the 1980s and the early 1990s, when his writ in Mumbai was unchallenged, Bhai became the word used to refer to Dawood Ibrahim; his henchmen were the 'D-company'.

mumbai Updated: May 20, 2011 00:54 IST
Presley Thomas

In the 1980s and the early 1990s, when his writ in Mumbai was unchallenged, Bhai became the word used to refer to Dawood Ibrahim; his henchmen were the 'D-company'.

But that was then. Nearly two decades later, the D-Company has lost its vice-like hold on the city and the other gangs.

From being an understudy to Karim Lala in the late 1970s, Dawood had become a fearsome name for business houses after he got rid of his mentor with ruthless efficacy and went on to wrest control of almost all illegal businesses - smuggling, extortion, gun-running - in Mumbai.

Cautious in selecting people he could trust, he was known to order a killing merely on the basis of a suspicion, his one-time associates said. His foray into the Hindi film industry contributed to his colourful reputation, and though Bhai left India for Dubai in 1984, he managed to keep his deathgrip on the city.

Businessmen and film stars were known to visit him in Dubai and pay him protection money, said police sources, adding that Dawood would force them to go out of their way to oblige him.

The tide started to turn against Dawood, after his alleged involvement in the 1993 serial blasts that shook the city. The Mumbai police aggressively cracked down on his gang, so much so that he could no longer challenge them. To make matters worse, his trusted lieutenant and friend Chhota Rajan split with him.

The map of the underworld changed after the blasts.

"Inter-gang rivalry and the police's relentless crackdown to eliminate the underworld had henchmen from almost all gangs being gunned down," said a police officer, on condition of anonymity.

"At that time, it forced gangsters to set aside their enmity, and divide their territory in the city."

Dawood's control has slipped, but even today there are certain pockets in the city and some established businesses that owe him allegiance, the officer said.

"They no longer use crude language to extort. They talk sweet, and they talk tough. It's an art they have mastered," he said.

"They've assumed a lower profile and are subtle in their methods," said a crime branch officer.

Dawood's writ exists, but on a much smaller scale.