Chhota Rajan’s decision to give himself up to the authorities in Bali was apparently spurred, at least in part, by an unsuccessful plot to kill him. His nemesis Chhota Shakeel, the operational chief of Dawood Ibrahim’s gang, had sent hit men to Australia two months ago to kill Rajan, but the plan collapsed after they were unable to locate Rajan. Now Hindustan Times has learnt about a second plot by Chhota Shakeel to kill Rajan in Australia.
After the failure of the first plot, which involved Rajan’s own man Anil Riteshwar, Shakeel asked the gunmen to remain in Australia and await further instructions. According to a source in the Intelligence Bureau (IB), the gunmen were put on standby rather than recalled because a former robber from Mumbai had travelled to Dubai and told Shakeel about another possible opportunity to eliminate Rajan.
The conversation between Shakeel and the robber, intercepted by IB officials, reveals a detailed plan in which D-Company shooters were to tail the wife of a Rajan confidante, who would be travelling from Mumbai’s western Suburbs to Australia. This confidante is believed to be responsible for handling the backend operations of Rajan’s extortion business in Mumbai.
The robber, an IB source said, told Shakeel the exact date when the woman was supposed to travel to Australia. He also told Shakeel that Vicky Malhotra, once a trusted lieutenant of Rajan, was willing to join Dawood’s gang. Malhotra, who runs a restaurant in Kolkata among other businesses, is believed to have close ties to Indian intelligence agencies and has been running his own gang since his arrest in 2005.
HT had earlier reported that when Rajan moved to Australia this year, he met Riteshwar, his old henchman, who had played a major role in the murder of Sharad Shetty. Little did Rajan know that Riteshwar had given up Rajan’s location to Shakeel’s men in return for control over the D-Company’s operations in Mumbai. The plot was unsuccessful, however, as the hit men failed to track down Rajan, who would shift frequently between his various houses in Australia.
Rajan, who split with the Dawood gang following the 1993 serial blasts in Mumbai, had been a target for Shakeel for decades. Shakeel first planned to kill him at a boat party in Dubai before the 1993 blasts. Rajan got wind of the plot and tried to win back Dawood’s trust. Following his split with D-Company, he shifted base to Bangkok.
However, he was forced to constantly move between Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand because of the threat from Shakeel’s men. He was arrested in Indonesia in the late ’90s during one such move, but his trusted lieutenant Santosh Shetty used his contacts in the Indonesian Coast Guard to help Rajan escape to Bangkok, according to a police source.
But Rajan’s presence – and exact location – in Bangkok was leaked to Shakeel by his own henchman, Mohan Kotian. Shakeel sent a team of trained assassins, led by Munna Jhingada, to Bangkok in 2000. They shot at him, but Rajan survived and, with the help of Santosh Shetty and Bharat Nepali, escaped from the custody of the Bangkok police. He had been moving between countries such as Cambodia, Vietnam and the Philippines before he was arrested in Bali on Sunday.