For the first time since after Santosh Shetty was extradited from Bangkok in 2011, the 51-year-old underworld gangster talked to Hindustan Times in an exclusive interview at a suburban mall conducted on Sunday and Monday. He got out of Arthur Road Jail on September 29 after being granted bail in one of the many cases against him.
Gangster and former Chhota Rajan aide Santosh Shetty, who was born and brought up in Breach Candy, chooses a discreet corner of a restaurant for the interview with HT.
He has, for the first time, given HT intricate details of gangster Dawood Ibrahim’s attempt to kill Shetty’s former boss Chhota Rajan in September 2000 in Bangkok.
Rajan had narrowly escaped death by exiting through the fire escape of the hotel he was staying in.
Shetty claimed Rajan made the first call to him and sought help. Shetty also claimed Rajan told him it was his trusted lieutenants Guru Satam and Ravi Pujari who tipped off Dawood’s then trusted aide Chhota Shakeel about his whereabouts in Bangkok.
“Rajan called me and said he had been shot. He asked me to help him out. I asked him to name the hospital the Bangkok police were taking him to, but Rajan did not know.” Shetty said he later got a call from Rajan’s wife, who told him the name of the hospital.
Shetty claimed he, along with Bharat Nepali, Rajan’s other lieutenant, had rushed to the hospital almost immediately, and had found their boss had poor security around him.
“There were two policemen at some distance from the room where Rajan was admitted. When I entered the room, Rajan handed me a tissue paper with ‘security’ written on it,” said Shetty.
Shetty claimed he along with Nepali sat in the hospital room for the entire night, before he got Rajan out of Bangkok using his contacts in the government. Shetty also claimed none of the injuries to Rajan where life- threatening.
“One bullet had pierced his stomach and gone through his intestine. It was fixed in an operation similar to a bariatric surgery. The two other bullets had pierced his thigh and backside,” said Shetty. Shetty, who fell out with Rajan in 2002, claims to be a patriot.
“I am not afraid of death. I have cheated death on so many occasions that it does not bother me at all. And I am willing to take up any operation if it helps our country,” said Shetty.
Shetty claimed he is not interested in gang rivalries any more. After his fallout with Rajan, he was perceived to have been associated with Shakeel. “I never joined Shakeel or Dawood. And I have nothing to do with Rajan anymore. It also means that I have nothing to do with kidnappings, extortion or any such activities,” said Shetty.