The comfort of Dharavi | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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The comfort of Dharavi

For over 10 years, he lorded over the high-security Arthur Road jail. Now, he’s a free man — for the moment, reports Stavan Desai.

mumbai Updated: Oct 27, 2009 00:47 IST
Stavan Desai

For over 10 years, he lorded over the high-security Arthur Road jail. Now, he’s a free man — for the moment.

Chhota Rajan aide Ravi Mallesh Bora (37) alias Akash alias D.K. Rao — who controlled his alleged underworld activities from the safety of yard number 3 of the jail’s anda (egg-shaped) cell since his arrest in 1998 — is now the only top gangster out on the city’s streets after he was released a week ago.

Since his release, Rao has been living in Dharavi’s slums with his trusted lieutenants,

in a one-storied house

whose luxuries include air


The first thing he seems to have done after his release is changed his look.

He got rid of his beard and ponytail, which he has sported since his arrest.

“In jail, one of his 30 aides inside the prison would spend two hours in the morning (from 8 am to 10 am) massaging his beard and long hair,” said a jail source.

“Inside the jail, Rao was called Bhai Vitthalla,” the source added.

Rao, who used to attend court hearings in shabby, loose clothes, now wears a spotless white shirt and dark blue jeans every time he steps out of his Dharavi house.

Once a thief before he joined Rajan, Rao is the only gangster to have survived two police encounters – once in 1997, then at Worli in 1998.

He had pretended to be dead till he was taken to a hospital and had then cried out for help. He was arrested and jailed.

Mumbai police officers watching Rao’s movements say he moves around in a convoy of four cars, including an SUV, and has lately been meeting several underworld gang members, including some associated with the rival Dawood Ibrahim gang, which is involved in pilfering petroleum products.

Having risen quickly within the ranks of the gang by allegedly masterminding extortions and killings, Rao became Rajan’s second-in-command — surpassing trusted Rajan men like Farid Tanasha and Vicky Malhotra — after he allegedly planned the killing of O P Singh, in 2002, while lodged at Arthur Road jail.

Singh was to defect from the Rajan gang when was killed inside Nashik jail by Rao’s handpicked men.

The crime branch found Rao using a cellphone to stay in touch with Rajan and his other men — they believe Singh’s murder was planned in these cellphone conversations.

Rao is being tried in this case, and is out on bail in four other cases.