How the quest for money and glory drove an Ulhasnagar bookie

ByYogesh Sadhwani, Mumbai
May 21, 2023 12:45 AM IST

Bookie Anil Jaisinghani, accused in a ?2,000 crore Indian Premier League match fixing scandal and running a hawala racket, has been charged by Mumbai Police. With 17 criminal cases registered against him in five states, Jaisinghani was known for his ability to evade the law and had police protection from 1998. His daughter tried to blackmail Maharashtra deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis?s wife on his behalf earlier this year, leading to his arrest.

: Bookie Anil Jaisinghani, now in custody, enjoyed a ‘get out of jail’ card for decades with his enviable ability to wriggle out of every tight spot he found himself in.

How the quest for money and glory drove an Ulhasnagar bookie
How the quest for money and glory drove an Ulhasnagar bookie

But Jaisinghani’s luck ran out earlier this year when his daughter tried to blackmail Maharashtra deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis’s wife Amruta on his behalf.

On Wednesday, the special investigation team of Mumbai Police filed a 733-page charge sheet before a special court set up under the Prevention of Corruption Act against him, his daughter Aniksha and his cousin Nirmal.

Jaisinghani allegedly has his fingers in many pies. These include running a betting racket in India and abroad through his control of several betting sites. The Enforcement Directorate (ED) had accused him for being a key player in the 2,000 crore Indian Premier League (IPL) match fixing scandal and running a hawala racket through which he allegedly siphoned money to Pakistan and Dubai in 2015. His infamy led the BCCI to issue an alert to players asking them to notify the board if they were ever approached by him. He has also been booked for bootlegging, extortion, forgery and bribery. At present, there are 17 criminal cases registered against Anil Jaisinghani in five states and several courts have declared him ‘proclaimed offender.’

Jaisinghani, 57, was born in a middle-class family in Ulhasnagar, a settlement for Sindhi refugees which became a production centre for counterfeit goods when all things foreign were still scarce. For those who grew up in the Bombay of ’80s Made in USA usually implied made by Ulhasnagar Sindhi Association. Jaisinghani’s brush with the law began early. The first case of kidnapping and assault was registered against him in 1985 but thanks to his lawyer father’s connections and lack of sufficient evidence, the young Jaisinghani was let off. But this experience also taught Jaisinghani the importance of cultivating local cops and the local dons. Over the next decade as he set up a betting syndicate, a string of cases would be filed against him for attempted murder, intimidation, extortion and use of arms in his own neighbourhood.

He was shielded by local cops with whom he had a relationship of mutual benefit-- he became their local khabri and led them to gambling dens and small-time betting rackets run by rivals. “Jaisinghani’s tip-offs would lead to successful raids which in turn would bring him into greater proximity with senior police officers who were also looking to polish their credentials,” says a retired police officer who was posted at the Thane police commissionerate at the time. This relationship of mutual benefit often led to a blurring of propriety with Jaisinghani not only providing tip-offs but even accompanying the police party to actual raids.

From 1998 onwards Jaisinghani routinely enjoyed formal police protection. He would often cite threats from those whose nefarious activities he had exposed. In 2011, Subhash Desai, a Shiv Sena Member of Legislative Assembly raised a question about police security granted to Jaisinghani. The Thane police told the House that though there were eight cases registered against Jaisinghani, protection had been granted to him “keeping in mind the threat to life.” This protection was not withdrawn even when Vile Parle police opened its investigation into his betting ring. In 2002, Jaisinghani won the municipal election from Ulhasnagar on an NCP ticket though he lost in the next election.

In September 2009, a team led by then deputy commissioner police in-charge of detection in Mumbai police, Amar Jadhav, raided a hotel in Vile Parle where Jaisinghani and his associates were betting on the England-New Zealand, Champions Trophy match in South Africa. A complaint was filed at the police station under the Gambling Act. Two laptops, eight mobile phones, a pen drive and a register containing names of 19 other bookies were seized from the hotel room.

Jaisinghani turned the tables on Jadhav after the raid. He registered a complaint with his seniors alleging the DCP had tried to kidnap him and extort money from him on the pretext of the raid. An inquiry was initiated against Jadhav which eventually cleared him but not before years had elapsed. Then additional commissioner KMM Prasanna who conducted the inquiry submitted that Jadhav had raided and arrested Jaisinghani twice which was why he had filed false charges against him. But by this time, Jadhav had proceeded on study leave, his upward trajectory in the police force virtually over.

“During the period of the inquiry he would send text messages to me and my wife threatening to destroy my career. I submitted the details of the messages to my superiors in writing and sought action against Jaisinghani. None was taken. Instead, I was told that it is a civil matter and that I must pursue it on my own,” says Jadhav.

“Had it not been for the tacit support of some important cops in Mumbai, Jaisinghani would not have ever dreamt of going after the deputy chief minister’s family years later. He is a criminal with several cases filed against him and yet he was given police protection. Had he been lawfully dealt with in 2009 itself, he would not have become so powerful,” says Jadhav who took voluntary retirement from the police force in 2017.

Jaisinghani who now revelled in his proximity with the cops, pulled a similar stunt in 2015 when officers from the ED came knocking at his door in connection with IPL betting and hawala. His armed police guards first stalled the raiding party, giving Jaisinghani time to allegedly destroy incriminating material after which he summoned the local police to prevent ED officials from entering his house. Eventually, he claimed to be severely ill and had to be rushed to a hospital for treatment.

The ED was investigating a case originally registered by Vadodara police. The Special Operation Group of Vadodara police had nabbed 16 persons who were allegedly operating a betting and hawala racket from a rented farmhouse in Sikandarpur, Vadodara. The cops alleged this was being done through a UK-based website The premises were searched under the Foreign Exchange Management Act and resulted in “seizure of incriminating documents, articles and digital records”. The raid, according to available records, was the result of “specific intelligence”. ED filed a separate case in 2015 and started their investigation in the course of which Jaisinghani’s name cropped up as a key player in the syndicate.

After the Vadodara raid, ED officers served summons to Jaisinghani to appear before them in Ahmedabad for investigation. When he did not turn up, they obtained a non-bailable warrant against him from Mirzapur court in Ahmedabad. Jaisinghani first approached the Bombay High Court and obtained a transit bail to approach Gujarat court. He then approached HC in Gujarat and obtained a stay on the warrant. A businessman from Ulhasnagar, who had been allegedly harassed by Jaisinghani in the past, learnt that documents filed in Mumbai and Gujarat courts were fake, leading him to file separate FIRs with Azad Maidan police station in Mumbai and Sola police station in Gujarat for forgery. The businessman also intervened in Gujarat HC where Jaisinghani had sought relief from the non-bailable warrant. Despite several orders from HC to co-operate with the investigating officers, Jaisinghani did not do so. Eventually, in 2019, the stay on his non-bailable warrant was vacated by HC.

After the abortive ED raid on his house, Jaisinghani went into hiding leading to a political storm in the Mahrashtra Assembly. Devendra Fadnavis who was then the chief minister and also the state’s home minister assured the House that an inquiry would be conducted into how he had been given police protection for all these years.

From hiding, Jaisinghani began filing a slew of false cases against his opponents and also on behalf of businessmen who wanted to settle scores with rivals. He filed false cases against BJP leader Ajitsingh Labana in 2012. Labana’s wife, Meena, was a corporator in Ulhasnagar and had defeated Jaisinghani’s wife Karishma in the elections. Labana was framed in a case of attempted murder case in Deeg, Rajasthan, for allegedly firing at a certain Abdul Gaffar Khan, a known associate of Jaisinghani.

“On the day of the alleged incident, I was in Ulhasnagar attending the civic body’s general board meeting. The officer who subsequently took over the investigation realised that it was a fake case and filed an FIR against Jaisinghani and Khan,” said Labana. In a bid to fix Labana, Jaisinghani allegedly created a fake driving license in Labana’s name to prove that he was in Deeg on the day of the firing.

In 2016, he got a female accomplice to file a rape case against Kishore Keswani, an Ulhasnagar-based businessman. Keswani had a land dispute with a businessman who in turn roped in Jaisinghani to settle scores. Keswani was able to prove that it was a cooked-up case as the time the woman had alleged she was raped in a hotel at Anjuna, Goa, Keswani was at a family function in Ulhasnagar.

It turned out that Jaisinghani and the woman had checked into a hotel, where he had signed in as Keswani. Anjuna cops eventually filed a case of extortion, cheating forgery, among other charges against 11 people including Jaisinghani.

In her statement before a magistrate in Goa, the woman claimed she had been confined by Anil Jaisinghani and his daughter Aniksha (her name cropped up for the first time in a criminal case) in Mumbai and had been forced to file the case. She also claimed that Abdul Gaffar Khan, Jaisinghani’s associate in the Deeg case, shot her in the back when she was in her hometown, Indore. She told the Goa police that she was an aspiring model-cum-actor who had been recruited by Jaisinghani through a modelling agency run by one of his associates in Juhu.

There were several other fake cases he filed while on the run – his aim was to forcefully take over properties or to extort money. As recently as 2020, a vehicle carrying liquor was caught by the police at Dhamnod in MP, and the driver named two realtors from Ulhasnagar as the owners of the consignment and an FIR was filed against them by the excise department. It turned out that Jaisinghani and Gaffar Khan had hatched the plot to extort money from these two realtors.

A Navi Mumbai-based realtor who had a run in with Jaisinghani in the past is now encouraging his other victims who were too scared to speak up earlier, to send a petition to Devendra Fadnavis, the state’s home minister and whose wife Amruta too was targeted by Jaisinghani through his daughter.

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