Chhota Rajan’s aides making a move?

Updated on Jan 18, 2023 01:01 AM IST

Crime branch officers suspect that the people associated with Chhota Rajan gang from western suburbs are trying to take advantage of the fact that some local henchmen of Dawood’s gang had been arrested, especially in view of construction and redevelopment in the area

The police said that they launched an investigation on January 14 after a hoarding with Rajan’s picture was put up in Kurar. The picture of the hoarding, announcing a kabaddi tournament in the area on January 14 and 15 as part of the gangster’s birthday celebrations, had gone viral on social media. (HT Photo)
The police said that they launched an investigation on January 14 after a hoarding with Rajan’s picture was put up in Kurar. The picture of the hoarding, announcing a kabaddi tournament in the area on January 14 and 15 as part of the gangster’s birthday celebrations, had gone viral on social media. (HT Photo)
ByGautam S. Mengle & Manish K. Pathak

Mumbai: Over seven years after his deportation from Indonesia, subsequent arrest and conviction, gangster Chhota Rajan is back in the news with his name featuring in two recent cases.

Rajendra Nikalje aka Chhota Rajan, a former aide of terror accused Dawood Ibrahim Kaskar, who broke off to form his own gang, was arrested in November 2015 in Indonesia after spending 27 years on the run. He was subsequently extradited to India and is currently lodged in Tihar jail in New Delhi.

On Sunday, the Kurar police arrested five residents of the Kurar area in Malad for allegedly demanding money in the gangster’s name. The arrests came a day after a Chembur-based real estate agent was arrested for cutting a cake with Chhota Rajan’s picture to celebrate the gangster’s birthday on January 13.

The police said that they launched an investigation on January 14 after a hoarding with Rajan’s picture was put up in Kurar. The picture of the hoarding, announcing a kabaddi tournament in the area on January 14 and 15 as part of the gangster’s birthday celebrations, had gone viral on social media.

Crime branch officers suspect that the people associated with Chhota Rajan gang from western suburbs are trying to take advantage of the fact that some local henchmen of Dawood’s gang had been arrested, especially in view of construction and redevelopment in the area.

Last year, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and the anti-extortion cell (AEC) of the Mumbai police arrested around a dozen suspected members of Dawood’s gang, including Salim Qureshi aka Salim Fruit, Riyaz Bhati, Arif Shaikh and his brother Shabbir Shaikh. Most of them were active in South Mumbai and western suburbs.

A senior crime branch officer said, “It appears that Rajan’s supporters are trying to use his name to get monetary benefits as redevelopment and construction works are underway on a large scale in Malad East.” “Perhaps that is the reason why suddenly Chhota Rajan’s banner cropped up in Kurar,” the officer added.

On the offence registered with the Kurar police station, Satish Gadhve, senior police inspector, said, “We found that the hoarding was erected without permission from the civic authorities and got it removed immediately. We also registered a case in the matter and added the section for promoting enmity between two groups under the Indian Penal Code.”

Even as the police were investigating the matter, they were approached by an imitation jewellery businessman from Kurar, who filed a complaint saying that members of Chhota Rajan Samajik Sanstha had tried to extort money from him in the name of donations for the tournament. A separate case of extortion and criminal intimidation was registered and the five accused named by the complainant were arrested.

“According to our inquiries so far, the Sanstha is a non-governmental organisation (NGO) registered in 2018 by one of Rajan’s relatives with its head office in Baramati. Its members have been collecting donations for such events since then, but this was the first time that we received a complaint,” Gadhve added.

The accused have been remanded in police custody till Wednesday. The police were trying to find out whether they had indulged in any other unlawful activities in the past.

On the cake-cutting incident, the Chembur police said that the accused, Nilesh Paradkar, has several cases registered against him and is said to be a known aide of Rajan.

The crime branch officials, however, said it was not the first time Paradkar had cut a cake on the birthday of the crime syndicate boss. “He celebrates Chhota Rajan’s birthday every year at his residence, but this time he posted videos and pictures on social media. Rajan is not active in Chembur or in the neighbouring areas and we are keeping a close eye on all those involved in criminal activities,” the officer added.

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