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Decks cleared for Chhota Rajan’s return, lawyers get ready

As officials prepared to bring Rajan back, the Mumbai crime branch asked all public prosecutors to weigh the merits of individual cases against him and select those that could be fast-tracked in order to achieve quick convictions.

india Updated: Nov 03, 2015 16:31 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
Chhota Rajan,Dawood Ibrahim,Mumbai underworld
Rajendra Sadashiv Nikalje, 55, known in India as Chhota Rajan, is brought out from a holding cell at the Bali police headquarters in Denpasar on Bali island.(AFP)

Indonesia has cleared the decks for deporting underworld don Chhota Rajan, who was arrested in Bali last week and faces more than 70 cases at home.

Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis said on Tuesday that Rajan will be brought to Mumbai, but he didn’t give any further details. He said security arrangements were in place for Rajan’s return.

There were reports that Rajan will be brought back from Bali on Tuesday night. “The clearance has come, by tonight he will be out,” news agency ANI quoted an Interpol official as saying.

However, NDTV news channel quoted unnamed sources as saying that Rajan’s deportation maybe delayed after a volcanic eruption at Mount Rinjani affected flight operations in the resort island.

Rajendra Sadashiv Nikhalje, widely known as Chhota Rajan, was arrested by police in Bali last week, ending a two-decade-long international manhunt. Rajan has been on Interpol’s wanted list since 1995 suspected of running a crime syndicate that engaged in extortion, arms struggling and contract killing.

Rajan was arrested on the basis of a Red Corner Notice from Interpol and following a tip-off by Australian authorities to the police in Indonesia.

An Indian team, comprising officers from CBI, Mumbai and Delhi Police, are in the resort island with a detailed dossier on 55-year-old don and his involvement in more than 75 heinous cases ranging from murder, extortion to smuggling and drug trafficking in India.

Read: Some Mumbai police officials work for Dawood, claims Chhota Rajan

Earlier in the day, Rajan accused Mumbai Police of committing atrocities against him, saying he didn’t trust them. “There are some in Mumbai Police who are working with Dawood,” he alleged.

“I am not scared of Dawood and I will continue fighting against him and terrorism,” Rajan said.

Ajit Doval, India’s national security adviser devised a plan to secure the arrest of Rajan as part of a strategy to hunt down India’s most wanted man, Dawood Ibrahim, police and ministry sources told Reuters. The two are believed to have worked together.

Ibrahim is accused of masterminding a dozen bombings and grenade attacks in Mumbai in March 1993, killing 257 people and wounding more than 700 in the deadliest such attack in the nation’s history.

Mumbai-born Rajan was once a close confidante of Ibrahim but parted ways after the serial explosions, an attack he says he opposed.

Gathering strong cases

As officials prepared to bring Rajan back, the Mumbai crime branch asked all public prosecutors to weigh the merits of individual cases against him and select those that could be fast-tracked in order to achieve quick convictions.

These would include cases with strong evidence and accessible witnesses, said a crime branch official.

“We haven’t decided which cases will be fast-tracked and have asked public prosecutors to weigh the merits of the cases with them. Once the strong cases are identified, we will approach the government so that a decision is taken soon,” said Atulchandra Kulkarni, joint commissioner of police (crime).

A source said that the cases it may be possible to fast-track include the murder of journalist Jyotirmoy Dey in 2011, the Pakmodia Street firing of 2011, the 2004 JNPT arms haul case and an extortion case from 2005, in which Rajan’s wife Sujata was arrested.

As the charges against Rajan span almost 40 years, most old cases may not stand the test of a court trial. The crime branch, therefore, wants to focus on recent cases, registered after 2000 including those in which the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) was invoked.

An official said Rajan faces charges in at least 20 cases registered at the crime branch. These do not include cases registered at local police stations that were probed in parallel by the crime branch.

When asked about the threat to Rajan’s life in Mumbai, Kulkarni said, “We are in the process of analysing the level of the threat so that needful measures can be taken.”

(With agency inputs)

Read: As Chhota Rajan heads home, a look at the new-age underworld

Chhota Rajan: Scheming, ambitious, calculating underworld don

First Published: Nov 03, 2015 14:13 IST