Ejaz Lakdawala: Bright student from Bandra school to India’s most wanted
Ejaz Lakdawala has been on India’s most wanted list since 1998 and is wanted in 27 cases of murder and attempted murder; and 80 cases of extortion in Mumbai alone.Updated: Jan 10, 2020 06:03 IST
At the end of a 22-year-long manhunt, the anti-extortion cell of Mumbai Police arrested Ejaz Ladkawala, a former aide of underworld don Dawood Ibrahim, in Patna.
Lakdawala has been on India’s most wanted list since 1998 and is wanted in 27 cases of murder and attempted murder; and 80 cases of extortion in Mumbai alone.
Lakdawala was born in 1971 to a middle class family in Pydhonie that later shifted to Jogeshwari, in the western suburbs of Mumbai. A bright student in school, he is an alumnus of St Stanislaus School in Bandra and his first job was in his uncle’s travel company.
Unfortunately, he soon deviated towards criminal activities. Lakdawala’s first brush with crime was in 1993, when he was 22. He was accused of killing one Haren Mehta after an altercation at a cricket match.
Lakdawala spent two years in Arthur Road Jail, but was eventually acquitted in 1995. Those two years changed his life. During his time in prison, Lakdawala came in contact with Sunil Madgaonkar, alias Matya, an associate of gangster Chhota Rajan.
Madgaonkar was a close associate of gangster Chhota Rajan and he gave a young Lakdawala his first assignment in the underworld — a contract killing. Lakdawala was to kill Farid Rajji, an aide of gangster Chhota Shakeel.
In 1996, a year after he’d come out of Arthur Road Jail, Lakdawala attempted to kill Rajji, who survived the attempt on his life. However, Lakdawala was arrested and sent to Nashik Jail this time.
Sources in Mumbai Police’s Crime Branch said that Lakdawala planned his escape meticulously in the two years he spent in Nashik Jail before his escape. Part of the preparation was acquiring a passport in the name of Manish Shyam Advani.
While investigating Lakdawala’s daughter Sonia Shaikh, the crime branch found that in her passport, reissued in 2018, her father is identified as Manish Shyam Advani.
Shaikh was born in Mumbai, 1997, while Lakdawala was in Nashik Jail. Using the false identity of Manish Advani, Lakdawala fled to Malaysia after escaping from Nashik Jail in 1998.
Lakdawala established himself as a close associate of Ibrahim’s D-Company, providing logistical support to D-company members when they extorted film producers and businessmen in Mumbai. Following a financial dispute, gangster Chhota Rajan and Ibrahim parted ways. Lakdawala went with Rajan after the split.
Over the years, Lakdawala has shifted his base all over the world and adopted false identities to evade the law.
Despite a red corner notice from Interpol against him, Lakdawala has been able to operate out of places like Thailand, South Africa, Canada and Nepal. He would also go on to set up his own gang.
In 2003, Lakdawala is believed to have played a big role in the killing of D-Company’s chief financier Sharad Shetty in Dubai, following which Ibrahim’s aide Chhota Shakeel ordered a hit on Lakdawala.
That same year, Lakdawala was shot at in Bangkok, but survived with seven bullet injuries. He escaped from a Bangkok hospital to South Africa. According to the crime branch, Lakdawala became father to a son in 2012.
“At the moment it seems like his son was born in Nepal, and his wife also stays in Nepal. We are in the process of ascertaining the facts,” said a crime branch official.
Of late, Lakdawala had been operating out of Nepal, where he presented himself as businessman Akshay Pritamdas Bhatia and continued activities like extortion.
The arrest on Wednesday was the culmination of an investigation into allegations that Lakdawala had extorted two builders from Bandra.