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The lavish life and times of Mustafa Dossa, even inside Mumbai’s Arthur Road jail

Mumbai city news: Fellow inmates recall tales of his durbars and Iftar feasts in jail and how he rewarded his loyalists with expensive gifts and gave a monthly ration to their families

mumbai Updated: Jun 29, 2017 15:20 IST
Debasish Panigrahi
Debasish Panigrahi
Hindustan Times
Mustafa Dossa,1993 Bomb Blasts,Arthur Road Jail
Dossa was the ‘richest’ inmate at Arthur Road jail in the past 14 years and he seldom missed an opportunity to flaunt his millions.(HT FILE PHOTO)

While his largesse for his fellow inmates at the Arthur Road Prison earned Mustafa Ahmed Umar Dossa, 57, the respect of a ‘bhai,’ his colourful lifestyle earned him the sobriquet “majnoo”, the eternal lover.

Even months before he was convicted in the 1993 Mumbai serial blast case, Dossa was said to be travelling with a woman (purportedly his wife) in the train while being taken to Porbunder in Gujarat for a court appearance in connection with a smuggling case. Similar rumours often followed whenever Dossa, a chronic diabetic and hypertension patient, went for treatment to JJ hospital. Dossa is survived by two wives, three sons and two daughters.

Born to a family of oil merchants in Agripada, Mustafa was the second among Ahmad Umar’s three sons. The Kutchi-Memon Dossa clan controls the wholesale trade at Crawford market. Like his elder sibling, Mohammad, and younger, Haroon, Mustafa, too, was a school dropout and joined his family business in the early 1970s. However, as soon as Mohammad joined hands with gold smuggler Haji Mohammad, in the late 1970s, Mustafa followed suit. It is said Mohammad introduced Tiger Memon, (also a key bomb blast accused), into the smuggling syndicate as a driver, to begin with.

Soon after, Mohammad migrated to Dubai to join Dawood Ibrahim. Mustafa, too, fled to the UAE in 1988. Underworld observers said the Dossa family’s fortunes changed after Mohammad and Mustafa flooded the black market with gold and electronic goods smuggled from Dubai.

The family purchased a radio theatre near Crawford market and built the first electronic goods market in south Mumbai, Manish Market, in its place.

In Dubai, too, the Dossa brothers built one of the biggest gold jewellery showrooms at Gold Souk, called Mignas, which is still the family’s rice bowl, apart from the earnings from the rent paid by shops at Manish Market. In fact, the top floor of Manish Market was converted into a mosque following Ahmad Umar’s death, at the instance of Mustafa.

Ahmad Umar was a follower of Sufism and the mosque is meant for Barelvi Muslims.

Mustafa played a pivotal role in the conspiracy to avenge the 1992 Babri Masjid demolitions by actively aiding in the smuggling of arms and explosives used in the 1993 serial blasts.

His run from the law came to an end in March 20, 2003, when he was deported to India and lodged at Arthur Road to face trial in the blasts case.

Dossa was the ‘richest’ inmate at Arthur Road jail in the past 14 years and he seldom missed an opportunity to flaunt his money.

In jail, he lived lavishly by allegedly bribing staff with the money provided by his family. His penchant for designer clothes followed him to Arthur Road. He would exercise regularly and the dumbbells he used had been brought from Dubai following a court order.

Fellow inmates recall tales of his durbars in jail and how he rewarded his loyalists with expensive gifts and gave a monthly ration to their families. Insiders also talk about his lavish Sheheri (breakfast) and Iftar for more than 300 prisoners during Ramzan for the past 14 years.

One of his former fellow inmates at Arthur Road told HT Mustafa’s generosity was driven by his indomitable desire to maintain his sway over jailbirds. Once he got into a brawl with bomb blast accused Abu Salem and stabbed his face with a sharpened spoon, only because the latter refused to offer him ‘salaam’.

Recalling his association with Dossa during the 14 long years of trial, special public prosecutor, Ujjwal Nikam said, “He was calm and composed in the courtroom during his appearances. However, he indulged in groupism inside the jail.”

A fellow inmate described how he had brought the former’s wrath by offering a Rs500 note to a member of a rival gang, who was in need of money. “He [Mustafa] warned me not to mingle with rivals. It’s not that he was against my association with that man, he was suspicious about whether I was trying to create my own group of loyalists,” said the former detainee, highlighting Mustafa’s insecure nature.

First Published: Jun 28, 2017 17:44 IST