The stakes are high, seismic in fact, and media can’t be a disinterested spectator of a grisly drama to be played out on Indian streets.
Intelligence agencies and members of the criminal fraternity had been monitoring the peripheral team of the D syndicate. The task, D syndicate’s elimination, will be handled by a special task team under NSA, in cooperation with the jailed VIP guest, Chhota Rajan. The team is banking on implicit support of the Modi government.
This information was accessed through two sources: (1) Some members of the criminal fraternity of Chhota Rajan involved in crimes committed in India and abroad and now lodged in different Indian jails facing trial and (2) Suspended cops operating from the national capital (identities are withheld to protect sources)
The NSA is backed this time by political will and the might of the state machinery in addition to lessons derived from past failures. Doval-Modi duo know that political triumph requires raking up nationalist-plus-religious euphoria. Dawood-plus-Ram Temple, a forceful beef ban and propaganda against the alleged “Love Jihad” are tools to communally charge the nation and exploit it during elections.
Master Spy plans to target D Company once again
NSA Ajit Doval, a former IPS officer from the 1968 batch of the Kerala cadre, was actively involved in anti-insurgency operations in Mizoram, Punjab and Kashmir. His plans are usually well-synchronized and backed by intelligent planning. Doval represents the futuristic hopes and aspirations of the Narender Modi government on many fronts including the elimination of the politically relevant Dawood syndicate which will be shown to the country as a great feather in Modi’s cap. Doval is busy learning from the earlier failed attempts on Dawood syndicate. The aim this time is to nab or kill Dawood in addition to identifying D Company's offshore assets and getting them frozen.
Failed attempt on Dawood in 2005
According to the former home secretary and current BJP MP, RK Singh, “An operation to assassinate Dawood Ibrahim was being planned in 2005 and the location was the Grand Hyatt hotel in Dubai. Former IB head and current NSA Ajit Doval was involved in the operation.”
The secrecy was blown over by Mumbai cops considered to be traditionally close to Dawood. The government wanted to disown any such operation and that’s why people in power decided to engage shooters of Chhota Rajan instead of despatching their own. Henchmen of Chhota Rajan group were trained at secret locations on how to finish Dawood Ibrahim. It was senior Mumbai cop DhananjayKamlakar’s team which forcefully arrested Chhota Rajan shooters Malhotra and Tanashawhile in a meeting with Doval in Delhi. As per media reports at the time, Doval tried to explain but the cops arrested them and whisked them away to Mumbai. An ugly turf war between India’s security agencies had botched a plan to eliminate Dawood.
According to WikiLeaks, a cable sent at 09:38 on August 8 (Monday), 2005, the US Embassy in New Delhi told Washington, “TERRORIST DAWOOD IBRAHIM HAUNTS INDIA FROM AFAR AS DAUGHTER WEDS IN AN AMERICAN-BRANDED HOTEL”. The telegram detailed the arrest of Chhota Rajan gang members and asked whether they were linked to the plot to assassinate Dawood Ibrahim. It said, “On July 11 the Mumbai police arrested Malhotra while he was driving through central Delhi. Accompanying Malhotra was Ajit Kumar Doval, former head of the Indian Intelligence Bureau (IB)”.
Doval was allowed to go free whereas Malhotra and two of his associates were taken to Mumbai where they are facing criminal charges. Doval himself as well as officials from the Home Ministry later declined to comment on the incident. Thereafter, the Indian media was rife with speculation about why the former head of India's premier intelligence service was caught with his pants down.
Ajit Doval — 2005 to 2016
The current NSA is a man of unconventional school of thought. He knows intelligence best and his first and foremost rule of thumb is simple... “In order to keep your own hands clean you need ghosts (identities that don’t exist officially) to do the required dirty job.” In addition to underworld criminals, assigned hands belong to cops strategically shown suspended on record, citing indigestible suspension reasons.
The targeted list includes names of the peripheral team members of Dawood syndicate. In order to protect powerful people along with ghost killers in the system, a fool-proof strategy has been chalked out to avoid post-operation media and judicial trial.
Similalry, post-Mumbai bomb blasts, Chhota Rajan criminals were employed for hits. Factually, these hits were a result of the post-split rivalry between the two gangs, but Rajan tried to project himself as ‘patriot’. At the time, media reports suggested selective police action against Dawood gangsters during the Shiv Sena regime and their elimination in encounters which helped strengthen Rajan’s position, just as Dawood himself had benefitted in the 1980s. Rajan’s collusion with intelligence agencies is also dictated by his desperate bid for leadership of the Bombay underworld. Likewise, Dawood gang enjoys the patronage of a foreign force for similar motives. This game of hide and seek and covert and overt operations will continue since both Dawood and Rajan are seen helpful to competing sides in the war of nerves in the Subcontinent.
In brief, suspended cops doing covert operations will be used within the country. Because legally, the judicial system doesn’t allow spilling blood on streets though at sometimes this may be required to establish the rule of law. The operations will also include people from the team of Dawood’s one time loyalist-turned-sworn-enemy Chhota Rajan.
Chota Rajan was arrested in Bali, Indonesia by the Indonesian police on 25 October 2015 and subsequently handed over to India. The Maharashtra government issued a government resolution (GR) on 3 November 2015 notifying barrack number 12 inside Arthur Road Jail in Central Mumbai for a ‘high-profile prisoner’.
But barely 48 hours of the first order, a new order was announced. All the cases against the 55-year-old Rajan were transferred to CBI because of its expertise in "handling transnational crimes". As a result, neither the Mumbai Police was to get custody of the arrested gangster Chota Rajan, nor would the underworld don with maximum number of cases in Mumbai ever be tried in a local court. Chhota Rajan has since been sent to the high-security Tihar jail where he is living as a VIP. He had openly confessed to the media about his unwillingness to go Mumbai and face trial there. Top brass in government realise that the system has been taken over by parasites. They are dismayed that Chota Rajan is visibly facilitated and kept in good humour in the hope that his services will be employed for some bigger tasks in future.
This sudden move underlined the continued relevance of Chhota Rajan for the Indian agencies. Understandably, Indian agencies were not really interested in Rajan’s arrest and extradition to India. Former IPS officer and lawyer, Y.P. Singh, said that poor coordination between central and state intelligence agencies had led to the arrest of the gangster Rajendra Sadashiv Nikalje alias Chhota Rajan in Bali. He further stated, "Therefore, when Chhota Rajan was used by the central agencies to reach Dawood Ibrahim, state agencies started pursuing Chhota Rajan on the ground that there were certain cases registered against him and he was wanted for trial in those cases.”
Indian authorities are aware that extradition and arrest, jail and bail, and rare judicial prosecution won't cripple the deep-entrenched reach of the Dawood Syndicate within the country and without, hence his elimination is a must. In this war on Dawood, Indian authorities are largely dependent on actionable information and logistics. Undeniably, Chhota Rajan is crucial in this field thanks to his large network competing with Dawood’s.
Both Pakistani and Indian agencies are involved in this game of state protection and patronage of crime lords while maintaining consistent denial. The illegitimate needs and greed of the corporates and the political system on both sides of the border have helped both the crime lords’ empires.
Political Need of the ‘Hindu Hiriday Samrat’
The unholy war of criminal gangs slowly entered another plane - communal war - and became a tool for electoral gain and a short-cut route for vertical growth by certain politicians. When the communal social fabric collapses, the by-product is enhanced fear and hatred benefiting a particular political group which converts communal euphoria into instant electoral gain. India has a long history where riots and fake encounters were successfully engineered for political gain. Dawood Ibrahim's deputy and trusted aide Chhota Shakeel had blamed senior BJP leader LK Advani on multiple issues including his claim that “Dawood has become his political need”.
Indiahas a long history of how communally-charged political events worsened social harmony and benefited those behind them, e.g.,:
* Ayodhya: Babri Mosque demolition in December 1992 poisoned the political life. It paved the way for BJP’s phenomenal electoral gain.
* Godhra: The post-Godhra Gujarat riots in 2002, also known as the Gujarat pogrom, were a three-day period of communal violence in the western Indian state of Gujarat in which roughly over 2,000 Muslims died, tens of thousands injured and properties worth billions were destroyed or damaged.
* Fake Encounters: A political agenda was crafted for up-profiling the then Chief Minister of Gujarat in 2003. This is popularly known as the period of fake encounters. Thanks to the riots and the subsequent encounters, Gujarat got divided on communal lines wherein politicians found it expedient to cheer crowds in political rallies by naming people killed in fake encounters. The hidden agenda was to whip up support for the “Hindu Nationalist” vs. “Pakistani Terrorists” and this was played up every time an encounter took place. Years later it is now clear that the state government had carefully adopted an encounter policy and small-time criminals and innocents were labelled as "terrorists" out to kill the then CM. The brand 'Hindu Hirday Samrat' (Emperor of the Hindu Hearts) was created on the dead bodies of fake encounter victims like Sadiq Jamal, Ishrat Jahan (alleged LeT operative), Pranesh Pillai (alias Javed Gulam Sheikh), Amjad Ali Rana, Zeeshan Johar, Sohrabuddin Sheikh, his wife Kausar Bi and friend Tulsiram Prajapati. These fake encounters were used to create ‘Hindu nationalist politician’ brand. Every time Gujarat police designed a fake encounter, they came up with the same version: “Pakistani terrorists, who wanted to take revenge of Godhra, were intercepted and killed. They were on a mission to kill Gujurat CM on the directives of LeT or ISI.
Over a period of time, this politico-cops nexus got exposed and many top cops, admitted to be involved in fake encounters, ended up in jails while the Hindu Hiriday Samrat went on to become India’s prime minister. Undeniably, the plot was a well-conceived and thoroughly planned self-glorification tactic aiming at achieving national stature in the highly competitive messy world of electoral politics. Masses got carried away by false patriotic rhetoric. Nowhere else in India, fake encounters were used for the glorification of a politician.
Political need of 2017 & 2019: get Dawood!
Modi’s advisors have now concieved a new plot to keep the momentum. Operation decapitation Dawood is going to be a turning point in modern India’s political history. If achieved, it will effortlessly pave the way for the electoral success of BJP in 2017 and 2019 elections. In this new plot, the NSA has taken the place of the Gujarat cops and the target is the D Syndicate instead of low-profile victims of Gujarat fake enounters. Arousing religious sentiments (building Ram Mandir), peppered with patriotism (getting Dawood Ibrahim) and communal seasoning (beef and Love Jihad) will charge the political environment yeilding the required electoral gains.
Footprints of Doval
Movement against UPA2: Post-retirement, Doval became active as an ultra-nationalist. He was the brain behind historical protests that changed the country’s political landscape (Anna Hazare and Baba Ramdev protests raking up the corruption issue and protesting against UPA2). As a result, Modi became PM and Ajit Doval found himself in the seat of the NSA.
Srilanka: Former Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa lost when he played pro-China card to the annoyance of India. Volumes of evidence exist showing that India played a role in Operation Dethrone Rajapaksa prompting Sri Lanka's usually fractious opposition parties to agree on a joint contestant for the presidential election. Doval’s footprints were obvious in that operation.
Pakistan, Myanmar: Ajit Doval changed the spin-reversal, “egregious defensive lapse posture” under the UPA to “defensive-offensive” one. An example is the Myanmar op where the Indian army mounted a surgical strike against militants inside Myanmar.“If you carry out a Mumbai, you will lose Baluchistan”, is Doval’s line to Islamabad bringing Pakistan-sponsored proxy war to a minimum at present.
Taliban: Taliban released the abducted Jesuit priest in Afghanistan on 22 Feb 2015. Indian agencies scripted a major success in securing the release of this priest from the captivity of the Taliban in Afghanistan. Ajit Dovalsaid, “Keeping a mercenary outfit (Taliban) under control is easier than an “ideological” one and the best option is to provide better funds”. This has certainly rattled Pakistan
To sum it up, the master spy, an expert of castling moves, is attacking on two fronts: a) targeting the peripheral team and supporters of Dawood in India and b) mounting pressure on Dawood’s powerful allies in order to checkmate his expansion plans, thus reducing his business activities. Doval is constantly putting heat on the neighbouring country, accusing it of giving refuge and patronage to a crime-lord who masterminded the 1993 Mumbai bomb blasts. Pakistan, as always, is in a denial mode. Thanks to Modi’s overtures, even UAE has been made unsafe now where D Syndicate had ruled not long ago.
(Names of targets and sources have been withheld to ensure confidentiality.)
Pushp Sharma is a Delhi-based investigative journalist