Indian 'gangster' deported from Bali

Chhota Rajan after his arrest in Bali. India's police said they had 78 cases registered against him.
Chhota Rajan after his arrest in Bali. India's police said they had 78 cases registered against him.

NEW DELHI • An alleged Indian gangster who spent more than 20 years on the run arrived in Delhi yesterday to face charges relating to dozens of crimes, including murder, extortion and drug trafficking.

India's Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) said Chhota Rajan, whose real name is Rajendra Sadashiv Nikalje, had been flown on an Indian air force jet to Delhi after he was tracked down and arrested on the Indonesian resort island of Bali last week.

The Indonesian authorities had been tipped off by Australian police, who confirmed in September that the 55-year-old was living in Bali under an assumed identity.

"Rajendra Sadashiv Nikalje... is in the custody of CBI-Interpol. Legal formalities are in process," the CBI said in a statement.

Rajan was the alleged right-hand man of Mumbai crime kingpin Dawood Ibrahim, who is suspected of masterminding the 1993 bomb blasts in the city that killed more than 250 people in retaliation for anti-Muslim violence a few months earlier.

Rajan parted with Ibrahim after the attacks, becoming a rival to his former ally, and is accused of running one of several underworld outfits that had a grip on India's financial and entertainment capital during the 1980s and 1990s until a police crackdown. Rajan portrayed himself as a "Hindu don" and began targeting those he considered to be "anti-India", including Ibrahim's men.

He became a major thorn in the side of his former boss, who remains on the run and is believed to have been behind an attempt on Rajan's life in Bangkok in 2000.

Dressed in an orange prison jumpsuit, a handcuffed Rajan told reporters in Bali before his deportation that he faced death threats in India, alleging that some Mumbai police officers were "working with Dawood".

Interpol had flagged Rajan as a wanted man in 1995, and he was later accused of ordering the murder of a prominent Mumbai crime reporter, who was gunned down in a drive-by shooting that year.

Mumbai Police Deputy Commissioner Dhananjay Kulkarni, who was one of the officers on the flight that brought Rajan back from Indonesia, said police had 78 cases registered against Rajan.

Interpol's website said Rajan was wanted on multiple charges, including murder and possession and use of illegal firearms.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 07, 2015, with the headline 'Indian 'gangster' deported from Bali'. Print Edition | Subscribe