Underworld gangster Chhota Rajan, one of India’s most wanted criminals who has been on the run for nearly two decades, has been arrested Sunday in Bali by Indonesian police which acted on a Red Corner Notice issued by Interpol.
The arrest was made on a tip-off from Australian police that 55-year-old Rajendra Sadashiv Nikalje alias Mohan Kumar alias Chhota Rajan, the powerful aide-turned-rival of terrorist Dawood Ibrahim, has flown from Sydney on board a Garuda Indonesia flight to Denpasar airport in Bali .
Home Minister Rajnath Singh and CBI Director Anil Sinha confirmed the development.
“Once identification and verification is done, appropriate action will be taken,” Singh told reporters in Delhi while thanking Interpol and the Indonesian authorities for their assistance in nabbing Rajan.
“At the request of CBI Interpol, India, the Bali Police has arrested an Indian national Mohan Kumar. Mohan Kumar alias Rajendra Sadashiv Nikalje alias Chhota Rajan is a fugitive and CBI has been pursuing the matter with the Australian authorities,” CBI spokesperson Devpreet Singh said.
She said the arrest was a result of close cooperation between India, Australia and Indonesia.
“We thank Indonesia and Australia for their prompt action at our request. Further action will be taken as required under the law,” she said.
India would seek his extradition as he is wanted in more than 15 cases of murder, attempt to murder, criminal conspiracy, running an organised crime syndicate and violating the Arms Act. Among them is the murder of journalist J Dey.
Although India has not signed any extradition treaty with Indonesia, the authorities in Jakarta are said to have initiated steps for Rajan’s deportation to India.
In Mumbai, Maharashtra Minister of State for Home Ram Shinde said the state would request the central government to allow Rajan to be taken to Mumbai after he is deported to India.
Rajan, who kept moving from place to place fearing revenge attacks by Dawood’s gang, had been recently living in Australia under another identity and had reportedly been in discussions with Indian authorities.
It is said that he flew out of Australia after realizing that Dawood’s men have come to know about his current address.
“It [the arrest] is very, very important because after Dawood’s gang, his was the second most notorious and cruel gang,” former Mumbai police chief P S Pasricha said. “People were so scared that they stopped even holding their marriages in Mumbai or purchasing expensive cars because the moment they did, they would get calls from gangsters for extortion.”
Chhota Rajan, who was born in Tilak Nagar locality of Chembur, Mumbai, in 1960 as Rajendra Sadashiv Nikalje, began his career in crime as a teen selling movie tickets in black along with one Rajan Nair (Bada Rajan).
Bada Rajan mentored him and he soon began protecting the rich and settling financial and land disputes using the gun.
After Bada Rajan was killed in 1983, Chhota Rajan took the reins and assumed the name Chota Rajan. Before long, he started working with the Dubai-based smuggler Dawood Ibrahim’s D-company.
He went to Dubai in 1989 to attend the wedding of Dawood’s brother Noora and never came back.
Things were running smoothly between Dawood and Chota Rajan until the deadly Mumbai blasts of 1993. Rajan condemned that attack against his country and it is alleged he tipped off India’s Research & Analysis Wing about Dawood’s network.
The two became enemies since then.
Rajan had eliminated some of Dawood’s top aides like Phillu Khan alias Bakhtiyar Ahmed Khan, Vinod Shetty, Sunil Soans and Sharad Shetty.
He escaped a gun attack by Dawood’s aide Chhota Shakeel at a Bangkok hotel room in 2000.