His close aides betrayed him and his cook tipped off D-company about his whereabouts, leading to an attack on him in a Sydney café in July this year. Somehow, he managed to escape.
But the attack made underworld don Chhota Rajan realise it was time for him to stop being on the run, two of his associates told Mail Today over the phone.
Acting on a Red Corner notice issued by Interpol, a joint team of Australian and Indonesian police arrested Rajan on Sunday in Bali, ending his two-decades-long run from law enforcement agencies. He is wanted in more than 20 murder cases.
Officials said the arrest came after a tip-off from Australian police that 55-year-old Rajendra Sadashiv Nikalje, alias Mohan Kumar, alias Chhota Rajan, had flown from Sydney to the Indonesian city of Bali.
Rajan had been hiding in Australia for several years.
Gangster Chhota Shakeel planned to eliminate Rajan, as his boss Dawood Ibrahim feared Rajan was leaking too much information to Indian security agencies. The Sydney attack was carried out by Shakeel’s men.
Once a close aide of Dawood’s, Rajan parted ways with him after the 1993 Mumbai blasts and the pair have remained fierce rivals ever since.
Rajan’s gang members told Mail Today that his details were passed on by his close aides and brothers Ravi and Vimal Rattesar, who managed his hawala operations.
“Based in Mumbai’s Chembur, Ravi and Vimal wanted to open a hotel in Dubai and Chhota Shakeel assured help. So they leaked Rajan’s whereabouts, which was finally confirmed by his cook Mitwa who gave away the address of the café which Rajan used to visit once a week,” the aides told Mail Today.
Sources in the intelligence agencies have corroborated this.
The two gang members claimed that Shakeel’s close aide Bala Shetty executed the July attack.
“Ravi, Vimal and Mitwa supplied Rajan’s latest photographs to Shetty through Skype,” the two told Mail Today, adding: “Vimal was last seen near the Ireland border.”
The CBI had issued a Red Corner notice against Rajan in July, 1995 on the request of Mumbai Police which was probing cases against him.
According to the two gang members who spoke to Mail Today, Rajan’s downfall started as his close associates were disgruntled over ‘insufficient’ payments for the tasks he assigned them.
“He was too sick to be on the run. India has always wanted him for crucial information and to turn the heat on Dawood and his gang,” they said.
“We were all working for Jai Hind (a reference to India with which gangsters from the Chhota Rajan gang greet each other) but money was Rajan’s weakness. He never paid the entire amount for any assignment to anyone, which led to cracks in his team,” the two said, claiming the differences had weakened the gang.
At one point, Ravi and Vimal were closest to Rajan. Vimal was the mastermind behind the killing of Sharad Shetty, a Dawood confidante.
“Ravi and Vimal had taken revenge of an earlier attack on Chhota Rajan which was carried out by Shetty at the behest of Chhota Shakeel. The conspiracy of the previous attack on Rajan in Bangkok in 2000 was hatched in Shetty’s residence in Dubai. Rajan survived despite being shot multiple times by Dawood’s men posing as pizza delivery boys. Following which, in 2003, Rajan’s men killed Sharad Shetty in a public shootout at a Dubai club,” said Rajan’s gang members.
Security agencies claim that Rajan will be brought back to India soon for further questioning as the Indian government may exercise a recently-signed pact with Indonesia which allows the deportation of criminals on either side, based on court warrant.
The pact was signed and notified by India and Indonesia in August this year for the deportation of wanted persons and cooperation in all criminal matters, including gathering evidence.
However, underworld sources sought to term the arrest a move by the government to protect Rajan from future attacks, use him in cracking pending cases and keep a tab on Dawood Ibrahim.