IT was the short-name (user name) for his E-mail ID on the Net. Not many
perhaps would like to use it as a term of endearment for him. D-company’s
boss and the most notorious criminal in the subcontinent, Dawood Sheikh
Ibrahim Kaskar, alias Dawood Ibrahim, however, wanted to log on as
simply janu---which in Urdu is often used in a lovey-dovey sort of
fashion by couples to address each other. It is derived from jaan,
However, times have changed and the gangster, who once appeared to be sitting pretty, initially in Dubai and now in Pakistan, far from the reach of the Indian law-enforcing authorities, is now feeling the heat. He figures prominently in the list of 20 most wanted men that India has given Pakistan for purposes of extradition. Though the Pakistani authorities have denied that Dawood is in the country, intelligence sources here claim that he has moved from the posh Clifton Road bungalow in Karachi to Orkazai, near Peshawar, after India put pressure on its neighbour to hand over the 46-year-old gangster.
The importance or the ignominy of being Dawood Ibrahim lies in the fact that the "self-employed businessman" (as he describes himself in his E-mail account) has perhaps become bigger than the state of Pakistan. His net worth is said to be more than Rs 30 billion and his ‘business interests’ are spread in Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Dubai, Germany, France, the UK and several Muslim countries in Africa. This is besides the ‘interests’ that he has in Pakistan, where he controls the real estate business, stock exchanges and gun-running. His influence is so all-pervading that he ‘loaned’ Pakistan’s Central Bank millions of dollars two years back to help it tide over a crisis. Thus, from bankers to bootleggers, political leaders to army generals, cricketers to gun-runners and from society ladies to actresses and hashish dealers, all have an interest in Dawood and, he, in turn, has an interest in them.
The ISI needs him as much as the femmes fatales of the town. The former for even small chores like spotting Indian RAW agents in Pakistan and the latter for promoting their careers. Saba is one such Pakistani actress. Before her was Bollywood’s green-eyed beauty Mandakini. She reportedly has a son from Janu and is now safely ensconced in America.
The small-time smuggler, who dabbled in bringing gold into India on Arab dhows just a couple of decades ago, leapfrogged into big time once he came into contact with the Pakistan Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) wing. The two shared a couple of interests. The ISI wanted a person who felt strongly for his community. In other words, someone who could foment communal trouble whenever the need arose. Two, Pakistan’s territorial waters were a haven for gold smugglers. Dawood wanted his piece of action in that territory and an understanding was therefore reached.
The ISI allegedly helped Dawood to flourish. The gold-runner became a mafia don and his gang came to be known as D-company in Mumbai. Flush with funds, Dawood put his finger in every pie—from real estate to film production— and thought himself to be above the law. However, a spot of bother awaited him come 1993.
According to intelligence sources, towards the end of 1992 the mafia’s financial interests came under pressure because of a fall in prices of gold. This squeezed the smuggling trade and Dawood had to seek the ISI’s help for greater use of the shipping routes under its control. In return for protection and help for transporting the yellow metal from the Gulf to India’s west coast, the ISI demanded that he become a carrier of weapons and explosives to be used by terrorists and criminals. Pakistani smugglers Taufiq Jalliawala and Yusuf Godrawala were used as go-betweens by the ISI. Once Dawood was on board, the ISI upped the ante and through Anees Ibrahim, Tiger Memon and others exploited the 1992-93 anti- Muslim riots in Mumbai to hatch the plan for the Mumbai blasts on March 12.
According to intelligence agencies, Dawood gave the green signal on January 10, 1993, and within a fortnight the explosives landed off the Konkan coast through two launches Bismillah and Sada-al-Bahar. Besides, 19 small-time criminals were picked up by Ibrahim Memon and sent to Pakistan via Dubai. They were issued transit visas by the Dubai immigration authorities. These criminals were trained on the nuts and bolts part of the operation. Tiger Memon himself visited Dubai thrice in February and March 1993 and met Dawood to finalise the arrangements. Another of Dawood’s agents, Mohammad Phanse, who was later arrested, had also gone to Dubai on January 19 to tie up the loose ends of the transportation plan for explosives. As per his statement, Dawood had asserted his determination to avenge the demolition of the Babri Masjid and had asked Phanse to take charge of the safe landing of the "chemicals." On March 12, the serial blasts shook Mumbai and Dawood, anticipating trouble (India has an extradition treaty with the UAE), flew to Pakistan and bought himself a huge bungalow in Karachi.
Dawood has been an ‘honoured guest" in Pakistan ever since and has been active politically and socially. According to reports, Dawood has major financial interests in real estate in Karachi and Islamabad. His buildings and other properties are out of the reach of the Pakistani authorities even when they flout the law blatantly. Dawood other pet investments are in the Karachi bourse and in the hundi system. His interest in cricket apparently remains undiminished and after his glamorous appearances in Sharjah one-dayers when he had top Indian actors and actresses at his beck and call, he now calls the shots in Pakistan. According to Pakistani magazine Newsline: "Some of the Pakistani cricket players admit that at one time or another, they have sought Dawood’s help, financial or otherwise. Javed Miandad is allegedly very close to Dawood Ibrahim, and his recent stint in cricket, despite the opposition from other players, was reportedly at Dawood’s behest."
The magazine in its September 21, 2001, issue says that "Dawood’s sphere of influence has also encompassed the business community, with businessmen increasingly approaching Dawood to settle their financial disputes with other businessmen or for financial bailouts. Some former MQM militants are apparently working for Dawood as trouble-shooters." Newsline claimed that "many in the corridors of power have partaken of Dawood’s hospitality.
He often throws lavish mujras for Pakistani politicians and bureaucrats. A recent guest was a former caretaker Prime Minister...These are not the only members of the establishment who have close ties with Dawood. He is said to have the protection of assorted intelligence agencies. In fact, Dawood and his men move around the city guarded by heavy escorts of armed men in civies believed to be personnel of a top Pakistani security agency... A number of government undercover agents, who came into contact with Dawood because of their official duties, are now, in fact, working for him.
‘A major serves him a glass of water. Nearly all the men who surround him for security reasons are wither retired or serving officers,’ claims an MQM activist. ‘And he keeps them happy—buying them expensive apartments and showering them with favours. So they are more loyal to Dawood than the government of Pakistan’."
Dawood is important to Pakistan. He and his associates have a number of ‘valuable’ contacts in India that are regularly used by the ISI to carry out its activities. According to Indian security agencies, it is using Anees Ibrahim’s network to smuggle arms into the country. Anees is Dawood’s brother. He has links with Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad in J and K and operates in the north -east through Jacky, an NSCN-IM activist based at Dimapur in Nagaland.
Indian operatives admit candidly that
Pakistan has very little elbow room in acceding to India’s demand for
Dawood’s extradition/deportation given the fact that he has a
stranglehold on both its politics as well as the bureaucracy. But
international pressure on Pakistan to hand over a man wanted for most
heinous offences in India is growing by the day; given the climate
against terrorism in all forms. Till date, however, it has remained a
contentious issue leading to the possibility of more than just saber
rattling by both the countries. The bottomline is, nevertheless, clearly
emerging — the gangster who became larger than life because of his
guns-and-molls image will have to fade away. Dusk is slowly but surely
descending on the don. Whether it will be crimson or plain grey only
time will tell.