Sunday,  December 22, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Maharashtra in dock for ‘D’ links
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 21
A "secret" report by a Central agency has put the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party coalition government in Maharashtra in the dock by accusing it of going soft on underworld don Dawood Ibrahim and his ‘D’ Company.

The disclosure is seen in knowledgeable circles here as a political bombshell, which is set to worsen the relations between the BJP-led Central Government and the Vilasrao Deshmukh government in Maharashtra.

The exhaustive latest report, submitted to the Vajpayee Government a few days ago, also charges the Maharashtra government with "inaction" against the gangsters of Dawood despite furnishing of "timely information" on their activities by various security agencies.

"The reason for this inaction against the gangsters of the Dawood group and rather frequent encounters with (Dawood’s adversary) Chhota Rajan gang could be attributed to the present political compulsions in Maharashtra, where many political leaders from the ruling Democratic Front, especially from the NCP and the Samajwadi Party are known to have covert links with Dawood Ibrahim and his ‘D’ Company.

"In this backdrop, the perception and action of the state bureaucracy, including the police force, gets tainted and they tend to go along with the political masters," says the damning report, a copy of which is with The Tribune.

It adds yet another chapter to the bitter war of words between the Central and Maharashtra Governments over the fiasco which led to Abu Salem’s release from Sharjah 48 hours after his arrest there on October 22, 2001, for want of "identification".

Chhota Shakeel, it says, wields considerable influence in the affairs of the Samajwadi Party in Maharashtra. It became evident in the selection of candidates during the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections in Maharashtra in 1999.

The report identifies SP leaders Abu Hashim Azmi, Sohail Lokhandwala and Majid Memon as having contacts with Chhota Shakeel. It also identifies Ajay Nawandhar, a notorious person who hails from Amrawati district in Maharashtra and has settled in Mumbai, as the "political conduit" of the ‘D’ Company.

During the Brihan-Mumbai Municipal Corporation elections, held on February 12, 2002, Dawood and Shakeel had extended their support to the Samajwadi Party, the report says.

The involvement of Chhota Shakeel in eliminating gangsters of rival groups through police encounters has been noticed. The report highlights the biased attitude of the Maharashtra police in countering the underworld activities of the ‘D’ Company and eliminating the members of the rival group of Chhota Rajan.


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