Free Press Journal

Don of an Era! 10 dreaded gangsters of Mum-Bhai


There were days when gangsters like Dawood Ibrahim used to walk free on Mumbai roads. After committing heinous crimes gangsters like Dawood and several others like him fled from Mumbai to places Dubai, Australia and Pakistan. But few chose to stay in Mumbai and continue their ‘legacy’.

Few of them who are still alive, few died in gang wars or natural death and few were also killed in police encounters. The gangster are mostly related to a gang. And they always have rivalry in them which is also a reason for downfall of number of gangsters. The gangster culture started in the second half of the last century and ever since then, there have been various hooligans adding up to this list. The gangsters of that era completely changed the fabric of the mobster world.

But it was not just males who dominated the gangster world, but females too have been standing strong and ruling the underworld silently, be it the infamous late Haseena Parkar or Reshma Memon and Shabana Memon. Some of these women gangster might not have been in the spotlight, but that’s just more proof of how ‘professional’ and precise they were.

The dark underworld has its own secrets and stories to tell. So let’s have look at few of the male and female gangsters from Mumbai.

  1. Dawood Ibrahim

The name that first crosses everyone’s mind when say underworld gangster its Dawood Ibrahim Kaskar. Dawood is the founder of D-Company and currently ranks at no. 3 in world’s most deadly criminal list. He is rumoured to have close association with al-Qaeda and knew Osama Bin Laden personally. Some believe he was living under the protection of the ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence) in Pakistan until recently when his whereabouts shifted near to the borders. This alliance between Dawood and ISI was played publicly when several high profile ISI officers attended his daughter’s marriage with the son of a Pakistani cricketer. Besides being involved in the 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai, he is also the mastermind of 1993 Mumbai Bombing. Recently, an Indian cricketer Dilip Vengsarkar revealed that once Dawood had personally approached the Indian team in their dressing room asking them to beat the Pakistani cricket team so badly that he’d happily buy every single Indian team member a luxurious car.

  1. Abu Salem

Abu Salem has done many notorious crimes like murdering, extorting and other nasty crimes like conning people. The underworld don Abu Salem was originally born in the Azamgarh district of Uttar Pradesh and was named Aqil Ahmed Azmi. Other than his extortion and significant crimes, he is known to extort money from Bollywood celebrities and invest it in the film industry. He was the person who allegedly supplied weapons to Sanjay Dutt, and his men are reported to have murdered Gulshan Kumar. His men also shot Aamir Diwani, personal secretary of actress Manisha Koirala. However, members of his gang were shot down once celebrities like Aamir Khan, Ashutosh Gowarikar and Jhamu Sughand spoke against them. He was also convicted in the 1993 bomb blast and 50 other cases.

  1. Chhota Rajan

(AP Photo/Firdia Lisnawati)

Chhota Rajan, former lieutenant of Dawood Ibrahim, has committed many crimes like 17 murders, attempted murders, drug trafficking, smuggling extortion. Rajan was born as Rajan Nikalaje in a Marathi family, and grew up in a middle-class family in a locality of Tilak Nagar in Chembur. His criminal activities started in the 1980s when he started selling black tickets at Sahakar Cinema. He started working as a thief and bootlegger working for Rajan Nair, also known as Bada Rajan; he has also been a former key adviser to Dawood. However, he parted ways with Dawood after the Mumbai bombing case. He was the first wanted hoodlum in India due to his criminal cases including extortion, murder, film finance and smuggling.

  1. Ravi Pujari

Former aide of Rajan operating from Australia, he is notorious for giving extortion threats to builders, actors, and producers of India. He is wanted in many criminal charges, but currently, no one knows his whereabouts. In the mid-1990s, three of his men shot Om Prakash Kukreja of Kukreja builders in his Chembur office. Eight years later, a Navi Mumbai builder, Suresh Wadhwa, escaped an assassination attempt by ducking under his office desk. Pujari often calls up the police claiming to have targeted people close to Dawood or his aide Chhota Shakeel.

  1. Arun Gawli

Arun Gulabrao Ahir or better known Arun Gawli has been involved in many crimes like kidnapping, extortion and murdering. Safely working from Dagdi Chawl, Gawli’s ran out luck in 2012 when he was convicted for murder and imprisoned for life. Before getting involved in criminal activities he was working in Mumbai’s textile mills. In 1980’s when Mumbai’s mill industry shut down Mumbai, Arun Gawli, joined the ‘Byculla Company’ gang led by gangsters Rama Naik and Babu Reshim and supervised their illegal liquor dens.

But in 1988, when Rama Naik got killed in police encounter Gawli took charge of the gang based in Dagdi Chawl in Byculla. After which the Gawli started gruesome gang war between Dawood’s D-Company gang and Gawli’s gang that lasted from 1988 until the mid 1990s. After this, he floated his own political party, Akhil Bharatiya Sena, and became an MLA, but shortly which in 2007 he was charged with murder of a Shiv Sena corporator and in 2012 he was convicted with murder and now is serving life imprisonment.

  1. Reshma Memon/ Shabana Memon

12 March, 1993, famously known as Black Friday, still send shivers down every Mumbaikar. Tiger Memon was a co-conspirator with the crime syndicate, and his wife Reshma Memon and sister-in-law Shabana Memon were both allegedly involved in the bomb blast, and have been on run since then.

  1. Haseena Parkar

Haseena Parkar, who died on July 6, 2014, after suffering a heart attack, was the sister of the most wanted gangster Dawood Ibrahim. Haseena also known as ‘Aapa’ was one of the most feared name Mumbai’s underworld. She was the ‘Godmother’ of Nagpada and she took over her brother’s legacy of the Mumbai underworld after 1993 bomb blasts. She was known for operating extortion racket in Mumbai, and was also booked in 2008 in an extortion case. She was also involved in hawala rackets to send money from India to Middle-East and vice-versa.

  1. Samaira Jumani

Samaira is the ex-wife of Abu Salem. She has committed many crimes like extortion, realty frauds, and forgery. She has also been linked to 1993 bomb blast case. She’s been in the top wanted criminals’ list for years now, and is allegedly hiding in the US.

  1. Shobha Iyer

Shobha Iyer is one of the most wanted criminals, and also have reward on her head. Iyer is difficult to trace as the police has no pictures or sketches of her. Shobha now has a Red corner notice issued against her.

  1. Rubina Siraj Syed

Rubina Siraj Sayyed, the 39-year-old housewife from Nagpada, who’s been found guilty of running a support system for the Chhota Shakeel gang. Rubina Siraj Syed aka “Pathan” was accused of using her henna business as a front to carry out illegal activities for Chhota Shakeel. To aid his cause, Rubina made sure Chhota Shakeel’s gang members –who were behind bars at the time– had access to all the food, money and arms, she could get her hands on. Eventually, the cops caught up with her and she is now serving time at the Byculla prison.