When the Arrest of Chhota Rajan is Dished out as a Soap Opera
Chhota Rajan (centre) being escorted by plain-clothed police officers for questioning in Bali, Indonesia, Thursday, 29 October 2015. (Photo: PTI)
Chhota Rajan (centre) being escorted by plain-clothed police officers for questioning in Bali, Indonesia, Thursday, 29 October 2015. (Photo: PTI)

When the Arrest of Chhota Rajan is Dished out as a Soap Opera

Recent Indian media reports on Mumbai don Chhota Rajan (Junior Rajan), who was detained in Bali on 25 October, should be recommended for contesting among the “Top 10 Most Ridiculous Soap Operas of All Time”. In particular, our TV channels should be more decisive about their claims. They cannot simultaneously be the first to send a reporter to Bali, the first to announce “Exclusive” information, first to get visuals of Chhota Rajan in a yellow jump suit, the first to get his interview where he said he “was not afraid”, and the first to get sound bites from the Bali police chief.

(Photo: PTI)
(Photo: PTI)

I am also amazed that some former Chiefs of our intelligence agencies could expect the public to believe them when they tell the media that Chhota Rajan, if brought to India, could open new “leads” on fugitive Dawood Ibrahim. Did they want to pretend that our intelligence agencies were not in touch with him? Did they expect the public not to read the certain well-publicised news? Like how the Mumbai Police had surprised a retired intelligence chief while he was in a breakfast meeting with Chhota Rajan’s key henchman Vickey Malhotra in New Delhi on 11 July, 2005, which in turn had led to the arrest of Farid Tanasha, another of Rajan’s aide?

Denpasar Police chief detective Reinhard Habonaran Nainggolan holds a photo of Chhota Rajan, detained in Bali, Indonesia, October 27, 2015. (Photo: PTI)
Denpasar Police chief detective Reinhard Habonaran Nainggolan holds a photo of Chhota Rajan, detained in Bali, Indonesia, October 27, 2015. (Photo: PTI)

Did they feel that the retired intelligence chief was having social relations with absconding criminals like Malhotra and Tanasha? If Rajan was already in touch with the Indian intelligence, would they not have already asked him these questions all these years?

(Photo: PTI)
(Photo: PTI)

Taking the Audience for Granted

The “Buffo” in the series of soap opera reports is trying to sell us the story that Indian intelligence agencies were responsible for “arranging” Rajan’s surrender at Bali. Also, we are led to believe that it was a “Joint Operation” involving Indonesian, Australian and Indian agencies supervised personally by our national security adviser “as a strategy to hunt down India’s most wanted man, Dawood Ibrahim according to police and home ministry sources”. Another headline said that Rajan may help India to build a strong case against Dawood.

I am amazed that our media should be so innocent as to expect us to believe these reports unhesitatingly. If our agencies had really wanted to retrieve Rajan back to India, there are hundreds of other ways instead of trying to do this in the most convoluted manner possible: Persuading Australian authorities to send him to Bali and then expecting the Indonesian authorities to merely put him in the next plane and sending him to India without asking any questions as though there is no judiciary there.

Baffling Questions

Also, is India the safest place for him to hide, considering the deep nexus between some segments of our prison security and under trials? It was only on June 13, 2015 that two police constables were suspended for taking Rajan’s sharp shooter Satish Kalia (involved in journalist Jyotirmoy Dey’s murder) to his wife, instead of taking him back to Arthur Road prison from the court. Could we not expect such “Escorts” extending such benevolence to Dawood’s “sharp shooters”?

(Photo: Reuters)
(Photo: Reuters)

If our intelligence agencies wanted to debrief Rajan about Dawood’s whereabouts, was it necessary to entice him back to India? Would it not have been easier to fly an intelligence operative to wherever he was hiding to get the details, since media reports suggest that our agencies knew his exact movements?

Nabbing the Culprit

Another thing which baffles me as a former intelligence officer is how even our senior officials and agencies are openly talking about their nexus with Rajan as a great virtue to nab the ultimate evil, Dawood Ibrahim. Rajan is involved in about 72 cases, including several murders and extortion.

File photo of Underworld don Chhota Rajan. (Photo: PTI)
File photo of Underworld don Chhota Rajan. (Photo: PTI)

RK Singh, former Home Secretary, now BJP MP, had told Aaj Tak on 23 August 2015 that the former NDA government “had planned a covert operation to take down underworld don Dawood Ibrahim, but the operation was compromised by some Mumbai police officials. The Indian government had roped in some elements from the Chota Rajan gang and they were being trained at a secret location outside Maharashtra”.

James ‘Whitey’ Bulger, a notorious American criminal had committed 19 cases of murder, 32 counts of racketeering and extortion while working as an FBI informant. He absconded in 1995 and was arrested only in 2011. Now Bulger’s victims have filed 20 multi-million dollar suits against the FBI for being negligent in their monitoring and hence responsible for his crimes even while he was working as their informant. Do we think such a situation will not arise in India?

(The writer is a former Special Secretary, Cabinet Secretariat, and also member of the High Level Committee which inquired into the police performance during 26/11 Mumbai.)

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