Extortion: Mumbai

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Extortion: Mumbai

The Times of India

196 extortion cases in ’09, none with D-link! Manthan K Mehta | TNN

Mumbai: Until a few years ago, Dawood Ibrahim’s name sent a chill down the spines of the rich and famous. Businessmen and Bollywood stars, among others, would find themselves at the receiving end of the dreaded gangster’s extortion calls. But last year all was quiet on the D-front — police couldn’t link the elusive don to any of the 196 extortion cases that were registered with them.

In 2008, for instance, a total of 162 extortion offences were registered, and 263 people were arrested. Of those, 240 were petty criminals, while 22 belonged to minor gangs. Only one accused is believed to be a member of the D-Company.

Despite this, many officers say it is premature to write-off one of India’s most wanted gangsters. While the D-gang may have taken the backseat, figures provided by Mumbai Police show that Dawood’s bete noire Chhota Rajan may be staging a comeback. From January 2010, at least two-high profile cases have been linked to the Chhota Rajan gang.

Refusing to comment on the Chhota Rajan gang, senior officers have attributed two reasons to the exit of the D-gang from the extortion business. Deven Bharati, additional commissioner of police (crime), believes that Dawood’s interests are expanding, and extortion is no longer a priority. ‘‘He is now concentrating on the more lucrative narcotics trade. Besides, big gangs don’t want to get involved in extortion cases as they invite undue attention.’’ The second reason, say police officers, is the ‘‘ruthless crackdown on extortion-related crime’’.

Zone-wise figures reveal an interesting trend: Most of the extortion cases registered over the past three years show ‘‘increasing activity’’ in the eastern region of Mumbai. According to Bharati, one of the reasons for this is the current construction boom in areas like Bhandup, Vikhroli and Mulund, which are attracting the attention of smalltime gangs eager to fill in the void left by notorious gangsters like Dawood.

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