After bombing his hometown of Mumbai in the 1990s, Dawood Ibrahim became unwelcome in India and fled to Karachi, Pakistani, where he has maintained a lifestyle of the rich and famous. HindiNest.com is featuring an informative article (h/t @1389) about Dawood, who is protected by active and retired members of Pakistan’s intelligence community. He has extensive operations in Dubai but can’t stay there because the UAE has an extradition treaty with India. An excerpt follows:
…Ibrahim lives like a king. Home is a palatial house spread over 6,000 square yds, boasting a pool, tennis courts, snooker room and a private, hi-tech gym. He wears designer clothes, drives top of the line Mercedes’ and luxurious four-wheel drives, sports a half-a-million rupee Patek Phillipe wristwatch, and showers money on starlets and prostitutes. He bought Lahore model, Saba, with whom he reportedly had a passionate involvement, a house and a car. Nor does he shirk his obligations: Mandakini, of Ram Teri Ganga Maili fame, former Bollywood actress with whom he had a child is reportedly still being supported by him.
His daily regimen is also rather kingly. He wakes in the afternoon. After a swim and shower, he has breakfast. In the late afternoon, he gives his employees an audience where he briefs them on their assignments and they give him daily reports of his myriad businesses.
If in the mood, he engages in a game of cricket or snooker with friends. And as the sun sets, Dawood and his party set off for any one of his ‘safe houses’ in Karachi for an evening of revelry – usually comprising drinks (Black Label is his preference), mujras and gambling. The long-married Dawood’s passion for women has made him a favoured client for local pimps. His current liaison notwithstanding, he whets his allegedly large sexual appetite with a variety of women.
“He prefers virgins, preferably young girls. And he is a good paymaster. If the market rate for a woman is 10,000 rupees, Dawood pays 100,000 rupees. He is thus always surrounded by Pakistan’s top call girls,” discloses one of his family friends.
Carousing through the night, Dawood and his companions quit only at dawn and collectively offer fajr prayers. This has been Dawood Ibrahim’s routine for several years.
From petty street urchin to don of the Mumbai underworld, Dawood’s life makes for a fascinating story.
Dawood seems to have realised early in life that crime paid. His petty exploits sometimes landed him in trouble, but his father’s position as a policeman saved him from being apprehended on several occasions. Soon the Mumbai underworld started taking note of him.
Initially operating independently, Dawood formed his own gang, which grew into a mega crime network over the years. Both Hindus and Muslims worked for him, pursuing his by now multiple business interests, which included drugs, mediating in business disputes, evicting tenants from old buildings and clearing land for purposes of construction.
Ibrahim’s interests soon led him to Bollywood where he became a major film financier. At his lavish parties, there was never a shortage of the mega stars of the day. “They wouldn’t dare refuse an invitation,” says a friend, who maintains that those who opted out on account of shooting schedules would suddenly find their dates had been cancelled or postponed.
Growing Hindu-Muslim tension, fuelled by other underworld dons, which climaxed after the Babri mosque demolition, changed everything. The ensuing blasts in Mumbai, and the communal riots triggered by the underworld itself, caused the Dawood Ibrahim gang to splinter. One of his top lieutenants, Chota Rajan, often described by Ibrahim as one of his ‘nauratans,’ (nine jewels) defected and formed his own group consisting mainly of Hindu boys. Thereafter, Ibrahim was accused of masterminding the blasts, even though he was out of town at the time. He could never return to India. Dubai, which might have been a natural alternative residence, was ruled out because of an Interpol alert for Dawood’s arrest – the UAE and India have an extradition treaty.
Thus Dawood fled to Pakistan, managing also to subsequently smuggle his family, comprising his wife, four daughters and a son, and certain close associates and their families out of Mumbai. (One daughter, 12, subsequently died of malaria and is buried in Pakistan). Today they are all Pakistani passport holders.
For the Muslims of Mumbai, Dawood’s role in the blasts makes him a hero. “You cannot imagine the behaviour of the Hindus towards us before the blasts. They would hurl insults at our veiled women, ridicule us and mock our beards. The blasts changed everything. Now they cannot underestimate our strength; they are afraid of us,” said a shopkeeper from Dawood Ibrahim’s old mohalla on Mohammad Ali Road, a largely Muslim neighbourhood, whose residents shun the press and fiercely guard their privacy.
In Pakistan meanwhile, Dawood managed to establish another huge empire, comprising both legitimate and illegitimate businesses. In fact, the last few years have witnessed Dawood emerge as the don of Karachi.
Dawood and his men have made heavy investments in prime properties in Karachi and Islamabad, and are major players in the Karachi bourse and in the parallel credit system business – hundi. Dawood is also said to have rescued Pakistan’s Central Bank which was in crisis at one point, by providing a huge dollar loan. His businesses include gold and drug smuggling. The gang is also allegedly heavily involved in match-fixing. Dawood’s influence among the Pakistani cricket players is so well known that a senior Pakistan cricket official met Dawood to get the names of those Pakistani cricketers involved in betting.
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.
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 also working for Dawood as trouble-shooters. However, Dawood’s growing influence has irked Karachi’s powerful ethnic group, the mohajirs, who feel Dawood is trespassing on their domain as more and more people are now looking to Dawood to sort out their problems. “Earlier, whether it was a case of financial dispute or the construction or regularisation of an illegal building, people came to us for help. Now all of them are going to Dawood,” remarked a former leader of Altaf Hussain’s MQM.
Dawood’s business activities are not confined to the subcontinent. His network extends to several countries of the African continent, and to Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Dubai, Germany, France and UK. His net worth has been estimated at close to 30 billion rupees.
Meanwhile, not only have the Pakistani authorities turned a blind eye to the gang’s activities within Pakistan, but many in the corridors of power have partaken of Dawood’s hospitality. Dawood 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 civvies 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 either retired or serving officers,”claims an MQM activist…
Although this article describes Dawood’s net worth as 30 billion rupees (500 million USD), others sources have put it as high as $20 billion. And although this piece describes his presence in Karachi, Dawood Ibrahim may have recently relocated to a different city in Pakistan–Money Jihad will post more on that tomorrow.