News headlines

Times of India

Mumbai, April 1: Tiger Memon, the most wanted accused in the 1993 Mumbai bomb blasts case, whom Indian intelligence agencies have been trying to track down for the past 13 years, has been spotted in Dubai. According to intelligence sources in Delhi, the gangster has opened a restaurant in the Emirates city in partnership with a prominent Mumbai restaurateur. 

After masterminding the blasts, Memon escaped to Pakistan and for several years was reported to be in hiding in Saudi Arabia on a Pakistani passport. “Recently he was in Dubai to inaugurate his restaurant, in which his second partner is a UAE citizen,’’ said sources. “One of Memon’s relatives is fronting for him in the venture.’’ Observed a police official, “The government is not pursuing Memon with the zeal with which, say, the Israeli government would track down a wanted terrorist. That is why he has the gumption to resurface and open a restaurant.’’ 

The Mumbai restaurateur is currently in Dubai. When contacted by TOI on Friday, he confirmed that he had opened a restaurant there. “I have two partners—one of them is a local citizen who has been in the UAE for 40 years,’’ he said. When asked about the other partner, he sounded irritated and brusquely replied, “You find out yourself.’’ The police are likely to question the restaurateur when he returns to Mumbai. 

Several members of Memon’s family, who were living at Mahim, were arrested after the blasts, but Memon himself, who has criminal cases against him pre-dating the serial blasts, has been eluding the law-enforcement agencies all these years. He worked for the Dawood Ibrahim gang and was heavily into gold and narcotics smuggling and land-grabbing before the blasts. His property in Mahim was attacked by Shiv Sainiks during the January 1993 communal riots, which is one of the reasons why he played an active part in organising the March 1993 serial blasts. 

In another development, sources said that Chhota Shakeel was also investing heavily in real estate development in Mumbai which is witnessing an unprecedented boom in property prices. “Shakeel, through frontmen, has tied up with a notorious ladies’ bar owner,’’ said a senior official. “He is building a mega shopping mall in the western suburbs. More recently, he has purchased prime property in Juhu.’’ 

Shakeel is also eyeing a slum rehabilitation project in Bandra which he plans to develop in partnership with the bar ownerturned-builder. The current developer, who has the backing of more than 70 per cent of the slum-dwellers at this site, has been threatened by the Shakeel gang and asked to quit the project. 

The police are worried about the entry of gangsters in the real estate business since the purchases will give them enormous financial clout. Chhota Rajan’s brother Deepak Nikhalje, who was into film production, is also believed to have diversified into the real estate business.


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