India's Most Wanted Dawood Ibrahim has been at the end of long and winding diplomatic road for years but the ever-elusive fugitive has apparently made deep inroads into financial and real estate markets of Mumbai and other parts of the country.
Enforcement agencies have credible inputs of over 80 Indian benami properties that point to the Dawood Ibrahim gang.
"It is not the only battle to trace fixed assets possessed by the crime syndicate. The bigger challenge is to check the gang's widespread investments in real estate and financial markets managed through several legitimised routes," says Joint Commissioner Deven Bharti who heads the Economic Offences Wing of the Mumbai Police.
The last known fixed asset closely linked to Dawood was auctioned on April 1. The day that marked this denouement " April Fools' Day" was apt, for the auctioning of this 600 square foot flat at Nagpada came only after a two-decade long legal slog in the courts by India's enforcement agencies. The legal saga mutated into a babudom jinx after the sale. According to a senior customs officer, the new owners of the flat had to face a series of hurdles.
The sale was undertaken under SAFEMA (Smugglers and Foreign Exchange Manipulators Act) that deals with forfeiture, attachment and auctioning of illegally acquired properties belonging to the relatives of fugitives. Section 68-F of this law allows the attachment of properties belonging to the relatives of fugitives.
In 1998, the properties of Ibrahim's elder sister Haseena Parkar were attached on an order of the finance ministry. After Haseena Parkar passed away in 2014, the order was by her son Alisha Ibrahim Parkar. The D-gang's brigade of lawyers had managed to stall the auction till 2019 when the Supreme Court denied any relief to Alisha. It was only when they failed to prove that the flat was acquired by legitimate means that things moved towards its eventual auction.
Haseena was suspected to be the D-gang representative in Mumbai from 1992 onwards after her husband Ismail Parkar was killed by members of the rival Arun Gawli gang.
Dawood's brother Iqbal Kaskar was arrested from the house in September 2017. He was believed to be the man running the Dawood real estate show after he was deported from the United Arab Emirates in 2003. In a first, the police charged Dawood, his brother Anees and Iqbal for extortion.
According to a senior enforcement officer, their challenge had increased manifold over the years. Dawood's brother Iqbal had been managed to come out clean on all charges he faced after being deported, including the Sara Sahara illegal construction case and one of murder; he was finally nailed by encounter specialist Pradeep Sharma in an extortion case.
In 2016, the Delhi Police had chargesheeted Dawood Ibrahim in the cricket spot-fixing case involving global betting syndicates that had corrupted the game. These fresh cases against Dawood have only strengthened India's resolve to get Dawood following his escape after the 1993 serial blasts.
The last known address of Dawood Ibrahim was this Nagpada flat located on the first floor of 'A' Wing in Gordon Hall Apartments owned by his sister Haseena. Her Pehla Malha Court was a kangaroo court of sorts for settling complex dispute cases brought by the gang's inner coterie.
The auction of the flat brings down the curtain on the once-dreaded family of Dawood Ibrahim. His remaining close relatives, including his surviving sister Farzana Tungekar have now disappeared, quite likely an oblivion that will last her lifetime. Iqbal is cooling his heels in prison, Sohail Kaskar, the son of Dawood's elder brother Noora who died a decade ago, is waiting to be deported from US prison. Sohail was involved with Colombian cartels smuggling drugs and arms into US territory.