'I withdraw my statement': Sanjay Raut over Indira-Karim Lala meeting comment

Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India], Jan 16 (ANI): Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut on Thursday said that if his statement claiming that former prime minister Indira Gandhi used to meet yesteryear don Karim Lala, has affected the image of the former prime minister then he withdraws from his statement.

"Our friends from Congress need not feel hurt. If someone feels that my statement has hurt the image of Indira Gandhi Ji or hurt someone's feelings, I take back my statement," said Raut.

Earlier today, Raut said that he has always stood up for Indira Gandhi whenever people have targeted her.

"The respect that I have always shown towards Indira Gandhi, Pandit Nehru, Rajiv Gandhi and the Gandhi family, despite being in opposition, nobody has done it. Whenever people have targeted Indira Gandhi, I have stood up for her," said Raut.

"Many political people used to come to meet Karim Lala, times were different back then. He was a leader of the Pathan community, he had come from Afghanistan. So, people used to meet him over the problems faced by the Pathan community," he added.

His statement came a day after he claimed Indira Gandhi used to go and meet yesteryear don Karim Lala in Mumbai.

"There was a time when Dawood Ibrahim, Chhota Shakeel, Sharad Shetty used to decide who would be Police Commissioner of Mumbai and who would sit in the 'Mantralaya'. Indira Gandhi used to go and meet Karim Lala. We've seen that underworld, now it's just 'chillar'," Raut said here.

Lala operated in smuggling, narcotics, gambling, forced property evictions, and extortion rackets in Mumbai for over two decades. He died in 2002 at the age of 90.

The Shiv Sena leader also claimed that he has photographed the fugitive don Dawood Ibrahim and has even threatened him.

"I have conducted a photo session of Dawood Ibrahim and others. There are a few people in the country who have seen and talked to Dawood Ibrahim. I have seen him, talked to him several times and even threatened him but that was a different time. (ANI)