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Saturday, September 16, 2000

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Chhota Rajan killed in Bangkok shoot-out

MUMBAI, SEPT 15: Underworld don Chhota Rajan was shot dead outside a Bangkok restaurant along with two of his aides Rohit Verma and Bharat Nepali by rival gangsters in a shoot-out on Friday. Rajan, who was operating from Malaysia, was on a business trip to the Thai capital.

However, intelligence sources here have said that the chances of Rajan being in Bangkok are slim: the fear of hired assassins --- there are many in Bangkok who can be hired for a small sum of money --- would discourage the mafia don from showing up in Thailand's capital. "It is unlikely that Chhota Rajan would have taken the risk of venturing into the area," said sources today.

But if Chhota Rajan has indeed been killed, it would throw his international network into disarray, even put an end to its dominance in the underworld. Rajan was the lynchpin of his gang, unrivalled in his shrewdness and ability to control operations spread over several countries. If he is dead, chances are Dawood Ibrahim's gang would then gain an upper hand.

Rajan's rise to notoriety was meteoric. He began as a black-marketeer selling cinema tickets outside Sahakar theatre in Chembur in 1974. Soon he graduated to become a sharp-shooter under his mentor Bada Rajan, who was the don of Chembur. Later he became associated with Dawood Ibrahim and Arun Gawli. He was a frequent visitor at Dagdi Chawl.

He moved to Dubai after a few professional hits in Mumbai when the police turned the heat on. But he broke away from Dawood's gang in 1993 after a tiff over the notorious corporator Khim Bahadur Thapa's killing. Rajan had hired two sharp-shooters, Vilas Mane and Avdhut Bonde, to bump off Thapa after he allegedly squealed on one of Rajan's closest associates to the police, resulting in his death in an encounter.

Thapa's death however forced him to part ways with Dawood and flee Dubai. Later, he established himself in Malaysia and Eastern Australia, where he lived on a yacht some miles off shore. In the last seven years, the ongoing rivalry between Rajan and Dawood has claimed nearly 100 lives.

Copyright © 2000 Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd.


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