Why Dawood Ibrahim continues to be India’s most wanted (2024)

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Dawood Ibrahim is back in the news after reports emerged that he’s been hospitalised in Karachi after being poisoned. The gangster has been charged for his involvement in some of the most grave crimes committed in India, including the 1993 Mumbai blasts, 26/11 attacks and the IPL spot-fixing scandal


Why Dawood Ibrahim continues to be India’s most wanted (1)

News channels and social media is lit up; a look at the trending topics or top posts on X will show that most people are discussing the report of noted underworld don Dawood Ibrahim being hospitalised in Pakistan.

Reports have emerged that the leader of the D-Company,Dawood Ibrahim, was hospitalisedtwo days ago due to a serious health complication, with some speculating that poisoning could be the reason behind his illness. It was further reported that he is being kept under tight security inside the hospital and is the only patient on his floor. Sources, according to an India Today report, added that only top hospital authorities and his close family members have access to the floor.


The Mumbai Police, reports say, is trying to glean more information about Dawood’s condition from his relatives that continue to live in the city. For the unaware, Dawood has been a fugitive from India since 1984, first fleeing to Dubai and then making Pakistan his home. As per intelligence reports, Dawood resides in White House, near Saudi Mosque, Clifton in Karachi, Pakistan.

As the buzz around his health grows louder, we take a closer look at the underworld don’s life and how he became India’s most wanted man.

How Dawood Kaskar became the ‘Don’

Dawood Ibrahim Kaskar was born in 1955 into a modest family of eight brothers and four sisters. Ironically, Dawood’s father was a head constable in the Mumbai Police. Born in a village in Ratnagiri in Maharashtra, he was raised in central Mumbai’s Dongri area, which went on to become his stronghold in later years.


At a young age, Dawood was attracted to a life of crime; indulging in acts of hooliganism and even forming his own gang of Dongri boys who participated in small-time smuggling and violence. At the age of 19, he came in contact with the gang of the then-reigning king of the underworld, Haji Mastan and it was then that he began earning a name in the criminal world.


He later formed the D-Gang and as they say, the rest is history. In the late ’80s and early ’90s, he created a multi-billion dollar criminal enterprise involved in prostitution, gambling and drugs. In fact, in 2015, Forbes had pegged Dawood’s wealth at an estimate $6.7 billion.

Why Dawood Ibrahim continues to be India’s most wanted (2)

In later years, he expanded to international drug trafficking providing transportation for illegal activities, extortion, smuggling from South Africa and South Asia, counterfeiting currency (using ISI’s printing factories and then smuggling it into India via Nepal) and even betting on cricket.

Ruling as the ‘don’ of Mumbai, he also gained a grip over Bollywood; he allegedly began financing a number of films and got some of the country’s leading actors to star in them. As one of his previous colleagues was quoted as saying, “They wouldn’t dare refuse an invitation.”

Douglas Farah, a counter-terrorism expert, in a report to The Guardian had said about Dawood, “Ibrahim loves to hang out with movie stars and live the good life. Not exactly a natural ally of radical Islamist groups, but he appears to provide the muscle and know-how to attacks, rather than being the intellectual author of the violence he has participated in. His ideology seems more firmly wedded to his financial well-being than to his religious beliefs.”


Becoming India’s most wanted

As the leader of the D-Company, Dawood Ibrahim created a criminal syndicate that few could even imagine. He also began indulging in terror activities, and is said to have links to Al Qaeda. Some authorities also note that he has connections to other terror organisations such as Boko Haram and even the Lashkar-e-Taiba.


Following the 1993 Mumbai blasts – 13 explosions jolted the financial capital of the country, killing more than 250 people – authorities found evidence linking him to the attack and he was charged with masterminding the serial bombings. It is believed that the bombings were carried out as revenge for the deaths of hundreds of Muslims in the 1992 Mumbai communal riots.


Also read: Dawood Ibrahim ‘poisoned’ in Karachi? How Pakistan denies sheltering the underworld don

Authorities have said that he planned and executed the blasts with the help of his associates and the terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba. He also provided the explosives, arms, and training to the perpetrators. The blasts targeted 12 locations in Mumbai, including the Bombay Stock Exchange, the Air India Building, and the Shiv Sena headquarters.


Why Dawood Ibrahim continues to be India’s most wanted (3)

In 2003, the US also placed Ibrahim on its list of global terrorists in 2003, claiming he had linked with Al Qaeda. In fact, there’s a bounty of $25 million on Dawood’s head.

Dawood’s name has also cropped up in other terror attacks on Indian soil. He is suspected to have a role in the 2008 Mumbai attacks, which killed 166 people and injured over 300. Sources within the security circles have said that it was Dawood provided logistical and financial support to the attackers, and also helped them escape from Mumbai. He also allegedly used his network of hawala operators and fake currency dealers to fund the attacks.


He is also wanted for his connection to the 2010 Pune German Bakery blast. Authorities allege that the blast at the popular tourist spot in Pune had been carried out by the Indian Mujahideen, a terror outfit allegedly linked to Dawood and the Lashkar-e-Taiba. Additionally, Dawood had provided the explosives and the mobile phone used in the blast, and also facilitated the escape of the bomber.


His name has also emerged in the murder of journalistJyotirmoy Deyin 2011. Officials say that the scribe, known for his crime exposes was killed, for writing against Dawood. Moreover, the horrific murder of music baron Gulshan Kumar in 1997 was also at the behest of Dawood after the former refused to pay extortion money to the gangster. He’s also believed to be tied to the kidnapping and murder of shoe baron Pariksh*t Thakkar in 2000, who was allegedly abducted and killed by Dawood Ibrahim’s gang for not paying ransom money.


In addition to all of these crimes, Dawood is also accused of being involved in the notorious2013 IPL spot-fixing scandal. Investigators say that some players involved in the scandal were allegedly in touch with bookies and fixers, who were working for Dawood Ibrahim and his associate Chhota Shakeel. Dawood Ibrahim and Chhota Shakeel allegedly controlled the betting racket and made huge profits from the illegal gambling. They also allegedly threatened and blackmailed the players and the team owners to cooperate with them.

As recently as 2022, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) has also filed a chargesheet against the fugitive don in a case related to a global terrorist network and a transnational organised crime syndicate, namely D-Company, which is involved in various terrorist and criminal activities in India.

Why Dawood Ibrahim continues to be India’s most wanted (4)

A life of luxury in Pakistan

Despite being charged in several cases, Dawood has evaded justice in India as he now resides in Pakistan. He fled Mumbai in 1984 to avoid persecution and set up base in Dubai. However, he soon moved to Pakistan and made Karachi his base.

Now, in his 60s, Dawood has maintained Karachi to be his home. In 2001, Pakistani journalist Ghulam Hasnain, researching an article on the gangster, wrote that Ibrahim’s life read like a page from Mario Puzo’s classic, The Godfather.

Also read: Dawood Ibrahim’s exclusive interview: 1993 Mumbai serial blasts accused is fit and in Pakistan

“He lives like a king,” he wrote of his life in Pakistan shared by his wife, four daughters and son. “Home is a palatial house spread over 6,000 square yards, 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 half-a-million rupee Patek Phillipe wristwatch, and showers money on starlets and prostitutes.”

And in his years there, he has allegedly cultivated close ties with Pakistan’s ISI and LeT; he allegedly started funding LeT’s activities, recruiting people for their training camps, and providing them with their smuggling routes and contacts.

In fact, India has time and again even on international platforms reiterated that Dawood enjoys patronage in the “neighbouring country”. In 2020, Pakistan even confirmed that Dawood was residing in Karachi and had ordered for the seizure of all his assets and freezing of his accounts.

And despite being designated as a ‘global terrorist’ by the United Nations Security Council, Dawood lives a free life. It is now to be seen what happens next.

With inputs from agencies


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Why Dawood Ibrahim continues to be India’s most wanted (5)

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Why Dawood Ibrahim continues to be India’s most wanted (2024)
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