The rivalry between Rajendra Sadashiv Nikhalje alias Chhota Rajan and his former boss Dawood Ibrahim is legendary in Mumbai's underworld. In the past few years, their respective gangs have planned unsuccessful hits on each other's bosses.
Intelligence agencies recently intercepted an interesting call between another notorious gangster Chhota Shakeel and Rajan's aide. According to the Times of India, which claimed to have the call intercepts, Dawood, along with underworld don Chhota Shakeel, planned to kill Rajan earlier this year, but again, without success.
The intercepts showed a surge in calls from Karachi to a person in India in April this year. Intelligence officials listening in found that the conversations were being conducted in a mix of Hindi and Urdu.
Shakeel is said to have found out the exact location where the 'Hindu don' was suspected to be.
Shakeel is heard convincing Rajan's aide to rat out his boss. "He has been trying to project us in bad light and pretends to be a patriot," Shakeel tells Rajan's aide. Shakeel also promised a generous reward to the aide for information.
"Last time, too, he had a narrow escape. You just open up and help us. We will make sure he is taken this time (sic)," Shakeel is heard saying. He also promised to 'take care' of the aide.
After the aide gave away Rajan's location in Australia, a few shooters were dispatched from a Middle-East country. However, a mysterious benefactor of Rajan alerted him and he went underground.
This wasn't the first time Rajan experienced a narrow escape. In September 2000, Rajan was tracked down in Bangkok by members of the Chhota Shakeel gang and was shot at. During this firing incident, Rajan, who was using the alias of Vijay Kadam, was admitted to a hospital by Thai police who did not know his real identity.
His gang members saved him by hatching a daring escape plan and with the help of pulleys and ropes. They heaved an injured Rajan from the fourth floor of the hospital to a waiting van and fled with him to the Cambodian border.
Rajan was a close aide of Dawood till the two parted ways over the latter’s role in the Bombay blasts in 1993. After the blasts, they fell out completely, with Rajan positioning himself as a ‘patriotic don’, and challenging the hegemony of Dawood as a “people’s gangster”.