NEW DELHI: Rajendra Sadashiv Nikhalje is better known as Chhota Rajan, the gangster who was a close ally of 1993 Mumbai blast accused and underworld don Dawood Ibrahim. After the blasts, Rajan quit Dawood's organisation and formed a rival group of his own and since then there has been no love lost between the two.
Dawood fled India after the blasts, and is India's most wanted man. He is said to be holed up in Pakistan, while Rajan is apparently in Australia according to intelligence sources. Both of them have tried to control their India operations through trusted deputies in Mumbai. Rajan has been the target of Dawood's 'kill' orders in the past — and was shot in Thailand in 2000 — but managed to survive. After almost five years of peace, during which Dawood's grip over the Mumbai underworld weakened because of his own absence and police crackdown on the mafia, Rajan is once again a target. Dawood has sent a team to Australia headed by his trusted lieutenant Chhota Shakeel to kill Rajan.
Rajan, who was supposed to have fled Australia after news that Shakeel's team was there, has moved cities. "He has merely moved away from Newcastle and shifted to an unidentified place in Australia. Shakeel is also aware of this fact and has not called his men back ," an officer is quoted in Times of India report. Rajan has said before that he is a Hindu and a 'patriotic' don compared with Dawood. His group killed several of Dawood's men in Mumbai, resulting in a protracted series of tit-for-tat shootings.
Rajan is in poor health and has decided to lie low. Also, getting into a firefight in Australia might jeopardize his own status and bring him to the attention of local authorities.
For Dawood, taking down Rajan would still be a victory, atleast in publicity after the group has struggled to regain its old prowess. However in an interview with the Times of India, Shakeel said this is all about settling an old enmity. Rajan had been living in South East Asia for years, before moving to Australia.