He used to sell movie tickets in the black market, and was regarded a petty criminal in his early days. When the law finally caught up with Rajendra Sadashiv Nikhaljee, better known as 'Chhota Rajan', the 55-year-old gangster was already one of the most-wanted men in India.
Here are nine little-known facts about him that you should know.
1. He was just a teenager when he started selling movie tickets in black outside Chembur's Sahakar Cinema in Tilaknagar in the 1970s and 80s. He worked for Rajan Mahadev Nair alias 'Bada Rajan', who in turn worked with Matunga-based underworld don Vardarajan Mudliar.
Rajan was born in Tilaknagar, and his family still lives there, reported PTI.
2. He came into his own in the Mumbai underworld after he avenged the murder of his mentor, Bada Rajan, who was shot dead outside Esplanade Court in South Mumbai by Chandrasekhar Safalika and Abdul Kunju in 1983. Chhota Rajan tipped off the cops, who killed Safalika in an encounter. Later, he got Kunju bumped off by a Mumbai gang.
This is how he first came in contact with Dawood Ibrahim, who was to be his boss until they fell apart later.
3. Rajan started to work for Dawood, who was an established gold smuggler by then, to look after his activities in Mumbai. From 1984 to 1993, the Rajan-Dawood were a deadly combination in Mumbai's underworld.
4. Rajan split with Dawood after the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts, where Dawood is believed to be one of the main conspirators. Chhota Shakeel replaced Rajan, following which several of Rajan and Dawood's associates killed each other. Rajan meanwhile established himself as a 'Hindu' don by killing those he regarded as "anti-India", countering Dawood.
5. Rajan and his gang members killed Mirza Dilshad Beg, a Nepali parliamentarian with alleged links to Dawood, in 1998. This is widely-regarded as one of Rajan's most sensational killings, and in a 1998 interview he claimed to have ordered the hit on Beg as he was "a conduit for the (Pakistani) ISI".
6. Rajan narrowly avoided being murdered himself in September 2000. Chhota Shakeel had planned his assassination while he was staying in a hotel in Bangkok, but Rajan escaped through the hotel's roof even as he was hit by bullets.
7. Rajan's wife Sujata was arrested five years later under the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA). Rajan moved to dealing with real estate to keep up his crime syndicate, which by then had taken a severe beating.
8. Rajan was accused of ordering the murder of well-known crime reporter J Dey, who was shot dead in suburban Powai on 11 June, 2011.
9. Rajan provided key inputs to Indian police and security agencies on Dawood's whereabouts in the past few years.
(with PTI inputs)
Contact HuffPost India