Organised crime in India

Organised crime in India
Founding location India
Territory Active in many parts of India
Australia, Burma, Canada, France including its overseas departments, Germany, Malaysia, Nepal, Pakistan, Singapore, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Philippines, Thailand, United Kingdom, United States and United Arab Emirates
Ethnicity Indian
Criminal activities Racketeering, drug trafficking, corruption, entryism, extortion, loan sharking, human trafficking, money laundering, robbery, bootlegging, arms trafficking, gambling, funding Bollywood illegally, bribery, skimming, tax evasion and forgery
Allies Indo-Canadian gangs, Russian Mafia, Israeli mafia, Nigerian mafia

Organized crime in India is a reference to organized crime elements originating in India and active in many parts of the world. The mafia is involved in many criminal activities based in India and international as well.[1][2] The Indian mafia also refers to those powerful families that have criminal aspects to them.[3]

Mumbai underworld

Mumbai underworld refers to the organized crime network in the city of Mumbai, in the state of Maharashtra in India. Mumbai is the largest city of India and also its financial capital. Over the period of time, Mumbai underworld has been dominated by several different groups and mobsters.

Haji Mastan was a Mumbai based mobster, who became the first celebrity gangster of the city of Mumbai, expanding his clout in the film industry by giving money to directors and studios for film production. As Mastan's influence in Bollywood grew, he began to produce films himself. Born in 1926 in a Tamil family in Pannaikulam, near Ramanathapuram, Tamil Nadu,[4] Haji Mastan originally known as Mastan Haider Mirza at the age of 8 moved to Mumbai with his father. The father-son duo ran a small cycle repair shop in Crawford market. 10 years later in the year 1944, Mastan joined Bombay docks as a porter and from there entered in organized crime. He worked in association with Karim Lala and by 1960s he became a rich man. The riches he accumulated were because of smuggling gold, silver and electronic goods on which he made millions. He even started financing his money in Bollywood and became a film producer.[5]

Varadarajan Mudaliar, popularly known as Vardha bhai, was a Mumbai based ethnic Hindu Mumbai mafia mobster, Varadarajan Muniswami Mudaliar came to be known as Vardhabhai who operated from early 1960s to 1980 and accorded equal clout along with Haji Mastan and Karim Lala. Starting off as a porter, his first brush with the crime world was when he began selling illicit liquor. He commanded a lot of respect within the Tamil community and he also ran a parallel judiciary where his verdict was the law of the land and final and binding in areas such as Matunga and Dharavi, believed to have a large presence of Tamilians. The Tamil don in tandem with Haji Mastan ventured into stealing dock cargo. He later diversified into contract killings and narcotics trade. He enjoyed a fine run as he entirely through the seventies, controlled the criminal operations in east and north central Mumbai. Karim Lala commanded south and central Mumbai and majority of smuggling and illegal construction financing was an area looked into by Haji Mastan[5]

Karim Lala and his family members' groups operated in the Mumbai docks, they were often called Pathan mafia or Afghan mafia, terms coined by Mumbai law enforcement for his mafia group in Mumbai because of the majority of the members of these crime syndicate's members were ethnic Pashtuns from Afghanistan's Kunar province. They were especially involved in hashish trafficking, protection rackets, extortion, illegal gambling, gold smuggling and contract killing and held a firm stranglehold over Mumbai's underworld.[6] Lala controlled bootlegging and gambling to the city in 1940 and was the undisputed king of the trade till 1985.

The powerful trio of Haji Mastan, Varadarajan Mudaliar and Karim Lala enjoyed backing of their communities.

D-Company is the name given to the organized crime group controlled by Dawood Ibrahim, with its origin in the city of Mumbai. It has been argued that the D-Company is not a stereotypical organised crime cartel in the strict sense of the word, but rather a collusion of criminal and Islamic terrorist groups based around Dawood Ibrahim's personal control and leadership.[7][8] Dawood Ibrahim is currently on the wanted list of Interpol for cheating, criminal conspiracy and running an organised crime syndicate.[9] Dawood was number three on the The World's 10 Most Wanted.[10] Ibrahim is accused of heading an illegal empire against India and Indians. After the 1993 Bombay bombings, which Ibrahim allegedly organised and financed with Tiger Memon,[11] both became India's most wanted men.[12][13] According to the United States Department of Treasury, Ibrahim may have had ties with Osama bin Laden.[14][15] As a consequence, the United States declared Ibrahim a "Specially Designated Global Terrorist" in 2003 and pursued the matter before the United Nations in an attempt to freeze his assets around the world and crack down on his operations.[16] Indian and Russian intelligence agencies have pointed out Ibrahim's possible involvement in several other terror attacks, including the 2008 Mumbai attacks,[17][18] as per Interpol.[9][19][20] In 2010, a US Congressional report claimed that "D-company has a 'strategic alliance' with Pakistan's ISI".[21] Ever since he took to hiding, his location has been frequently traced to Karachi, Pakistan, a claim which Pakistani authorities have denied.[22]

Chotta Rajan is the boss of a major crime syndicate based in Mumbai. He was a former key aide and lieutenant of Dawood Ibrahim. Starting as a petty thief and bootlegger working for Rajan Nair, also known as Bada Rajan (Big Rajan), Chhota Rajan took over the reins of Bada Rajan's gang after Bada Rajan's murder. Later, he was affiliated with and operated at the behest of Dawood in Mumbai and eventually fled India to Dubai in 1988. He is wanted for many criminal cases that include extortion, murder, smuggling, drug trafficking and film finance. His brother is said to produce films financed by Rajan. He is also wanted in 17 murder cases and several more attempted murders. Chhota Rajan was arrested in Bali by Indonesian police on 25 October 2015.[23] He was extradited to India on 6 November after 27 years on the run and is currently awaiting trial in CBI custody.[24]

Arun Gawli's gang is based at Dagdi Chawl in Byculla, Mumbai. He started his criminal activities there and used the rooms there for keeping kidnapped persons, torturing them, extorting money from them and murdering them. The police raided the premises several times and finally broke his operations.[25] He has been arrested several times for criminal activities and detained for long periods during trial. However, he could not be convicted in most of the cases as witnesses would not depose against him for fear. He was finally convicted for murder of Shiv Sena leader Kamalakar Jamsandekar by a court in August 2012. Gawli and eleven others were found guilty of Jamsandekar's murder.[26]

Organized crime can also be seen in several other Indian cities like Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Mangalore, Calcutta.

Goa Mafia

Several local Indian, Russian, Israeli and Nigerian mafia groups are heavily involved in the organized drug trade in Goa, India's smallest state. Sources reveal that there are also individual players who are British, French, Italian, Portuguese and from other European countries. Some have been visiting the state for over two decades and have their fixed international and local clientele.[27] Goa has, in recent days become a principal hub of the international drug trade, apart from being a key point of consumption. According to estimates, drugs flowing out of different foreign locations lands on the comparatively unguarded Goan coastline as Mumbai and its hinterland are no longer considered an easy route for trafficking, since the checks by the Coastguard, Navy, customs patrols and other government bodies.[28]

Uttar Pradesh Mafia

The region of Poorvanchal in the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh has been the territory of various mafia groups who have controlled the organized crime in the state and the neighboring region.[29]

Punjab Mafia

Punjabi mafia refers to the organized criminal gangs in the state of Punjab in India. There has been a spurt in the formation and activities of such criminal gangs in Punjab over the last decade even though some gangs, associated with those based in Uttar Pradesh, have been operational in the state since the end of militancy in Punjab.[30] Post militancy, they took to contract killings. The real estate and industrial sector boom of the early 2000 saw several criminals surfacing with the primary objective of controlling unions. The flourishing of the banking sector, especially finance companies, spurred the demand for bouncers who ensured recovery of bad loans and helped in grabbing disputed properties. Cricket bookies too used their services. Around five years back when the boom in real estate ended, these gangs then tuned to extortion and protection money as their source of income. Most of these are inter-state gangs as well as the ones specializing in arms smuggling, narcotics and abduction. Kidnappings for ransom in Punjab, something which rarely happened earlier, are on the rise.[31]

A major form of Indian Punjabi organized crime are also the foreign-based, Indo-Canadian organised crime, the vast majority of them being of Punjabi origin from the Jat Sikh community, whose exploits have led to over 100 gang deaths of young men of Punjabi descent in the Canada since the 1990s. Indo-Canadian gangs are one of Canada's major organised crime problems, ranked third behind motorcycle clubs and Aboriginal criminal groups. These criminal organisations are mainly active in the province of British Columbia, Alberta, and Ontario.


India is a major transit point for heroin from the Golden Triangle and Golden Crescent en route to Europe. India is also the world's largest legal grower of opium, and experts estimate that 5–10% of the legal opium is converted into illegal heroin and 8–10% is consumed in high quantities as concentrated liquid. The pharmaceutical industry is also responsible for a lot of illegal production of mandrax, much of which is smuggled into South Africa. Diamond smuggling via South Africa is also a major criminal activity, and diamonds are also sometimes used to disguise shipments of heroin. Finally, a lot of money laundering takes place in the country, mostly through the use of the traditional hawala system, although India has criminalised money laundering as of 2003.[32] [33]

See also


  1. "Can Narendra Modi bring Dawood Ibrahim back to India from Pakistan?". dna. Retrieved 26 December 2014.
  3. "Know about Haji Mastan, the first underworld don of Mumbai". Retrieved 26 December 2014.
  5. 1 2
  6. "Dongri to Dubai". Retrieved 6 May 2015.
  7. "U.S. slaps sanctions against Chhota Shakeel, Tiger Memon". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 2012-05-16.
  8. "Untitled Page". Retrieved 26 December 2014.
  9. 1 2 "Shaikh, Dawood Hasan". Interpol. Retrieved 30 December 2012.
  10. "Dawood 4th 'most wanted' criminal on Forbes list". The Times of India. (28 April 2008). Retrieved 16 April 2012.
  11. "The ones who got away".
  12. "Profile: India's fugitive gangster". BBC News. 12 September 2006.
  13. "'I am happy Yakub Memon has been caught'".
  14. "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original on January 19, 2009. Retrieved January 19, 2009..
  15. isi-shifts-underworld-don-dawood-ibrahim-to-pakistan-afghanistan-border
  16. "Bush administration imposes sanctions on India's most wanted criminals Dawood Ibrahim and sai bansod". IndiaDaily. 2 June 2006.
  17. "Dawood behind Mumbai attacks: ATS sources" Archived October 19, 2013, at the Wayback Machine.. Ibnlive. Retrieved 16 April 2012.
  18. "Dawood directly involved in Mumbai attack: Russia intelligence". The Times of India. 18 December 2008.
  19. "Dawood Ibrahim is a global terrorist: US". 2003-10-17. Retrieved 2015-08-10.
  20. "Intelligence agencies". IBNLive. 2015-05-19. Retrieved 2015-08-10.
  21. "Dawood is a terrorist, has 'strategic alliance' with ISI, says US - The Times of India". 2010-01-07. Retrieved 2015-08-10.
  22. William C. Banks; Renée de Nevers; Mitchel B. Wallerstein (1 October 2007). Combating Terrorism: Strategies and Approaches. SAGE Publications. p. 113. ISBN 978-1-4833-7092-7.
  23. "Chhota Rajan arrested in Indonesia after decades on the run". DNA. 26 October 2015. Retrieved 26 October 2015.
  26. "Arun Gawli convicted in murder case". The Hindu. Chennai, India. August 24, 2012. Retrieved 24 August 2012.
  32. Nations Hospitable to Organized Crime and Terrorism - Library of Congress report
  33. "Final film in Indian Gangster Trilogy a Must See". Cinema Strikes Back. 2005-08-24. Retrieved 2011-07-07.
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