Friday, August 28, 2015

Getting Mumbai Bombing Mastermind Dawood remains a fantasy for India

India has a fantasy, much like what the Jews nursed during World War II. The latter desperately wanted to get that one chance to find the top Nazi leaders together so that they could be blown out of existence.

India dreams of a day when it can send its sharpshooters into Pakistan to kill Ibrahim Dawood — the man responsible for the 1993 Mumbai bombings. On Friday 12 March, 13 bombs exploded — within minutes in different localities of the metropolis. About 350 people died and 1200 were injured or maimed in what is regarded as the first instance of serial explosions in the world.

Much like the US, which got the notorious terrorist, Osama bin-Laden, in 2011 reportedly after several attempts, India has been striving to get Dawood — through overt and covert ways.

Indeed, in 2005, India almost nailed the dreaded don — who is said to have been friends with Bin Laden and is hence a wanted criminal in America as well. Dawood’s crime syndicate, D- Company, founded in Mumbai, has close links with Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), which India believes is also responsible for terror attacks on its soil.

According to recent media reports — quoting a former Indian home secretary in New Delhi, R.K. Singh —  a hush-hush operation was planned to eliminate Dawood  when he was to have been in Dubai during July 2005 to attend his daughter Mahrukh’s wedding.  (She was marrying Pakistani cricketer Javed Miandad’s, son Junaid. The two had met in England while they were studying.)

India’s Intelligence Bureau (IB) officials felt that it would be best not to send their own commandos. Rather, they thought it would be wise to involve Chota Rajan, who had parted ways with Dawood after the 1993 blasts. Rajan was projecting himself as a Hindu don, opposed to the Muslim gangster that Dawood was. Also, Rajan was livid and devastated when Dawood tried bumping him off in Bangkok in 2000. And the 2005 plan seemed like heaven sent to Rajan.

Rajan sent two of his best sharpshooters, Vicky Malhotra and Farid Tanasha — who were trained in a secret Indian location.

But during their final briefing, cops from Mumbai  (once known as Bombay) landed in New Delhi and arrested Malhotra and Tanasha, despite IB’s vehement protest. There are two versions why this operation failed. One, there was lack of coordination between the IB and the Mumbai police. Two, the police supposedly sabotaged the plan because of their close ties with Dawood.

Tanasha was murdered in 2010, and Malhotra jumped bail while he was serving a five-year jail sentence, and today nobody knows anything about him.

Although the plan to kill Dawood has in all these 10 years never been spoken of publicly, there were perhaps some who were in the know of things. Probably, film director Nikhil Advani, had got wind of this or he was merely indulging in wish fulfilment, one would never know.  His 2013 movie, D Day, was uncannily similar to the 2005 IB operation.

The don in the crime thriller, Goldman, heads D-Company, travels to Pakistan for his son’s wedding — in defiance of security protocol. The first attempt to get him by agents of India’s Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) gets botched up, but in the end, Goldman is captured and brought to India. In a dramatic climax, he is shown being shot dead just across the border, even as the ISI is chasing him and his Indian captors.

For Indians — who term Dawood “the butcher of Bombay” – D Day was like a drop from Heaven, the consummation of a fantasy. So what if the whole story was well, a story — much like Quentin Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds, where a Jewish girl (whose family had been shot dead by the Nazis) and her accomplice set fire to a theatre where  top Nazi leaders are watching a picture.

Of course, the German men did not face anything like this in real life, and the war is long over. But Dawood still burns bright, and India can always find another chance to get him. And as Singh averred, America tried several times before it could actually eliminate Bin Laden in Abbotabad, Pakistan.

Gautaman Bhaskaran is an author, commentator and movie critic, who has worked with The Statesman in Kolkata and The Hindu in Chennai for 35 years. He now writes for the Hindustan Times, the Gulf Times and The Seoul Times.



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