The police arrested six major associates of gangster Chota Shakeel in connection with an extortion racket in Mangalore on Thursday. This city in coastal Karnataka has been a talking point for a long time, and for all the wrong reasons. Vicky Nanjappa reports.
The Kodailbail police in Mangalore picked up six persons belonging to the Chota Shakeel gang who were in the city to extort businessmen and were attempting to murder a prominent person, who the police have not named.
The persons who have been arrested are Bombay Ravi, 23 from Bangalore, Suhail Ismail Sheik, 23 from Moodbidri, Rama, 33, from Bangalore, Purushottam, 21, Devraj, 25 and Vinod, 23 from Mysore.
The police also seized from them a car, swords, pistols, chilly powder, SIM cards of various networks, an Aadhar card and three debit cards.
The police had been on the lookout for this gang since the past three years. They were involved in the murder of Chandrashekhar Babu, a corporator in 2009 in Bangalore. These accused had visited Mangalore a couple of months back and had met with Rasheed Malabari, a Shakeel henchman in jail and had planned the operation, the Mangalore police told rediff.com.
Mangalore has had the nickname of gangster's paradise for quite some time now. Underworld activities have been thriving in the region for a lot of reasons, which are to do with the communal aspect as well.
Moreover the coast links the city to Dubai and the United Arab Emirates directly and the Inter-Service Intelligence controlled mafia has a major hold on Mangalore. The police had managed to get the city under control for some time after it had curbed the activities of gangsters such as Bannanje Raja, Koraga Vishwanath Shetty, Ravi Poojary, Kali Yogish and Madoor Isubu.
All these persons have a lookout notice against them in the Interpol.
Moreover, Mangalore also has a history of being controlled by the underworld for long. The notorious names that controlled Mangalore were Sharad Shetty who was killed in Dubai; Muthappa Rai, who is now reformed and runs an organisation, Ravi Poojary who runs his operations from Mangalore and Sadhu Shetty, who was also killed in an encounter among others.
Police officials say that the gang war in Mangalore has come down a great deal, but many of these gangsters have been operating through different means now. There has been a rise in illegal businesses in the form of unauthorised home stays, gambling hubs among other businesses.
The police have found that there are over 40 such illegal establishments in Mangalore which have not been authorised by the authorities. These establishments are being used for illegal activities, and in many cases the police have found that they have the blessings of local politicians as well.
Earlier, Mangalore was more of a landing point, but today there is a flourishing real estate market which has attracted the underworld. The activities such as smuggling have gone down a great deal and the extortion mafia tops the agenda of the underworld.
There are at least 50 complaints pending before the police from home-stay owners pertaining to extortions. There are several other complaints from Mangalore builders as well.
The two most prominent gangs that operate in Mangalore today are that of Ravi Poojary and Chota Shakeel. There is a communal tag which is attached to these gangs and both have been trying to make good use of the communal sentiments to further their cause.
The Chota Shakeel gang derives its support from Mangalore and the areas in Kasargod and Bhatkal, while the Ravi Poojary gang would counter this gang by portraying themselves as a patriotic outfit.
The past few years have seen a different pattern in which these gangs have been fighting their battle. First, it was the arrest of a notorious underworld operative Rasheed Malabari. He was apprehended in Mangalore and the police said that he was conspiring to kill Bharatiya Janata Party Member of Parliament Varun Gandhi.
This did not go down too well with the Poojary gang who retaliated by killing Naushad Kashimji, the advocate who was defending Malabari. This was once again followed up by retaliation where 12 men belonging to the Shakeel gang tried to eliminate a Hindu lawyer in Mangalore.
The police say that the situation is a bit fragile.
"Most of these operatives are not in the country and we require the support of the Interpol in order to nab these persons. We are only arresting the foot soldiers, while the masterminds continue to walk freely.These gangs are being controlled from Karachi, Kenya, UAE and Dubai and unless there is the support of the Interpol, it is going to be a difficult task ahead, the police officer added.