'It would be unfair on the Mumbai police to believe that D has compromised the force. We should not forget that today the underworld in Mumbai stands decimated because of the efforts of the Mumbai police.'
Neeraj Kumar, former Delhi police commissioner, who spent nine years with the Central Bureau of Investigation, first as deputy inspector general and then as joint director, has just written Dial D For Don: Inside Stories of CBI Missions.
Neeraj Kumar spoke to Prasanna D Zore/Rediff.com About his telephonic encounters with Dawood Ibrahim.
Dawood called you on your personal phone number in July 2013 after his name cropped up in the spot-fixing scandal involving IPL players. How easy it is for gangsters to get personal details of senior police officers? Were you threatened during that phone call?
I guess he would have got my number from either the Police Control Room under some ruse or from his contacts. It is not very difficult to get someone's number in today's day and time.
If at all there was a threat, it was a veiled one, as I have explained in the book.
Your book Dial D For Don: Inside Story Of CBI Missions says the caller 'in all probability' was Dawood Ibrahim and you 'strongly feel' it was him. What gives you such confidence that it were him and not anybody else?
Since I had heard his voice for long lengths of time in 2004, I felt it was his.
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You mentioned that Manish Lala, Dawood's 'law minister', volunteered to be in your custody instead of the Mumbai police's.
Apart from the politeness with which you treated him with when you first interrogated him, is there any other reason why he wanted to be interrogated by the CBI instead of the Mumbai police in the light of the reports that Dawood Ibrahim has his moles in the Mumbai police.
Would you think being interrogated by the Mumbai police would have been much more convenient for Lala than by you in this scenario?
No. It was on account of a comfort level he felt that he volunteered to come into CBI custody. It is no reflection on the Bombay (Mumbai) police as it was purely on a personal level.
Do you believe, like senior police officers in Mumbai do, that Dawood has infiltrated the ranks of the Mumbai police?
It would be unfair on the Mumbai police to believe that D (Dawood Ibrahim) has compromised the force. We should not forget that today the underworld in Mumbai stands decimated because of the efforts of the city (Mumbai) police.
Dawood revealed to you in a conversation that had he wanted to execute the Mumbai serial bomb blasts of March 12, 1993, he wouldn't need to import arms and ammunition required.
How serious is that a threat for Mumbai's security in the light of the 26/11 terror attacks and the latest threat that the world, including India, faces from Daesh?
It was a boastful statement on the part of D that he had arms and ammunition in such quantity that he could execute a major terror attack. In any case, the threat from ISIS (Daesh), if any, has no correlation with the weaponry the D-Company might have as of date.
If at all, ISIS (Daesh) has to attack India, they would make their own arrangements. But that is a purely hypothetical situation.
During your first interaction with Dawood in 1994, did he tell you that Tiger Memon and his brothers were involved in the planning and execution of the serial Mumbai blasts of March 12, 1993?
Did he ever offer to give up Tiger Memon to face the law in India? Of course, it is not mentioned in the book, but would I be wrong to infer that the book does not reveal much about your conversation with Dawood?
D only mentioned Tiger and not his brothers. No, he never offered to give Tiger away.
My book covers every bit of the conversations I had with D.
How genuine are claims by certain sections of Indian intelligence that there have been attempts to assassinate Dawood Ibrahim in Pakistan though India's most wanted criminal is hiding under 'enemy protection'?
I can't speak for the intelligence agencies since I have no inside information on them.
What were the difficulties you encountered in bringing one of the co-conspirators of the Mumbai serial blasts of March 12, 1993, Yakub Memon, back to India? Were any efforts made to get Tiger Memon back to India to face trial?
Yaqub was not got back by me. His family members including his parents, three brothers, one sister-in-law, her two children and Yaqub's wife Rahin with her-month-old child were got back from Dubai.
Yaqub's arrest was purely accidental.
Former senior R&AW officer B Raman which Rediff.com published in July, wrote: 'I was disturbed to notice that some mitigating circumstances in the case of Yakub Memon and some other members of the family were probably not brought to the notice of the court by the prosecution and that the prosecution did not suggest to the court that these circumstances should be taken into consideration while deciding on the punishment to be awarded to them. In their eagerness to obtain the death penalty, the fact that there were mitigating circumstances do not appear to have been highlighted.'
Do you agree or disagree with Mr Raman's contention?
I would not like to comment on a dead man's statement.
Is Dial D For Don a tell all or have you been cautious about revealing all that you know about the Indian underworld and individuals who have a direct or indirect role to play in executing terrorist operations in India?
I have told all that is in my knowledge. I don't claim to know everything about the Mumbai underworld. As a matter of fact, my knowledge is rather limited as I have not served in Mumbai for very long to acquire adequate information about its mafia.
Most of your book, as the foreword by former CBI director Raja Vijay Karan mentions has been written based on your memories of events that span almost three decades since you didn't have any diaries or written notes to rely upon.
How accurate could this book be then in describing events long past considering that they were sussed out from memories?
It is fairly accurate as the facts are unlikely to be challenged by anyone in the foreseeable future.
What was your biggest challenge as the CBI joint director and as Delhi police commissioner?
My biggest challenge as CBI joint director was the work load I had.
As CP/Delhi, it was petty politics and the media's hostile attitude towards me.
Any regrets over any case that you were almost close to cracking, yet could not owing to various reasons?
No. Nothing came in the way of crime investigations that I undertook.
Have you played safe in not mentioning the names of your senior officers who stopped you from speaking with Dawood Ibrahim in 1994?
I didn't wish to name my superiors as it would have caused considerable discomfiture to them in their old age.