Gangster Ejaz Lakdawala, wanted in several cases of extortion and attempt to murder, has been arrested by the Mumbai police's Anti-Extortion Cell after being on the run for two decades, a top official said on Thursday.
Lakdawala, 50, was detained at Patna by the AEC with the help of Bihar Police on Wednesday, Mumbai Police Commissioner Sanjay Barve told reporters in Mumbai.
As he called and threatened builders in Mumbai, seeking protection money with impunity, the police were trying to hunt him down for the last many years. Finally, the arrest of his daughter led to a break-through, officials said.
Once a close aide of gangster Dawood Ibrahim, Lakdawala was wanted in at least 27 cases in Maharashtra, including 25 in Mumbai, Barve said, adding that as many as 80 people had filed complaints against him.
After being brought in Mumbai, he was produced in a Mumbai court which remanded him in police custody till January 21.
In May 2004, Lakdawala was arrested by Canadian Police in Ottawa but was released later. A few years ago he was believed to be somewhere in North America, though he visited South East Asia often.
A Red Corner Notice seeking help from the agencies in other countries to nab him had been issued against him.
"Our efforts gained momentum after the arrest of Lakdawala's daughter Shifa Shahid Shaikh at Mumbai Airport on December 28 when she was travelling to Nepal on a fake passport," said Joint Commissioner of Police Sanjay Saxena.
From her, the police got some important information, following which he was nabbed from Jakkanpur near Patna, Saxena said.
Lakdawala was arrested in connection with a complaint filed with the AEC by a businessman from Khar in Mumbai.
His daughter was arrested in the same case.
After falling out with Dawood Ibrahim, Lakdawala started operating with Dawood's aide-turned-foe Chhota Rajan. In 2008 he parted ways with Rajan and started operating independently, Saxena said.
"We have information that he stayed in Canada, Malaysia, USA, London and Nepal," the officer said.
According to another official, to evade arrest as well as a possible attack by the Dawood gang, he kept moving from one country to another for nearly two decades.
In 2002, while he was with Rajan in Bangkok, Lakdawala was attacked by Chhota Shakeel gang members.
The assailants shot him seven times, but as the incident took place near a hospital, Lakdawala got medical help immediately and survived the attack, the official said.
In the last few years, he targeted builders in Mumbai for extortion, the official said. Lakdawala was tech savvy, and used social media apps to make extortion calls which made it difficult for the police to trace their origin, he added.
His brother Akil was arrested in February 2019.
Shifa, who was born in Mumbai but studied in Nepal, used to visit her grandmother who lives in Mahim in Central Mumbai. Shifa would travel using a fake passport, the official said.
She was arrested from the airport by AEC team led by senior inspector Ajay Sawant and inspector Sachin Kadam on December 28.
The information she gave during questioning finally led the police to her father.
According to the police, Lakdawala committed his first crime during his school days when he allegedly stabbed a teacher with a measuring compass.
In 1987, he was held for robbery by Dongri police here and sent to a children's home.
He came in contact with Rajan's close aide Kashi Pashi, who was in the cable business. The two were allegedly involved in the murder of the son of a corporator in 1989.
In 1998 Lakdawala allegedly shot the brother of one of the accused in the Mumbai blasts case and was arrested.
But he managed to flee from the J J Hospital in Mumbai and since then he was on the run.