Mumbai: The Dawood Ibrahim gang has found a new source of income. Already into drug smuggling and other nefarious activities, it now has a new avenue in the form of building demolition contracts, the Free Press Journal has learnt.
The Dawood gang, notoriously known as the D-Company, is said to be forcing builders to give demolition contracts to contractors recommended by them. With the metropolis witnessing a redevelopment boom, the gang apparently is making a killing. Over 6,000 redevelopment projects are currently being implemented across the city and suburbs and more are in the pipeline.
The modus operandi of the gang is very simple. Through its extensive network of informants (khabris), the gang comes to know in real time which builder has bagged a certain redevelopment project. Gang members then call the builder and force him to award the work of demolishing the old building to their people.
Normally, a demolition contractor pays the builder after bagging the contract as he stands to gain bigtime by selling the steel reinforcing rods, wooden doors, windows and the debris. But the underworld threatens the builders not to demand any payment from contractors recommended by it. The contractors, though, are required to make payment to the gang.
Many of the builders contacted by the Free Press Journal confirmed this underworld activity but refused to be named as they feared reprisal from the bhais (the gang members).
The gang has spread its tentacles to the suburbs like Ghatkopar, Chembur, Bandra and Santa Cruz etc. Recently, a builder who bagged a redevelopment project was asked to give the contract close to the bhais. “We are interested in completing the redevelopment in time. So it doesn’t make any difference who undertakes the demolition. Of course, we stand to lose payment from the contractor. But, it is a small price to pay for staying clear of the mafia,”’ a builder said on condition of anonymity.
The role of the D-gang in the demolition activity came to light when its members were found to be undertaking demolition for the Saifee Burhani Upliftment Trust, which has taken up the biggest redevelopment project spread over 16.5 acres in the Bhendi Bazar area.
The National Investigation Agency (NIA) found that Salim Fruit and other senior members of the D-company were engaged in demolition work through benami contractors.
An SBUT spokesperson said that the Trust was unaware of the background of the demolition contractors. In any case, the Trust is more careful in awarding contracts after that incident. A senior police official said the department can act only if specific complaints are received from the developers. It is learnt that the Crime Intelligence Unit is keeping close watch on the situation.