NEW DELHI: An alleged Indian gangster on the run for more than 20 years arrived in New Delhi on Friday after being deported from Indonesia where he was arrested, Indian police said.
Chhota Rajan, whose real name is Rajendra Sadashiv Nikalje, was transported on an Indian Air Force jet and brought to the headquarters of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), the country’s federal policing agency, in India’s capital.
“He has been handed over to the CBI,” said Mumbai Police Deputy Commissioner Dhananjay Kulkarni, who was one of the officers on the flight that brought Rajan back from Indonesia.
A senior official in the Indian home ministry confirmed to AFP via text message that Rajan landed in India around 5:00 am and was currently in CBI custody.
Rajan is suspected of involvement in dozens of crimes, including murder, extortion and drug trafficking, and had been evading police in several countries for years, with Interpol flagging him as a wanted man back in 1995.
Kulkarni told AFP that the Mumbai police had registered 78 cases against him.
“It hasn’t been decided yet when he will be brought to Mumbai,” said the deputy commissioner.
Rajan was arrested by Indonesian authorities last week on the popular resort island of Bali upon arrival from Sydney, following a tip-off from Australian police, who confirmed in September he had been living there under another identity.
His deportation, due earlier this week, was delayed after a volcanic eruption on a nearby Indonesian island forced authorities to ground all flights from Bali for two days.
Rajan left the island late on Thursday, shortly after Bali airport reopened for flights.
“#ChotaRajan deported successfully to India. Delay due to Bali airport closure ends. Thanks Indonesia for support,” tweeted India’s ambassador to Indonesia Gurjit Singh.
Rajan was the alleged former right-hand man of Mumbai crime kingpin Dawood Ibrahim, who is suspected of being behind the 1993 bomb blasts in the city that killed more than 250 people.
He later became Ibrahim’s rival, accused of running one of several underworld outfits that had a grip on India’s financial and entertainment capital in the 1980s and 1990s until a police crackdown.
Rajan portrayed himself as a “Hindu don” and began targeting those he considered to be “anti-India”, including Ibrahim’s men, becoming a major thorn in the side of his former boss.
Police accused him in 2011 of ordering the murder of a prominent Mumbai crime reporter who was gunned down in a drive-by shooting the same year.
Before his extradition to India, Rajan told reporters in Bali that “all cases against me are false”.
The arrest and deportation of Rajan, until recently one of India’s most wanted men, has gripped the Indian media.
Many have speculated it could help lead authorities to Ibrahim, who is believed to be hiding in Pakistan.