They were one of the most feared mafia groups in Bombay known for extorting money from celebrities and gunning down people. Today, the D-Company’s presence in the city has been reduced and the gang has been reduced to “settle” land and real estate transactions by taking advantage of the fear still associated with the names of its founder and boss Dawood Ibrahim and his faithful assistant Chhota. Shakeel, both declared fugitives by the government.
Behind the shrinking and downsizing of D-Company’s operations in Mumbai lies a change in fortunes following the death of one of its most powerful leaders, Dawood’s sister, Haseena Parker, as well as the strenuous efforts of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and the Mumbai Police to wipe out their reach and threat in the city.
The recent arrest of Chhota Shakeel’s brothers-in-law first by the NIA and then by the Mumbai criminal branch has shed light on the modus operandi of the gang.
After Parker’s death in 2014, Salim Qureshi, aka Fruit, and Arif Shaikh, aka Arif Bhaijaan, took over the mafia network.
A Mumbai Criminal Branch officer said Mumbai Police had registered at least four FIRs against D-Company members in the past two months after the NIA arrested Qureshi and Shaikh on August 5 for extortion and financing of terrorism.
The cases were registered under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and the Maharashtra Organized Crime Control Act (MCOCA). Qureshi and Shaikh would be behind bars for at least a few years due to the strict bail conditions specified in the two deeds.
“Before, people were afraid to complain against Qureshi and Shaikh. However, following their arrest, four people came forward to file FIRs and further complaints are likely,” the officer said, adding that while a complaint has been registered with the Economic Crimes Mumbai, the other three were registered at Versova, Dadar and Dongri police stations.
All these cases were eventually taken up by the Mumbai Police Anti-Extortion Cell for further investigation. The officer said that while police knew the D-Company had extorted money from people caught up in land and property disputes over the past few years, these cases provide a closer look at how they operate.
The first one FIR against Qureshi was registered on August 10 at Dadar police station. The plaintiff, Mohammad Tambe, said he rented a building, which he co-owned with his nephews, at Masjid Bunder. In June 2021, after a dispute arose between Tambe and his nephews, some of the building’s tenants showed him a legal notice they had received saying that 50% ownership of the building had been sold to Qureshi and that they should now pay him the rent.
When Tambe went to the Dadar registry office, he found that the property had been sold for Rs 21 lakh using fake documents like fake tenant list, rent receipts, duplicate gumasta license, etc It took over a year for Tambe to muster the courage to file a complaint against Qureshi, which led to the filing of an FIR against nine people, including Qureshi and Tambe’s nephews.
On September 24, an FIR was registered by the Economic Crimes Wing of the Mumbai Police against Qureshi, his wife Shazia and nine others for allegedly usurping property worth Rs 25 crore in the south of mumbai.
The plaintiff, a South African-based businessman, Ahmad Lambath, alleged that his relatives sold his building in Umerkhadi to Qureshi’s wife in 2016 by forging the signature of his father who died in 2006. Also in this case , while the incident occurred in 2016, the complainant came forward a month after Qureshi’s arrest.
On September 26, another FIR was registered by Versova Police against Qureshi and his assistant Riyaz Bhati for allegedly threatening and demanding Rs 62 lakh from a businessman after losing to Qureshi in a card game . When he couldn’t pay, Qureshi asked the businessman to hand over his car – a Range Rover worth Rs 30 lakhs. Seven people have been arrested in this case, including Qureshi and Bhati.
The last FIR was registered on October 12 at Dongri police station against Qureshi, Shaikh and a builder, Jayesh Shah, based on a complaint filed by a property dealer Sohail Arbiwala. Arbiwala alleged that in 2012 he bought a five-acre plot of land at Mira Road in Thane from its landlord Meenabai Raut, Bahmini Patil and others for Rs 4 crores. He later discovered that Shah had also negotiated with the owners for the same plot of land. When Arbiwala approached Shah to clarify whether he had purchased the land, Shah told him to speak to “hajisaab”, or Chhota Shakeel.
In 2018, Arbiwala was asked to pay Rs 5 crore and hand over part of the land measuring 50,000 square feet to Arif Shaikh to settle the case. Having failed to respond to the offer, he began to receive death threats. Eventually, Arbiwala decided to approach Dongri police. An FIR was registered and Shaikh and Shah were arrested.
An officer said: ‘Although we are aware of the crime in several of these cases, the complainant was unwilling to come forward. After the arrest of Shaikh and Qureshi, we advised people to file a formal complaint, which leads to the registration of an FIR.
“The D-Company capitalized on the fear its name would trigger to make sure people gave in to its demands and didn’t come forward to complain. After the NIA case, however, the tide turned,” he added.
A senior police officer said police are monitoring at least 20 people who are helping Chhota Shakeel carry out such activities in and around Mumbai.
“There are a few other cases where we suspect D-Company involvement and we are trying to convince people to come forward and file a complaint. Our goal is to completely wipe out the D-Company network in the city” , he added.