Bombay’s Frankenstein

Power flows from the barrel of a gun.As brazen as this statement sounds,several civilized societies across the world have stood witness to it-Bombay(present day Mumbai being one of them).Bombay was a different world from Mumbai.There was a different power dynamics in play,stemming from the sheer force of aspiration of the multitudes of immigrants.The constant battle for one-upmanship ,powered by the violent force of guns and knives,set the cycle of the the enterprising Mafia in Bombay in motion.
The phrase, enterprising, characterized the Mafia better than words like,violent or dangerous,because right from Nanhe Khan’s Kanpuri and Rampuri gangs,of 1950, to the D-Company of Dawood Ibrahim,the Bombay Mafia has essentially been a clash of crafty minds for the rewards that India’s economic capital Bombay could offer.Whether Haji Mastan,Karim Lala,or Dawood,everyone desired monopoly over the riches in every business.Violence was used as a tool to stifle competition and establish the power of influence,just as treaties of friendship were made to gain allies to attain  pinnacle of power.Ranging from smuggled goods,real estate,Bollywood,in fact every industry that boosted Bombay’s power,was milked by the gangsters who were actually ingenious businessmen who never had  scruples in causing third party harm for any tangible benefit of their own.

As far as the Bombay Mafia is concerned there are three facets to be analysed. One,How was it conceived?Two, what was the driving force behind it? Three, what factors lead to the establishment of empires,that spanned five decades and nearly half the globe(the geographical arena of influence stretching from the UAE to Thailand)

The conception of the Bombay Mafia is not much different from the other tales of immigration in big industrial centres.Bombay,even back then was the hub of fierce economic activity. It’s plethora of opportunities lent it a halo of hope, an aura of invincibility.It was the Promised Land.In the lethargic growth of post-Independent India and its myriad problems which rendered several unemployed,Bombay stood out as the land where one would never fail.In droves, people from across the country-Uttar Pradesh,south India,villages and towns of Maharashtra itself,immigrated to Bombay.In the clusters of slums of Byculla,Dharavi,Kholiwada,Dongri,Sion,were located a new tribe of largely unskilled Bombay families,who worked as labourers at dockyard,mills and the likes.They lived hand- to- mouth,but their low-living style never deterred their high dreams. Fuelled by the elite bungalows of Grant Road,Malabar Hills, they aspired big, the sad bit was, they wanted the quickest route to materialize their desires.As it happens the”as the crow flies “path  is not really the ideal path,being generally fraught with crimes and dangerous doings.So ,here was an entire mass of human resource available-vulnerable because of their own ambitions and susceptible to manipulations by few crafty brains.With the conditions so fertile for activities of Mafia,it was hardly a surprise that they were able to flourish so easily.Bombay quickly became the play-ground for the devious tricks of immigrants of the like Haji Mastan,who hailed from Chennai,Vardarajan, coming from Vellore,the family of Dawood Ibrahim Kaskar,who immigrated from the small village of Ratnagiri in Maharashtra.

With conception not really being that onerous a task,what is interesting is, what constituted the driving force behind the sustenance of this parasitic growth of this Bombay mafia? The crime syndicate grew by leaps and bounds,both in the audacity of activities and the numbers in its folds.There were several gangs.Everyone started with smuggling of goods,reaping profits by evading import duty by stealing them directly from docks.It was not that difficult a task,considering that labourers at the docks were paid members of the gangs.From Phillips transistors to imported gold watches to even the famous gold biscuits,all found way from Mazagon docks to shady markets across Bombay.Some ganglords even had a justification for this.Mastan Mirza believed that the custom duty was a British legacy which could be evaded without any question of honesty arising.Gradually these gangs graduated to other nefarious dealings-drug trafficking,prostitution,real estate with extortion.With the spurt of so many gangs,profits were generally divided.However,this was not conducive to the vaulting aspirations of the mafia heads.They wanted monopoly.Everyone practically wanted to be “Bombay ka badshaah”.Thus the constant battle for upmanship.This battle,was not limited to just outsmarting the opponent in business.There was a need to establish influence.Influence derived from fear.For business to strive,muscle power was needed.This need forged some legendary alliances,like those of Haji Mastan,Vardarajan,Karim Lala ; Dawood Ibrahim,Arun Gawli. Alliances made monopoly achievable by compounding of influence and resources.However,it also lead to conflicts and tensions.Bigger the gangs,fiercer the battle for monopoly.Opposition spilled out on streets with violent streaks.Revenge,balance of power,competition all lead to daylight murders on the streets of Bombay.One of the most memorable turf war casualty was the brazen killing of Dawood’s brother Sabir by the Pathan gang lead by Amirzada.The murderers disguised as marriage procession party shot Sabir in cold blood while he was on his way to his mistress’s place.In the late 1990’s Mumbai saw more and more reckless killings-the shooting of Rajan Nair in court for instance.The drive to rise in life,to rule Bombay sparked many deaths,many causalities and many mammoth thefts,all at the same time increasing the power of gangs,their influence extending even to lawmakers and politicians.The Bombay Police rarely had the guts,the agility,acumen or to be fair,an even opportunity to reign in these gangsters.There are primarily three reasons for it.Firstly the connections with the top brass of the polity made it nearly impossible to convict them.It is alleged that for the JJ shootout the killers had logistic support from high profile individuals in the Government including mayor of Bhiwandi,Nizampur Municipal Council Jaywant Suryarao,MLA Pappu Kalani of Ulhasnagar,and Union Minister Kalpnath Rai’s nephew Virendra Rai. Secondly and more importantly a lot of Bombay Mafia was a pseudo creation of the Police itself,a sort of their own Frankenstein monster.Inter gang wars and killings were silently sanctioned  to a large extent by the Police.It eased their task of hunting down wanted persons.They used to follow the “Sholay”  technique-of beating iron with iron.In fact Senior Inspector Likha, in 1972 ,himself had given Dawood Ibrahim the unofficial charge of eliminating the menace of Pathan power of Amirzada and Alamzeb,them being the common enemy of Dawood and Police.This,gave Dawood not just immense immunity in the early years but also vast amounts of valuable inside information that assisted his rise in the world of crime.In supposedly trying to exploit the enmity between gangs to their advantage,the Bombay Police became guilty of exposing the civilian populace to the exploitation of the comparatively more adroit and wily Bombay mafia.Thirdly, it was tough to predict the moves of mafia and keep a tab on them.By the time they had graduated to being large scale menace from petty thieves,they had also become highly networked and resourceful.Every locality of Bombay,every business,even the Police force was infested with informants of the gangs.These gangs, in their initial years (uptil mid 1980’s) curried  great amount of positive public favour. They were after all local boys who had reached the zeniths of success in the city of Bombay, and had in their power to help others climb the ladder of success too.It was not an uncommon occurrence for witness to turn hostile,or false testimonies being given.The justice system was unduly skewed in their favour.

The last question:What factors lead to establishment of empires surpassing geo-political boundaries,is not important,it is vital to understanding the Bombay mafia.The successes were not just limited to bounties of few snatched gold-chains,a few smuggled gold biscuits or few rupees amassed in extortion.It had transcended into an empires worth crores.The net worth of D-Company today stands at roughly 7 billion dollars.Today its an empire comprising of real-estate projects,film industry,mining,share markets,shipping,production.
Closely studying them,reveals the simplicity behind it.They are run as any corporate organisation is run.They too,closely follow the conventional principles of management culture.In fact in conjugation with their surreptitiousness,they have made it into an interesting art.Their activities are actually related to the widely accepted Henri Fayol’s Principles of Management.

For instance, one ethos of Management is Division of Labour. The triumvirate of Mastan,Karim Lala and Vardanraja had perfected this art.Mastan provided the ideas,blue print and financial capital,Varda, the muscle power and Karim Lala, his impeccable influence.Together they raked in huge amounts ruling for a twenty year period over the entire city.Remuneration,is another point of the Fayol Management Theory. Vardarajan applied this immaculately.His 12 crore illicit liquor empire’s logistics revolved around this.The trade would commence around midnight.It comprised of few who mixed liquor,few who provided security.The next step involved foot soldiers,who along with retired policemen distributed liquor to small shops across the city.The dawn of Varda’s power in trade was two-fold.Firstly it was ingenious tricks in distribution of hooch(example-tubes of truck tyres).Secondly, it was his aptitude for effective remuneration.The intelligence network was handicapped through bribes.The protection money, given to police,for each adda (place where hooch was sold) was around 5000 INR. Each police station had roughly 75 to 130 addas in its area.For the owners of addas,the monthly turnover with just five addas was around 50000 INR in 1970s.The economics worked to be 10 rupees per glass of diluted hooch,which translated to 1 crore per month.Everyone blindly wanted to work for Vardarajan. His resourcefulness provided one with ration cards,illegal electricity and water supply and make one a Bombay citizen faster than the local administration. Vardarajan’s  expertise extended to principles,other than Remuneration.He also believed in Division of Work and Scalar Chain.He divided his work area-wise,and let individuals handle their own business,making the areas more work-efficient,while completely eliminating ego-hassles.This only encouraged healthy competition, upping returns,ensuring no individual or group encroached upon other’s designated areas and distribution network.Another member of Bombay’s crime syndicate who adeptly used these principles was Chotaa Rajan, the man who for a long period of time was the brain and brain behind Dawood Ibrahim’s power,especially in the immediate years of his leaving India.Chotaa Rajan followed the policy of Centralization.He gave the D-Company a corporate culture-various complicated layers,managing its evolution personally.He increased the strength to 5000 members,forged alliances with the Mohajir gang (of Karachi) and Turkish Cypress underworld.Other international gangs except the Russian Solntsevskaya appeared to be pygmies when compared to the D-Company.Behind the opulence and power of Bombay Underworld were the basic management principles applied shrewdly, coupled with artful tricks of some of the sharpest minds of not just Bombay, but the world.They seemed to eulogize Marco Puzo’s introduction to Godfather-“Behind every great fortune, there is crime.”

The minds were sharp and the will was strong.That,such ability fashioned itself to the dynamics of the criminal world is an unfortunate happening.Somewhere down the line the  creation of the Bombay Underworld was because of incompetence of Bombay itself, whether with regard to organization and care of the huge immigrant influx,or the readily formed corrupt nexus between the lawmakers in power and the outlaws,or the inability or lack of will power of law enforcement agencies/protectors of the city to reign in these gang lords who had made Bombay their fiefdom,a city which for them existed to display their power.Also,due to lack of credible leaders and care-takers a large number of gullible citizens took to idolizing these very gang lords. It was this reverence which was both the shield and source of power of the Bombay mafia.

It would not be wrong to surmise that the Bombay Mafia was the creation of Bombay itself.It is Bombay’s very own Frankenstein.Till date Bombay’s Frankenstein remains untamed.


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