Chhota Rajan deportation to India likely in next 2-3 days

Bali: Indian police team on Monday for the first time questioned underworld don Chhota Rajan and officials believe that he could be deported to India in the next two-three days.

Rajan, who was arrested in this popular tourist town upon arrival from Australia on October 25, is expected to be produced before a court soon where the Indonesian police will submit details of the cases for which he is wanted in India.

Indian police team has been working with their Indonesian counterparts to take over Rajan's custody as early as possible.

"If the lawyer engaged by Rajan does not oppose his deportation to India, we will hand him over to the Indian police team which has come here. The entire process is likely to be completed in next two-three days," an official said.

However, if the lawyer opposes Rajan's deportation to India, the process may get longer, the official said.

Rajan has hired a lawyer, Fransico Prassar, who met him at the detention centre a few times. The Indian team, comprising officers from CBI, Mumbai and Delhi police, arrived here yesterday and they came along with a detailed dossier on 55-year-old Rajan and his involvement in various crimes in India.

The team for the first time questioned Rajan today in presence of Indonesian police at the detention centre where he has been lodged for the last ten days.

First Secretary (consular) in the Indian Embassy in Jakarta, Sanjeev Kumar Agrawal, who met Rajan for nearly half an hour yesterday, was also present when the Indian team examined Rajan.

While being taken out of the detention centre, Rajan told reporters that his bete noire and India's most wanted terrorist Dawood Ibrahim is currently hiding in Pakistan under the direct patronage of ISI.

"ISI chhupa rahi hai (ISI is hiding him)," he said. Mumbai Police has registered 75 cases against Rajan, including 20 of murder, four cases under the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act, one under Prevention of Terrorism Act and over 20 cases under the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act. Delhi Police has got six cases against him.

Chhota Rajan was arrested in Bali on the basis of a Red Corner Notice from Interpol and following a tip off by Australian authorities to the police in Indonesia. Rajan was travelling with the identity of Mohan Kumar
with passport number G9273860 when he was apprehended at the airport here after arriving on a Garuda Indonesia flight GA715.

Rajan, whose original name is Rajendra Sadashiv Nikhalje, has been questioned by the Indonesian police several times in the last few days to confirm his identity and criminal acts in India.

Rajan, who is wanted in over 75 heinous crimes ranging from murder, extortion to smuggling and drug trafficking was questioned both in English as well as in Hindi through a translator.

Mumbai-born Rajan, once a close confidante-turned-rival of underworld ganglord Dawood Ibrahim, has said that he is not afraid of Dawood, the prime accused in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts case.

In 2000, there was an attempt on Rajan's life when Dawood's men tracked him down to a hotel in Bangkok but he managed a dramatic escape.

In the absence of an extradition treaty, the Indian authorities have already provided documents to their Indonesian counterparts about his Indian identity to facilitate his deportation.

"The team (comprising officers from CBI, Mumbai and Delhi police) reached Bali yesterday. It will take at least three days to complete the deportation procedure, after which latest by Thursday he should land in India," said a senior officer of Mumbai crime branch on condition of anonymity.

Rajan would probably be first taken to Delhi in connection with a fake passport case against him, another officer said. Considering the threat to his life from underworld rivals, especially henchmen of fugitive gangsters Dawood Ibrahim and Chhota Shakeel, he could be produced before the court only through video conference from his cell.

Crime branch's ACP Praful Bhosale, inspector Nandkumar Gopale and inspector Ajay Sawant, who have dealt with underworld crime extensively, would be among those who would be interrogating Rajan.

A top police officer said that the priority of the cases to be investigated against Rajan here would be decided as per the evidence gathered in each case.

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