Fingerprints taken 35 years ago helped cops bring Chhota Rajan back

When the Bali police insisted on original fingerprints, Mumbai Police began a frenzied search for the document from a murder case from 1980, only to find it had been damaged in the July 26 floods

There are over 70 criminal cases against underworld don Chhota Rajan in Delhi and Mumbai, but when it came to bringing him back from Indonesia, the police were scrambling for a single file from 35 years ago – one of the first murder charges levelled against the notorious gangster.

Also Read: Chhota Rajan's cases transferred to CBI on police advice: Fadnavis

Indonesian police escort Chhota Rajan to Bali airport, from where he was deported to India last week. Pic/AFP
Indonesian police escort Chhota Rajan to Bali airport, from where he was deported to India last week. Pic/AFP

Finding this document was of paramount importance, as it held the original fingerprints of Rajan, without which the Bali police had refused to hand him over. However, when the cops finally found the paper, they discovered it had been severely damaged in the July 26 deluge in 2005.

Rajendra Sadashiv Nikalje alias Rajan was captured at Ngurah Rai International Airport in Bali on October 25, after which the Indian and Indonesian authorities began a dialogue to discuss his return to this country. “A team of six senior officers from Mumbai Police, Delhi Police’s Special Cell, CBI and Interpol was sent to Bali on October 30.

Read Story: How India could've lost Chhota Rajan to UAE by a whisker

The team had made a dossier of 14 very serious cases registered against Rajan. The team took a copy of his fingerprints, as they did not find the originals. They also took Rajan’s school leaving certificate dated April 27, 1973 – Rajan is a Std VII-pass,” said a Crime Branch source.

But on November 2, when Rajan was presented to the team and their documents checked, the Bali police immediately rejected the photocopy of the fingerprints and demanded the originals. “Without the fingerprints, bringing Rajan back would have been a very long process.

One of Rajan’s relatives would have had to be brought to Bali for DNA analysis,” said one police source. Had Rajan not been on the run for the past 27 years, perhaps it would have been easy to find his biometric details with a click, as Mumbai Police has now digitised all its information.

But this was not a solution available in Rajan’s case. Then it struck the cops that of the 70-odd cases pending against Rajan, it was probably the earlier ones that would contain his prints. “One of the first murder cases against Rajan was registered with the Tilak Nagar police.

He had been arrested and his fingerprints were taken. The team in Bali immediately informed Mumbai Police to hunt for the papers at the Tilak Nagar police station in Chembur,” said another officer. A team of three groups, headed by Police Inspector Manisha Shirke of Tilak Nagar police station, started the search operation.

The case in question had been filed in 1980, and although the police were sure that the file had been stored, they were concerned about damage to the documents from the 2005 deluge.

Damaged in floods
“During the July 26 floods, most of the documents had been damaged, and we feared Rajan’s documents too might have been destroyed. We found his original fingerprints, but the paper was in three pieces,” said an officer from Tilak Nagar police station.

Also Read: Chhota Rajan had no intention to surrender: Govt sources

Not only was the document torn, the floodwater had rendered the writing on the page blurry. However, the fingerprints were still intact. The three portions of the page were joined together, scanned and sent to Bali, where they were declared a match.

This was a major victory for the cops, who eventually brought him back to India on November 6. “The 35-year-old original fingerprints matched properly, and therefore, Rajan is back in India. Otherwise, it could have been lengthy process,” said a cop.

Dawood to be captured too?
Fugitive gangster Dawood Ibrahim may land in the net of Indian authorities within the next six months, said a top functionary of the state government. “Indian agencies are close to nabbing Dawood with the help of international agencies,” said the functionary, requesting anonymity.

Dawood Ibrahim
Dawood Ibrahim

Dawood is the main accused in the 1993 serial blasts in Mumbai. Many other cases are lodged against him. He had escaped from India much before the serial blasts and is said to be living in Pakistan. The government source did not explain how the Indian government will deal with Pakistan if the don is proved to be still living there.

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