Is Chhota Rajan seeking Ganesha's blessings via Facebook this year?

Sources said the underworld gangster is monitoring activity at the Sahyadri Krida Mandal in Tilak Nagar, which he allegedly funds, through its Facebook page

Fugitive underworld don Chhota Rajan alias Rajendra Sadashiv Nikalje is using technology to keep up with the activities at Sahyadri Krida Mandal, Tilak Nagar, according to sources. Rajan, who allegedly funds the mandal, is seeking the Lord’s blessings via Facebook this year.

Chhota Rajan (inset) is following the updates of Sahyadri Krida Mandal on its Facebook page, and has also asked his henchmen to do the same in order to avoid police action, sources said
Chhota Rajan (inset) is following the updates of Sahyadri Krida Mandal on its Facebook page, and has also asked his henchmen to do the same in order to avoid police action, sources said

The Chembur mandal has, for long, faced allegations of being funded by underworld money. Rajan, who is presently said to be living mid-sea near Malaysia, is following celebrations at his beloved mandal through its Facebook page (www.facebook.com/sahyadrikridamandal.r).

Sources said this is a safe way for him to keep watch over the mandal, and acting on his instructions, the mandal took to social media in a large way this year. The organisers have launched Facebook, Twitter and YouTube pages on which one can easily get darshan of Lord Ganesha.

A separate control room with dedicated computers posts messages, pictures and videos on all social platforms. However, Rajan is said to be monitoring day-to-day activities on Facebook, where the page moderators post regular updates on which celebrity or personality paid a visit.

'Keep safe'
Not only this, Rajan, sources said, has also instructed his men to follow the same route. The mandal has very close ties to the Nikalje family; the first aarti is performed by Sujata Nikalje, Rajan’s wife. Every year, when members of Rajan’s gang visit the pandal, they get into trouble with the police, who keep a watchful eye over it for any traces or leads to get closer to the don.

However, the mandal maintains it has nothing to do with the gangster. “Every mandal maintains a social networking presence and we are doing the same. There is nothing suspicious about it. In these busy times, social networks enable people who can’t physically visit the Lord to seek his blessings. We want to reach out to each and every one with this initiative, said Rahul Gajanan Walanj, president of the mandal.

“The mandal is associated with Rajan simply because he grew up in Tilak Nagar. This is a sacred festival and has no relation to him,” he asserted. When asked why his Facebook page ended with the letter ‘R’, Walanj chose not answer.

Police, on the other hand, say it is easy to gauge why such steps have been taken. They have maintained a hawk-eyed vigil on the Sahyadri Krida Mandal. “Let them take any precautions; we are monitoring them through all possible channels,” said a Crime Branch police officer. The police will also follow the visarjan procession closely today.

While organisers claim they get 3-4 lakh visitors a day, Sunday evening was surprisingly quiet and devotees finished darshan within 45 minutes. Actors Govinda, Varun Dhawan, cricketer Yuvraj Singh and many other celebrities have visited the mandal, which has replicated the ghats alongside the River Ganga as its theme this year. The water flowing into the pools, according to Sahyadri Krida Mandal, has been brought in from Varanasi.

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