Gamblers, smugglers and criminals, hounded out from the city following police raids, are setting camp in neighbouring port town; CBI to open branch there
Gambling lords and amateurs in Mumbai, facing the police heat, are scurrying to safer havens nearby, turning them into a cesspool of crime as well.
Gambling dens and cheap liquor bars mushroomed all over Daman and attract a young crowd
After a sustained crackdown on gambling dens in the city and Thane district, the dens are now shifting to Daman, a three-hour drive from the city, inflating the crime rates in the port town.
So much so that, the CBI has decided to open a wing specifically for the Union Territory, with a team to rein in corrupt and illegal activities that have come to infest the place along with gambling, like producing hooch, liquor mixing, smuggling, and others, all over the past year.
"Earlier, a complainant had come all the way to Mumbai to register a case and give tip-offs. We noticed a rise in the number of complaints so decided to open a wing in Daman," said a senior CBI official on condition of anonymity.
According to locals, gambling dens have mushroomed all over Daman and attract a young crowd. Couple with cheap liquor, it makes the environment conducive for anti-social activities.
They added that easy accessibility from Mumbai and Ahmedabad also facilitates such activities.
"We are looking into the complaints received and are verifying the same. We will crack down on all such activities," added the official.
The local police administration too is alarmed by the crime scene and has launched clean-up drives to wipe out the growing menace.
"We have launched special drives to control crime in the area," said Atul Thakur, Chief of Police, Daman. "We are also taking preventive action to keep anti-social elements in check," he added.
Earlier this year, Gujarat Police lodged a complaint against six Daman-based distillery owners, two distributors, and 12 wine shop and bar owners in a bid to check the menace of illegal liquor supply to Gujarat.
Police said liquor worth crores is illegally supplied to Gujarat and neighbouring coastal fishing jetties in northern Maharashtra, from distilleries in Daman.
Illegal constructions have attracted members of the underworld and several unauthorised structures have come up in the twin townships of Nani and Moti Daman in the past few years.
Some of the builders are affiliated to the Dawood Ibrahim gang.
The sleepy town, a former Portuguese colony, is also a haven for illegal Portuguese passports to help immigrants escape to Europe. The business thrives despite several complaints before the depleted police force.
Smuggler Haji Mastan rose up the underworld ladder after he came in touch with Sukur Narayan Bakhia, one of the biggest smugglers in Gujarat based in Daman.
Bakhia and Mastan became partners and divided certain territories among themselves. Mastan handled the Bombay port and Bakhia the Daman port.
The smuggled items would come to Daman port from the Persian Gulf and to Bombay from Aden. Mastan took care of Bakhia*s consignments.
In fact, India*s most wanted gangster Dawood Ibrahim was one of Bakhia*s protege before he rose up the gangland ladder.