Crime does not pay and criminals don’t live long enough to enjoy life.
– D. Sivanandan (Ex. Commissioner of Police, Bombay)
Since the repression of thuggee, there has been a spike in the underworld crime rate over the past few decades. The rise of the mafia in India is part and partially thanks to Dawood Ibrahim. After 1947, India opted to run a socialist economy with 5-year plans and state ownership. This meant that most goods and services were substandard and alternative goods had to be smuggled into the country. And the best place to smuggle was Bombay through the Mumbai Underworld. Several entrepreneurs dabbled with the smuggling of gold because Indians love gold and for a lot of people gold is the only form of saving. In fact, Indian housewives hold more gold than any other place on earth. Even more than Fort Knox.
The Mumbai 1993 bomb blasts
Source: Outlook India
In 1993, 13 bomb blasts in Bombay killed 257 people, injuring over 700. The resulting Mumbai Bomb Blasts of 1993 resulted in communal riots that followed ensured tension and fear. A pregnant Muslim woman was slit at the belly, the unborn child was pulled out and hacked to pieces because they didn’t want any more Muslims born in India. So to get the Government to apologize to the Muslims of India and in retaliation to the demolition of Babri Mosque, he planted bombs all over Bombay, which were procured from the ISI, the Pakistan Intelligence. This caused a split in the mafia community between Hindus and Muslims and between Dawood and his longtime friend, Chhota Rajan. Chhota Rajan split from the group and took up the title as the Hindu Don.
The Real Estate Mafia
The smugglers started extorting developers, builders and contractors because the prices of real estate skyrocketed with the influx of new money and investments in the Indian economy. Some developers allied with the mobsters to free up real estate by evacuating the slums and sharing the profits. Most smugglers including Dawood made a huge profit from extortion, racketeering, real estate, smuggling, etc. The black money generated was then used in legitimate building and development deals. Guess he learned a thing or two from Al Capone. Several gangsters such as Haji Mastan saw the opportunity to invest black money in Bollywood films by becoming legit producers.
Source: Amaravati Region
Dharavi is the largest slum in India housing over a million people. Most people come to Mumbai with the dream of making it big in India’s financial and trade capital. But with overpopulation and limited opportunities, most people end up in the slums and become easy targets for cheap labor. Some of these people undertake contract killings, extortion, etc. for really cheap to earn some form of income.
The Sand Mafia
Sand is India’s new gold dust. Thanks to the construction boom, there has been a surge in the demand for sand in the past three decades. With that people realized that they could make a serious buck by illegally mining or extracting sand. Daily wage laborers work 8-10 hours a day, diving 40-50 feet several times without any equipment to bring up sand. These are not criminals, but victims of the sand mafia. The result of the illegal sand mining is it plunders river beds and beach beds causing floods, landslides, contamination of groundwater, destroying farmland, etc. The level of sand around Bombay’s coast has reduced by 10-15 feet.
Illegal sand mining in Tamil Nadu
Many people have been killed over disputes, including investigating officers. D.K. Ravi, an IPS officer with a clean record was constantly transferred because he stood up to the sand mafia. It is alleged that he committed suicide in 2015, but foul play is clearly evident. He used to receive death threats from among the top 50 tax defaulters, most of whom were builders and developers (Prestige, Embassy, Mantri, etc.) because he was after them. Sumaira, an activist from Mumbai was beaten and hospitalized because she prevented them from taking sand. A farmer by the name Brijmohan had been kidnapped and tortured for three days for complaining to the authorities about illegal sand mining on his farm.
The Drug Mafia
The drug mafia has several points of entry to India, the most prominent locations being Goa and Mumbai. The Goa mafia consists of the Russian mafia, the Nigerian mafia and the Israeli mafia. Goa is a key location for consumption, redistribution of drugs within India and export of drugs to the international market.
An Israeli drug lord named Atala was arrested after a video of him revealing his operation was posted online by his girlfriend. He also said the police and narcs work in collaboration with the peddlers by selling seized paraphernalia back to the dealers. The cops who were named were arrested and evidence shows that over 24 kilograms of Hash went missing from the anti-narcotics warehouse when these guys were in charge. When probed, the Home Minister of Goa said that “the drugs were eaten by ants.”
The Punjab Mafia
The Punjab mafia deserves a mention in this list because they refer to organized criminal gangs from UP and Punjab. These guys ply their trade in contract killings, bouncers, bookies, extortion smuggling, arms dealing, kidnapping and narcotics (especially opium).
India is the world’s largest legal grower of opium and quite a bit gets consumed before it is exported to South Africa or some other country. Diamonds are illegally exported the same way through South Africa and are sometimes used as a concealer to hide heroin.