Hussain Zaidi
Balasaheb Thackeray (left) and Amitabh Bachchan (right)
Balasaheb Thackeray (left) and Amitabh Bachchan (right)


“The high-stakes game of the underworld has new faces, working for and against Dawood Ibrahim-the shadowy, manipulative figure that pulls the strings. Dawood’s own deputy turned arch-rival Chhota Rajan, thug-turned-politician Arun Gawali, Amar (Raavan) Naik and his engineer brother Ashwin Naik, and a host of other characters, big and small, walk the pages of this compelling history of the Maharashtrain mobsters who were once dubbed “amchi muley” or “our boys” by Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray,” this quote is from newly published book “Byculla to Bangkok” by S. Hussain Zaidi.

Zaidi, is a veteran journalist specializing in investigative, crime, terror reporting and has recently published his fifth book “Byculla to Bangkok.”

In his book Zaidi states that Shiv Sena promoted Mumbai’s Maharashtrian Mobsters in line with the party’s policy of propagating “sons of soil”. The author tries to trace the roots of underworld. According to him, Chhota Rajan, Arun Gawali, Amar Naik, Ashwin Naik, Suresh Manchekar, SByculla to Bangkokunil Sawant, D K Rao and so many other boys grew up at a time when money was scarce and opportunities limited. Until the early nineties, the Mumbai police by and large was a credible force. But with the onset of ‘encounters’, they became pawns in the hands of politicians. Political parties that had initially patronized the mafia marked them out in use-and-throw policy.

Under “Maharashtrian Mafia’s Anno Domini: 1994-95” chapter, Zaidi says that Bal Thackeray, the founder of the right-wing Shiv Sena, never attended any public or private functions. From 1996 onwards, there was only one thing that he did consistently. He addressed the annual Dussehra rally at the huge Shivaji Park grounds in Central Mumbai. Further he states that the city was still reeling in aftermath of serial bomb blasts of March 1993 that followed the communal pogrom. So, when Thackeray declared, if they (Muslims) have Dawood, we (Hindus) have Gawali. These (Amar Naik and Arun Gawali) are aamchi muley (our boys); there was thunderous applause even before he had completed his sentence. It was as if the audience approved of Gawali being a challenger to Dawod’s might.

Thackeray went on to talk about “his boys” and the plight of the local gangsters, who were being hounded and taken out in selective police encounters or extra judicial killings…..from that day onwards, Arun Gawali and Amar Naik were anointed as Mumbai’s answer to Dawood. Political observers wondered why Thackeray did not extend his approval to another Marathi speaking gangsters, Chhota Rajan, who had openly rebelled against Dawood Ibrahim and sought to bring him to his knees-unlike Gawali and Naik, who were busy fighting each other to corner the lion’s share of the spoils.

In some chapters the author mentions how attempts were made to bring about a communal divide by selective killing through the use of gangsters. Author’s views expressed in the book can be termed as the sensational and personal view, as it may be mostly uncorroborated, some may view the book as crime fiction. The book’s target audience seems to be the persons who are interested in knowing the undercurrents of evolution of the Mumbai underworld as the author has provided a detailed review.

The leaders speak

“First let me see the book,” said Subhash Desai, spokesperson Shiv Sena.

After repeated attempts Sanjay Raut spokesperson Shiv Sena was not available for comment.

‘I am in function. Can not talk,’ said Nitin Sardesai, spokesperson Maharashtra Navnirman Sena.

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