Mumbai is where the Indian dons have always risen and fallen. This city has by now acquired a special aura for gang activities of the nefarious kind. The economic oppurtunities the city provides to millions of Indians from all parts of the country, also unwittingly nurtures supporting the growth of mafia style gangs who want to lord over it. The financial capital of the country was also a land of numerous oppurtunities,some of them of the criminal kind.
The area of Byculla in South Mumbai had Nanhe Khan and Wahab Pehelwan on one side and three brothers known as Bada Johnny,Chhota Johnny and Chikna Johnny on the other side as the city's first 'recorded' gangs and they used to frequently fight with each other. They were the small time mini dons with limited area of control and were only brawns and no brains type. They were destined to soon disappear due to infighting and lack of capabilities to turn into large gangs. The bigger dons were round the corner.
A father with his eight year old son migrated from a village in Tamil Nadu to Mumbai in the year 1934.The eighteen year old son joined the Mumbai docks as a coolie in 1944 on a monthly salary of Rs15. Soon he discovered that if imported goods could be 'smuggled' in without paying the import duty, he could earn a fortune. The future Haji Mastan was ' born'. The imposition of prohibition of liqour in 1950 by the then Bombay state, gave Mastan a splendid oppurtunity to supply banned liqour to customers at very high prices and earn huge profits. He soon took to gold smuggling as a full time activity and rest is history.
Mean time another Tamil boy was working, by a strange coincidence as a coolie, at the Victoria Terminus railway station. He was born in 1926 in Vellore town of Tamil Nadu. He started working at the age ofseven and could read and write both English and Tamil. His stint at the Victoria Terminus brought him in contact with other shady characters and he was soon to learn other ways of making money. The introduction of prohibition was a boon to him also and he too started illegal supplies and earned huge profits. He established himself at Antop Hill in central Mumbai and started flourishing. In no time Varadrajan Muniswami Mudaliar was to become the famed don to be known as Varda Bhai.
In the 1930's a tall Pathan, almost 7 feet tall, came to Mumbai, in search of a better life and riches, from Peshawar city. He soon started a gambling den and also started lending money to the losers and started charging interest to be paid every month. Soon his earnings started growing and with it his clout in his own community. He also went into the business of acting as arbitrator in disputes and getting evicted, occupants of a house by force. Naturally he got paid handsomely. His reputation grew and he emerged as the leader of Pathans in Mumbai. Soon Abdul Karim Khan was to become the famous Karim Lala of Mumbai.
Haji Mastan was to bring the other two to work with him as he needed their men and clout to support his growing smuggling trade of illegally importing gold and sending silver in return. He needed the men of Varda Bhai and Karim Lala for these activities. The Mumbai underworld had struck a deadly alliance. The 1970's belonged to them. The movies Deewar,Nayakam and Dayawan were based on these early dons of Mumbai.
However soon a new and most powerful don was to emerge.Pl also read :