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Rajendra Sadashiv Nikalje

Chota rajan
Born Maharashtra, India
Occupation Smuggler, drug trafficking,

Rajendra Sadashiv Nikalje alias Chotta Rajan (Translation: Little Rajan) is the boss of a major crime syndicate based in India. He is a former key aide and lieutenant of Dawood Ibrahim. Starting as a petty thief and bootlegger working for Rajan Nair, also known as Bada Rajan (Big Rajan). Chotta Rajan took over the reins of Bada Rajan's gang after Bada Rajan's murder. Later, he was affiliated with and operated at the behest of Dawood in Mumbai and eventually fled India to Dubai in 1988. He is wanted for many criminal cases that include extortion, murder, smuggling, drug trafficking and film finance. His brother is said to produce films financed by Rajan. He is also wanted in 17 murder cases and several more attempted murders.

He parted ways with Dawood Ibrahim after the latter's involvement in the 1993 terrorist attack on innocent civilians in Mumbai suburban trains. Chotta Rajan and Dawood Ibrahim are now considered be arch-rivals, with a long and bloody feud between their respective crime syndicates.



Chhota Rajan is a school-dropout[1].

Criminal career

This middle-class Chembur lad began by peddling cinema tickets in black in the 1980s. Then he met mentor Bada Rajan. Once Bada Rajan was killed, Nikalje received the throne and the title—Chhota Rajan. For a short period, Dawood Ibrahim, Rajan and Arun Gawli worked together. Then Gawli’s elder brother Papa Gawli was bumped off over a drug deal and a rift formed. Rajan went to Dubai—his family is still here apart from his wife and two daughters—in 1989 to attend the wedding of Noora, Dawood’s brother. He never returned. With the serial blasts flinging a spanner into the works, Dawood and Rajan fell out. There were even reports that he tipped off the Research and Analysis Wing about Dawood’s network. The Dawood-Rajan party was over, the messy end coming in September 2000, with Shakeel’s attack on Rajan in his Bangkok hotel room.[2]

Split with Dawood

Rajan parted ways with Dawood Ibrahim, after the Bombay bomb blast, blaming him for anti Hindu and anti national acts. It is speculated that religious differences between the two - Rajan is a Dalit Hindu and Dawood, a Muslim - contributed to the split. The break up between him and Ibrahim supposedly took place after Dawood's involvement in the 1993 bomb blast came into the spotlight and Dawood became the most wanted man in India. After the split, Rajan formed his own gang. Reports of bloody shootouts between Rajan and Dawood's hoodlums have been common since the split. In 1994, Rajan lured one of Dawood's favorites - the flamboyant yet dreaded young Pathan gangster Phillu Khan alias Bakhtiyar Ahmed Khan- to a hotel room in Bangkok, where he was tortured to death having being betrayed by his closest aide and sidekick Mangesh "Mangya" Pawar.

Both Phillu and Mangya were involved in the 1993 blasts as Police had filed cases on 15 March 1993 "against a 26-year-old Hindu (Mangesh Pawar) and a 30-year-old Muslim (Piloo Khan)"[3] alleging their involvement in the blasts.

Assassination Attempt

In September 2000, Dawood tracked down Rajan in Bangkok. Sharad Shetty, one of the few Hindus still left in Dawood organisation post the Mumbai bombings, used his links with Mumbai based hotelier Vinod Shetty to track down Rajan in Bangkok,[4] Dawood's aide Chotta Shakeel then led the hit. Posing as pizza delivery men they gunned down trusted Rajan hitman Rohit Varma and his wife. [4] However their aim of killing Rajan failed, with Rajan making a dare-devil escape through the hotel's roof and fire-escape. He then recovered in the hospital and slipped away to evade capture.

Dawood Ibrahim confirmed the attack on telephone to, saying Rajan tried to escape by jumping out of the window of the first-floor room where he was attacked. He, however, broke his back in the fall and was taken to hospital, the don said.

Rajan Strikes Back

This failed assassination attempt proved costly for Dawood. Chotta Rajan's associates tracked down and shot dead Vinod Shetty in 2001 in Mumbai, as well as Sunil Soans - another Dawood associate. Both Vinod and Sunil had provided information to Dawood's associates of Rajan's whereabouts.[4]

While the killings of Vinod Shetty and Sunil Soans did not significantly disrupt D-Company, on January 19, 2003, Chotta Rajan's associates then gunned down Sharad Shetty - Dawood's chief finance manager and money-laundering agent - at the India Club in Dubai.[4] This brazen killing was an emblematic of the shift of power between Dawood and Rajan. Not only was the execution in a very public setting, it was at a location that Dawood considered his operational backyard. Intelligence reports have suggested that Sharad Shetty's death was a crippling blow to D-Company, since much financial and monetary information of the crime syndicate operations managed by Sharad Shetty was never fully recovered by Dawood.[4]

While the Indian government has no overt links to Rajan, the Intelligence Bureau, India's internal intelligence agency is suspected of having passed information they collected of Dawood's operations to Chotta Rajan when they've found so to be convenient to weaken Dawood. Chotta Rajan claims himself to be a staunch Indian nationalist.

Whereabouts at present

Ever since the Bombay blasts, both Chotta Rajan and Dawood Ibrahim have absconded from Mumbai. Dawood is currently believed to be living in Pakistan after being forced to move away from Dubai due to intense Indian scrutiny, though no confirmed reports have yet emerged. Chotta Rajan is believed to move between Kenya, Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia.

In 1995, the Interpol, on being asked to issue a warrant for his arrest by the CBI, did so but Malaysia chose not to execute the warrant. He continues to operate extortion rings in India through his men in Mumbai and other cities and is rumored to own several luxury hotels in South-East Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Several of his former gang members such as the Pujari trio (Hemant, Ravi and Harish) and Vicky Malhotra have formed breakaway gangs of their own and continue to operate in the suburbs of Bombay (Mumbai).

His family continues to live in Mumbai and it is speculated that his nephew is now actively involved in Rajan's crime syndicate. The Rajan gang have been very innovative in their extortion tactics, using the likes of dreaded Vasai based Orthopedic Surgeon Dr. Malcolm Pestonji, M.S., to recover the loot on their behalf - e.g. the doctor would summon businessmen to his nursing home in Vasai and threaten them to pay up. Nabbed by an undercover Mumbai police team a few years ago, Dr. Pestonji served a sentence in jail, under TADA, before being released.


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