The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Filmstars’ nightmare shot dead

Mumbai, May 26: Ejaz Lakdawala, a former key associate of mafia don Dawood Ibrahim and a master extortionist, was shot dead outside a restaurant in Bangkok last night by some unidentified members of the Chhota Shakeel gang.

It had been widely reported earlier that it was Lakdawala who had threatened actor Akshay Kumar and asked him to cough up a hefty amount, forcing the Bollywood action hero to ask Mumbai police for security.

Mumbai police have said the initial flow of information from Bangkok points to a shootout in which the don was killed.

“If it is true, then we have a big extortionist out of our way,” a senior crime branch official said before the death was confirmed. The gangster, who had set up his operational base in the Thai capital, had joined the Dawood gang a decade ago. He was the D-Company’s pointman in many high-profile extortion cases.

The don, who fell out with Dawood later and started his own operations, usually targeted businessmen and film personalities. It is said that he also had a strong crime network in Uttar Pradesh and Delhi.

Lakdawala’s tale was one of short-lived loyalties and unfettered ambitions. After breaking away from the D-Company, he joined hands with Dawood’s arch rival, Chhota Rajan, who, too, was shot and injured in Bangkok nearly three years ago. But Lakdawala reportedly broke up with Rajan to enter into a partnership with Fazlur Rehman.

Rehman was in the news recently for having reportedly made an extortion call on behalf of Surendra Shetty — actress Shilpa Shetty’s father — to Pankaj Agarwal, the Surat-based owner of Prafful Sarees.

Lakdawala was suspected to have had a hand in the killing of gangster Sharad Shetty in Dubai recently. Mumbai police say he also killed Hanif Kadawala, an accused in the 1993 Mumbai bomb blasts case.

According to one theory doing the rounds of the crime branch, it could have been Lakdawala’s cousin Farooq who masterminded the attack on the gangster. Farooq had joined Lakdawala in Bangkok in 2000 and taken charge of his cousin’s extortion activities.

But Farooq soon took to extortion using Lakdawala’s name. When he learnt of this, Lakdawala is believed to have thrown his cousin out of his gang.

Police say Farooq may have either hired killers to bump off Lakdawala or tipped off Shakeel about his whereabouts.

Though details of the attack are yet to come in, sources in the police said the don’s murder would certainly hit the burgeoning extortion industry of Mumbai.

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