| Dawood: Tough nut
Dubai, June 4: The United States has designated India’s most wanted terrorist Dawood Ibrahim and his organisation as drug traffickers under the Kingpin Act. But this will have little effect in the Mumbai bomb blast mastermind’s former hunting grounds.
He hasn’t lived here since 9/11. But in Dubai, the commercial capital of the United Arab Emirates, and the neighbouring emirates, Dawood’s underground network of pimps, hawala operators and drug smugglers has flourished well below the radar.
The arrest by Indian sleuths of an Indian guard at the Indian consulate last week can only underline his reach. Arresting Hanumant Singh, the guard, will achieve little, said officials at the consulate.
“They will intimidate someone else, or put some other guard on the payroll. A lot of the staff at the consulate are recruited locally and you cannot always verify their antecedents.”
Officials at the consulate can do little when the Indian government refuses to call Dawood’s bluff. Dawood, his wife, his brothers and their wives and children may have lived in Karachi for the last five years but they have all got easy access to Dubai. Dawood is a regular visitor, arriving on a different passport every time. Younger brothers Noora and Mustaqeen continue to maintain homes.
As the consulate official said: “They come in on Pakistani passports, these are official documents that Dubai or any other emirate must accept.
They are fakes only because the identities are fake, but they are valid passports.”
The underworld don makes it a point to visit his Indian dentist, an official revealed. The unfortunate dentist’s clinic is in the same apartment block that houses all the Indian consulate staff. So far, it has never been a problem, but when Dawood reportedly arrived in April and was driven to the building, he balked at the prospect of running into one of the consular staff or a member of their families.
He named the officials he did not want to see, afraid it would blow his cover, and asked his contact to take him to another dentist.
The “D” company’s tentacles have always run deep. Benami companies own travel agencies, hotel chains and now increasingly are buying into Dubai’s latest offering ' real estate. Dawood’s name does not figure on any document.
Consulate officials who monitor his movements say the drug smuggling network is micro-managed by Dawood, who has bought allegiance where it matters. “It suits everyone to look the other way. The Indian government has been kept fully informed but for some reason they will not take up the matter at the level where it matters. We are helpless.”
The officials say the best example is the manner in which Dawood’s wife waltzes into Dubai, en route to Mumbai. The irony is she arrives from Karachi on a Pakistan passport and leaves for Mumbai on an Indian passport, returns to Dubai on the same Indian passport and travels onwards to Karachi on a Pakistani passport.
“When we alert officials in Mumbai, they say they cannot stop her because it’s a valid Indian passport. Why don’t they just cancel it as they did straight after the bomb blasts.”
The same official warned that the time for monitoring was over. They suggest that with their own reach into Dawood’s household, India should now use the Kingpin Act to turn up the heat. “We just need a green signal to take him out.”