| Rajkumar Santoshi
Mumbai, May 19: Six underworld henchmen have confessed that they had planned to kill Bollywood director Rajkumar Santoshi, police said.
The six, from gangster Ejaz Lakdawala’s group, were arrested by Juhu police last night when they came to loot a wine shop in the north-west suburb where Amitabh Bachchan’s bungalows Jalsa and Prateeksha are located.
The henchmen were identified as Roy Sequera, 30, Anthony Lobo, 32, Sohail Irani, 28, Amjad Ali Shaikh, 22, Suraj Yadav, 20, and Raju Mayaje, 20.
A foreign-made pistol, three country-made revolvers, seven live rounds and a stolen motorbike were seized from the group. They were produced before a local court and remanded in police custody.
During questioning, they revealed they had orders to eliminate Santoshi, who is busy finishing the post-production of Halla Bol starring Ajay Devgan and Vidya Balan.
Santoshi has directed hits like the Sunny Deol flick Ghayal, Meenakshi Sheshadri-starrer Damini, an action film, China-Gate, a comedy, Andaz Apna Apna, and the police drama Khakee. Last year, he finished Family: Ties of Blood, starring Amitabh Bachchan and Akshay Kumar, based on the Hollywood classic Godfather.
Senior inspector Pradeep Shinde of Juhu police station said: “Lakdawala’s standard modus operandi is that he threatens his targets for extortion, and when his demands are not met, he sends men to fire at them to frighten them and force them to pay. During interrogation, they revealed they had planned to target Santoshi.”
They said a prominent suburban hotelier and two police informers were also on their list of targets.
A former lieutenant of Dawood Ibrahim, Lakdawala aligned with Chhota Rajan after the split in the underworld in the aftermath of the 1993 serial bomb blasts.
He separated from the Rajan gang and formed his own outfit, running extortion rackets targeting Bollywood personalities and builders from his base in Bangkok, police sources said.
Bollywood came under attack from the underworld in 1998 following the murder of T-Series owner Gulshan Kumar. Over 60 film industry personalities have received threats from the Dawood gang and were provided armed protection by the police.