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   A well-known gangster, (March 8, 1998)

A well-known gangster, who is generally recognised as one of the kingpins of Bombay's underworld and rival to Dawoodbhai of Dubai, was telling me: "The underworld is appointing a nodal agency to identify the political nexus in our business and find ways and means of eliminating it."

"That is news," I said. "You wanting to stop the unholy nexus between politicians and criminals."

"Certainly," said the gangster. "The politicians are giving criminals a bad name. Our image as clean criminals is being spoilt."

"There may be something in what you say," I said.

"Not only politicians but even industrialists and businessmen have managed to establish connections with criminals," the gangster said. "This is not good for the development of healthy crime in the country."

"You know best," I said.

"The situation has reached such a stage that if one of our criminals tries to stick up a person, he is ashamed to look at that person in his eyes, because he will be told that he has got political nexus," the gangster said.

"Bad scene," I said.

"Everybody is talking about it in the underworld, it is called the politicisation of crime. If allowed to go any further, it will finish crime."

"Yes," I said.

"When our founding fathers started criminal syndicates, it was never their intention to involve politicians in it. You must be knowing some of our biggest dons of that era, their names were by-words at Yellowgate Police Station and other places. Well, at that time they had laid down that politicians should not be allowed to enter the underworld."

"Our ancestors knew best, we should listen to them," I said.

The gangster said: "Over the yeas, more and more politicians have made connections with criminals. Go to any politician's office or residence and you will find our young underworld members hanging around there. And there is nobody to tell them that they are keeping bad company."

"The present dons should tell the younger generation of criminals," I said.

"The dons themselves have got connections with politicians. What will they tell the young criminals just entering the profession," the gangster said.

"Things are bad," I said.

"We are living in bad times when criminals are influenced by politicians. There was a time when customrs approached us directly with 'supari'. Now they send the 'suparis' through politicians, and the bigger the politician, the better. What hope is there for crime, you tell me," the gangster said, looking distressed.

"Please, don't feel distressed," I said. "I am sure your nodal agency will put an effective stop to further politicisation of crime."

"I hope so," said the gangster. "We have appointed a very high level committee."

"Who is on the committee?" I asked.

"I don't know all the names, but there is Salim Chikna, Babu Maruti, Sanjay Gupti and Ali Mirchi," said the gangster.

"It is a good choice," I said.

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