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   It is to be hoped that... (November 18, 1991)

It is to be hoped that the elimination of six membersof the Dawood Ibrahim gang on Saturday will curb the activities of the gangsters in the city. Because, with so many gangs operating, the kidnapping of industrialists and businessmen and subsequent extortion of ransom from them has become very common and nobody is safe any more. I am saying this because recently my friend, who lives on the 21st floor and is worth the combined ransom of the Queen of England and three sheikhs of Araby was kidnapped.

He was telling me about it: "I was milked dry by Ilu Ilu and his gang, they extracted so much money out of me that you will be amazed."

"You mean they demanded Rs. 10 lakh from you got it!" I said, amazed.

"Not ten lakh, that is nothing. That much money I was carrying in my pocket and I gave it to their guards, who were watching over me, for their tea and refreshments," my friend said.

"Then what?" I asked.

"Than they made me write a note to my business manager asking him to transfer the ownership papers of two of my steel mills and three of my five-star hotels to a front-man of Ilu Ilu, if my business manager wanted to see me alive against. To make the threat more effective, I had to write it in my blood."

"Oh, poor you!" I said. "You mean you had to cut your finger with a sharp knife to write the note."

"Well, no, I absolutely refused to do that. So they offered to get me a bottle of blood from the Bombay Hospital blood bank if I paid them Rs. 5 lakh, which I did," my friend said.

"Was that all?" I asked.

"You know very well that once you give in to these extortionists, their demands never cease," my friend said. "Next, they wanted half my airline. I told them, take the full airline, anyway it is not making money."

"You've had a rough time," I said. "I hope they treated you all right. I mean, fed you properly and kept you in a decent place, not same dark and damp underground cell with rats and cockroaches."

"Since I had offered to pay for it, they put me up in a suite at a five-star hotel, taking me into the hotel wearing a burkha. The guards would bring up the food from the hotel restaurants, so it was all right. But I was not allowed to use the swimming pool and the health club. And you should have seen the bill that the hotel submitted to me at the end of my confinement."

"Yes, that was one thing I wanted to ask you. How did you finally manage to get out?" I said.

"When Police Commissioner Ramamurthy announced his drive against extortion, the gant got scared that let me go," my friend said.

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