Three Mumbai properties of Dawood Ibrahim auctioned
Less than a month after a few of gangster Dawood Ibrahim's Mumbai properties were put up for auction, three of them were sold for Rs. 11.58cr, an official said. These three include the Hotel Raunaq Afroz (popular as the Delhi Zaika), Shabnam Guest House and six rooms in the Damarwala building, all in South Mumbai. The finance ministry handled the process. But who won?
Of these three, Raunaq Afroz attracted the highest bid of Rs. 4.53cr. Shabnam and Damarwala went for Rs. 3.52cr and Rs. 3.53cr respectively. The winning bidder for all three was the Saifee Burhani Upliftment Trust. A spokesperson said they acquired these properties "to ensure safety of the families living in these buildings and to carry on with (their ongoing) redevelopment project".
In 2015, when Hotel Raounaq Afroz was auctioned, an NGO of former journalist S Balakrishnan, Desh Seva Samiti, put in the winning bid of Rs. 4.28cr. It deposited an earnest payment of Rs. 30L. However, it failed to raise the remaining amount within 30 days.
Hindu leader Swami Chakrapani undoubtedly had hostile feelings: in 2015, he bid successfully for Dawood's Hyundai Accent and then set it on fire. He wanted to acquire Raunaq Afroz too, but for a very intriguing reason: "I will build a plush toilet there for public use. This (free) toilet will be..open to all. I want to send the message: see how terrorism ends!"
Authorities have tried to auction off other properties of his too, several times - in 2001, 2013 and 2015. Most times, there were no takers, attributed to people's fear of the gangster. During the 2015 auction, questions were raised on whether the whole process was genuine, or was it just an attempt to transfer ownership.
Dawood Ibrahim, main accused in the 1993 Mumbai blasts, is believed to be currently in Pakistan. In September, Iqbal Kaskar told police that Dawood's security has been scaled up 50 times and his hideout changed four times since 2014. The UK has also initiated a crackdown on him, and his assets in the country have been seized.