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Abu Salem: How Dreaded Gangster Rose Out of D-Gang to Chart His Course

Updated: June 16, 2017, 3:54 PM IST
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Abu Salem: How Dreaded Gangster Rose Out of D-Gang to Chart His Course
File photo of Abu Salem with another prison inmate in Taloja Central Jail in Navi Mumbai. (PTI Photo)
New Delhi: Twenty four years after the deadly Bombay blasts in 1993, it’s finally the day of the judgement for seven of the accused.

Abu Salem, alias Abdul Saleem Ansari, has been convicted in the blasts case. The rise of this man, who went on to chart his own course in the underworld world, and the eventual fall is stuff films are made of.

Born to a lawyer father in Saria Meer in Azamgarh district of Uttar Pradesh, Salem is believed to have come to Delhi and started his career as a taxi driver.

He then moved to Mumbai in the mid-1980s and started off as a petty criminal during his stint at a telephone booth in Andheri. During this time, he came in contact with Dawood Ibrahim’s younger brother, Anees. Salem soon rose up the ladder and became a part of the D-gang.

ALSO READ | The 1993 Mumbai Blasts: What Exactly Happened on March 12 That Year

Salem was tasked with taking the gang’s arms and ammunitions from one part of the city to another. He soon started extorting money from builders in the city, and soon Bollywood bigwigs too.

In 1997, the sensational killing of Bollywood producer Gulshan Kumar brought Salem into the spotlight, and among the ‘A’ league. The police, months later, charged him with an attempt to life on another producer Rajiv Rai. Salem’s rising ambit put him into a tussle with Chhota Shakeel, another dreaded gangster. Salem, however, split from the Dawood gang in 1998. He was extorting money from Bollywood producers and directors, with many like Subhash Ghai, Karan Johar, said to have received ‘threats’ from the gangster.

ALSO READ| Probe in 1993 Mumbai Blasts Conducted Without Evidence: Former SC Judge

It was during his ‘rule’ in Bollywood that he met starlet Monica Bedi. He even pressurized producers to star her in their films. Salem had fled India after the bombings, along with Bedi. The duo landed in Portugal and lived in Lisbon only to be caught in 2002 by the Portuguese police after a tip off from the Interpol. A court in Portugal, in 2003, sentenced Salem to 4.5 years in prison and Bedi was given 2 years. Both were charged with forging documents and resisting arrest. India pressed for extradition, which Portugal granted on the condition that they would not face death sentence if they returned. So, the couple were extradited. Salem in still lodged in jail, while Bedi walked out a free woman after serving her sentence.

ALSO READ | 1993 Mumbai Blasts Case: Charges Against Abu Salem and Six Others

The assurance given to Portugal means one thing: the court today will give anything, but death, to Salem for conspiring in the blasts, which, according to unofficial records, left thousands dead and hundreds injured.
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