The Dirty Dozen: Read an excerpt from Gabriel Khan's book on Mumbai's underworld and Dawood Ibrahim
In this chapter of the The Dirty Dozen, Gabriel Khan documents the rise and eventual fall of Samad Khan, a brutal killer and womaniser, at the hands of Dawood Ibrahim
Editor's note: In his latest book The Dirty Dozen , published by Westland Books, Gabriel Khan recounts stories from the days when he reported about crime as a journalist. There are episodes which give insights into the D-Comapany's exploits, Arun Gawli's henchmen, Firoze Kokani's hot-blooded disposition and Chhota Shakeel's gang. He also speaks warmly about his collaboration with Hussain Zaidi, who has also edited his book. In this chapter, Khan documents the rise and eventual fall of Samad Khan, a brutal killer and womaniser, at the hands of Dawood Ibrahim.
Rama aur Rum
In 1972, a wealthy Bombay resident opened the first dance bar in the city, named Sonia Mahal. The bar was in the Nariman Point area and it was where one could find all the attractions—women, alcohol and music. Top businessmen, diamond merchants and criminals—Sonia Mahal became a hangout for all. The concept was simple: cleavage-showing women would take centrestage and move their bodies to Bollywood songs; the restaurant area would have a seating space from where men could enjoy their drinks and enjoy the alluring sight of the women. Bollywood-watchers say that Feroz Khan’s idea of a bar dancer in his hit movie Qurbani was inspired by Sonia Mahal. In fact, Zeenat Aman’s character in the movie was named after the most attractive girl in the joint.
The city buzzed with this popular line, ‘Rama aur Rum’, meaning that dance bars offered women as well as alcohol. In the shady corners of the dance bar, deals would be signed or broken. Gradually, the rowdy elements increased and Sonia Mahal and other dance bars that came up one after another would be frequented only by them. It was in Sonia Mahal that the first fight between Dawood’s brother Sabir and Pathan gangsters took place. The police found it tough to maintain law and order here but then it was also a ‘source of income’ for them.
On most days, one could find two heavyweights of the crime world enjoying their drinks at the bar: Samad Khan and his ally Anjum Pehelwan. Often completely inebriated but still drooling over the girls, Samad would beckon them to his table. As the girls walked towards him he would try to catch hold of their hands and pull them towards him. ‘Kya bhaav khaati hai. Chal na (Don’t be a prissy. Come with me),’ he would say. The women in the dance bar knew how to deal with these clients. They would resist at first, extract enough money and then give in. Samad would often bet with Anjum on a particular girl that he wanted to take to bed that day.
There was one girl Samad had already tried to take to bed. He had showered her with a lot of cash but she refused to oblige. She was the daughter of a railway employee and had joined the dance bar to earn more money. Samad had been watching her for a few days, but the girl continued to ignore him. One day, Samad and Anjum pounced on the girl, lifted her in the middle of her performance and took her out of the bar. No one dared to stop them.
Samad took the girl to the flat of his mistress in Versova and raped her repeatedly. Anjum stood guard outside the room, drinking. Later, Samad stepped out and went away with Anjum. Meanwhile, the girl’s father, who had already found out about her kidnapping, approached the Colaba police station. Inspector Ishaq Bagwan and his colleagues were on night duty at that time. As soon as they heard Samad’s name, they jumped from the seat and proceeded to Versova. Bagwan knew exactly where to find the duo. When they entered the flat, they saw the girl weeping in the room. They sent her away for medical examination and went to the spot where Samad and Anjum were sitting and enjoying their drinks. Both were arrested and put behind bars. Samad did not resist the arrest as he knew that the cops could do little to keep him in jail for long.
And, as expected, he walked free in a few days as the girl refused to give a statement or file a police complaint against the gangster. No law could keep Karim Lala’s nephew behind bars.
The Most Dangerous D
Dawood was a master planner and he knew his enemies’ weaknesses. Dawood knew Samad would stoop to any level to get a woman to sleep with him. And that, Dawood believed, would bring about his end. There were other options to target Samad. For example, Dawood could simply tip-off the police and Samad could be killed in an encounter. But then that would not make any statement for the D-Company. Hence, Dawood thought of a bait. A bait that Samad could not resist.
Dawood meticulously planned Samad’s death. He did not want to be predictable by using a bar girl to lure Samad as there was also a chance that Samad’s loyalists would tip him off. So he called for a new girl from Delhi. Dawood’s orders were simple: find a good-looking girl in need of money. One of his men found Naseem, who readily agreed to work for him. Naseem was then given a job in a dance bar where Samad was a regular. The instructions to Naseem were that she should only lure Samad and no one else. Soon, Samad fell for this beauty and he could not think beyond her. At times he would wonder how this beautiful woman liked an unkempt man like him. But then he would tell himself that he was a Pathan, and any woman would fall for him.
Naseem knew that if Samad got even a hint of her intentions, he would kill her. But Dawood had promised to protect her. After the attack, she was to be sent off to a safe location and would never again be contacted by Dawood or his men, the don had promised her. And, she would be given enough money to last her a lifetime.
Soon the courtship began. Samad would meet his new ‘item’ at different locations. He would make love to her and send her off. Naseem waited patiently for Samad to get used to her and trust her. Eventually, Samad fixed a location where they could meet every time.
On the eve of Dassera, Naseem decided to tip-off Dawood. She knew Samad would not suspect anything. Mumbai underworld’s smartest killer was silenced because of his craze for women. On 4 October 1984, Samad was killed in more or less the same manner as Sabir Kaskar. Helpless, cornered by an entire gang and riddled with bullets till the last breath.
Samad’s killing concluded a particularly gruesome chapter in Mumbai mafia history. Karim Lala was distraught and his anger against his nephew did not hold him back from attending Samad’s funeral along with over two thousand others, including personalities like Muslim League MP GM Banatwala, and filmstar Dilip Kumar’s brother, Ahsan Khan.
All fingers were pointed towards Dawood and the don finally decided to escape from Mumbai and shift his headquarters to Dubai. Over the next decade, between 1984 to 1994, no one could challenge Dawood’s numero uno position in the underworld. It was only much later that Chhota Rajan threw the gauntlet down, but according to cops who knew Samad, it was undoubtedly this Pathan who had the ability to become the unmatched king of the mafia world. With his death, Dawood safeguarded his position and remained invincible till the emergence of the Rajan–Arun Gawli alliance.