Mumbai, Aug 6 : Fugitive gangster and drug smuggler Santosh Shetty has been arrested in Bangkok by Thai police, Times of India reported.
Once the right hand man of Chhota Rajan, on the country’s most-wanted list, Shetty is suspected in the February 2009 killing of lawyer Shahid Azmi, who was representing suspects in the serial train blasts, the November 2010 killing of Rajan henchman Farid Tanasha and the October 2010 killing of gangster Bharat Nepali in a Bangkok hotel.
The arrest of Shetty, alias Anna, occurred on Thursday night in a beer bar after he got into a brawl with a few businessmen.
A source in Bangkok said the don gave the police a fake passport at the bar, before being booked for assault. The police later raided his home and found his real passport. After checking their records, they found that he was wanted by the Interpol because of crimes committed in Mumbai .
A senior police officer in Mumbai said: “We received the news of his arrest on Friday morning, but there has been no official communication between the Indian embassy and the Thai government . It is just possible that his arrest is a rumour because often gangsters try to humiliate rivals by circulating such stories.”
A source said since India does not have an extradition treaty with Thailand, getting Shetty to India will be difficult. Also, there are just four cases against him in Mumbai, which gangland sources say are weak and will not stand up to scrutiny in court.
A crime branch source said the Mumbai police have a dossier on Shetty ready, which they will send to their Bangkok counterparts after being contacted officially.
Shetty’s arrest could be a major blow to the underworld because, of late, many of Rajan’s foot soldiers have joined Shetty, making the latter’s gang one of the strongest in Mumbai.
After splitting with Rajan in 2004, Shetty declared war on his former mentor, vowing to end his criminal empire and replace it with his own. To this end, he formed a gang called SS Syndicate .
Although Shetty has been a member of the underworld for at least two decades, he came to the limelight only after the Tanasha murder.
“Shetty has a dangerous criminal mind. In February 2009, he tied up with Bharat Nepali to gun down Azmi. Later he bumped off Nepali, who you will remember had parted ways with the Rajan gang in 2000. In between he had Tanasha killed right in Rajan’s stronghold of Tilak Nagar, Chembur,” said a crime branch officer. “Shetty is emerging as Mumbai underworld’s top chap. Because of the danger he poses to society, his extradition is important.”
Santosh Shetty, also known as Anna was born in 1966 to a Dubai-based businessman in a well-to-do family from Mumbai’s Warden Road. He graduated from Mumbai University in 1983 Joined his father’s business. He was married to a Parsi woman. He has a daughter whose family lives in Bangkok.
Shetty started out with smuggling in 1990 . He maintained relations with Dawood Ibrahim, Chhota Shakeel and Chhota Rajan.
After the 1993 serial blasts, when Rajan split from D-Company , Shetty became loyal to Rajan, but continued maintaining rapport with Dawood Mentored by Rajan in the late 90s.
He was arrested in 1994 in a narcotics case and sent to Nasik Jail for five years. He was acquitted in 1999 after which he rejoined his father’s business.
Shetty shuttled between Mumbai and Dubai till late 2000 and continued to be with the Rajan gang during this period. He stayed on in the gang when it split in late 2000, with Bharat Nepali, Ejaz Lakhdawala, Bunty Pandey, Ravi Pujari and Hemant Pujari leaving to form separate gangs.
Shetty helped Rajan escape from Bangkok after Shakeel’s men made an attempt on his life in 2001. As Rajan maintained a low profile after the attack, Shetty, along with colleague Vijay Shetty, ran the gang.
Shetty parted ways with Rajan in 2004 over ego and money problems. In Feb 2009, he tied up with Bharat Nepali to gun down lawyer Shahid Azmi, who was representing suspects in the serial train blasts .
In Nov 2010, he had Rajan henchman Farid Tanasha gunned down in Rajan’s stronghold of Tilak Nagar, Chembur .
Shetty split with Nepali in 2010. The same year, Nepali tied up with Rajan to kill Shetty, who got wind of the plan. In Oct 2010, Shetty called Nepali to a Bangkok hotel, got him drunk and killed him.
Investigations into the killing of Mid-Day Editor (Investigations) J Dey has thrown up the distinct possibility of the rivalry between friends-turned-foes Chhota Rajan and Santosh Shetty being the reason behind the murder.
Confirming that this was one of their key theories, senior police officials told this newspaper that Dey used to receive calls from both Rajan and Shetty for stories.
Dey had done a front-page report on Shetty taking the credit for the killing of gangster Bharat Nepali earlier this year (‘I pumped 4 bullets into Nepali’, Mid-Day, February 21), following which Rajan had called him up claiming that he, and not Shetty, had killed Nepali.
“Rajan used to call Dey for doing stories on him often and may have been under the impression that the reporter knew a lot about him. He may have felt threatened by Dey doing stories on his arch rival Shetty,” said a senior officer, on condition of anonymity.
Police are also investigating whether Dey meeting someone had irked Rajan. They do, however, maintain that Dey’s killing related to a professional matter and not a personal one.
According to police records, Shetty had joined hands with Rajan in 1994, immediately after the latter split with Dawood Ibrahim. Shetty had helped Rajan escape from Dubai and find safe haven in south east Asia.
“Soon after this, Shetty was caught in a narcotics case and spent five years in Nashik jail. It was here that he came in touch with Bharat Nepali, who was imprisoned for his involvement in the Datta Samant murder case,” a retired police officer said.
Shetty was acquitted from all charges in 1999. The next year, he and Nepali shifted base to Bangkok, where Chhota Rajan and his key aide Rohit Verma were already operating.
On September 17, 2000, Chhota Shakeel’s men made an attempt on Rajan’s life. Rajan survived, but Verma was killed.