NEW DELHI: A special court in Mumbai on Thursday acquitted underworld don Rajendra Nikalje, also known as Chhota Rajan, in connection with the murder of Sayyed Sohail Makbul Hussain in 1996. The court cited a lack of evidence as the reason for Rajan’s acquittal. However, the court found Rajan’s former associate, Ijaz Lakdawala, alias Azzu, guilty in the case, who was present with the shooters during the incident.

Life Sentence For Lakdawala

Special Judge AM Patil sentenced Lakdawala to life imprisonment. He is facing charges in more than a dozen cases. In this particular incident, Lakdawala and another associate of the Dawood Ibrahim gang allegedly entered Hussain’s shop and mistakenly shot his brother. The incident occurred in 1996, at a time when Rajan and Dawood’s gangs were at loggerheads on the streets of Mumbai.

What Happened Back Then? 

During the incident, Lakdawala and another accused fired at Hussain inside the shop. Lakdawala’s pistol suddenly jammed, resulting in a misfire, and he accidentally shot himself in the right leg. Injured, Lakdawala attempted to flee, but the police managed to apprehend both shooters.

Hussain had lodged an FIR at Pydhonie Police Station on October 7, 1996. The police had registered cases under Section 307 (attempt to murder), Section 34 (acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), along with certain sections of the Indian Arms Act.

Hussain’s statement proved crucial in the case, which the police recorded just before his death at the hospital. After Hussain’s demise, the police added the charge of murder to the case. During the investigation, it was revealed that Chhota Rajan, who was already abroad at the time, had allegedly ordered Lakdawala to carry out the attack.

Arrest And Extradition

After his arrest, Lakdawala managed to escape in 1998. Subsequently, with the help of Interpol, he was extradited from Canada after his whereabouts were traced. Rajan himself was deported from Bali. He is currently serving a life sentence in Delhi’s Tihar Central Jail for another case.

Missing Gun Supplier

The whereabouts of Ajay, the person who supplied the gun in this case, remain unknown even after so many years. Special Public Prosecutor Pradeep Gharat admitted during the trial that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) lacks evidence to link Rajan directly to the case. Therefore, the court acquitted Chhota Rajan in this case.


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