The annexures contain names of politicians and bureaucrats who helped Dawood and Mirchi from the 1970s.

 

NEW DELHI: Many Congress leaders, who were in influential positions in Maharashtra, and Gujarat in the 1990s had developed close relations with underworld don Dawood Ibrahim and his henchman Iqbal Mirchi. This assertion was officially put down on paper when the N.N. Vohra committee submitted its report to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in 5 October 1993, roughly three months after it was established on 9 July 1993 in the aftermath of the 12 March 1993 Bombay bomb blasts. Vohra was then the Union Home Secretary.

While the contents of the report, that was subsequently made public on 1 August 1995 in Parliament, were only limited to 11 pages, it is a part of the government’s own records that the finding of the report, in total, was close to 100 pages.

It is these 100 pages that were never made public, that have now become relevant, almost 26 years after they were brought into existence, after Union Home Minister Amit Shah last week said that former Union Aviation Minister and NCP leader Praful Patel took part in “treason” while allegedly engaging in a financial transaction with Iqbal Mirchi’s wife, Hajra Memon. These allegations, backed by what he said were documentary proofs, have been strongly refuted by Patel.

Successive governments and home ministers have refused to make public these almost 100 pages annexures, which are the most vital part of the report, as, according to old Intelligence Bureau (IB) hands, it contains the names of leading politicians and bureaucrats who were the key players who helped Dawood and Mirchi from the 1970s till 1993.

However, there is strong hope among former Intelligence officials that the present dispensation at North Block will now be able to gather the courage to make 100 pages of the report public, especially with Amit Shah now raking up the issue of the connections between politicians and Dawood.

Incidentally, the 11 pages that were made public in 1995, had only one name—that of Iqbal Mirchi.

The report describes Mirchi as “Iqbal Mirchi of Bombay who, till the late 80s, was merely a visitor to passenger and carrier ships to obtain liquor and cigarettes for selling the same at a profit. In the last 3-4 years, Mirchi acquired real estate valuing crores of rupees; he has many bank accounts and has been paying lakhs of rupees to his carriers. The growth of Mirchi is due to the fact that the concerned enforcement agencies did not timely take action against him and, later, this perhaps became difficult on account of the enormous patronage that he had developed. If Mirchi is investigated, the entire patronage enjoyed by him and his linkages will come to light.”

The then Rajya Sabha MP, Dinesh Trivedi, on 16 August 1995, while making a written representation to the erstwhile Minister for Home Affairs had stated that the government was not releasing the entire report as then the individuals who helped the criminals would become identifiable. He later moved to the Supreme Court, seeking the release of the documents, but was not successful.

Former IB officials, who spoke to The Sunday Guardian, strictly off the record, said that the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) was given a lot of information that was collected by the IB which was then submitted to the Vohra committee. This information mostly pertained to politicians from Gujarat and Maharashtra who are very much active in politics even now.

“Dawood at the time was not the pariah he is now. People would like to be associated with him despite knowing that he was perhaps the biggest criminal element in the entire country. The MHA was given all kinds of information, in volumes of pages, which were ‘ultra-sensitive’ in nature. This information clearly showed how politicians were on the payroll of Dawood and how they were acting as his servants. Much of this information was produced in the Vohra committee report, in the portion which was not made public. We can understand why it was not made public before, but now, there is no political compulsion as such. It should have been presented before the public to show the deep nexus that existed between the politicians and Dawood,” a former IB official said.

The inputs given by the agency, at the time, had stated that there was a “definite” nexus between Dawood and a very big leader of Maharashtra since the late 1970s and as per their findings, this very prominent leader of the state got almost Rs 70 crore from Dawood till the 1993 blasts. The reports also mentioned how Rs 5 crore was given to another politician through hawala to help him in contesting the 1990 elections. The report also had the name of a “former CM”.

Another input that is a part of the annexures of the Vohra committee report, showed how two tranches of Rs 5 crore each was given by Dawood in 1992 to a relative of a Chief Minister who later himself became a politician.

The annexures, as the officials recall, have prominently mentioned the name of a very powerful leader from the Congress, who at that time was a mid-level operative, but is now among the top ten.

A former top IB officer said: “Gujarat-based leaders were prominently mentioned in the annexures. If the Home Minister decides to summon these annexures, if he has not seen them till now, he will find very familiar names in them. Every leader comes and makes statements on Dawood and Mirchi. The real test of intent is whether they have the guts to take action on the basis of what they already have—the findings of the Vohra committee that are encompassed in the annexures.”