With Narendra Modi all set to become the prime minister, India's most-wanted don, Dawood Ibrahim, has relocated himself to an unknown location close to the Af-Pak border, which is under the Taliban. His base has been in Karachi.
During the poll campaign, Modi had told a Gujarati news channel that he would bring Dawood to India from Pakistan if he comes to power. Now that Modi is in power, the general expectation of the intelligence community is that he will tighten the screws on Dawood. Fearing a commando-type operation, Dawood is believed to have shifted his base to a remote corner and got the ISI to beef up his security.
"With Modi coming to power, he is mortally afraid," an intelligence official said. It is expected that Modi may seek the services of Ajit Doval, retired chief of the Intelligence Bureau (IB) who is known for his brilliant operational capabilities, to zero in on the don. Doval is currently associated with the Vivekananda centre in New Delhi.
BJP has already started adopting a strong position vis-a-vis Pakistan. In a recent TV debate, senior BJP leader Nitin Gadkari made it clear that the new government will have "zero tolerance" to terrorism. He said the response of the new dispensation will be vastly different from that of the erstwhile Manmohan Singh-led UPA government, which was afraid to strike.
Sushilkumar Shinde, home minister in the UPA government, had only talked about bringing Dawood back to India and had claimed that the government was in touch with the FBI for it. But RK Singh, who was the then Union home secretary and is currently with BJP, had pooh-poohed Shinde's claim. Singh too is known to be keen on targeting Dawood and is expected to help the new government in it.
It's not only Dawood who has done the vanishing act, even many members of his gang in Mumbai have pulled out of the metropolis. Though the police is under the Congress-NCP-led Maharashtra government, central agencies can pick up people suspected of links with terror networks and organised crime.
Former IPS officer YC Pawar, the man who effected the first breakthrough in the investigation into the March 1993 Mumbai serial blasts masterminded by Dawood in tandem with Pakistan's ISI, is of the opinion that the don can indeed be brought to India. He had told dna recently: "Modi is a man of tremendous will power and a go-getter. These qualities are needed at the topmost level to operationalise a plan to eject Dawood out of Pakistan. I am not saying this as a member of BJP but as a professional cop who has dealt with organised crime for several years. It should not be a difficult task."
Incidentally, Dawood's chief lieutenant Chhota Shakeel had told dna a few months ago: "Dawoodbhai koyi halwa nahin hai ke usko uthake koi bhi le jaa sakta hai. (Dawood is not a piece of halwa that anyone can take him away)."
Before any action is taken against Dawood, the new government is likely to direct the income tax department to dispose of Dawood's 12 properties in central Mumbai which are in its custody. These properties were put up for auction twice, but in vain.