This is Dawood’s interview to India Today’s Gujarati’s version in 1994. The Mumbai blasts had just taken place and the Don was claiming that he had no role to play in the blasts that killed over 300 Indians!
- How has Yakub Memon’s arrest affected you?
A. I am happy that he has been caught. At least the investigations are on the right track.
- Didn’t you send him to India?
A. Why should I send him? I had nothing to do with him. I’ve never even seen his face.
- Did you ask Yakub to surrender so that he could clear your name?
A. Yakub is with you. Why not ask him? I was thinking about clearing my name when I received the news. Remember, Yakub made the statement on TV in front of the whole nation that he has not met me.
- So how come he appears to be clearing you of all charges?
A. The man who clears me of all charges will not be believed. If someone who knows says Dawood Ibrahim is innocent , then they say he has taken money from Dawood. An officer with whom I had a lot of discussions regarding this matter told me: “It is my firm belief that you are not involved in this case. If I want to say anything today, I will have to resign first. And if I don’t resign, they will suspend me.”
- But surely your name does not figure all the time without a reason?
A. That is due to political reasons. Ask them, what the evidence against me is . To know somebody is not a crime. I think I am a victim of the politics of Sharad Pawar and S.B. Chavan.
- But the charge is that Pawar is a friend of yours.
A. We are neither friends nor foes. When the press started hollering that Pawar had links with Dawood, the chief minister ordered the police to involve me in the case. But Chavan wants – now that I have already been maligned – to establish my involvement in the case and then prove that I had links with Pawar. This will provide him with all the ammunition to dislodge Pawar easily. So, they’re both trying to frame me for their own vested interests.
- Where were you on March 12, 1993 – the day of the Bombay blasts?
A. I was at home and flooded by phone calls – from Sindhis, Muslims, Gujaratis. I was shocked beyond words. But when the car was found, I was relieved at the thought that some evidence was found and there was no reason to be afraid. I thought that now truth will prevail any moment. Suddenly I learnt that a man named Dawood Taklu had mentioned my name during interrogation. Till then, newspapers were questioning Bombay Police chief Samra about my involvement. He could not say anything. Just because of one man mentioning my name, I have a tarnished image.
- Did you know Tiger Memon?
A. He used to come to Dubai very often. But I didn’t have any personal relationship or business deal with him. I know him the way I know every Bombayite who indulges in uncha neecha dhanda (shady deals). I have met him a number of times.
- But Tiger and you have the same kind of business.
A. Ask the police to take out Tiger Memon’s record and draw conclusions whether I had any connection with him. If the record proves it, then you are free to bring whatever charges you want to against me.
- Are you saying that you had no hand in the Bombay blasts?
A. Yes, believe me, mein dil cheer kar to nahin dikha sakta. I had no connection whatsoever with the blasts.
- Yakub Memon is saying that the blasts were masterminded by the ISI. What is your relation with the ISI and with Taufiq Jaliawala?
A. I know nothing about the ISI. And, as far as Jaliawala is concerned, I have known him as a businessman in Dubai for the last 10 years.
- We now know that Jaliawala is an ISI man. Were you aware of that?
A. If I had known that he was an ISI man, why should I attend his wedding when my name was being hauled into the bomb blasts case? Or why should I allow myself to appear on the video recording of the marriage?
- You know Tiger Memon, Jaliawala and the Bombay underworld. Do you think the Bombay blasts were caused by Pakistan and the Memons?
A. I think Tiger Memon is involved because his own brother is saying so.
- But Tiger alone couldn’t have pulled off such a big thing. How do you back your claim of innocence?
A. Tiger and his brother, who are behind the blasts, are the people best placed to tell you what had happened.
- You’re charged with the murder of over 300 people in the blasts. The investigation is pointing towards you.
A. Well, I am prepared to work hard to prove my innocence. But I can’t be forced to say things that I don’t know.
- Your network was the strongest in western India when the blasts took place.
A. And how many of my men were involved in the blasts?
- We have to believe what the police say. But if you want to prove your innocence, you’ll have to say who were involved.
A. When Tiger Memon is involved in the case, what else can I say?
- Who is behind Tiger?
A. Why don’t you ask his brother?
- Why don’t you surrender if you are innocent?
A. I am not fond of committing suicide. The police had framed me even before starting the investigation, and later on started producing evidence against me. I can never attempt such a dastardly act in my life. Even if I had, this is not the way I would have gone about it. I would have dealt with those who instigate violence and riots, not the ordinary people.
- You may not have executed the blasts, but did you finance them?
A. I didn’t give a single penny. Look, I am into gang wars and smuggling, how was I to know about this type of plans.
- But they used the smuggling network, the people who have some knowledge about such operations.
A. What the hell are you saying? Stop arguing like the police. I am in a desperate situation. They have reduced me to a mouse. I am trapped and cannot move around freely.
- Yakub has also said that you are involved with Jaliawala.
A. That Jaliawala is a businessman and a smuggler. I maintain a good friendship with everyone in Dubai. Just because I am a Muslim, does it mean I shouldn’t talk to a Pakistani?
- Do you think that Jaliawala is the man behind the blasts?
A. I had never heard about his involvement. In fact I was surprised when I came to know of it.
- Are you under scrutiny in Dubai?
A. People in Dubai support me. But the pressures from India, I mean the allegations, only confuse people. The Indian media has already painted me black. And they write only what the Government says.
- Do you have any properties in Bombay?
A. They are there – the ones that are of my parents, my brothers.
- What about benami property?
A. Why, isn’t there any other place than Bombay to own benami property? When I can legally own property, why should I go in for benami? Why should I leave property worth crores of rupees in someone else’s name?
- People think you are Pawar’s man.
A. No, I am not Pawar’s man. Neither do I have any relation with Chavan. If you think Pawar is the guardian of my property, then you people take it. I am prepared to give it in writing.
- It is said your sentiments were hurt due to the Bombay riots and that you wanted to take revenge…
A. The world was moved by those riots, why do you talk about me alone? But there was nothing about taking revenge. There have been many riots in India before. Is there any police record which says that I was involved in any one of them?
- So why are the police implicating you in the case?
A. Because I am a Muslim. I have a name in the community. But leave alone me, even if a Muslim bhangi (sweeper) happens to be well known, they won’t tolerate it.
- Who won’t tolerate it?
A. Those who are communal.
- Such as?
A. There are many, like Bal Thackeray. Just see, he openly says, “we have demolished the mosque”. Because of this 600 lives were lost. He moves around scot free. And here I am, saying I have not caused the blasts, but just because I’m a Muslim nobody believes me.
- After the Bombay riots, you sought to take revenge on Hindus by instigating Muslim militants. A meeting took place at your residence on January 10, 1993.
A. The atmosphere was very sensitive and people were tense. In Dubai also, there were meetings for the relief of the victims. You interpret such a meeting as that of the planning of the blasts.
- Are you saying you didn’t participate in the meeting at your home?
A. The times were such. In Dubai this was the hot topic. The whole world would be talking about Bombay. I have never seen RDX in my life.
- It is ridiculous to accept your version at face value. Why then are you a prime accused?
A. This is a Chavan-Pawar feud in which I have become a pawn. The Bombay police have linked my name with the blasts to establish the fact that I am not from the Pawar camp. There is no case on me. It is just politics.
- Tell us once and for all, do you have any relations with Pawar?
A. If I had any relations with him, he could have saved me.
- You had links previously, through Bhai Thakur.
A. Please stop all this. Do not try to trap me.
- Tell us something about your personal life.
A. I studied up to SSC in Urdu medium. I have been married for the past nine years and I have one boy and three daughters.
- What is your currrent income?
A. I have sufficient money from the past. Do you want a donation?
- Do you donate funds to political parties?
A. Not to just the Congress(I). I donate to all parties.
- Do you have contacts in Delhi?
A. Why are you asking me this? I am already in trouble. Let me clear out of this first, then I can talk to you about other things.
- The Indian Government says you are in Pakistan.
A. The Indian Government is always saying something or the other. I do not stay in Pakistan but I keep visiting the country frequently.
- Do you stay in Pakistan?
A. Why are you after me? Let me live in peace. Let me have a roof above me. I keep going to Pakistan.
- But how? You can’t travel like an ordinary man.
A. You want to bet, you choose any place in the world and I’ll meet you there.
- But you can’t go to London or Geneva, because India has signed extradition treaties.
A. I do not go anywhere officially. What is your problem if I go to any place? I always go to a place where there is no extradition treaty.
- As seen in a recent photograph of yours, you have drastically changed your looks. Why?
A. Nothing has changed. Only the moustache is no longer there.
- Why not talk to the press if you are innocent as you claim? Khairnar is talking to everybody.
A. Khairnar is talking to everybody and he has also been provided with official security. And the world knows the lies he is telling.
- What are these lies?
A. Whenever he demolishes any building, he says he has demolished a Dawood building. And thinks any property worth crores of rupees is Dawoods. He is not an imbecile. He is something more than that – he has demolished one Dawood building and under the pretext of demolishing other buildings owned by Dawood, he has razed buildings of a hundred Muslims in Bombay. Look at the atrocities he has committed on Muslims.
- Do you think that India has gone communal?
A. Yes. Some of them have become communal.
- Such as?
A. Bal Thackeray and the Bombay Police are totally communal. They are after me because I am a Muslim. Nobody has earned such a name and that is why they are trying to suppress me. Some of them are afraid that I may become a top leader of the Muslims.
- What difference have the accusations made to your lifestyle?
A. Nothing at all. Only that, I ask myself why this injustice is perpetrated on me. I move around normally. You have seen my recent photographs and I am sure you have found me looking smart in them.
- What do you want now?
A. Justice. I want justice in front of the Indian public. At the rate at which the police is progressing, I doubt if I will get any justice. I prefer to be tried in a neutral country. Death will come and it will come only once. I am not afraid. But I am afraid of wrong evidence. I am telling you once again that the investigation of the police is false. I have read the long chargesheet of the case, where I came to know that the people accused have said that they had come to Dubai and met me. I have 2,000 men in India. Couldn’t I have sent any one of them to these people, or couldn’t I have talked to any of them on the phone?
Q.So do you claim to be a clean guy?
A. No. I am not saying that I am a pandit from the temple nor a mullah. I am bad but not as bad as the government has made me out to be. I am not an angel nor an avatar. Even then, I repeat that I am not involved in the case. I also believe that the Bombay blast case has been solved. The CBI knows everything.