Bali: Underworld don Chhota Rajan was on Thursday deported to India and is expected to reach Delhi early morning on Friday, 27 years after he had fled the country in the face of numerous cases of murder, extortion and drug smuggling against him. The special aircraft taking the 55-year-old Rajan, who was arrested in Bali upon arrival from Australia on 25 October, took off from the Ngurah Rai International Airport at around 10.15 pm local time (1945 hours IST), an official said.

Ahead of his arrival in India, the Maharashtra government made a surprise announcement of handing over all the cases related to the underworld don to the Central Bureau of Investigation as the agency had expertise in handling such cases. Rajan, after his arrest, had expressed reservation over plans to lodge him in a Mumbai jail, fearing that his archrival and India’s most wanted Dawood Ibrahim may target him there. His deportation was deferred by a day as the international airport in Bali was shut down due to spewing of volcanic ash from a nearby mountain.

Indian Ambassador to Indonesia Gurjit Singh tweeted: “#ChotaRajan deported successfully to India.Delay due to Bali airport closure ends. Thanks Indonesia for support." After the authorities here declared the airport open, the Indian team comprising CBI, Delhi and Mumbai police officials began the process of deportation of Rajan, who had fled India in 1988 for Dubai.

People privy to the developments said the underworld don, who was arrested after the Australian police tipped off the Bali police about his presence on the island, emplaned a special aircraft for Delhi. India was keen that the deportation takes place at the earliest and had put in a request to Indonesian authorities immediately after his arrest, they said.

Rajan, whose real name is Rajendra Sadashiv Nikalje, is wanted in over 75 crimes ranging from murder, extortion to smuggling and drug trafficking. Mumbai police has nearly 70 cases registered against Rajan, including 20 of murder, four cases under the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act, one under Prevention of Terrorism Act and over 20 cases under the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act.

Delhi police has six cases registered against Rajan, who was a close aide of fugitive underworld don Dawood at one point but split before the 1993 Mumbai blasts were conspired. In 2000, there was an attempt on Rajan’s life when Dawood’s men tracked him down to a hotel in Bangkok but he managed a dramatic escape by jumping from the first floor of the hotel.

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