On Friday, Advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay filed a writ petition in the Supreme Court seeking concrete action on the Vohra Committee Report submitted in 1993, thereby opening a can of worms. The NN Vohra committee was set up after the 1993 Mumbai blasts in a bid to take stock of the nexus developed over the years between mafia organisations and politicians as well as government functionaries.
According to the reports, the petitioner has sought the apex court to direct various authorities to make Vohra committee report public and also reveal the names of the criminals, politicians and public servants who were in involved with the underworld mafia in Mumbai.
The petitioner stressed that the citizens have a right to know about the complete Vohra report to ensure transparency in governance and there was a need to make the report public as there is tangible evidence against politicians, criminals and civil servants.
Advocate Upadhyay also pointed out that an incomplete version of the report spanning over 100 pages was tabled in the Parliament in 1995, leading to doubts over its genuineness. Only 11 pages of the report were made public and the rest was kept classified.
The petitioner also mentioned that no follow-up action has been initiated in the last 27 years while adding that the report had recommended a Nodal Cell to be set up with powers to take stringent action against crime syndicates. Moreover, he also called for special courts to be set up to expeditiously try such all cases referred to in the Vohra report.
According to him, it was possible for the SC to address the “systemic problem” of criminalization of politics without breaching the principle of separation of powers.
In his petition, Upadhyay sought a direction to the Home Secretary to handover a true copy of the Vohra Committee Report along with annexures and notes to the NIA Director, CBI Director, ED Director, IB Director, SFIO Director, RAW Director, NCB Director, CBDT Chairman and Lokpal Chairperson.
NN Vohra report on Crime syndicate and nexus between underworld and political class
The committee, headed by the then Union Secretary Home Secretary NN Vohra, was set up by the PV Narasimha Rao government in 1993 to examine the link between crime syndicates and government functionaries and political personalities. The committee that had members from RAW, the Intelligence Bureau as well as the CBI had unanimously expressed an opinion that during the 1993 bomb blasts, the criminal network in Mumbai was virtually running a parallel government.
The NN Vohra committee submitted its report to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on 5 October 1993, three months after it was established on 9 July 1993 in the aftermath of the 1993 Bombay bomb blasts. In a startling disclosure, the report had allegedly mentioned that 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.
The contents of the report were subsequently made public on 1 August 1995 in Parliament but only limited to 11 pages. However, it was later revealed that the original report was close to 100 pages. Incidentally, the 11 pages that were made public in 1995, had only one name – that of Iqbal Mirchi.
The Vohra Committee Report [pdf] 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.”
A political controversy too had ignited then when opposition party leaders had questioned the government on why it was hiding the details of the Vohra report. Dinesh Trivedi, who was the then Rajya Sabha MP in 1995, had asked the Minister for Home Affairs saying that it was not releasing the entire report as then the individuals who helped the criminals would become identifiable.
Trivedi had even moved the Supreme Court, seeking the release of the documents, but was not successful.
Govt agencies, politicians, filmstars and ISI – interlinked to stoke communal tensions
The 1993 NN Vohra report had stated that certain mafia elements have shifted to narcotics, drugs and weapon smuggling, thereby establishing the narco-terrorism network in India. We had recently reported how the Bollywood’s drug web had international links wherein the money was eventually used for narco-terrorism.
The NN Vohra Committee report stated that the cost of contesting elections made politicians depend on the underworld network. The 1993 bomb blasts in Mumbai and subsequent communal violence in Surat and Ahmedabad showed that the underworld exploited Pakistan’s ISI network in India to stoke communal tension in India. “The investigations into the Bombay bomb blast cases have revealed extensive linkages of the underworld in the various governmental agencies, political circles, business sector and the film world,” the report stated.
Dawood, Memon brothers and Bomb blasts
In his report, NN Vohra mentions through the reports which investigated linkages of Dawood Ibrahim and gang, it was apparent that “the activities of Memon Brothers and Dawood Ibrahim had progressed over the years, leading to the establishment of a powerful network. This could not have happened without these elements having been protected by the functionaries of the concerned Government departments, specially Customs, Income Tax, Police and others.”
Vohra report contains names of key political leaders, says intelligence officers
According to Intelligence Bureau (IB) officials, the report contains the names of leading politicians and bureaucrats who were the key players who helped Dawood and Mirchi from the 1970s till 1993.
Additionally, there is a strong hope among former Intelligence officials that the Modi government will make 100 pages of the report public, especially with Amit Shah now raking up the issue of the connections between politicians and Dawood. Recently, Union Home Minister Amit Shah had said that former Union Aviation Minister and NCP leader Praful Patel took part in “treason” by allegedly engaging in a financial transaction with Iqbal Mirchi’s wife, Hajra Memon.
Speaking to Sunday Guardian, IB officials 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, according to IB officials, moslly pertained to politicians from Gujarat and Maharashtra who are very much active in politics even now and their links with underworld mafia.
One official said, “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.
Report mentions nexus between former Maharashtra CM and Dawood Ibrahim, say officials
The intelligence inputs given by the agencies at the time, had stated that there was a “definite” nexus between Dawood and a very big leader of Maharashtra since the late 1970s.
As per the Sunday Guardian report, this very prominent leader of the state had received 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.
Interestingly, the Vohra report also had the name of a “former CM”. Another input that is a part of the annexures of the Vohra Committee report revealed 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 also mentions 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.”
NCP link to Iqbal Mirchi
Interestingly, the Enforcement Directorate had established links between the UPA era Civil Aviation Minister, Praful Patel and Dawood’s aide Iqbal Memon alias ‘Mirchi’ last year.
OpIndia had accessed documents which validated NCP leader and former Union Minister Praful Patel’s financial dealings and direct links with one of the most wanted criminals Dawood Ibrahim and his associates.
We had earlier reported regarding the massive crackdown launched by Enforcement Directorate on the properties linked to Iqbal Memon alias ‘Mirchi’. These were in turn linked to former UPA-era civil aviation minister Praful Patel and his wife Varsha Patel through property deals.
The Enforcement Directorate had come to know of such a link between Praful Patel and Dawood’s aide Memon after they had zeroed in the properties of Memon alias ‘Mirchi’. While tracking Mirchi’s business ventures and properties in India and the UK, the ED has discovered links with a firm that is linked to Praful Patel and his wife Varsha Patel.
According to the list of Mirchi’s properties located in India and the UK, A 15-story building in Dr Annie Besant Road, Worli, named ‘Ceejay House’ was constructed as a JV between Mirchi and M/S Millenium Developers Pvt Ltd in 2006-07. In 2007, the third and fourth floors of the building were given to Mirchi’s family by Millenium Developers.
Former Union Minister Praful Patel and his wife Varsha Patel own a significant number of shares in Millenium Developers Pvt Ltd. In the documents, the 12th floor of the CeeJay House is mentioned as the address of Praful and Varsha Patel. It is notable here that NCP leader Praful Patel’s family owns the CeeJay Group, a large tobacco conglomerate in India.
Read the part of NN Vohra Committee report on alleged criminal nexus between underworld mafia and politicians which has been made public here (pdf).