The telephone rang that evening at a palatial bungalow in the uptown Clifton neighbourhood of Karachi and was answered by the most wanted man in India — Dawood Ibrahim.
“Aap Kaun? (Who are you?)” he shot back as soon as the correspondent took Dawood's name. When this correspondent identified himself, there was a pause as the 1993 Bombay blasts mastermind, clearly rattled at picking up a call he was not supposed to, tried to figure out damage control.
“No this is Chotani speaking,” he tried to take evasive action. Chotani — Javed Chotani — is a bookie who masterminds Dawood’s businesses in Dubai. Indians know him through his involvement in the 2013 IPL spot-fixing case where he allegedly worked as a conduit between Dawood and the players.
Dawood then hurriedly handed over the phone to the real Chotani and from then on it was him who did all the talking — prompted by the Don himself. “Yes, tell me,” he said. He was still trying to figure out an adequate response when this correspondent asked him for an interview with Dawood.
When asked whether it wasn't Dawood himself who picked up the phone in the first place, all chaos broke loose at the other end. There was a rustle as Chotani turned to his boss for directions. “Haan… bolo, bolo,” that was Dawood's voice in the background. “Haan… bolo, bolo,” Chotani faithfully repeated over the phone.
What followed for a few minutes then was a desperate attempt at stonewalling by the dreaded terror don and his aide. Dawood and Chotani tried to deny it's a Karachi number, they tried to deny everything, made a bid to excuse themselves, saying it was the month of Ramzan and it was time for namaz. This was how it played out.
During the course of the chat it emerged that Dawood was neither down with gangrene, nor suffering from serious heart ailment as reports had earlier said. “Blood pressure was up a bit,” was Chotani's explanation, clearly implying the don was in good health and frequently in touch his henchmen.
This telephone conversation was recorded two months ago, but CNN-News18 waited till it was run past intelligence officials before confirming it was indeed the voice of the man who ordered the 1993 blasts in Bombay which left 257 people dead.
Dawood, a native of Maharashtra’s Mumke village, ran his crime syndicate in Mumbai from his Dubai haven in the early 90s. Fearing prosecution by Indian authorities, after the 1993 blasts, he took refuge in Karachi where he is since kept safe out of the world’s eye by Pakistani authorities. Islamabad has always denied he was on their soil, and over the years has been blocking every attempt by India to get him.
The man, designated a 'global terrorist', by UN lives in D-13, Block-4, Clifton, Karachi, under the alias of Sheikh Ismail Merchant. And we have just caught him on tape.
MANOJ GUPTA: HELLO…HELLO…
MANOJ GUPTA: DAWOOD SAAB..
DAWOOD: AAP KAUN…
MANOJ GUPTA: JI SAAB GOODEVENING, THIS IS MANOJ GUPTA FROM CNN-NEWS18
DAWOOD: NAHI YE CHOTANI BOL RAHE HAIN
MANOJ GUPTA: HAIN JI?
DAWOOD: BOL BOL
JAVED CHOTANI: SALAM WALEKUM
MANOJ GUPTA: HAAN WALEKUM SALAM
JAVED CHOTANI: KAUN BOL RAHE HAIN
MANOJ GUPTA: JI MAIN MANOJ GUPTA BOL RAHA THA CNN-NEWS18 SE
MANOJ GUPTA: DAWOOD SAAB THE?
JAVED CHOTANI: JI JI, MANOJ BHAI BOLIYE
MANOJ GUPTA: DAWOOD SAHAB SE BAAT KARA DI JIYE
JAVED CHOTANI: KAUN DAWOOD SAAB
MANOJ GUPTA: DAWOOD IBRAHIM SAAB
JAVED CHOTANI: BOLIYE KYA HAI?
MANOJ GUPTA: JI MAIN MANOJ BOL RAHA THA, WOH MEREKO JAANTE HAIN, POOCHH LI JIYE UNSE EK
MANOJ GUPTA: UNHONE UTHAYA THA PHONE
[Background rustle, pause….]
MANOJ GUPTA: WOH JAANTE HAIN MEREKO, POOCHH LI JIYE UNSE EK BAAR
DAWOOD: HAAN BOLO BOLO
JAVED CHOTANI: HAAN BOLO BOLO
MANOJ GUPTA: WOH TO SIR, AAP PAKISTAN MEIN HO KARACHI KE ANDAR
JAVED CHOTANI: KISNE BOLA YE?
MANOJ GUPTA: YE TO NUMBER SIR PAKISTAN KA HAI NA
DAWOOD: TIME WASTE MAT KAR
JAVED CHOTANI: KHUDA KA KHAUF KAR, TIME WASTE KAR RAHA HAI, TU KISSE BAAT KAR RAHA HAI-
KISKA INTERVIEW LE RAHA HIA- KUCHH PATA HAI TUJHE?
JAVED CHOTANI: NAHI AAP BATAO ITNA LAMBA INTERVIEW LE RAHE HO, ITNI SAARI BAATEIN KAR
RAHE HO, PATA HAI BHI KISSE KAR RAHE HO?
MANOJ GUPTA: DAWOOD SAAB SE
JAVED CHOTANI: KHUDA KA KHAUF KAR, EK TO NAAM AISE LETE HO, AAPKO KYA WO AISE KISI TARAH
PHONO PE MIL JAYEINGE KYA
JAVED CHOTANI: KISNA KAHA TUMHE YE NUMBER- MITA DO YE NUMBER TUM EK KAAM KARO – MUJHE
EK NUMBER DO JISSE MAI AAPKA MESSAGE KISI KE THROUGH PAAS KARVA SAKTA HUN MAI
JAVED CHOTANI: MAI BOL RAHA HUN KI AAP KITNE MASHALLAH SAMAJHDAR PATRAKAAR LAG RAHE HO
TO AAPKO LAGTA HAI KI AAP KOI BHI NUMBER MILAOGE TO AAP PHAT SE DAWOOD SAAB UTHA BHI
LENGE, AAP INTERVIEW BHI LE LOGE
JAVED CHOTANI: NUMBER DO MAI BAAT KARVATA HOON
MANOJ GUPTA: HAAN – 90XXXXXXXX
JAVED CHOTANI: AAP AAP BATAO – SEEDHE STUDIO MEIN INTERVIEW LENGE DIRECT?
MANOJ GUPTA: CAMERA BHEJ DETA HUN SIR KARACHI MEIN
JAVED CHOTANI: KARACHI MEIN? KYUN…AAP SIRF MUJHE KYUN BOL RAHE HO BAAT KARVANE KE LIYE
AUR MILVANE KE LIYE, BHEJ DO NUMBER
MANOJ GUPTA: SIR EK CHOTA INTERVIEW DE DO
DAWOOD: NAHI INTERVIEW NAHI
MANOJ GUPTA: SIR AAP KAHAN PAR HAIN, MAIN EK CAMERA BHEJ DOON KARACHI MAIN?
DAWOOD AIDE: IFTAHAR KA TIME HAI, JAANE DE BETA
MANOJ GUPTA: SIR EK INTERVIEW KAR DO DAWOOD SAAB
MANOJ GUPTA: SIR EK BAAR MIL LO MUJH SE
DAWOOD: MIL LETE HAI
DAWOOD AIDE: KAHAN HAI
MANOJ GUPTA: MAIN DELHI MEIN, BATAO SIR AAPKE PAAS AA JAUN
DAWOOD AIDE: DILLI PE HO, DUBAI AA JA DUBAI AA JA
MANOJ GUPTA: DUBAI KAB SIR?
MANOJ GUPTA: SIR, CAMERA BHEJ DOON KARACHI MAIN
DAWOOD: KOI IAS HAI REHNE DE
MANOJ GUPTA: HELLO
MANOJ GUPTA: HELLO
[Dawood muffled sound of him prompting]
DAWOOD AIDE: YEH KOI TIME HAI INTERVIEW KARNE KA, IFTAHAR KA TIME HAI, KOI NAMAZ KA TIME
HOTA HAI, THODA DHYAN TO DO YAAR
MANOJ GUPTA: EK CHOTA SA INTERVIEW KAR DO 2 MINUTE KA
MANOJ GUPTA: DAWOOD IBRAHIM SAAB BOL RAHE HAIN
DAWOOD: ACHA BOL
DAWOOD AIDE: ACHA BOLO KYA POOCHNA CHAH RAHE HO
MANOJ GUPTA: KUCH TIME DIJIYE SIR
DAWOOD AIDE: JAB DIL KARE
MANOJ GUPTA: KAB AAON SIR
DAWOOD AIDE: ANYTIME
XXXXXXXXXXXX [EDIT IN BETWEEN CHAT]
MANOJ GUPTA: SIR KARA DO EK BAAR BAAT
DAWOOD AIDE: HAAN TO NUMBER DO APNA, MAIN KARA DETA HOON
MANOJ GUPTA: 98XXXXXXXXXX
DAWOOD AIDE: KAHAN LOGE INTERVIEW, DIRECT STUDIO MAIN LOGO INTERVIEW?
MANOJ GUPTA: HUM PHONE PAR LELENGE INTERVIEW
DAWOOD AIDE: HUM PHONE PAR NAHI DETE INTERVIEW
MANOJ GUPTA: CAMERA BHEJ DETA HOON AAPKE PAA KARACHI MAIN
DAWOOD AIDE: JAB AAPKO SAB PATA HAI, TO AAP MUJKO KYON POOCH RAHE HO MILWANE KE LIYE
DAWOOD AIDE: BHEJ DO, AUR EK KAAM KARNA SAATH MAIN AAP BHI AA JANA
DAWOOD AIDE: AAB HAMARI BAAT TAB HI HOGI JAB AAP HAMARE SAMNE HONGE
DAWOOD: INKA NAAM KYA HAI
JAVED CHOTANI: AAP KA NAAM KYA HAI… AAPKA NAAM KYA HAI WAISE
MANOJ GUPTA: JI SIR MANOJ GUPTA
JAVED CHOTANI: BEFIKAR HO JAO, NUMBER NOTE KAR LIYA HAI MAINE AAPKA, NAAM BHI, INSHAALLAH
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