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Saturday, 21 September, 2002, 13:41 GMT 14:41 UK
Profile: Bollywood's nemesis
Debris left by a bomb blast in 1993
A series of bomb attacks hit Bombay in 1993

The 41-year-old Bombay gangster, Abu Salem, who has been detained in Lisbon on fake document charges, is one of the Indian underworld's most dreaded figures.

Abu Salem
Abu Salem: Small timer made big
He is wanted by Indian police in connection with more than 60 cases, including bombings, murders, extortion and abductions.

Abu Salem, alias Abdul Saleem Ansari, is charged with being involved in the bombings which rocked India's commercial capital in March 1993.

A series of powerful blasts ripped through Bombay's commercial districts leaving nearly 300 people dead.

Property worth tens of millions of dollars was destroyed.

However, the principal accused in the blasts, according to Indian police, is another Bombay gangster, Dawood Ibrahim, who is regarded by many as the king of the city's underworld.

According to Indian officials, Dawood now operates out of the Pakistani city of Karachi.

Taxi driver


Like most other gangsters who joined the Bombay mob in the late 1980s and early 90s, Abu Salem started as a small timer

Like most other gangsters who joined the Bombay mob in the late 1980s and early 90s, Abu Salem started as a small timer in the Dawood gang.

A native of Saria Meer in Azamgarh district of Uttar Pradesh, Abu Salem is believed to have begun his career in Delhi as a taxi driver.

He moved to Bombay in the mid-1980s and embarked on a career of petty crime while operating a telephone booth in the northern suburb of Andheri.

It was during this time that he established contact with Dawood Ibrahim's younger brother, Anees.

Soon, Abu Salem became a gun runner for the Dawood gang.

Manisha Koirala
Manisha Koirala: Secretary shot dead
His job was take the gang's arsenal from one point in the city to another for the hitmen and sharp shooters of the gang.

He quickly also began extorting money from builders in the city and Bollywood personalities on behalf of Dawood.

But till the mid-90s he was still among the scores of second- and third-rung lieutenants who were loyal to Dawood and helped carry out the orders of their boss in the city's underworld.

Shock killing

It was the sensational daylight killing of Bollywood producer and music baron, Gulshan Kumar, in 1997 which actually catapulted him into the big league.


Abu Salem's principal targets have always been film producers and stars

A few months later the police also charged him with an attempt on the life of another well-known Bollywood producer, Rajiv Rai.

Bollywood now started dreading the mention of Abu Salem, who used the Gulshan Kumar murder and the attempt on Rajiv Rai to terrorise figures in the Indian film world.

The growing clout of Abu Salem in Bombay, particularly in Bollywood, brought him into direct conflict with Chhota Shakeel, another notorious gangster.

He had over the years risen in the underworld hierarchy to become the unofficial second-in-command of the Dawood gang.

Branching out

Abu Salem split from the Dawood gang in 1998 and has since operated on his own.

His principal targets have always been film producers and stars.

According to the police, he was also behind the killing of Ajit Deewani, secretary to the movie actress, Manisha Koirala.

Deewani was gunned down outside his office earlier this year.

See also:

21 Sep 02 | South Asia
20 Sep 02 | South Asia
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