Girvi (Maha), Oct 27: What once used to be a hut in this village in Faltan tehsil of Satara district in western Maharashtra has been replaced by a mansion, the best in the vicinity.
This is the house, now called 'Sada Laxmi', where underworld don Chhota Rajan, arrested in Bali in Indonesia, spent much of his childhood. The bungalow, strongly fortified with stone walls and iron gates, has a sprawling well-maintained lawns.
His (Rajan's) brothers keep visiting it whenever there is a family ceremony, a villager said. There is statue of Rajan's father Sadasiv Sakharam Nikalje, who in the '50s moved to Mumbai to eke out a living.
"He was a good lad who frequented my shop," a shopkeeper said, recalling the "slightly built kid" who used to visit his shop during holidays. Rajan, who was born in Mumbai, always visited Girvi village during summer and Diwali holidays, the villager said.
"After gaining notoriety in Mumbai underworld, Rajan stopped coming to the village. However, his wife and brothers keep coming whenever there is a function in the family," another villager said. Rajan's trips to his native village ended after the death of his father in 1976, the villager said.
"Agreed that he has indulged in criminal activities, but the fact remains that the stance taken by him against Dawood Ibrahim over the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts has been appreciated by all the villagers," he said. Rajan, one of India's most wanted criminals and on the run for nearly two decades, was arrested in Bali by Indonesian police acting on a Red Corner Notice issued by Interpol.
The arrest was made on a tip off from Australian police that 55-year-old Rajendra Sadashiv Nikalje alias Mohan Kumar alias Chota Rajan, the powerful aide-turned-rival of terrorist Dawood Ibrahim, flew from Sydney to Indonesia's popular tourist destination Bali, where he was arrested on Sunday.