NEW DELHI - India had planned a covert operation to take down underworld don Dawood Ibrahim, but the operation was compromised by some Mumbai police officials. These are the explosive revelations made by former Home Secretary and now BJP leader RK Singh in an exclusive interview with India Today.

RK Singh revealed details of how corrupt elements of the Mumbai police foiled a secret operation launched when Vajpayee was prime minister to take down Dawood Ibrahim. Indian government had roped in elements of Chota Rajan gang and they were being trained at a secret location.

But Mumbai Police officials who were in touch with D-company landed up at the training camp with arrest warrants for the covert operatives who had been engaged by India. The entire operation to take down Dawood failed due to the rogue elements in Mumbai police.

“A group was being trained to target Dawood but he had people in Mumbai police on his ‘pay roll’ who were alerted. The Mumbai police came saying there is a warrant against them.”

According to Singh, the government wanted full deniability in case the plan went kaput and so a decision was taken to engage members of the Chota Rajan gang instead of sending commandos for the operation. AK Doval was made in charge of the operation.

Chota Rajan had split with Dawood Ibrahim after the Bombay blasts of 1993. He positioned himself as the Hindu Don who would take on Dawood Ibrahim, the butcher of Mumbai. For India’s intelligence agencies an enemy’s enemy was a friend. Rajan was looking for a chance to avenge the attack on him in Bangkok in 2000.

Rajan deputed two of his most trusted sharpshooters Vicky Malhotra and Farid Tanasha. The duo reportedly entered India through 24-Paraganas in West Bengal. Before this, Tanasha and Malhotra had been hiding in a South East Asian country.

According to Singh, the men were trained at a secret location in India and a detailed plan to eliminate Dawood was finalised. Tanasha and Malhotra were given fake travel documents and flights tickets were booked for the duo to reach Dubai in time for the grand reception. This was billed as one of the most audacious operations ever mounted by the Indian intelligence establishment.

But that’s when things started to go horribly wrong. Unknown to the Intelligence Bureau officials, cops in the Mumbai police got to know about the presence of members of the Chota Rajan Gang in India. Former Home Secretary RK Singh alleges that Mumbai police officials deliberately sabotaged Operation Dawood because of their close ties with the underworld gangster.

However, according to media reports of the time, Deputy Commissioner of Police in the Mumbai Crime Branch Dhananjay Kamlakar was despatched to Delhi by his seniors with the explicit instruction to arrest the members of the Chota Rajan gang. Kamlakar later said that he was told that the Rajan gang members had entered India to eliminate a senior politician or top businessman. The Mumbai police was keeping tabs on the movements of Malhotra and Tanasha within India

Arguing that Pakistan will deny that Dawood is not there, Singh, said if he has to be brought back, then “other methods” will have to be adopted. He said “other groups” can be funded and trained to undertake an operation.

Asked what was stopping Indian agencies to undertake such an operation, Singh said, “political determination and decision”. “The Prime Minister and the Home Minister will have to tell their agencies that this has to be done. Then this will be done,” he said.

Pitching for a strong retaliatory action against terror attacks in the country allegedly originating from Pakistan, Singh said India has to become like Israel otherwise “people will keep hitting us and we will keep getting hurt”.

The BJP leader strongly opposed talks with Pakistan saying that everyone in the world knows it is a “snake pit” which not only patronises terrorists “but also where terrorists are born”. “Every time their credibility is down, they want to talk to India to show to come in parity with India. We should not allow that,” he said.