NEW DELHI: There are unconfirmed reports that the notorious ISI protected gangster Dawood Ibrahim Kaksar is either dead or mortally stricken, with death imminent.

This will surely come as a major relief to the BJP government that has made the apprehension or termination of Dawood a major stated objective and emotive peg to hang its appeal.

Whether in government or in opposition, the BJP made the apprehension or elimination of the gangster and ISI contract mass killer, Dawood Ibrahim Kaskar, a national priority. LK Advani, famous for his enunciation of "hot pursuit", as Home Minister would spend hours huddled with the then IB top honcho, Ajit Doval, following up on the efforts to bring in Dawood or sort him out.

The neutralisation of Dawood was to be Advani's equivalent of Vajjpayee's nuclear test. Giving more life to their slogan "jo kaha wo kiya!" and "vikash purush aur loh purush" Mutt and Jeff act.

Ajit Doval, now the National Security Advisor, even after retirement, was tasked to lead the effort. When in the IB he recruited rival Bombay gangsters to kill Dawood Ibrahim. At least two attempts were made. In retaliation Dawood struck back at the IB's blue eyed boy, Chota Rajan, in Bangkok and almost killed him.

The spiriting away of Rajan from a Bangkok hospital is almost straight out of a James Bond fantasy. Indian intelligence agencies lack the wherewithal to do "wet jobs" and contract them out to real life gangsters or to "encounter specialists" in the regular police forces. Like the CIA did by giving the mafia a contract to kill Fidel Castro.

Doval himself suffered some embarrassment when he was arrested by Bombay Police officers at New Delhi's Hyatt hotel as he was briefing Vicky Malhotra, a contract kilker affiliated to the Chota Rajan gang. The Bombay officers were supposedly trailing Malhotra, but many believe that they were doing so at the behest of Dawood. The Doval incident was reported in the TOI and some other newspapers at that time, so I am not revealing some dark secret.

Several Indian politicians, particularly those connected with cricket and holding major positions in Maharashtra politics, are known to enjoy good ties with Dawood Ibrahim. One former Maharashtra CM even boasted to the media as to how many thousand crores Dawood could invest in the state. One top Congress minister was even shown sharing a box at a Sharjah cricket match with Dawood.

Incidentally Dawood Ibrahim used to frequently host the Indian cricket team when in Sharjah. Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh a BJP MP from UP was arrested more than once for his alleged links with the Dawood gang.

Many Indian industrialists who were taking over businesses abroad even borrowed money from Dawood. It is said that Dawood would lend without collateral and just say: "tem pey dey dene ka seth!" Those who didn't pay on "tem" ended up like the now defunct East-West Airlines boss, Thakeeuddin Waheed, who was shot dead outside his office in Santa Cruz.

At every India-Pakistan interaction at whatever level, on Track I or II, official or secret, in India or in Pakistan or even abroad, Indian political and diplomatic representatives would make the extradition of Dawood Ibrahim from Pakistan a major demand. Even with the USA, India would often ask for the return of Dawood by Pakistan as a proof of good faith. Prime Minister Narendra Modi even raised it with his friend Barack.

The BJP government, despite the party making a living and political killing over Dawood Ibrahim's continued residence in Pakistan under ISI protection in Karachi, now officially declares in Parliament that it doesn't know Dawood Ibrahim is in Pakistan. Soon they will know.

Whether it will be in the shade of Jannat, we will not know and if it is that he is truly out of reach. Al-Jannah literally means shelter, protection and security,and all the delights of a garden with dancing houris.

What a bunch of jokers!

(This article reflects the personal views of the writer)