The last of Ahmedabad’s underworld gangsters, who reigned terror in the 90s, Abdul Wahab Abdul Majid Sheikh, died in Jeddah after a critical viral infection at 58 years, when he was out on bail. Wahab, as he was popularly known, was an aide of Gujarat’s biggest gangster Abdul Latif who was also an associate of Dawood Ibrahim.
Like Latif, Abdul Wahab rose to notoriety from a petty bootlegger to a killer and then shifting his modus operandi to extortion. Wahab who breathed his last at a hospital in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, on Tuesday while on a pilgrimage and is to be buried in the holy city.
Wahab was considered the right hand of Latif till the latter’s police encounter in 1997. An accused under the former terror law TADA, Wahab spent most of his years in jail. One of the last sensational murders he was alleged to have carried out was of city based builder Sagir Ahmed apparently at Latif’s instance. However, the police failed to prove Wahab’s role in the murder and a local court acquitted him in the case.
“Latif ke through Wahab aage badha aur Latif ke naam se his aage bhi chala. Sagir ka murder and fir Latif ka encounter ne uski life badal di. Fir bhi Wahab kuch kar nahi paya. Gang toot gayee. Wahab ke bahot dushman ban gaye kyunki wo kisi ki madad nahi karta tha (Through Latif he rose. His life was changed after the murder of Sagir and then encounter of Latif. Yet Wahab couldn’t do anything. The gang fell apart. Wahab made many enemies since he never helped anyone),” said a former member of Latif’s gang who was at daggers drawn with Wahab. However, another member said that for the past couple of years Wahab had become a “philanthropist”.
After Latif, Wahab remained low profile and mostly behind bars, of which 14 years was for killing a big time bootlegger Bhagwandas Sindhi back in 1993 the year that fetched him notoriety followed by many more murders and kidnapping incidents.
“Wahab was handpick by Latif as a petty bootlegger. The year 1993-94 was his peak when he murdered Sindhi who was shot in his neck. It was done by the order of Latif since Sindhi refused to buy liquor from the former. Wahab was accused number one in this case. With this murder Wahab’s stature rose in Latif gang and became his right hand,” a police official posted with CID (crime), said.
According to a senior officer with DCB 1993-94 was indeed the peak years of the rise of Wahab who went on to kidnap several wealthy businessmen. Besides Sindhi’s murder Wahab was involved in at least 11 cases of murder that includes the notorious Radhika Yymkhana case in Rakhial in 1993. There are a total of 33 cases lodged against Wahab.
He kidnapped Ved Prakash Chiripal, Babulal Jain, Jayendra Tripathi among others wealthy businessmen, for ransom. He was also named in a case in which he threw bombs at Karanj, Gita Mandir and Navrangpura areas.
Even after his release in Sindhi murder case after 14 years, he remained in jail in other offences. During this time his second son Abdul Ahad was born, who finally saw him as a 14-year old.
After his release from the jail Wahab entered into real estate business. Following a dispute over a property with his former aide Nazir Vora, Wahab was again arrested and lodged in jail for opening fire on Vora. Last year a court acquitted from all the charges because of lack of evidence.
His brother Rafique who runs a newspaper in Saurashtra said that two weeks back Wahab had gone on the pilgrimage to holy city of Mecca. He said that Wahab got infected with a deadly virus Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and was admitted in a hospital in Jeddah in Saudi Arabia. He was on a ventilator and passed away early on Thursday morning. Ahad, now 17 has left for Jeddah with his uncle, for the last rites.