Underworld don Dawood Ibrahim’s younger sister and the ‘Godmother of Nagpada’ Haseena Parkar died in Mumbai on Sunday afternoon following a heart attack.
Named in a few criminal cases mostly involving intimidation, Parkar had only one ongoing case against her in which charges of cheating and extortion were levelled against her. Between 2005 and 2007 however, officials admit, she was the most tailed Dawood family member, with intelligence inputs of sightings of her in Dubai as she left the country for religious tours.
A resident of Gordon House at Nagpada, the 51-year-old Parkar, addressed as “aapa” or elder sister by the family, is survived by three children. Her husband was killed in 1991. “She has two daughters (one of them married) and a son,” said senior lawyer Shyam Keswani, who represented Parkar in an extortion case.
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According to sources, Parkar was fasting for Ramzan and had a cold for the past three days. On Sunday afternoon, relatives said, she started vomiting. She suffered a cardiac arrest around 2.45 pm and was rushed to Habib hospital, Byculla, but died within half an hour.
As word of her death spread, her first-floor flat was flooded by acquaintances and family, even as others crowded the narrow lanes of Nagpada to catch a last glimpse. People filed in to pay their last respects to Parkar, whose body was kept in a small bedroom.
As women read ‘darood-sharif (invocation to the god to offer blessings)’ at the flat, Parkar’s daughter Khudsiya sat on a chair in a crowded passage weeping profusely. Parkar was buried late in the night.
While Dawood has another sibling, Iqbal Hasan Kaskar, living in the same neighbourhood, it was Parkar who caught the imagination of the media.
She was talked of as an “underworld mother” and woman who continued to oversee Dawood’s illegal operations in India through hawala networks and illegal land deals. Constables at Nagpada police station talked of her walking in happily to sign the daily muster to prove that she had not left the city.
“Parkar was mostly berated as she was Dawood’s sister. The picture media reports carried was far from the actual person she was,” says Hussain Zaidi, author of Dongri To Dubai, a book that traces Mumbai’s mafia history. “In my first interaction with her, I didnt stand up when she walked into the room. Her house help asked why I didn’t stand. I simply told her it would have been out of fear and not genuine respect. She smiled and accepted the answer. I often found her to have a totally different side to what was reported in the media.”
According to Zaidi, she once told him that Dawood too had a different side to him. “He is not as bad as he is made out to be,” Parkar told him. “One must know there are many false cases too slapped on him.”
In the only case ongoing against her, property broker Vinod Alwani charged that Parkar owed her Rs 1 crore. Her lawyers proved otherwise and secured her bail.
Personally, Parkar faced tough times, losing son Danish in a road accident in 2006. After her husband Ismail Parkar’s murder in 1991, Dawood, still in India then, orchestrated the infamous J J Hospital shootout to target his brother-in-law’s killers after word got out that they were henchmen sent by the rival Arun Gawli gang.
In 2007, agencies for long tried to track Haseena Parkar’s “disappearance”. Her passport was valid till that year.
Keswani said the case was “headless”. “She was very much here, though the media kept saying she had been to Pakistan due to her passport details and some such stories. Some said police had issued a lookout notice. She was very much here in Nagpada.”