The Saifee Burhani Upliftment Trust (SBUT) has acquired all the three properties of fugitive gangster Dawood Ibrahim put up for auction on Tuesday.
SBUT, which was among a dozen bidders in the public auction held by the finance ministry under the Smugglers and Foreign Exchange Manipulators (Forfeiture of Property) Act (SAFEMA), had placed the highest bids through sealed tenders, sources said.
Meanwhile, the Hindu Mahasabha that had expressed intentions to participate in the bid failed to deposit the earnest money and was disqualified.
According to sources, while the two-storey Shabnam Guesthouse in Bhendi Bazar was auctioned for Rs 3.053 crores, Dawood’s ancestral property – Damarwala building at Pakmodia street – was sold for Rs 3.53 crores. Hotel Raunaq Afroz was bid for Rs 4.53 crores.
“The highest bidder would now require to deposit 25 per cent of the bidding amount within 30 days and the total amount within 90 days,” said P Selvaganesh, the Competent Authority, SAFEMA.
In September, after the 117-year-old Hussaini Manzil collapsed in Bhendi Bazaar, SAFEMA had issued a notice asking Dawood’s brother Iqbal Kaskar and the 25 other residents of Damarwala building to “peacefully vacate” the building as it was deemed “dangerous”.
One of the conditions SAFEMA has set for the SBUT is to relocate the tenants. “One of the contract terms clearly states that whoever takes over the property has to relocate the 30 tenants still staying in the building, which has already been declared unfit,” said an official on the condition of anonymity.
SAFEMA officials are happy that the bid has been successful. In December, 2015, the Government had appointed a private firm to conduct the auction. However, seven properties put up for auction including four agricultural plots in Daman, Hotel Rounaq Afroz, and tenancy rights of a flat in Mahavir building in Matunga remained unsold.
“This was the second attempt and we are satisfied that for all the properties, the highest bids were way above the reserve prices,” added the official.
Sources added that the SAFEMA will closely monitor the Mumbai police case against SBUT in the building collapse. “We are following the developments. While the two (bid and the case) are not linked and we are confident that SBUT has plans to carry out cluster development of the area, we are, however, closely tracking the case that is being probed by the Mumbai police,” the official added.
The three properties that went under the hammer were six flats in Damarwala building (Room no 18-20, 25, 26 and 28), Hotel Raunaq Afroz on 33 Pakmodia Street and Shabnam Guesthouse at Bhendi Bazar, the last known addresses of Dawood Ibrahim.
The first and third floor apartments in Damarwala building is Dawood’s ancestral property, where he stayed with this family before fleeing the country in 1986. While his brothers also escaped along with him, his mother Aminabai stayed back. After her death, the first floor was given to a madrasa where Muslim girls were imparted Quran lessons and taught tailoring. The corner of the property still has some old furniture that used to once adorn Dawood’s Rounaq Afroz hotel. After Iqbal was deported to Mumbai and started staying in Damarwala, he closed down the madrasa and used it as his ‘office space’. However, he shifted to Gordon Hall in Nagpada, belonging to his late sister Haseena Parkar after the recent Bhendi Bazar building collapse. In September, he was arrested by the Thane police in an extortion case and has been in police custody since.
Hotel Raunaq Afroz, now known as Delhi Zaika, was one of the first properties purchased by Dawood when he took control of the smuggling business from his mentor Haji Mastan. Shabnam Guesthouse, a double-storey structure on Yakub street, was occupied by Dawood’s younger siblings Haseena and Iqbal.
In January this year, the Appellate Tribunal for Forfeited Property had cleared the Government’s move to take over Dawood’s two properties (Shabnam Guesthouse and Damarwala building) under the provisions of SAFEMA dismissing 27 appeals of people claiming to be “long term tenants” at the Damarwala Building and Shabnam Guesthouse in Mumbai.
The Office of Competent Authority and Administrator, SAFEMA/ NDPS, Mumbai had reserved the price of the six flats in Damarwala building at Rs 1.55 crore and of hotel Raunaq Afroz at Rs 1.18 crore. While the earnest money for Damarwala had been kept at Rs 62.30 lakh, that of Hotel Raunaq had been pegged at Rs 23.72 lakh. The reserve price of Shabnam Guesthouse was Rs 1.21 crore and the earnest money was Rs 48.57 lakh.
Meanwhile, security was a concern for both the organisers and the bidders. “We know that we are being watched. In 2015, when we carried out the auction, there were intelligence inputs that the D-gang was watching our every move. While the auction had failed it did not deter us and we decided to put three of his properties under the hammer,” said a senior official from the department of revenue, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. The Mumbai police had deployed a Quick Response Team outside the auction venue.
SBUT spokesperson, through a press release, said, “The three properties (Shabnam Guesthouse, Damarwala building & Hotel Raunaq Afroz) fall under our ongoing Bhendi Bazaar redevelopment project. These buildings are dilapidated and unfit for living. Therefore, to ensure the safety of families living in these buildings and to carry on with the redevelopment project, we participated in the bidding and acquired these properties.”