MUMBAI: Arun Gawli, the underworld gangster from Dagdi Chawl, was called a Hindu Don in 1980’s by Shiv Sena Chief Bal Thakceray in a bid to gain his support. However, Arun Gawli chose to float his own political party which was named as ‘Akhil Bhartiya Sena’. This political party contested elections in which it faced many political parties including Shiv Sena.
In fact the Akhil Bharatiya Sena Chief Arun Gawli contested assembly elections from Chinchpokli area in 2004. He won the election by defeating his nearest Congress rival Madhu Chavan by a margin of over 10,000 votes.
It may be interesting to note that Arun Gawli’s daughter Geeta Gawli contested the assembly election in 2014 from the same constituency his father represented once. Advocate Waris Pathan of Hyderabad’s Muslim Party MIM won this seat and Geeta Gawli stood 4th . However the margin between MIM’s candidate Waris Pathan’s votes (25,314) to win this seat was very close to Geeta Gawli’s (20,895 votes).
Geeta Gawli also won the recent Municipal Elections in 2017 and she is the local corporator. This indicated that Dagdi Chawl and Akhil Bharatiya Sena, floated by Arun Gawli is still a political force in Chinchpokli area.
Arun Gawli was a former textile mill worker. After a prolonged textile mill strike, which rendered thousands of mill workers unemployed, many young and unemployed mill workers entered the crime world. Thus, Arun Gawli too joined the Rama Naik-Babu Resham gang of Byculla.
Rama Naik–Babu Resham gang was among the several local gangs operating in South-Central Mumbai area in the 1980’s. This gang had its ‘adda’ in Lalvita Chawl, Byculla. These local gangs operated Matka, local gambling, illicit liquor joints and even indulged in extortion. It had several local rivals like Dubey gang, Amar Naik Gang, Kanjari Gang who were fighting for protection of their jurisdiction and interests in crime world.
Rama Naik gang supported ‘D Company’ in their fiercest gang war against ‘Pathan Gang’. Rama Naik was shot dead in a police encounter, while Babu Resham was killed by rival Kanjari gang when he was lodged in DBC, CID lockup at Jacob Circle. Kanjari gang members attacked and killed Babu Resham by hurling bombs in the CID lock up.
Thereafter, Arun Gawli wielded the command of this gang. He shifted the headquarter to Dagdi Chawl and the gang was rechristened as ‘Gawli Gang’. Those were the times when Shiv Sena, under Bal Thackeray, was struggling to find a bigger political space in Maharashtra.
Thackeray used the Hindu communal card to polarize state politics. He called Arun Gawli a Hindu Don at a time when gang war between Dawood Ibrahim gang and Arun Gawli gang was at its peak.
However, it seems Arun Gawli was not attracted to Bal Thakeray’s appreciation. Gawli had the backing of Congress-NCP since his nephew Sachin Ahir became a youth leader in NCP, while the local Congress MLA from Chinchopkli in the 1980’s D.B Zute, popularly known as Anna, was a leading supporter of Arun Gawli.
After Zute’s death, Gawli himself contested assembly election from this area after floating his own political party. Arun Gawli’s life has been an attraction for many Marathi and Hindi film makers and often hit the Silverscreen with a latest ‘Daddy’ starring Arjun Rampal soon.