Abu Salem

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Abu Salem
Born 1968
Azamgarh district in Uttar Pradesh, India
Occupation Underworld don

Abu Salem (About this sound pronunciation  AH-boo sah-LEHM;[needs IPA] born 1968) is a gangster originally from Azamgarh district in Uttar Pradesh, India.

He was convicted for the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts case, and killing of India's music baron Gulshan Kumar in 1997, Indian actress Manisha Koirala's secretary, a builder and more than 50 other cases. He unsuccessfully attempted to kill Bollywood film directors Rajiv Rai and Rakesh Roshan.[1] At one time was a close associate of Dawood Ibrahim. Before becoming a professional criminal, he worked as a driver and hawker in Mumbai. He is also wanted in India for various murder and extortion cases. On 27 June 2013, Salem was shot by Devendra Jagtap, an accused in the advocate Shahid Azmi murder case inside Taloja Central Jail in neighbouring Navi Mumbai, the police said. Salem sustained injury to his hand as Jagtap fired one round.

On 20 September 2002, he was arrested by Interpol in Lisbon, Portugal. His satellite phone was tracked using GPS technology. In February 2004, a Portugal court cleared his extradition to India to face trial in the 1993 Mumbai bomb blasts case. In November 2005, Portuguese authorities handed him over to India on the assurance by then India's Home Minister L.K. Advani that death penalty would not be handed out.

In March 2006, a special TADA court filed eight charges against him and his alleged associate Riaz Siddiqui for his role in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts case. He stands accused of ferrying and distributing weapons. Abu Salem is currently incarcerated in high-security Arthur Jail in India. A lower court in Portugal cancelled his extradition to India for violation of deportation rules by Indian authorities by instituting fresh cases against him which attracted death penalty. In July 2012, the Portuguese Supreme Court of Justice questioned the legal right of Indian authorities to challenge the cancellation of extradition order.[2]

Early life[edit]

Abu Salem was born in a poor family in Sarai Mir village of Azamgarh district. Salem's father was a lawyer by profession. Salem started a small mechanic shop in his home town to support his family, moving to Delhi, where he worked as a taxi driver, eventually shifting base to Mumbai. It was in Mumbai that he met the underworld don Dawood Ibrahim and joined his mafia.

Personal life[edit]

He married his first wife Samira Jumanin then a college girl and a minor – 17 years old who was allegedly forcefully married by Salem[3]) in 1991 from whom he has one or two sons. They later divorced.[4] Samira currently lives in Duluth, Georgia, United States.

His brother Abu Hatim, a.k.a. Chunchun miyan, who still lives in Azamgarh and owns a shop called Alamat Tatari, says: "We have no contacts with our brother and even the police know that. He left us after completing his intermediate-college and never came back." Locals say Abu Salem went to Mumbai to study further, hoping to go to the Gulf later for better opportunities but somehow got trapped in gangster Dawood Ibrahim's circle.[5]

The residents of his native village allegedly don't love him. “I don’t know why he is given such attention. We have no affection for him. Salem left the village after completing his inter college and never came back,” says Tariq Mian, an elderly man. “His elder brother Abu Hatim, or Chunchun miyan as we call him, still owns a shop here,” he says.[6]

Association with D-Company[edit]

Abu Salem started off by conning buyers with cheap electronic goods outside Andheri station. His association with Dawood’s brother Anees paid off and he took charge of the D-Company’s Bollywood deals. Salem first worked under Chhota Shakeel but later split and took to threatening film personalities for extortion. Common belief is that Shakeel tipped off the cops—juicy revenge for Salem's unprofessional ways and out-of-control style.[7]

Rise in Underworld[edit]

Abu Salem drove a taxi in Delhi before becoming the second-in-command of crime lord Dawood Ibrahim. He was a petty criminal who rose in status in Mumbai's underworld to be India's most-wanted man.

Mastermind of the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts, Abu Salem shot to fame with the killings of music baron Gulshan Kumar, actress Manisha Koirala's secretary Ajit Dewan and builder Omprakash Kukreja. He also attempted to kill cine figures Rajeev Rai, Rakesh Roshan and Manmohan Shetty. In the early 1990s, Salem stayed with his cousin Akthar, a small-time criminal working with gangster Sayyed Topi in Mumbai. Salem later shifted to Santa Cruz and started a travel agency. He got in touch with J K Ibrahim, who was working for Dawood. Through him, Salem came under the wings of Dawood.[8]

Charming yet intimidating, Salem could unnerve people. The D-company needed just someone like him to make threatening calls to people. Salem was given a free hand to extort money from Bollywood bigwigs. In the meantime, he also started staging shows in Dubai, inviting Bollywood actors to impress his Dawood Ibrahim. Salem is believed to have murdered Gulshan Kumar on 12 August 1997 without Dawood's consent, angering him. Salem fled Dubai, fearing Dawood's wrath.[8]

Salem always used his own men to carry out operations for Dawood. These men hailed from the north Indian province of Uttar Pradesh and worked for a small fee. Salem used different people for different tasks – one to deliver the weapon usually, a woman, another to locate the target and a third one to finish the job. The same weapon was used for many killings, so that in case it was detected the police would believe that the same person was responsible for all offences.


In 1991 Aftab Ahmed Khan, Additional Commissioner of police North West Mumbai, heard of a thug trying to extort money from small time businessmen "I sent two men to go pick him up. When he was presented before me, he appeared to be an ordinary scared miserable chap who thought we were going to bump him off. He was so small at that time. There was nothing impressive about him." When Salem was in Lisbon fighting India's extradition attempt, the only proof that he was indeed Salem was provided by the fingerprint and photographs taken after his arrest by A A Khan. After release from jail for his extortion attempt, he had a spectacular rise in the underworld, very quickly to become an integral part of the Dawood's inner circle with a speciality in extorting from the Hindi film industry, channelling illicit money into film production, forcibly getting the dates of stars, and usurping overseas rights. He continued more aggressively on this path after his estrangement with Dawood Ibrahim who had by then evolved into being some sort of a paid protector of filmdom. His friction with Shakeel and Dawood's favouring of Shakeel is believed to be the reason behind Salem's split from the D-Company.[9] Later, a special team, formed under the leadership of then additional commissioner of police A A Khan, arrested him in the early 1990s from his travel agency in Santacruz, northwest Mumbai. He was handed over to the D N Nagar police station in Andheri, northwest Mumbai, where Salem's in-laws had registered a case against him. But after spending two days in jail, he was released.[10] However he was finally arrested in Lisbon,Portugal and was extradited to India in November 2005.

Behaviour with his first wife[edit]

While in the United States, his first wife, Samira Jumani, gave some interviews. Salem “was a violent "psychotic man" according to her.”[4]

“He was never a family person. I never led a life I would say I was married,” she maintains.[11]

However, Pramod Mahajan's brother, Pravin, who shared time in prison with Abu Salem, said that "Abu Salem is polite."[12]

Subhash Ghai said in an interview with the Times of India that Salem had called him up asking for the overseas rights of his film Pardes. Ghai noted that Salem was very polite in his conversation and confessed to being a big fan of Ghai's work. When Ghai told Salem that the matter of the overseas rights had already been settled, Salem asked for a copy of the movie, so that he could make pirated copies.[9]

Bollywood Debut[edit]

In August 2013, Punjabi Singer Sukhwinder Singh Maan alias Sukha Delhi wala revealed that he would release a song composed by Abu Salem while lodged in Tihar Jail, in his next Music Album. The Music Album shall also feature many other celebrities like Rahul Mahajan and Vindu Dara Singh.[13]

Net worth[edit]

Abu Salem is said to be a billionaire gangster worth Rs. 40 billion ($1 billion).[14] The man's cash and property have been valued at least Rs 10 billion, which is divided between him and his wife, Samira Jumani. While Salem stakes a claim to Rs 2 billion, his wife possess Rs 8 billion in cash and property. Salem's investments in Bollywood and hawala rackets are estimated to be at least another Rs 30 billion. The CBI arrived at the figures on the basis of one-years transactions (2000–2001), and are said to be a conservative estimate.[15]

His possession of wealth[edit]

Salem possessed a non-immigrant work visa in the US, where he was employed as a maintenance manager for a marine engineering company. As he operated under different names, he could buy property worth crores, despite his employment background. Preliminary calculations by the CBI reveal transactions worth Rs 2 billion were carried out by Salem in the year 2000 itself. Details of his earlier transactions were not known as his whereabouts are not known. Police sources say that his benami but legal businesses in the Middle East are run by his close associates.[15]


An article about him in The Times of India mentioned:[9]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]