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Manohar Arjun Surve
8 August 1944
|Died||11 January 1982|
|Cause of death||police encounter|
|Alma mater||Kirti College|
|Criminal charge||murder, Looting, bomb blast, Trafficking, Drug Dealing|
Manohar Arjun Surve (8 August 1944 – 11 January 1982, popularly known as Manya Surve, Ahmed Hussain Shahkib Shah, and Manya Junior, was a prolific don in the Mumbai underworld.
Within just two years of activity, his crew rose to such prominence that the Pathans, who ruled the underworld for over two decades, sought his help in eliminating the leader of their archrival gang. That rival outfit being D-Company, headed by the Konkani-speaking Kaskar brothers, Dawood and Shabbir, of whom Surve would help murder. For Surve, it was a clear shot to success. The most powerful gangsters of the city had come asking him for help and in doing so he would eliminate the other.
Manya was known for his daredevilry and strategic planning. The first educated Hindu gangster, he hailed from an area called Agar Bazaar in the suburbs of Dadar. Manohar Surve as a young man and college graduate from Kirti College was implicated in a murder that he did not commit and was sentenced to imprisonment in Yerwada Jail.
Following the murder of Shabir Ibrahim, Surve's fellow accomplices were falling off one by one. Noticing this, Surve laid low, out of D-Company's radar. Dawood Ibrahim never located Surve, leaving him as the only perpetrator not dealt with. Meanwhile, local law enforcement were prepping operations to circumvent the persistent mob violence with an onslaught of targeted dispatches. Inspectors Isaque Bagwan and Raja Tambhat were put in charge with Senior Inspector Y. D. Bhide of taking down Surve. Manya Surve's death in 1982 during an encounter with the Maharashtra police became known as the city's first recorded encounter killing. However, the spate of encounter killings only increased in the late 1980s and further rose after the 1993 Mumbai bombings; a total of 622 alleged criminals were killed in police encounters from 1982 to 2004.
Manohar Arjun Surve was born in 1944, in the village of Ranpar of the Kokan region, located in the Central Deccan Division of the erstwhile Bombay Presidency, British Indian Empire. The village is now a part of Ratnagiri Taluk, Pawas Tal & Ratnagiri District, Maharashtra, India. Surve moved to Mumbai with his mother and stepfather in 1952. For years, he lived in different Chawls in Elphinstone Road and Lower Parel. He was a BA graduate from Kirti College and got a high score of 78% at that time. He then fell into street life, in time forming a crew consisting of former classmates. During these years, he was introduced to his best friend and associate Sumesh Desai through his stepbrother Bhargav Dada. Bhargav Dada was a feared ruffian, lowlife from Agar Bazar in Dadar. In 1969, Surve along with stepbrother Bhargav and associate Manya Podhkar were all charged in the homicide and gang assault of a man named Dandekar. The trio were soon caught by Police Inspector E. S. Dabholkar and were subsequently sentenced to life imprisonment.
Imprisonment and escape
While incarcerated at the Yerwada Central Jail in Pune, Surve developed a fierce rivalry with gangster Suhas ("Potya Bhai") Bhatkar. Annoyed by Surve's terror tactics, the prison authorities had him transferred to Ratnagiri jail. There, he took part in a hunger strike and lost almost 20 kg, before being shifted to the local civil hospital. Surve utilized this opportunity to successfully evade police custody on 14 November 1979, and returned to the streets of Mumbai, having served over nine years of his sentence.
After his return to Mumbai, Surve formed another outfit and recruited his two trusted lieutenants, Sheikh Munir from Dharavi and Vishnu Patil from Dombivili. They were soon joined by another gangbanger, Uday in March, 1980.
The group's first robbery took place on 5 April 1980, in which they stole an Ambassador car. The vehicle was later used to loot Rs 5,700 from Laxmi Trading Company near Currey Road. On 15 April, Surve and his associates brutally assaulted and nearly killed Sheikh Aziz, an enemy of Sheikh Munir, near Kala Killa in the Dharavi slum. On 30 April, they stabbed a police constable when he was escorting rival Vijay Ghadge to a police station in Dadar.
Borrowing the plot from a James Hadley Chase novel, which he had read in prison, Surve decided to loot money from the government milk scheme in a bid to gain money as well as recognition from the stalwarts of the Mumbai underworld. The group with the addition of Dayanand, Parshuram Katkar, and Kishore Sawant stole a car near Badal Bijlee Barkha in Mahim, and went on to execute a heist of RS 1.26 lakh near Govandi. The stolen vehicle was later found abandoned near National College in Bandra, exactly as penned in the Chase novel.
Another famous robbery undertaken by Manya Surve's group included Rs 1.6 lakh from Canara Bank's branch on Sion-Trombay road and Duke and Sons Company at Deonar. Manya Surve's criminal activities were not confined to heists and robberies. He was also involved in narcotics trafficking, as he saw that the profits derived from it was considerable.
The group's various successful heists and robberies brought a tremendous amount of attention on Manya Surve and his cohorts. As a result, the police were put under great pressure and they launched Operation Manya Surve to capture and curb his criminal activities.
On 22 June 1981, Sheikh Munir was picked up from a chemical company near Kalyan. A few days later, Dayanand and Parshuram Katkar were arrested at a lodge in Goregoan. Anticipating his capture, Surve slipped into an aide's hideout which he soon fled afterward in Bhiwandi on 19 November 1981. When police squads finally broke into the apartment, they recovered a hand grenade, a country-made revolver along with some live ammunition.
Surve was finished after systematic police operations led to a crackdown of his criminal enterprise. After the arrest of his cohort Uday, he was the only remaining member of the group who was not in prison.
On 11 January 1982, Surve took a taxi to the Ambedkar College junction in Wadala. It was believed Mumbai police received a tip off from Dawood Ibrahim that Manya Surve would be arriving at a beauty parlour near the Ambedkar college junction in Wadala. At around 1.30 pm, 18 Crime Branch officers split into three crack teams and waited for him to arrive. After twenty minutes of waiting, Surve was spotted exiting a taxi to pick up his girlfriend Vidya.
After noticing several men closing in on him and taking positions, Surve whipped out his Webley & Scott revolver. However, before he could even squeeze the trigger, police officers Raja Tambat and Isaque Bagwan fired five bullets into his chest and shoulder.
Surve was dragged from the scene and put on an ambulance. This encounter was the end of Surve's two year spree of urban crime. Short lived, but in his two years, Manya Surve did such substantial damage to Dawood Ibrahim, which no one has been able to do to this date. It is generally believed that it was the underworld don Dawood who tipped off the police about his whereabouts, after finding his position being challenged by Surve.
It is also believed that his girlfriend Vidya revealed his whereabouts at that time, the same was shown in the movie Shootout at Wadala.
In popular culture
- "The real story behind Shootout At Wadala - Times of India".
- "Bagwan dada". Mid Day. 30 May 2009. Retrieved 31 March 2012.
- "Decorated cops parked aside as seniors pass the buck". The Indian Express. 26 July 1997. Retrieved 31 March 2012.
- Anil Singh (19 June 2004). "Rise And Fall Of The Killer Cops". TNN. The Times of India. Retrieved 4 September 2016.
- J. Dey (10 November 2002). "Encounter Specialists". The Indian Express. Retrieved 4 September 2016.
- "City's first encounter ended two years of urban dacoity". The Indian Express. 22 June 2002. Retrieved 31 March 2012.
- "Docks nurtured city's underworld". The Indian Express. 26 October 2002. Retrieved 31 March 2012.
- "The real story behind Shootout At Wadala". Times of India. 11 January 2013.