Top 10 Mafias of India


Since Independence there have been many mafias in our country. They are often called by many names like gangsters and criminal organizations. Their sole purpose is monetary gain but with illegal works. They obtain money from extortion, murders, kidnapping, illegal mining and many other forms of crimes. In this article you will read about the Top 10 Mafias of India.

The list will be based from old to new gangs in India.

Haji Mastan


Haji Mastan also known as Mastan Mirza or Sultan Mirza was a Mafia gang leader of Bombay.  Mastan operated a powerful smuggling syndicate in Mumbai and along the Gujarat coast and later diversified into film financing and real estate business. 

He was one of the infamous trio of the mafia gang leaders of Bombay. Haji Mastan literally ruled Bombay with the infamous trio for over two decades from 1960s to early 1980s. 

Mastan was a cunning person and a clever deal maker. He was capable of maintaining good relations with Police and Government Officials. His friendship with Lala, Mudaliar, Hassan Patni and Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray shows that he had a good political backing.

Haji Mastan was one of the most influential mafia don of his time and was also seen as a “style icon”. He used to wear clean white clothes, white shoes, white Mercedes cars and expensive gold watches. Mastan flaunted an extravagant lifestyle to appear affluent and influential.

Varadarajan Mudaliar

Varadarajan Mudaliar

Varadarajan Mudaliar was one of the three infamous trio of the mafia gang leaders of Bombay. He used the massive Dharavi slums to expand his criminal activities into an underworld empire. He set up the underworld empire of extortion, kidnapping, contract killing, land encroachment, illegal gambling and liquor dens, manufacturing illicit liquor and bootlegging. Varada had total control over the distribution racket of illegal liquor.

He began a parallel justice system where he made the rules where his verdict was the final law. His law was the final verdict in the areas of Dharavi and Matunga which were believed to have a large presence of Tamils.  He later diversified into contract killings and the narcotics trade. He enjoyed a successful stint in the 1970s controlling the criminal operations in east and north-central Bombay. 

Karim Lala

Karim Lala

Karim Lala was also one of the three infamous trio of the Mafia gang leaders of Bombay. He commanded south and central Bombay and operated in the Bombay docks. His illegal works majorly includes hashish trafficking, protection rackets, extortion, illegal gambling, gold smuggling, and contract killings.

He had a solid monopoly in the Mumbai underworld at that time. Lala controlled bootlegging and gambling in the city in 1940, and was the undisputed king of the trade until 1985. Bombay Law enforcement named them as “Afghan Mafia” or “Pathan Mafia”. They were called by these terms because the majority of the members of this gang were Pashtuns.

Dawood Ibrahim

Dawood Ibrahim

Dawood Ibrahim is a global terrorist with a reward of US$25 million on his head. In 2011, he was named number three on “The World’s 10 Most Wanted Fugitives” by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation and Forbes. 

After the 1993 Bombay bombings, which Ibrahim allegedly organized and financed with Tiger Memon, both became India’s most wanted men. According to the United States Department of the Treasury, Ibrahim may have had ties with Osama bin Laden.

Indian and Russian intelligence agencies have pointed out Ibrahim’s possible involvement in several other terror attacks, including the 2008 Mumbai attacks, as per Interpol. Ever since he took to hiding, his location has been frequently traced to Karachi, Pakistan, a claim which Pakistani authorities have denied.

Chotta Rajan


Chhota Rajan is a perfect example that the neglect of small crimes can give birth to big criminals. A petty thief and mule like Chhota Rajan can become a former key aide and lieutenant of Dawood Ibrahim. He worked for Rajan Nair, also known as Bada Rajan and took over the command of Bada Rajan’s gang after his murder. 

His crime list includes extortion, murder, smuggling, drug trafficking and film finance. He is also wanted in 17 murder cases and several more attempted murders. On 25 October 2015, Indonesian police arrested Chhota Rajan in Bali. He was deported to India on 6 November after 27 years on the run and is currently awaiting trial in CBI custody.

Arun Gawli

Arun Gawli

Arun Gawli is the first marathi gang leader of the Mumbai Underworld. He is the perfect reason that unemployment can lead youth in the crime world. Arun Gawli was a textile mill worker but the mass strikes and lockouts pushed him and many youth in the world of crime. Many young adults including Gawli found a short-cut to quick money through matka gambling and hafta-vasuli. Gawli then joined the “Byculla Company” gang and worked with gangsters Rama Naik and Babu Reshim. He used to supervise their illegal liquor dens and got his underworld name “DADDY”. 

After the death of the gangleader Rama Naik, Gawli took over the gang. His criminal activities included keeping kidnapped persons, torturing them, extorting money from them and murdering them. He was arrested several times but he could not be convicted in most of the cases as witnesses would not depose against him because of fear. He was finally convicted for the murder of Shiv Sena leader Kamalakar Jamsandekar, and was sentenced to life imprisonment.

Abu Salem

Abu Salem

Abu Salem was a literal nightmare for the Hindi Film Industry producers. He used to extort money from the Hindi Cinema. Salem worked in the Dawood’s gang as the driver who transports artillery and contraband. Later he introduced a new strategy of hiring unemployed youths from his hometown Azamgarh to come to Mumbai, execute shoot-outs and return the next day. That way they would remain untraced by the Mumbai police. 

His proficiency at delivering goods at the right time and place earned him the nickname Abu Samaan. In 1992, he supplied weapons to film actor Sanjay Dutt. He played an active role in March 1993 Mumbai serial bomb blasts which killed over 250 people. Salem is believed to be the mastermind behind the murder of music baron Gulshan Kumar on 12 August 1997. He also tried to shoot at Bollywood film directors, Rajiv Rai and Rakesh Roshan. In January 2001, his men shot Ajit Diwani, personal secretary to film actress Manisha Koirala. 

On 20 September 2002, he was arrested along with Monica Bedi by Interpol in Lisbon, Portugal. 

He is currently serving his life imprisonment in Mumbai’s Arthur Road Jail.



Veerappan was a domestic terrorist of India who was active for 36 years. His mustache was the distinct feature of this bandit. His crime list included the kidnapping for ransom, sandalwood smuggling and the poaching of elephants. It is stated that he killed more than 2000 elephants for their tusks. He killed 184 people in which 97 were the police officers or forest officers and the rest of the people he thought were the informants of police. He had the highest bounty on his head in history which was 52 crore Rupees which is equivalent to 169 crore Rupees in 2020. 

Veerappan was not averse to killing civilians, and killed a man from his native village for traveling in a police jeep. He regularly killed anyone suspected of being a police informer. Because of political instability, Veerappan could easily escape from one state to another. State jurisdiction problems also prevented police officers from entering other states to apprehend Veerappan. On 18 October 2004, Veerappan and three of his associates were killed by the Tamil Nadu Special Task Force and N. K. Senthamarai Kannan under the proactive leadership of K Vijayakumar.

Tiger Menon

Tiger Menon

Tiger Menon is a gangster, terrorist and is one of the masterminds behind the 1993 Mumbai Bombings. His full name is Ibrahim Mushtaq Abdul Razzaq Memon. He is wanted by Interpol and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). He got the nickname Tiger after helping a petty drugs and weapons smuggler to evade the crime branch of Mumbai Police by driving his car recklessly over 100 km/h on one-way roads.

Menon is sanctioned under the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act in the Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List. The four family members of Menon family were found guilty on the charges of conspiring and abetting acts of terror. They face jail terms ranging from a minimum of five years to life imprisonment. 

His younger brother Yakub Memon had been charged for possession of unauthorized arms and was executed by hanging on 30 July 2015 in Nagpur jail. On 26 June 2020, his other brother Yusuf Memon died while imprisoned at the Nashik Central Jail. As of 2020, Memon is still at large; one of his addresses is listed in Karachi by the US Treasury, where Dawood Ibrahim is also based. But as always Pakistan denies the claims of sheltering these terrorists.

Lawrence Bishnoi

Lawrence Bishnoi

Lawrence Bishnoi is a new mafia boss who emerged from Chandigarh. He has been active since 2000  several first information reports (FIRs) were registered against him for crimes including an attempt to murder, trespassing, assault and robbery. 

He befriended a gangster-turned-politician, Jaswinder Singh, alias Rocky. Under Rocky, he remained active in Bharatpur, Rajasthan. Rocky was assassinated in 2016 by Jaipal Bhullar, who himself was gunned down in 2020.

He came to light when he tasked Sampath Netra to assassinate Superstar Salman Khan for his involvement in the Black Buck hunting case. He continued to operate his syndicate while in Bharatpur jail, allegedly by receiving help from jail staff. 

In 2021, he was transferred to Tihar Jail in Delhi regarding a case registered under the MCOCA. According to authorities, Bishnoi uses Voice over IP calls to communicate with his associates outside the jail. 

On 29 May 2022, Punjabi singer Sidhu Moose Wala was shot dead in Mansa, Punjab. Hours after the assassination, responsibility for the shooting was claimed by Goldy Brar, who claimed that he had discussed the plot with Bishnoi.

The Bishnoi gang is allegedly working with 700 shooters across 5 states in India with a reach outside India as well.

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