Arun Gawli or Arun Gulab Ahir is an Indian politician, underworld don and former gangster. Gawli and his brother Kishor (Pappa) entered the Mumbai underworld in the 1970s when they joined the “Byculla Company”, a criminal gang led by Rama Naik and Babu Reshim, operating in the central Mumbai areas of Byculla, Parel and Saat Rasta.
He spent his early life in parel, byculla and Dagdi Chawl. Arun Gawli was born in Ahmednagar district, Maharashtra. He married Asha Gawli, a Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) for Maharashtra, and has two children, Mahesha and Geeta.
Let’s look at 10 lessor known things about Arun Gawli
1 Gawli worked in Mumbai’s textile mills, located in the central areas of Parel, Chinchpokli, Byculla and Cotton Green. From the 1970s to the late 1980s, Mumbai’s textile mill industry witnessed mass strikes and eventual lock-outs. As a result, many young adults (including Gawli) had no employment and eventually found a short-cut to quick money through matka gambling and hafta-vasuli.
2 Gawli then joined the “Byculla Company” gang led by gangsters Rama Naik and Babu Reshim and from here on his life took a sharp turn. In 1984, Rama Naik helped Dawood Ibrahim to eliminate his then arch-rival Samad Khan, the leader of the Pathan gang in Mumbai.
3 In 1988 Rama Naik was killed in a police encounter, and Gawli took over the gang and began operating it from his residence, Dagdi Chawl. Under his control, the gang controlled most criminal activities in the central Mumbai areas.
4 Throughout the late eighties and nineties, Gawli’s gang was involved in a power struggle with Dawood Ibrahim’s D-Company gang. Gawli believed that the encounter in which Naik was killed was engineered by Dawood, and thus started a gruesome gang war between Dawood’s D-Company gang and Gawli’s gang.
5 Gawli’s gang were so brutal during the gang war that many D-Company gangsters like Chhota Rajan, Chhota Shakeel and Sharad Shetty had to flee from Mumbai to Dubai.
6 Mumbai police raided the premises of Dagdi Chawl several times and finally broke Gawli’s underworld operations. Gawli was arrested several times for criminal activities and was detained for long periods during the trial. However, he could not be convicted in most of the cases as witnesses would not depose against him for fear of retaliation.
7 Gawli got political patronage in the 1980s when the then Shiv Sena chief, Bal Thackeray, criticised the Mumbai police for taking stringent action against Hindu gangsters like Arun Gawli, referring to them as amchi muley (our boys). However, Gawli fell out with Shiv Sena in the mid 1990s, murdered Shiv Sena men Jamsandekar and formed his own political party, the Akhil Bharatiya Sena.
8 In 2004, Gawli was elected as MLA from the Mumbai Chinchpokli constituency as an Akhil Bharatiya Sena candidate. Gawli’s rise in prominence is believed to be due to his “native roots” as a local lad, which makes him distinct from most other non-Marathi-speaking politicians.
9 Gawli’s political designs suffered a major blow when his nephew and party legislator, Sachin Ahir, came out openly against him and joined Sharad Pawar’s NCP. Ahir even contested against Gawli in the subsequent Lok Sabha elections on a NCP ticket, resulting in defeat for both, but a victory for the Shiv Sena’s sitting MP Mohan Rawale.
10 In August 2012, Gawli and eleven others were found guilty of murder of Shiv Sena leader Kamlakar Jamsandekar. Court sentenced gangster-turned-politician Arun Gawli to life imprisonment.