Dawood Ibrahim, the criminal don, continues to haunt the Indian psyche. Now, in a new provocative novel titled Dawood is Dead, author Avik Davar posits a scenario where the Don is killed in a special-ops mission by Indo-Israeli forces. Juggernaut editor R. Sivapriya spoke to him about the book, and whether the don’s death could be true or not:
Is Dawood Is Dead fact or fiction?
My story is as fictional as fiction can get, but as plausible as fact can be. Whatever I have said in the book is all possible. My wager is that the reader will keep asking two questions throughout the book. One, could this happen? Two, did this happen? When you’ve read the story you will have no doubts about whether this could happen. It can. But did it happen? There will never be any proof either way.
Why did you choose such a provocative title?
Because it is the right one, for reasons people will understand when they read the story. And because we know so little about what happened to the man in the last 23 years. Our media friends have tried and failed to get even one photo of him in the last decade or so. And while the Karachi buildings are constantly shown on TV, they might be red herrings to throw us off track. Dawood Ibrahim has had all the time in the world to change so much about himself that he could be just about anywhere, and anyone. So if there’s news that Dawood is dead, I would not be willing to accept it at face value, even if we get to see a body.
Have there been reports of the man being spotted in real life?
In the early 1990s, he was a free man in Dubai, before the UAE began discussing an extradition treaty with India. People have bumped into him by chance, in hotel foyers, elevators, car parks, and even in a few iconic buildings. He would always be surrounded by a couple of guards or more. People spoke in hushed tones when he was around. Many stories – who knows if they are true – floated around, including about some acts of kindness. He was said to be affectionate with children and respectful to women, and very committed to his loved ones. He seemed the kind of man who might go to any lengths to protect his loved ones. Maybe one day that’s what will make him turn himself in, if he is indeed a free man wherever he is.
Do you wish to say anything to the don?
The don is going to be 61 this December. Life, age and sorrow have begun catching up. He has lost some near and dear ones. And I for one suspect he is not really a free man even inside Pakistan – if that’s where he is holed up. In that case, we will never get him back alive. But if he is elsewhere, my appeal to him would be to turn himself in and return home to begin his atonement. It is the only way all those affected by his acts can ever find closure and justice. And it is the only way any innocent members of his family will have a chance to live with peace and dignity as ordinary folk back in India. This country was once home to them. Whether Pakistan would even allow them that is a big question, though.