The notorious gangster in Mumbai during the early seventies Manohar or

The notorious gangster in Mumbai during the early seventies Manohar or “Manya” Surve.

“Madarchod Policewala bhadwa log” screamed Manya Surve a dreaded Mumbai gangster of the early seventies while been taken on his way to the Sion Hospital after he had been shot by the police on the 11th January 1982 which also happened to become Mumbai’s first official police encounter. With the just released John Abraham starrer Shootout at Wadala loosely based on the gangster and his encounter it certainly raises the curiosity as to how this educated man from a lower middle class family in Mumbai did eventually managed to become one of Mumbai’s most feared gangsters in early seventies.

So to understand the life of Manya Surve one must understand his background. So Manya Surve or Manohar Surve was born to a typical Maharashtrian lower middle class family in 1944 in the city of Mumbai. He went to educate himself and graduate himself in BA with 78% a distinction from Kirti College, Dadar. It was his elder brother Bhargav Surve who was in the illicit liquor at that time. Things started to go wrong for Manya in 1969 when he was named by the police as an accomplice to his older brother in a case which he beat up a businessman from Prabhadevi to death with hockey stick and bamboo shoots. This was the incident that Manya always claimed made him a criminal. He was then arrested and taken to Yerawada Central Jail where in protest of his arrest he went on a hunger strike. This hunger strike lead to health issues for Manya and as result he was admitted to Sasoon Hopsital. It was at the hospital on 24th November 1979 that Manya’s best friends Bajirao Patil and Sheikh Munir visited him and took this opportunity to throw chili powder in the eyes in the policeman placed on guard allowing Manya to finally escape. It is after his escape that he formed his gang with which he began to rob, murder etc and create havoc on streets of Mumbai and, he also happened to be such a big fan of James Hadley Chase that he plotted a majority of his robberies and murders using these books as reference. Such was an aura created by Manya that it brought him to the attention of many gangs at that time and one of the gang taking particular interest in Manya was the notorious Pathan brothers.

It was during this time that the Pathan brothers i.e. Amirzada and Alamzeb were looking for someone who could help mastermind the killing of Sabir Ibrahim who along with younger brother Dawood Ibrahim were slowly on the rise in the Mumbai mafia as a result of which the Pathans wanted to end the growing clout of the brothers by killing Sabir Ibrahim. It was well known that Manya was a brilliant strategist and hence he was approached by the Pathan brothers who by now was aware of his reputation. It was also said that Manya wanted to settle score with the Kaskar brothers and so willingly agreed to master mind the killing of Sabir. He also believed that in order to break the spine of Dawood-Sabir gang it was imperative to separate one from the other. So one night as Sabir was returning from his rendezvous with prostitute Chitra he was quietly being followed by an Ambassador which was made to look a wedding car. This car followed Sabir until he stopped near Prabhadevi to refill his car with petrol. As soon as Sabir’s car stopped the decorated Ambassador came screeching right behind and before Sabir could find his gun he was surrounded by five armed men including Manya and was fired at brutally. Such was the ferocity of the killing that years later the neighborhood would still recall the horror of that night. What this killing proved was that Manya was certainly a mastermind when it came to strategy. This killing also proved to be a turning point for Dawood Ibrahim who would no longer just remain a normal goon or as they say in local Hindi “galli ka gunda” but he would soon rise as a don who would eventually give a whole new definition to the word power.

With the terror of Manya growing by the day within the city the Mumbai police was increasingly getting restless to stop this menace. It was then that finally in 1981 the then police Commissioner Julio Riberio  formed a special team to bring down Manya and his gang. This special team included senior inspector Issac Samson, Inspector Yashwant Bhide and sub inspectors Raja Tambat, Sanjay Parande, and Ishaq Bhagwan. This operation which was called “Operation Manya Surve” lead to systematic breakdown of the gang with most of Manya’s members being captured by the police. Although, anticipating his capture Manya had managed to go underground to evade the police. Unfortunately for Manya his luck ran out and it was his love for a woman that proved to be his downfall. Apparently, he was in love with a woman in his locality who was a widow and who had a child. It was said that it was Dawood who closely kept a watch on Manya for several days before finally informing the police about his rendezvous with his girlfriend in Wadala. It was also said that his girlfriend betrayed him and informed the police on the behest of Dawood. Whatever, the truth maybe the fact remains that on 11 January 1982 the special squad set up by the Mumbai police was ready to capture Manya at Ambedkar College in Wadala. Such was the meticulous preparation undertaken by the police that officers Tambat, Bhagwan, and Parande all managed to look like college students by dressing up in jeans and T-shirts. They also carried books in which all of the above officers had revolvers concealed in cavities cut out in the pages of the books. So finally Manya arrived at 10.45 am in a taxi at Ambedkar College in Wadala. He initially drove past a bus stop and stopped several feet ahead completely unaware of the trap set up by the police. It was inspector Bhide that first identified Manya and signaled to the other officers. It was then that these officer’s surrounded the dreaded gangster and warned him saying “Manya Surve thamb aamhi police aahot”. To this warning Manya tried to respond by pulling out his Mauser pistol from underneath his shirt and to fire at the officer’s but before he could cause any damage he was shot with six bullets to his torso thrice by Tambat and Bhagwan. A fatally injured Manya was then taken towards Lokmanya Tilak Muncipal General Hopsital also known as Sion Hospital who kept on hurling abuses and spitting blood on the officers before he eventually succumbed to his injury before admission. Thus bringing to an end the life of one of Mumbai’s most dreaded gangsters and, thereby also officially registering Mumbai Police Department’s first ever encounter.

So the encounter of Manya Surve ended a decade of fear that city was under by Manya and his gang. What also changed was the number of encounters by the Mumbai Police which shows a total of 622 criminals being killed in encounters from 1982 to 2004. What also makes the life of Manya so interesting in many ways is that he was an educated man who took to crime because of his absolute hatred and mistrust towards the police. However, whatever may be the reason for him to take crime it surely does not justify his criminal acts and as they say “Crime never pays” and, so it was with Manya as eventually it was his crimes that caught up with him and which eventually led to him losing his life.

Also read about the psycho killer “Raman Raghav” that existed in Mumbai during the 1960’s

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“Madarchod Policewala bhadwa log” screamed Manya Surve a dreaded Mumbai gangster of the early seventies while been taken on his way to the Sion Hospital after he had been shot by the police on the 11th January 1982 which also happened to become Mumbai’s first official police encounter. With...