While Shah Rukh Khan has blended fabulously into the role of powerful pathan Abdul Latif in ‘Raees’, the real story of the man makes for a compelling narrative.
Abdul Latif was a feared underworld don in Gujarat, and an associate of Dawood Ibrahim. His rise is a meteoric one, from that of a bootlegger in Dariapur (Popatiyawad) to a man who exercised political clout.
The man has a humble middle-class upbringing; he began working in his childhood, waiting at tables in gambling ‘addas’. Serving liquor to clientele in these dens, made him familiar with how the business ran, and he soon transitioned to become a small-time bootlegger. By building his contacts and chipping away competition by hook or by hook, he went on to attain monopoly in illegal business in Gujarat.
One of his business rivals in the early 80s was Pappu Khan. So in the year 1985, Abdul Latif joined hands with Mumbai’s Pathan gang head Alamzeb to eliminate Pappu. Dawood Ibrahim helped Abdul Latif in eliminating Alamzeb. With this move, Latif established his supremacy as the lord of Gujarat underworld. He also invested heavily in the real estate business of Gujarat.
Meanwhile, cases against Latif began piling up. There was a time, when he had more than 99 court cases pending against him, ten for murder and most of them for bootlegging. Latif enjoyed enough political patronage to prevail over many such cases. In 1986, he won municipal elections from five constituencies in Ahmedabad, even though he was serving jail-time during the polls. He was alleged for having played a role in distribution of RDX and arms that were used in the Mumbai serial blasts in 1993.
Radhika Gymkhana Murders (1992)
Abdul Latif was infamous for eliminating anything that came in the way of his path, one of the most notable examples is the Radhika Gymkhana multiple murders in 1992. He had sent his aide Sharif Khan to kill a certain Hansraj Trivedi, bootlegger. Apparently, the latter was playing cards in the gymkhana. Since Sharif and his friends couldn’t identify who Trivedi was, they shot all the 9 people playing cards. Apart from being a shocking case, it also attracted attention because AK-47s were used for the first time in Gujarat.
How did Abdul Latif die?
He was picked from his home in Delhi and jailed in Sabarmati, in 1995. When he was arrested and interrogated, Latif did not give out the names of any of his political bosses. He was jailed under TADA. Abdul Latif was shot dead in November 1997, in the wee-hours at around 2:15 AM. Latif was called for questioning and was being taken back to jail. At Naroda crossing, he told the officers that he wanted to answer nature’s call. Sensing an opportunity, he tried to escape by firing at the police. The police trained their guns in retaliation and killed Latif. The don was cremated the following evening in Shahibaug graveyard.
Abdul Latif – Messiah for the Poor Muslim Youth
While a section of society feared him, there was another side of Abdul Latif that was endearing, especially to the poor and underprivileged Muslim youths in Ahmedabad. Apparently, he had given many jobs to them and also ran an unofficial judicial system, where he ensured that justice was done to the deprived.
Abdul Latif’s sons
He has two sons, Mustak Ahmed Abdul Latif Shaikh and Shaikh Arif Abdul Latif, both are into politics. Mustak sought an injunction against the release of the film ‘Raees’, because the family believed that Abdul Latif was being shown in poor light in the film.