It is very rare when a woman is the head of a crime syndicate. The most well-known would probably be Colombian cocaine billionaire Griselda Blanco. However, recently, another female boss was revealed with the arrest of Karima Mujeeb Shah, 45, of Ghatkopar section of Mumbai. She ran an extensive criminal empire for the past six years without the police knowing a thing, until some of her apprehended underlings ratted her out to authorities.
Karima began her career in the underworld as an illegal developer, building shanties in Ghatkopar, gaining influence over the years. She also gained enemies in the area, so she hired a local goon named Sanbabu Panicker to protect her and her scrap-dealing husband. She lavished Panicker and his crew in return.
She also adopted local orphans in the area providing shelter and food for them. It wasn’t a free ride for the orphans, though. Karima put more than 50 of them to work as burglars, tasking them with missions to snatch chains and commit robberies across the eastern and southern suburbs of Mumbai. She gave the chain-snatchers motorbikes and provided four-wheelers and taxis for the robbers. They would bring her the loot and she’d split it evenly among each member of each heist. She would also employ people to tell her when houses left unattended by vacationing owners.
People in the area grew to fear Karima and called her “Aapa,” or “big sister,” out of respect. Her home in the affluent Kamraj Nagar neighborhood doubled as a “darbar,” or court, where residents would come to settle local beefs that they had, while Karima listened from a king-sized chair. She was said to be held in higher regard than the judiciary.
Her six years of secretly running her operation came to an end six months ago when one of her cronies, Satish “Bala” Bondiya was arrested on his way to commit a burglary. He flipped on Karima and gave up the whole scheme. Authorities tried several times to arrest Karima, but she always eluded them, thanks to tipsters. According to NDTV, “Karima had posted lookouts at the entrance and exit of Kamraj Nagar, and they would immediately raise the alarm if they spotted a police vehicle entering the area.”
Police got another crucial lead when they arrested another one of her workers, named Rohit Surve as he loitered near a local police station. He told police that he was adopted by Karima when he was seven-years-old and had been working for her. He then told them that she would be appearing at a local court to provide legal assistance for a member of her organization.
The trap was laid and she was arrested in that court. Karima was charged with “dishonestly receiving stolen property” and “acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention.” While behind bars, she drank phenyl in a suicide attempt, but was rushed to the hospital and saved. It is believed that she did that,so that she could fabricate charges of misconduct and defame the department. Before, when police tried to apprehend her, she ripped her clothes and accused the officers of trying to molest her.
Police have seized 40 lakh (1 lakh=100,000 rupees) from Karima and are eyeing four flats and 40 to 50 shanties that she owned in Ghatkopar. Police expect burglaries to drop by 50% once her entire gang is arrested.