Rise and fall of TN's 'Dawood' Sridhar Dhanapal

By NT Bureau Published on Oct 10, 2017 05:55 PM IST

A photo reportedly of the body of Sridhar.

Chennai: Sridhar may not be the name that a Tamil filmmaker would prefer for a don's character in his movie. But the story of Sridhar, the Kanchipuram-based land mafioso who spread his roots all the way up to Cambodia, is certainly a compelling one to be made into a racy don flick.

For that matter, even Baasha and Billa would not have had so many twists and turns.

Like all his deals, Sridhar is (or was) now playing a game with his death too. For, he is dead, say his family and lawyers. There is a death certificate too and attempts are being made to bring his mortal remains from Cambodia. But the police here are not ready to believe. And even some of his rivals too are.

News Today tracks the rise and fall of the don, with information gathered from various sources.


A native of Thiruparuthikundram in Kanchipuram district, Sridhar's father Dhanapal was an agriculture worker, mother was disabled. He dropped out of school and worked with silk weavers for the next eight years. But things turned in his 'favour' when he started the illegal business of selling arrack which he continued till 2008. While in the business of arrack, he married his mentor's daughter and the couple had three children - a son and two daughters.


Sridhar was notorious for carrying out real estate deals in a ruthless manner. If someone (mainly business people and textile firms) eyed a property, they would approach Sridhar. And he would take care of the rest. The owner, by using so many 'unique' methods, would be made to 'sell' the property. Sridhar's name was linked with a deal executed by a popular textile chain.


Most of the cases against him are related to real estate deals. But it is said Sridhar's political clout and his friendship with police personnel made him thrive. Out of 32 cases listed since 1999, excluding cases registered in connection with the illicit liquor business, Sridhar was acquitted in eight, including two of murder and two of attempt to murder.


When some tough officers became heads of Kanchipuram police, they would mull action against Sridhar. But he would get tip-off from the police themselves, it is said. Once, when the police started chasing him in Chennai, he trespassed into the airport in his car, voluntarily landing in CISF net. Thus, he escaped from an encounter, it is learnt.


As the noose tightened in Tamilnadu, he headed to Dubai and from there to Cambodia. He reportedly had life membership in Singapore casinos, spend time in luxury yachts, owned a luxury apartment, a luxury taxi service and oil businesses in Dubai. But he also employed youth from Kanchipuram as drivers in Dubai, invited them home, offered them food. He invited his old friends from Kanchipuram to Dubai during shopping festivals. On the other hand, the police declared him as offender, issued lookout notice, assets were frozen and his family grilled. This is said to be the reason behind his suicide decision.


A week after Sridhar Dhanapalan's alleged suicide in Cambodia, his daughter Dhanalakshmi, who is trying to bring her father's body back to India, approached the Madras High Court seeking the intervention of the State government to give her father a decent cremation.

On Monday, she filed a petition seeking directives to the Kanchipuram superintendent of police and collector to issue a positive communication to the Indian High Commission in Cambodia, so that they could initiate steps to bring her father's body to India.

When the issue was brought to the notice of the court, Justice M S Ramesh directed the government advocate to get instructions from the authorities and posted the plea to 10 October for further hearing.

In her petition, Dhanalakshmi submitted that her father Sridhar was an Indian citizen and several cases were pending against him initiated by the police and directorate of enforcement. A magistrate court in Kanchipuram has also declared him as an absconding offender.


In the last two decades, the 44-year-old don allegedly eliminated many of his rivals and acquired more than 125 properties worth over Rs 150 crore in his name and in the name of his family. By the time senior police officials noticed him again, he was sitting in the Gulf and running a real estate mafia in Kanchipuram.

The police said he would make calls from Dubai and arm twist landowners to make them sell their property at a price he dictates.