Sunday, February 19, 2006

Daya Nayak Speaks at Last

Daya Nayak has finally spoken. In breaking his silence, he has given himself his best defence.

The purpose of this blog is now complete, I no longer need to speak of the other side of the story when the man himself has stepped forward to speak out. However, comments are still open, so please feel free to post your comments here.

Thank you everyone for reading the blog and for all the comments. Your support was essential for this blog's success. Let us continue to support an innocent man and pray for him in whatever way we can.

Daya Nayak & the ACB - Investigation or Witch-hunt?

As of today, the ACB has gotten a Non Bailable Warrant issued from a trial court for the arrest of Daya Nayak inspite of Nayak's lawyers' intimation to the sessions court that he would be surrendering to the court on Monday morning. By refusing to take into consideration the said intimation, the ACB managed to make it appear that Nayak is absconding; when in fact, Nayak is only acting as per the judgement given by the Supreme Court.

The order of the Supreme Court states that:

"We are not inclined to interfere with the order of the High Court.

If, however, the petitioner surrenders before the concerned court and moves for bail, the court should dispose of the bail application filed on the day it is presented. We make it clear that our non-interference shall not be considered as if we have expressed any opinion on the merits of the application for the bail, if any to be filed and leave the petition to be disposed off accordingly."

As per the order of the Supreme Court, Daya Nayak has the choice to surrender to a trial court or to the ACB; along with the opportunity to file for bail in the trial court. The order does not specify when he is to surrender. By issuing a Non Bailable Warrant, the ACB is in fact going against the order of the Supreme Court; as the order specifically states that he is to be given a chance to file for bail.

Does the eagerness of the ACB to place him under arrest stem from a genuine desire to see justice done? Or are there some other factors at play? Let’s look at some facts regarding the way this investigation is being handled.

The ACB has been gunning for the arrest of Daya Nayak since January this year. The case that it wants to arrest him for is a disproportionate property and assets case, involving a sum of Rs. 41 Lacs. The ACB’s contention is that his arrest is essential for thorough interrogation. This, when Nayak is ready to attend the ACB office as and when required, everyday if needed; just like his wife Komal Nayak has been doing in the past few days. The ACB also contends that Nayak’s staying out of jail will enable him to tamper with evidence. They are talking about a case that has been going on since more than a year. If the man wanted to tamper with evidence, couldn’t he already have done it?

In the last 8 years, since 1999, when the Anti Corruption Bureau was brought back into focus, a total of 29 arrests have been made from the police department under charges of Disproportionate Properties and Assets, as against a total of 4050 arrests made by the ACB under its various functions. [Source Anti Corruption Bureau – Maharashtra] In 2003, when the maximum number of corruption cases[791 arrests in 2003 alone] were registered with the ACB, the number of police officers arrested in connection with Disproportionate Property was... hold your breath, 2. In 2004, when maximum number of disproportionate properties cases were registered [with 55 arrests] the number of police officers arrested was again... 2. And in 2000, when the maximum number of police officers were caught in traps laid by the ACB [179 arrests], the number of officers involved in Disproportionate Properties cases was again... 2!

With this kind of a record, the ACB is itching to arrest one of the best and most successful officers that our police force has produced. If the ACB wants to say that they found only 29 police officers guilty of possessing assets and properties in excess of their known sources of income in a span of 6 years, well, even an idiot could tell them that they’re awfully inefficient! Or blind. Or both. Or that they are, on purpose, turning a blind eye to the big fish. Big fish like our dear Commissioner of Police Mr. A N Roy, who came to Bombay with nothing but a tiny bag 30 years back from Allahabad. And now this same man who has only worked for the government owns a bungalow in Pune, which is worth at least Rs.5 crores, if not more. Why has he never been investigated? Or Mr. Vikas Gaikwad who "my sources" tell me is worth at least Rs.10 crores. And he is heading an investigation of a 41 lacs anti-corruption case. What irony!

What is the job of the ACB in a Disproportionate Properties and Assets case? Any enquiry conducted by the ACB is supposed to deal with any disproportionate properties or assets possessed by a public servant. Not the public servant’s wife, nor the public servant’s friends. The ACB may only investigate the bank accounts of persons whom it suspects of holding money for the public servant.

Is the ACB supposed to question the validity of the accused public servant’s degree? Are they supposed to investigate the validity of his educational qualifications? Most certainly not. And yet, Mr. Vikas Gaikwad thinks it fit to announce in the press conference that the ACB suspects that Nayak’s degree is fake and that he was never eligible to sit for the MPSC exam.

Incidentally, at the end of 2004, when Meera Borwankar took over as chief of Crime Branch, she had raised the issue of the validity of Daya Nayak’s degrees. Some officers of the Economic Offences Wing actually went to the college from where Nayak graduated for investigation. When they saw the principal to enlist his help in the enquiry, the principal rubbished their claims and called Daya Nayak their "college ki shaan". The enquiry was dropped, for obvious reasons.

Now Mr. Vikas Gaikwad wants to check Nayak’s degrees again, which he claims are from Osmania Open University and not from the Mumbai University. Next thing you know, he will be accusing Nayak of being part of the MPSC scam and will be saying Daya Nayak bribed the officials to get through the MPSC exams which he gave in 1994-95. The current MPSC scam has shown some candidates between 1998-2003 to be possibly guilty of using unfair means. If another officer of the ACB who is investigating this scam has her way, all the candidates who have ever sat for the MPSC exams right from its inception should be investigated as part of the scam!

In another instance of how the ACB is trying to link Daya Nayak to any possible scam that has received media attention, Mr. Gaikwad has accused Daya Nayak of being part of the Punjab Petrol Pump Scam. This is supposedly based on the fact that Mrs. Komal Nayak was a director of Ojus Finances at one time. Ojus Finances was involved in illegal activities; the involvement of that company in the petrol pump scam cannot be denied. But the ACB coolly forgets to mention that Komal Nayak resigned from the board of directors of Ojus Finances in January 2004, when she came to know about the unsavory activities of the company. The owner, Srinivas Naidu, was arrested 6 months later. The ACB has been continuously saying that Naidu was a close friend of Nayak, when in fact he was only a business acquaintance of Mrs. Nayak.

The ACB is also trying to put the ugly accusation of the cricket betting network on Daya Nayak’s name. They are trying to drag him in on the basis of a suicide note of one Mr. Shetty, who was a bar owner, that mentions Daya Nayak’s name in it in connection to massive sums of money lost by this Mr. Shetty. The ACB’s statements to the media make it sound like Daya Nayak killed Shetty. If he had mentioned say Mr. M N Singh’s name in his suicide note, does that mean he would be involved rather than Daya Nayak? He could be out to settle an old score. He could be insane. He could be drunk. He could be lying. How is it relevant to a disproportionate assets case anyway?!

The ACB claim that they want Daya Nayak’s custody for investigating "unconfirmed" media reports about Nayak’s Swiss flat and Dubai hotel. They so easily pretend to forget that it was Mr. Vikas Gaikwad who spoke to the media about the Swiss flat and the Dubai hotel. Along with the non-existent fleet of luxury buses and a couple of hotels in Goa. Now they are speaking of "several properties in Madh Island". Where is the proof for all these properties? If the ACB has been so eager to share its news with the media, why are they now shying away from sharing any hard proofs mentioned in their progress report? Perhaps because they have nothing substantial to report..?

The ACB in its earliest reports said that Nayak had attended a wedding in Canada for which he had to declare all of his property. That is how they got the information about his Swiss flat and his disco-cum-hotel in Dubai. How convenient for them that Nayak was stupid enough to declare all of his property! But now they have Nayak’s passport. Which clearly shows that Mr. Nayak has never been out of the country. So what does that make the ACB other than a bunch of liars?

Now, the ACB wants to question all the donors to the building trust of the Yennehole school. Is it because they sincerely want to find out the truth or is it because they are maddeningly jealous of a junior officer who is beloved in his native place because he helped to build their school? Mr. Vikas Gaikwad has further gone on to question the validity of the reports filed by 3 senior IPS officers namely Addl. CPs Bhujangrao Mohite, Uddhav Kamble and Bishnoi in the matter of Nayak’s involvement in the finances of the Yennehole school; all three gave him a clean chit. Gaikwad is trying to brush off the reports as "superficial". He even wants the ACB to conduct a probe against these officers...

None of these allegations - fake certificates, petrol pump scams, cricket betting or Swiss flats - are going to stand in court. Because they do not exist, therefore there is no proof. But until the case does come up for hearing in court, the ACB can hold a gun to Nayak’s head when he is under their custody in jail. They can harass him all they like. Just like they have been harassing P. Manivellan until now. The poor man still hasn’t gotten bail, which means that he’s been in custody since a month now. It’s like he’s Abu Salem and his being at large is such a threat to society that he needs to be kept in jail!

Whatever the ACB is out for, its certainly not to find the truth. Not even an altered version of the truth. What they want to do is to finish Daya Nayak; in name, in spirit and maybe even in body. That’s why they want to arrest him so badly. That’s why they have been making such a hue and cry over a measly case. That’s why they are launching a manhunt of four squads, something’s that done exclusively for hardened and dangerous criminals. And because it makes interesting news, the media goes around following every slimy word they utter.

If you face a strong man in a fight and you know you’d never get the better of him by fair means; then you wish him to be handcuffed and tied down because that alone can make it possible for you to kick his face in. It gives you a feeling of power over that man’s life, a power you’d never have had if he stood before you unbound. What sort of men would want that? Plenty, I’m guessing. And Mr. Vikas Gaikwad along with the rest of his ACB team are just those kind of men.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Daya Nayak - Encounter killings & Ethical Chaos

A lot of recent comments have challenged the rationale behind encounter killings. First things first, this blog is not here to defend encounter killings or glorify encounter specialists; it's main purpose is to showcase the other side of the Daya Nayak story. Since encounters were such an integral part of this man’s career, let's take a look at them...

To understand the origin of these encounters, one needs to look at the crime scene in Mumbai over the past 25 years. By crime scene, I'm talking of the organised crime perpetrated by the mafia, not the isolated petty crimes that have vastly increased in number by now.

The first encounters in Mumbai date back to the early eighties [1980+] in the days when Karim Lala was the king of dons. Crime had reached unprecedented levels in those days, unprecedented for that time of course. Occasional encounters were targeted at bringing him down. His reign was at a seeming end when he refused to trade in dope, but Dawood Ibrahim from the same locale of Mohd. Ali Road was the new blood in their industry. He took on Karim Lala's mantle, very successfully too, and by 1990 his net was widely established. Hafta wasooli, mandwali all went on as before...they just had a new overseer. Then... Ayodhya happened. Anyone who lived in Bombay then can never forget what followed. The Hindu-Muslim factions went berserk; the riots were even given fuel by fundamentalist leaders looking at political gain. And then Mumbai shook, with the deafening bomb blasts [1993] that tore the city’s financial heart, Nariman Point...

The Mumbai Police came out in a pretty bad light after all this. Not only had they failed to stop the rioters, their intelligence systems had failed to prevent the blasts. Cases against the blast accused are still pending in our courts of law. To top it all, the mastermind - Dawood Ibrahim, disappeared from India soon after. He’s never been caught till date. Post-riots scenario: Dawood was out of the country; his businesses were in the hands of his now-warring aides, Chhota Rajan and Chhota Shakeel. In the next couple of years, these two strengthened their hold on Mumbai. Their gangs became larger, they acquired more powerful foreign-made weapons and the reign of terror went on spreading...To add to the mayhem you had other dons – Abu Salem, Ashwin Naik, Arun Gawli and some smaller operators.

Extortion killings became the norm in 1994 – 1997. The newspapers would have some builder’s murder splayed on the first page to go with the morning tea, most days of the week...

The extent of the mafia’s hold on the city was laid bare when on 12th August 1997, music baron Gulshan Kumar was shot dead in broad daylight by Abu Salem’s men, allegedly a contract killing due to business rivalry between TIPS owner Ramesh Taurani and Gulshan Kumar’s T-series. The case is still in our courts. The uproar that followed this killing of a very prominent businessman reached even the insides of the usually placid Rajya Sabha. Just before this murder, producer Rajiv Rai had received extortion calls and had been threatened by the mafia. He was attacked but got away with his life thanks to the timely intervention of the security given to him following his police complaint. Producer-director Subhash Ghai had also been attacked in April of the same year by Salem's men.

The Sena-BJP combine was in power in the period when the Mumbai police force was thus fast falling from grace. This extreme situation of crime that was now widely prevalent called for extreme measures, to quote a former joint CP of Mumbai. These measures were born as encounter killings... A special squad of the crime branch was given the responsibility of finishing the various gangs in the city; orders that came from the home ministry, which was then in the hands of Gopinath Munde of the BJP. By 1997, Maharashtra was a hub for crime and lawlessness [See In Lawless Maharashtra - P.Sainath]. But by now, the crime branch's network of informers had grown enough. The squad knew enough to do the job they had been given... and gradually they became the much feared encounter specialists. They were Pradeep Sawant, Praful Bhosle, Pradeep Sharma, Hemant Desai, Prakash Bhandari, Ashok Borkar, Vijay Salaskar, Arun Borude and Daya Nayak.

Were these men right in gunning down almost 600 men in a span of 6 years? As for right and wrong...whose ideas of right and wrong should we consider? Let's not forget the most important thing here – they were only following their superiors' orders. If blame is to be placed on anyone, place it on our erstwhile elected lawmakers and appointed officials, who gave these men the authority and the resources - more effective, modern weapons and money both; to act in a fashion that most consider inhuman. These policemen were doing their job. They were putting their lives at risk, their families at risk and making Mumbai a safer place. These are not my words; these are the words of former Joint CP of Mumbai, D. Shivanandan.

Now for some facts, regarding the legal issues involved in encounters among other things.

· In India, it is illegal for a policeman to fire his weapon before the criminal does; in sharp contrast to USA, where police officers can draw and fire in any crime scene.

· Every trap laid for a criminal which may possibly turn into an encounter requires the permission of a District Magistrate.

· If an encounter does take place, the involved policemen have to depose before a magistrate in a thorough enquiry. Every shot they have fired has to be justified. If it cannot be accounted for, it may lead to a memo or other more severe punishments.

· Daya Nayak has never been given a memo in his 10 years of service in the police force.

· None of Nayak’s encounters, in which he has shot down 84 criminals, has ever been considered unjustified in these magisterial enquiries.

· None of Nayak's encounters have come under the media scanner; for example - like the infamous encounter of Mumbai-based Ishrat Jahan alongwith 3 others in Gujarat [2002] did.

In 1998, people were afraid of having lavish marriages in Mumbai, for fear of catching the eye of the mafia. Now, that sort of thing is ancient history. Hardly anyone remembers those days, certainly not those who were never affected by the mafia's murders. In 2000, an attempt was made on Rakesh Roshan's life, just following the tremendous success of his directorial debut, Kaho Na Pyar Hai. But these incidents were slowly becoming infrequent. By 2002, Mumbai was back on its track. 1997 to 2002... 6 long years... and 600 encounter deaths. Now, extortion calls are rare, extortion killings even rarer. As we proudly say, we're not Bihar! But let's not forget that this city was dangerously close to being as lawless as Patna. The grim reality of living in daily fear for their life, faced by countless businessmen across the city in the hey day of the mafia, has now given way to a much more peaceful existence. Though the means may have been brutal encounters, it cannot be denied that Mumbai is a far safer place today.

How many of us have actually spoken to an encounter specialist? How do we know that they don’t suffer from guilt over all the men they’ve killed? How do we know that these deaths don’t haunt their nightmares? How can we pronounce these men as killers, playing games of mistaken identity to rack up their totals as someone put it? Daya Nayak did not choose to become a killer. He only joined the police force. If a senior officer saw his potential skills and chose to recruit him into the crime branch, does it become Nayak’s fault? If in the course of his job, he had to follow orders, was it his fault? The same goes for all our encounter specialists!

Any kind of killing, may it be in encounters or in a war; deserves to be condemned. The day a society condones the murder of a human being, that day will mark the beginning of a slow but sure disintegration of that society. History shows us that a peaceful rule enabled civilizations to survive while violence against innocence led to their downfall. Rome burned, not when Caesar’s armies vanquished its enemies, but when Nero’s gladiators killed in its arenas for sport...

We know that power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Logic dictates that not all of these encounters were uncompromisingly real; some cases must have been of mistaken identity, some may have been with intent to deliberate murder. Questioning the logic behind encounters is completely within reason; but accusing our police of outright wanton killings is as unfair as a mistaken encounter. An ethical dilemma such as this certainly cannot be solved by sending all the encounter specialists to a literal guillotine.

Our Constitution is rather old... This land, this nation has undergone tremendous changes in these 58 years. Sadly, our laws have not changed at the same pace. Countless amendments to existing laws over the years have given rise to many more loopholes so that even if hardened criminals are ever captured, all they need for escape is a clever lawyer. Not forgetting of course, corrupt officials who get bribed to relegate cases into oblivion, witnesses who get threatened and turn hostile, witnesses who end up mysteriously dead, prosecutors who go easy for a few favors, policemen who don't file chargesheets...the ways and means for a criminal to get out of the path of justice is not very difficult. Granted, it is wrong to kill people without letting law make an attempt towards justice. But is the answer to let really dangerous criminals go scot-free?

When faced with a choice between two evils, it is in man's best interest to always choose the lesser evil. It's survival instinct. It is an ugly choice, but a necessary one. Our governments had to choose between useful, important and innocent people getting murdered – builders, businessmen, restaurateurs, producers, directors... and on the other hand were encounter killings. Is it surprising that they chose to protect the better part of our society by unleashing destruction against the mafia?

Sunday, February 12, 2006

More Strong-arm Tactics - Ohh Mr. Thomas, I'm Sooooo Scared!

The ToI carried another piece about this blog yesterday, a tiny piece on page 7 - saying how I've cleaned up my blog of all the "derogatory" comments and patted themselves on the back for scaring me.

For one, Mr. Thomas, I happen to know the laws of my country. Just by quoting senior and respected lawyers [who have most likely not even read my blog] to scream "contempt of court", you cannot make me run for cover.

As for my clean up operation, as long as there are people like you - who are more than ready to hang anyone for no fault of theirs and malign anyone who goes against your institution, I wouldn't be surprised if someone dragged me in on trumped up charges. I have no illusions; it pays to be careful in this land and that is just what I'm doing.

Yet again, you have missed the point. I did launch a scathing attack on the media. I did accuse our police of corruption. And I definitely challenged the allegiance of Ketan Tirodkar alongwith laying out his real antecedents. But I did not attack the judiciary, you only chose to highlight that bit because it made good news in your eyes. My intention was never to insult anyone; it was only to point out the other side of the Daya Nayak story, a job that should have been done by the media, but which it failed to do.

It's a sad day when justifying a blog becomes necessary because of biased morons of the media. Doesn't say too much for freedom of speech, does it?

Why doesn't Mr. Thomas try to do a real story for a change? Like investigating how many Disproportionate Properties and Assets cases are lying with the ACB? And since how long they've been lying there, unacted upon? The amounts involved in some of these DP cases make 41 lacs seem like a paltry sum indeed. And those 41 lacs are still only on paper, without any hard evidence... Or how about compiling a story of all the people chargesheeted by the ACB alongwith the outcomes of the cases? Perhaps no one wants to do these kind of stories because they involve real work; they require research - perhaps using the Right to Information Act and things like that are far too difficult for the likes of Mr. Shibu Thomas and his ilk.

How come no one's reporting about how the ACB's case against Nayak is beginning to fall apart? Rajendra Padte's flat in Silver Mists, Andheri has been proven in court to be paid by him by a bank loan, which was further paid off by monthly installments, like any regular middle-class man would do. In case Mr. Thomas noticed, this blog has reported that fact much before it was proved; and it was just as true then as it is now, which can hardly be said for any of the media reports. And what about Nayak's alleged multiple benami properties, of which not a trace has been found by the ACB? Can't the media figure that this may be because those properties never existed? As for the Swiss flat and the Dubai hotel...maybe Nayak's money is stashed away there, next thing you know an ACB official will be flying down to these countries at the government's, er...investigate.

Why hasn't anyone from the media questioned the continuing custody of P.Manivellan inspite of the ACB having said in court they no longer need him for interrogation? And now Manivellan's flat in Hiranandani, Powai [claimed by ACB to be Nayak's flat earlier] is found to be just a leased flat! How come no investigative journalist discovered that before it was proved in court?

Dear Mr. Thomas, I sincerely believe that you'd be better off concentrating your energies in more meaningful pursuits...and until you do, my censure of the media will continue...

Friday, February 10, 2006

Spotlight...Infamy in the Times!

Today, the Times of India has carried a piece about this blog, accusing me of attacking the judiciary.

Just to put the record straight, it was never my intention to dishonor the judiciary. If I hadn't had faith in the laws of this country, I'd never have embarked on this blog. I would have accepted that nothing can be done about injustice, bowed my head in shame and forgotten about it. But I believe in our system, to a certain degree anyway; however flawed it may be. And I believe in freedom of speech. I also believe in the integrity of judges like Justice Sujata Manohar, Justice Chandrashekhar Dharmadhikari, Justice Lentin, Justice Bhagwati, Justice name a few...who have left us a precious legacy of truth without fear. I have not accused the court of giving orders for money; and to accuse me of contempt of court, well, that's what I've come to expect from the Times.

In a way, I have to thank Mr. Shibu Thomas for all the publicity. I wonder if he even knows about the judges I've mentioned above...and if he knows what they stand for. Of course, he too is a man doing his job. But I see this as just another example of an ill-informed journalist of the great and illustrious Times of India trying to sensationalize something rather than reporting it and wasting newsprint on figments of imagination. Shameful, really...

Thursday, February 02, 2006

The Daya Nayak story - Ketan Tirodkar, Cops and the Underworld

Even as I write this, I am aware that today, in all probability, suspended sub-inspector of the Mumbai police, Daya Nayak, will be arrested under a non-bailable warrant, as soon as his anticipatory bail is rejected by the sessions court; and he will be made to languish in jail, while the real criminal, Ketan Tirodkar roams outside scot-free.

So who is this Ketan Tirodkar that the media has been quoting unedited? Following are facts - real, verified, researched and as far as I could resist, devoid of my commentary.

Tirodkar is a small-time ex-journalist with a dubious past, who worked with the Afternoon Courier in 1997-98. The Courier was never anywhere near the big players; it was soon swallowed by the Midday, but Tirodkar had ceased to be a journalist long before that. 1998 saw him in Dubai, hobnobbing with the likes of Chhota Shakeel. How did he, a lowly ex-scribe staying in the far-flung suburb of Dombivli, gather the funds to get to and stay in Dubai? No one knows, no one’s questioned it and what’s more, no one cares anymore. All that matters is the fact that his quotes make juicy news. Even back then, Tirodkar’s big stories and bragging helped him to catch the attention of the big fish in Dubai – the dons; just like he has now caught the attention of our media. The boasts of being an eminent and influential journalist were responsible for his continued khatirdari by Shakeel. Around this time, Daya Nayak and the rest of the encounter specialists were wreaking havoc on the mafia scene in Mumbai. Every don’s hitmen, those who were the most important cogs of their system were getting killed. Was it possible that the dons would do nothing? They didn’t sit there twiddling their thumbs anyway. Suparis were given; the aim was to finish the encounter specialists. In reputation, spirit or body – they were to be destroyed.

Ketan Tirodkar received the supari in Daya Nayak’s name. He was to put all his influence to work in order to reach that end. And he had hefty funds to accomplish his aim. So, in 1999, he came back to Mumbai. Once here, he lost no time in befriending Daya Nayak through tales of knowing Shakeel on an intimate basis. Nayak in turn told his department head, Pradeep Sawant, who gave him the go-ahead to cultivate a relationship with Tirodkar, as a potential informer and underworld mole. The two started meeting up and slowly became friends, giving Tirodkar ample opportunity to find out how Nayak lived, who his friends were and other such information which would later turn vital in his destruction.

In 2001, Tirodkar made his first move by filing a case against Nayak in the Central Vigilance Committee [CVC] which led to an enquiry into the finances of the Radha Nayak High School which Daya Nayak had helped to build in his village Yennehole, Karnataka. As directed, Addl. CP Bhujangrao S. Mohite filed his report, giving a clean chit to Nayak. Mohite also mentioned that this was a conspiracy against Nayak to defame him. Nayak was found to have personally contributed Rs. 10,001 to the school fund, the rest of the money coming from hundreds of Udupi restaurants in Mumbai, small time canteens in Karnataka, the villagers and some of Nayak's friends from Bollywood. This was followed by two more independent enquiries; carried out by Addl CP Bishnoi and Addl CP Uddhav Kambale. Nayak came out clean again. M.N. Singh, CP at that time, accepted the reports. Now, of course, he says he was "not satisfied" with either report, although he said nothing of the sort earlier.

In Nov 2003, Tirodkar made a confession in front of Justice Bhangale in the MCOCA court with ACP Shankar Kamble present and filed a private complaint against Nayak, alleging him of being in a nexus with Chhota Shakeel, and receiving Rs. 2 crores from Shakeel to shunt out officers most hostile to the mafia. By invoking the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act [MCOCA] against Daya Nayak, he became the first private complainant under this Act. He named Fahim Machmach [a Shakeel aide currently believed to be in Dubai] and builder R.C. Agarwal in the complaint for abetting Nayak. He also accused Nayak of financing the film "Kagaar" which was largely based on Nayak’s life. Incidentally, the movie all though well made, hardly enjoyed any success. The complaint was promptly followed by raids on Nayak’s house and on the house of Ms. Mrinalini Patil, [the producer of the movie] on Justice Bhangale’s orders. Nothing was found in either of these raids. The presence of Tirodkar at these raids, as directed by the court, was additionally humiliating for Nayak. ACP Shankar Kamble was given unprecedented sweeping powers for conducting the enquiry against Nayak.

In Dec 2003, Daya Nayak moved the High court, challenging the authority of the MCOCA court in this case. Justice Marlapalle quashed the petition, upholding the MCOCA court’s authority to do whatever it had done; which was – entertaining a private complaint and ordering raids without the sanction of a competent authority. In this case, a competent authority would have been any IPS officer.

In December 2005, the decision to allow private complaints in the MCOCA court was debated by a Mumbai High Court bench comprising of Justice Dilip Bhosle, Justice Vijaya Tahilramani and senior Judge Palshikar. Justices Bhosle and Tahilramani upheld Judge Marlapalle's ruling, but Justice Palshikar opposed it, thus becoming a divided bench. Last month, January 2006, the Supreme Court of India stayed the majority judgment and upheld Honorable Justice Palshikar's judgment. Private complaints can no longer be tried by the MCOCA by the ruling of the Supreme Court.

In the months that came, CP A.N. Roy cleared Daya Nayak from any involvement with the underworld on the basis of ACP Dilip Sawant's report. However, this report found Tirodkar, Fahim Machmach and R.C. Agarwal guilty. On the basis of the report, Tirodkar was arrested in July 2004. A mere 2 weeks later, he applied for bail in the MCOCA court in front of Justice Bhangale. The bail was granted. Builder R.C. Agarwal was arrested in August 2004 and was also granted bail by the same court.

A word here about the MCOCA seems appropriate. Widely recognized as a draconian law, even more so than the infamous TADA; many called for the law to be scrapped within a year of its inception in 2001, including the Human Rights Commission and the media. As per the MCOCA, granting bail to a criminal accused under it is virtually declaring the criminal’s innocence. Special public prosecutor Ujwal Nikam, who has handled several MCOCA cases once said, "No judge in his right mind will grant bail on such conditions since it will indirectly be acquittal before trial." The MCOCA court has earlier granted bail to BMC officer Narendra Rajbhar, who was allegedly involved in the Sara-Sahara shopping complexes controversy; the malls built by underworld kingpin Dawood Ibrahim on PWD land in south Mumbai. The same special court acquitted film financier Bharat Shah of charges of money laundering for Chhota Shakeel and Dawood Ibrahim in the infamous "Chori Chori Chupke Chupke" case of 2000-2002 under the MCOCA. The MCOCA court allowed Dawood’s brother, Iqbal Kaskar [he was extradited from Dubai and arrested after his arrival in Mumbai in 2003] to vote in the elections of 2004. Kaskar later tried to contest the elections from the Mohd. Ali Road constituency but this attempt was stopped by the state government.

The Government of Maharashtra filed an application in the Mumbai High Court for the cancellation of Tirodkar’s bail in October 2004. Tirodkar’s father came to the court and cried in front of the judge and went on to plead for his son, who was supposedly suffering from acute depression just then. The matter was adjourned, with the court going on vacation the next day. The application for bail cancellation has never come up for hearing since.

In October 2005, ACP Dilip Sawant [who took over from ACP Shankar Kamble, the one Tirodkar originally confessed to, after he retired] submitted another report to the ACB exonerating Daya Nayak of any links with the underworld, but suspected him of having assets more than his known sources of income.

The rest, as we say, is history. The ACB seized the opportunity to drag Nayak down. Tirodkar filed another complaint, demanding police protection. In front of the MCOCA court, he re-iterated his charges of Daya Nayak taking money from the underworld and possessing disproportionate assets. Vikas Gaikwad of the ACB, [rumoured to be a Shakeel man himself] heading the investigation against Nayak, gave interviews and spoke about Nayak owning a flat in Switzerland, a hotel with a swanky disco in Dubai, a fleet of luxury buses, multiple benami properties in Mumbai, Karanataka, Goa... Pradnya Sarwade, another ACB officer involved in the investigation has left no stone unturned in making up stories about Nayak. The credit of Mr. P. Manivellan being in jail for absolutely no reason goes to that woman. Manivellan, who is accused of money laundering for Nayak has been in custody since 20th January, for no purpose other than harassment. Sarwade even wanted to accuse Nayak and Manivellan of murdering Manivellan’s elder brother [who is alive and well, but is an NRI] in order to seize his company as a front for Nayak.

Without proof and without investigation, the media has been printing this garbage. The Mumbai Mirror took the first step; it broke the story and quoted Tirodkar word for word. Mr. Ghatge of the ACB was responsible for handing over the falsified story to the Mirror, alongwith the ACB's confidential documents. Since then, no journalist has looked back or stopped to think about how they are helping the underworld to triumph; and destroying a good man. All the newspapers have carried extensive stories – not one quotes Nayak anywhere. All of them have their sources, or they have Ketan Tirodkar’s words or they have the earlier material printed by them, which is of course the same crap all over again. One imbecile journalist, Smruti Koppikar by name, wrote in the Outlook about how Nayak comes in the same category as Sunil More, the cop who raped a minor at Marine Drive, both maligning the image of the police force. A psychologist Vinod Parekh, speaking at a seminar to boost the morale of the police said, "Not all of you are Daya Nayaks or Sunil Mores..." How dare they compare the two? What do they mean by this? I’ve said this before and I’ll say this again - this man, Daya Nayak, was a man who did his job really well. He was once rewarded for his ability. And now, for envy, jealousy, bribes, money or whatever reasons, he is being victimized. Pretty badly too.

Higher police officers are falling over themselves in a race to defame Daya Nayak. Each talk about how corrupt men like him tarnish the image of the police force, and how people like him need to be weeded out. DGP Pasrischa, A.N. Roy, Arup Patnaik, Julio Ribeiro, Javed Ahmed...the list is not endless, but it is too long. Are these officers incorruptably clean? What man on the street is going to believe that? Corruption does not necessarily mean the give and take of money, it can also be moral corruption, wherein you forget your basic values of morality and act against them...

What unites these men, usually at each others’ throats – the media, the police, the ACB? To me, the common thread seems to be money. Largesse scattered by Tirodkar...coming from Shakeel himself...or perhaps favors owed to the kingpins of the underworld...or perhaps plain malice...or perhaps just purebred sadism.

Whatever their reasons, they've achieved their aim; they have almost destroyed Daya Nayak. And most of the better police officers as well. I say almost, because drowning men clutch even at straws and I cannot yet believe that such terrible injustice can go unchecked...and though I may have lost my faith, I have not yet given up on hope.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Daya Nayak and Un-investigative Journalism

No news may not be good news, but irresponsible news is far far worse.

Today, all of Mumbai is talking about Daya Nayak. The credit, of course, goes to our overly creative media. When there is no news, let us manufacture news. Let us talk about a flat in Switzerland, a fleet of luxury buses, an absconding cop, a non-bailable warrant and a manhunt alongwith the Karnataka police. Let us talk fiction.

The first to break the Daya Nayak story was the Mumbai Mirror. This was very interesting, because so far the Mirror has confined itself to front page news about a woman’s hair getting burnt when she went for straightening it and how the vamp in the new Kxxx serial hates the actress who plays the mother in the older Kxxx serials [for the uninitiated, these are the Ekta Kapoor serials on primetime t.v.] And suddenly, here we had a tabloid trying to carry off investigative journalism about a very serious story. But unverified "sources" do not news make. To anyone who gave a thought to the 4 crore net worth story, it stank of a smear job. Which led me to wonder, how much money was paid and by whom, to carry that story?

It did not stop here. The next day, a lot of people wrote in to the Mirror and got published [because public sentiment must be honored] about how Daya Nayak is an evil criminal and how he should be punished severely to deter other corrupt people. The Mirror carried the next installment of their smear campaign alongwith the readers’ opinions. Really, you expect a 17 year old to understand what the MCOCA is? You print a businessman’s opinion on how corruption and bribery should be punished? Yeah sure... Then the ACB raided Nayak, and the Mirror patted itself on the back about how it was responsible for opening the eyes of the ACB. But suddenly, the net worth of Mr. Daya Nayak had gone down from the 4 crores that it earlier was to 41 lacs, out of which 36 lacs was in his wife’s name. Sure she’s a housewife, so she can’t possibly make any money, right? But what if she brought in a dowry and bought two companies with it and made them grow? What if she’s intelligent and capable of handling finances? Oh, but she’s a woman! She can’t possibly do all that! And all though one of those companies stopped working, about 3 years ago, it still kept making money for these criminal masterminds!

The parent Times of India had been silent so far, other than a tiny piece about ongoing enquiries in the Ketan Tirodkar vs Daya Nayak case. After the ACB raids, its head honchos thought, the Mirror’s been doing front page after front page on Daya Nayak, and everyone’s talking...we shouldn’t be missing out! And because they had nothing substantial to report, because nothing substantial had been found – they made up the Swiss flat + Dubai hotel story. It was the most shameful kind of journalistic hooliganism, even more so because it was the Times! Of course, it could have just been another journalist on the ToI who like on the Mirror sold out to Tirodkar or Shakeel, same difference...

The other newspapers were just as bad. The Midday’s reliable "sources" [God, how I hate this word!] divulged Nayak’s total wealth as over 100 crores. The Hindustan Times was largely non-commital but wasted a lot of newsprint on the "absconding" cop. The Indian Express talked about the now old matters of the luxury buses and the 3 flats in Mumbai. Only DNA [that’s Daily Analysis and News, the newest kid on the block] was surprisingly reserved in its comments and mostly stuck to facts, rather than imaginary sources.

Nobody, absolutely nobody bothered to remember the number of times that Nayak put his life on the line, for the system. Nobody talked about the Lashkar E Toiba militants that he gunned down; who would have certainly wreaked havoc in Mumbai had it not been for this man. [See The Real Nayak] No journalist had the guts to suggest that this could be a conspiracy to screw over Daya Nayak’s life. No journalist wrote about just how many people and what kind of people want Daya Nayak dead, destroyed or at least, in jail. No journalist bothered to bring out Ketan Tirodkar’s criminal antecedents before quoting him in their articles. They keep referring to him as a former journalist, as if that magic word absolves him of all guilt, when in fact, he only worked with a small time afternoon daily for less than a year. NDTV [formerly our best news channel, but changed preference from news to sensationalism in the last 6 months] carried interviews with Tirodkar and aired them repeatedly, without editing the rubbish that he spoke. If you can edit Rahul Gandhi’s speeches, can’t you edit a criminal’s? Instead of condemning the known criminal, you glorify his sleaze, put him on the front page and let him drag an innocent [until proven guilty, sure] man through slime down to his own low levels?

The media - and we who follow and believe unquestioningly its various channels – do not realize that a man’s life has been completely ruined by this uncalled for spotlight. From now onwards, Daya Nayak has ceased to be the man who shot down 84 hardcore gangsters and saved hundreds of lives, instead he will forever be remembered by the collective conscious as the cop who ran and hid, when in fact he has done nothing of the sort.

Certain others in this case that the media has reported about - without verifying facts or background checks:

 Raju Padte, close college friend of Nayak. Accused of having illegal cash dealings with Nayak and staying in Nayak’s Andheri flat. Detained by ACB for a day for questioning. The truth: Padte runs a cable network. Owns a fast food stall outside Andheri station. Has bought the flat in Silver Mists, Andheri himself through bank loans and has paid it off gradually. No illegal financial dealings.

 P. Manivellan, friend of Nayak from Coimbatore. Accused of illegal cash dealings and association of his company Deve Paints by lieu of Nayak’s wife being on board of directors of Deve Paints. Currently in police custody by ACB for "questioning" [read harassment]. Tirodkar’s allegation – Manivellan is a front for Daya Nayak for money laundering, and was a poor nobody before coming in contact with Nayak. The Truth: Deve Paints, formerly Garware Paints has been in Manivellan’s family since 15 years. P. Manivellan is a well-off interior designer by profession originally from Coimbatore and in Mumbai since 2001. Has been trying to salvage the company Deve Paints that was earlier managed by his brother and pay off its dues to workers and creditors after it declared bankruptcy 6 years ago. Had leased a flat in Hiranandani, Powai in the duration of his stay which was searched and sealed by ACB prior to his being taken into police custody. Nothing was found. He’s just a man caught in the crossfire.

In a time where fiction can be easily made to seem like fact; and facts can be concealed or forgotten, it becomes increasingly important for the media to remain responsible for what they showcase. Our media, both print and electronic have forgotten the importance of establishing the truth despite any excuses for manipulation; which is the basic tenet of journalism.

Even if a certain section of the media has sold itself to malevolent forces that seek to destroy Daya Nayak, and though it is a shame that an old and esteemed newspaper like ToI has dishonored its reputation by stooping to yellow sensationalist journalism; I continue to hope that the rest of the media will turn away from the unethical and irresponsible attitude seen today and will at least, attempt to establish a cleaner version of the truth in an unbiased manner.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Is Daya Nayak really a criminal?

The recent press coverage given to the so-called "crimes" of discredited encounter specialist Daya Nayak has made me rather lose my pride as being part of the great Indian system. This – is my retaliation to what I see as injustice.

Who is this Daya Nayak? Rising from a 9yr old chaiwalla to feared supercop - no easy task, even in the city of dreams. From working odd jobs, to being the guy who shot 84 blood-thirsty criminals and then on to being the man who everyone looks upon as a criminal...

The newspapers are busy holding his trial, before the court has had any say. Shall we also consider his various crimes then?

In 2003, a small time guy called Ketan Tirodkar, who had earlier worked briefly with the Afternoon Courier, filed a case against Daya Nayak in the stringent MCOCA court. He said Nayak was a part of a conspiracy to shunt out top police officials who were hostile to the cause of the underworld and that he had taken money from the don Chhota Shakeel to facilitate the same. Tirodkar was part of this supposed deal and guilt had driven him to confession. Tirodkar is a known Shakeel man. He has been arrested and is currently out on bail. Because of the numerous cases that this criminal filed, raids have been carried out at Daya Nayak’s home. Not once, but many times, though the ACB never found anything.

Since the last 2 weeks the sleazeball tabloid Mumbai Mirror has been printing stories about Nayak’s disproportionate assets. His net worth is now 100 crore[from the earlier rather modest 4 crore], he owns a hotel in Dubai, has a place in Switzerland and keeps going out of the country all the time – to Canada and America and God knows where else. He owns many properties in India. He owns a fleet of luxury buses in Karnataka. He owns dozens of companies. His wife is the director of several of these. Inspite of being super rich he continued to work a job that paid him a measly 12000 a month and continued to stay in a tiny flat. And with all his extra money he built a school in his home-town, probably because he ran out of ways to spend his extra cash... I didn’t know what was more shocking, the Mirror’s allegations or the fact that the Mirror’s readers responded with things like he should be publicly punished and put to death for his crimes.

Can we please have real news? Can we have some hard facts, maybe a reaction from the man involved? No, the media says we may not, because we’re all imbeciles and don’t understand the delicate balance of the sources and the media. A balance preserved by exchange of hard cash, at least in the case of the great and illustrious Times of India who have been known to print for pay. So, what’s the real story?

Daya Nayak shot down 84 gangsters and arrested over 300 in his years with the police force. He was a man doing his job, for which he was highly praised, given monetary rewards and many awards. He became famous. The men he killed were from all factions of the Mumbai mafia – Dawood’s men, Chhota Rajan’s men, Chhota Shakeel’s men, Ashwin Naik’s men, Arun Gawli’s men – there was no don who didn’t take losses. And he wasn’t alone.
Other encounter specialists, like Pradeep Sawant, Vijay Salaskar, Sachin Vaze and Pradeep Sharma were all equals in the encounters. But like one of our better newspapers pointed out, none of these remain in the crime branch with the exception of Pradeep Sharma. They’ve been transferred, given desk jobs, arrested or in Nayak’s case, are undergoing the process of being arrested. Why’s Pradeep Sharma still there? Is he a better police officer? Or were these others the betters, and got shunted out - paying the price of being better men? Or is Pradeep Sharma better than the others, at licking ass? Pradeep Sawant[former DCP] and R.S.Sharma[former CP] – both great officers when they were working - were gotten out of the way through the Telgi case. That surprised me too – people in power willing to believe a criminal’s word rather than the police officers who put him in jail. It is the same scenario all over again – Tirodkar’s word against Nayak’s.

Does it seem possible that a man like Chhota Shakeel, known for his vengeful attitude, would pay the man who shot and killed so many of his close associates? The same Shakeel who waged war with Chhota Rajan, onetime colleague and pal and killed so many of his men after the Mumbai blasts and riots in 1993? If he wanted to destroy the police force, he would first destroy the man he hated the most - that being Daya Nayak. Which is precisely what he is doing, using Tirodkar as a dummy front and alleging Nayak’s nexus with Shakeel. What kind of man believes this sort of cock and bull story unless he’s been paid to believe it?

The human mind is fickle. What we do not have, we crave; what we cannot have, we hate. The current crop of higher police officials who are now busy throwing stones at Daya Nayak once sang his praises. They promised to protect him from the underworld that posed a constant threat to his very life. And they did - they gave him armed guards, good vehicles and all the support he needed. But then, Daya Nayak got famous. He earned money for killing all those bad guys, and loads of it too. Of course, now the media has forgotten that many of the men that he shot had rewards on their heads to the tune of 5-10 lacs each. So this man was rich, famous and almost a celebrity. He soon became a celebrity, with 2 Hindi movies and 1 Kannada movie being made based on his life. He received the Karnataka Hriday Samrath Award, the highest award granted by the Karnataka Govt. How many policemen get this kind of fame? Isn’t it logical that Nayak’s success made these men see red, and they became insanely jealous of their junior, now a man perhaps too big for his boots... Pasricha, M.N. Singh, A.N.Roy, Dilip Sawant – none of these could avoid the green-eyed monster. The officers investigating Daya Nayak through the Anti Corruption Bureau are all Nayak’s contemporaries, and none of them have so much as been in a headline before being involved in the his case. They are neither rich nor famous. If they were looking for a chance to pull him down, this is it. If they were looking for fame, they’ve now hit paydirt. It seems as if the raids that they have been carrying out are only to harass the man and his family, rather than any attempt to find the truth.

There’s also Pradeep Sharma. How does he figure here? He was the one under whom Nayak trained and matured as a police officer. But now he has gone out of his way to attack Daya Nayak and his character. Have the two had a fall-out after the erstwhile pupil far outshone his mentor? Or is it something else?

Now to the media. The premier newspaper of India, ToI, has behaved in an utterly despicable manner. First, by allowing their tabloid to carry unverified stories about Nayak and then themselves making allegations that border on the ridiculous. It would be funny if it weren’t so terrible. We do not expect this of our newspapers. A flat in Switzerland? Really?? At least they could have said a bank account, that would have been a little more believable. A fleet of luxury buses operating within Mangalore, that coming from the Indian Express. Midday saying Daya Nayak’s worth 100 crores. Please, have some respect for the intelligence of your readers. Give us the usual rubbish that you pass off as news, but don’t give us slimy rotten rubbish, don’t venture into serious news when you have no idea what it’s about. The kind of stories the Mirror and Midday have carried; it made me think they are on Tirodkar’s payroll. He’s a criminal for god’s sake. Don’t glorify him. Daya Nayak is, or was, a good cop. He made Mumbai safe again. If you can’t come out in his support, don’t tear him down at least!

Once upon a time, he was the media’s golden boy. He made the bad guys disappear, he looked great and photographed well, he was nice to the journos – he was everyone’s favorite story. But show a man a hole, and he will finger it to make it bigger. That is what the media has been doing now. Glorifying Tirodkar, interviewing him constantly, letting him accuse whoever he wants, allowing him to drag anybody he pleases into his slime, not editing his rubbish – what has become of the days when we had real news? When reporters reported facts, not opinions? Especially of criminals?!

The Mirror said the ACB raided Nayak because of its reports. But the Mirror said he’s worth 4 crores. All the ACB found was evidence on paper worth 41 lacs. So where’s all his 4 crores now? How much is 4 crores? Maybe 2 small sea-facing flats in south Mumbai. It’s not a lot of money, it only seems to be so. Considering that the man shot 84 gangsters, each with rewards on their heads of upto 10 lacs, even if he shared his money with the other members of the team, he’s made at least 84 lacs through his reward money alone! This was years ago, and with the right investments, he could have been a millionaire many times over by now. Is investing wrong? Is making wealth wrong? If it is, why aren’t all the rich guys in India in jail today? If Nayak was really that rich, he wouldn’t be doing the thankless job of being a policeman even today. He wouldn’t be living in a tiny house. If he were greedy for money, he would have kept everything he got for himself, rather than building a government school in the tiny village that he was born in, because he doesn’t want the children there to walk like him to a school 2 hours away and then stop studying because it was only a primary school. But rather than praise the man, we suspected him of laundering ill-gotten money! How low can we stoop?

Dragging his wife into the story, dragging his friends in and accusing them of protecting him... isn’t that what friends are supposed to do? By raiding any man who is even remotely associated with Daya Nayak, what does the ACB wish to prove? That to know someone is a crime? That to be friends with a man, and go to the aid of that man in times of trouble is against the law? Is it now illegal to be good human beings?

Daya Nayak’s real crime is that he was good at his job. Worse still, he was far better than anyone else around him. Even worse, he was proud of it.

I am ashamed to be part of a system that rewards ability with punishment. I am ashamed of a system which has not protected Daya Nayak from the harassment of a criminal. I am ashamed of our police force who seek to harm its own and wish to arrest a good man on grounds of jealousy and envy. I am ashamed of our laws, which can allow this to happen, which are being abused to destroy this man who almost gave his life to uphold them, which have been misused to turn their enforcer into a disgraceful caricature. I am ashamed of our media, who call Daya Nayak an “on the run” absconder, when he’s nothing of the sort, and none of whom have come forward with a good word for him.

A young citizen of this nation, I feel nothing but guilt to be part of a people who glory in villainy and grind down true greatness to dust under their heels, only because they cannot equal it.

If he is a criminal, then justice will of course be done, but let him not be destroyed because no one has the courage to speak out in his support. If you believe in him, lets reach out in support, speak out and let others know of the truth. Let us at least give him a chance to speak, to show that he is not guilty of the crimes he has been accused of, before we sentence him to a figurative death in a trial by our minds.