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.