Trrrnnggg! The alarm set on cell phone began its duty. ” Arre! Gub! “with force enough to produce a slap, Sr. Inspector Vittal parab slammed the tiny button on the cell phone. Aaaww! A big yawn followed. He looked to his left. Guitar Santu is fast asleep. ” criminals have no tension” he said to himself, the same words uttered to him , 15 years ago by the then DCP of zone 4, Premanand Desai when he was just a new Asst. Sub Inspector of Police in the Mumbai police force.
‘He was perfectly right’ a smile escaped his face. He looked at the entrance; Head constable Waghmare was in his wildest dreams. ‘These old hats can never grow beyond the Santra’s and the Coffee desi liquor, fools’ he muttered to himself.
His eyes rested on an old wall clock. It was 4.14 am. He has to get the convict ready by 7 am. The police vehicle will arrive at 7.30 am. They will proceed to the High Court at Flora Fountain.
The sunvayee is at 10 am. Public Prosecutor Mr. Nitin Vajpaee has told him to be there at 9 am. He and the defense counsel have something to do outside the court. ‘What a playground?’ he started thinking aloud. Thoughts started flowing in his mind. Where was I yesterday?
Hmmm, Yeah, Me and ACP Joshi along with police informer Bartan Rafik, two of his accomplices and Suleman Badshah who is the real estate magnate in Bhendi Bazaar, Nagpada Dongri area were at the Banjara Bar bang opposite the JJ hospital.
Slowly yesterday’s situations started running in flashback mode in his mind. He was at the Palton road police station near Crawford market.
He was informed by his Agripada police station in charge Dongre saheb to go to Banjara Bar. He was chosen as one of the persons to guard Guitar Santu, the ace criminal who was recuperating in the hospital ward no 81.
‘I really hate this sh**t duty.’ Now, the hatred towards his duty started getting the better of him. He was at Palton road police station to meet relatives of some of the officials of SB2 (Special Branch II) to get his nephew’s passport renewal done and get new passports for his Brother and Bhabhi.
They were visiting Australia. His niece is already settled there. The reckless nephew got into a scrap in the building society with one of the members. So foolish of him! He is about to travel to Australia and the crazy nut got into a scrap over a trivial thing as a soft cricket ball hitting his car side mirror. Casualty none. Ego bruised , yes 100 per cent.
Today’s youth watch a lot of English movies, and get hooked onto the internet. That’s the reason so much hushyari, shor sharaba, show baji, yeh.. In our times we used to watch the late dada Kondke, Ashok Saraf, Hindi action movies which had good messages in the end.
” Arre, ye, Santu, chalo get up,..Yelled head Constable Waghmare, while being still in his sleep. Santra is still ruling his head’ laughed in his mind, Vittal.
‘Santu Bhai’, he knew how to respect the gangsters. ‘Today you will be sent to Arthur Road jail’ get up. Judge sahib has to see you at 10 am sharp. We have to be there at 9 am. Vakil Khalid Bhai has asked us to be in time. He can’t speak rudely. Still, he is getting the Smirnoff vodka hiccups and the lavish Punjabi food.
Suleman Bhadshah, upon orders from Bhais of Bahrain gave them excellent treat. There were orders from above to look after Guitar Santu in a proper manner.
Santu got up. His one hand was shackled to the bed’s head rest handle. Vittal asked Waghmare to lead Santu to the washroom. Gangsters have an excellent life style. He quipped without his knowledge.
He will live like a king once shifted to the Jail. Money comes from outside. They have their own friendly gang members inside. Not an iota of trouble for them, except trapped inside four walls.
‘What Santu? Are you ready? Vittal asked the gangster. ‘Ji, Sir, How was the party in Banjara? Woh mera top class bar hai? Santu was trying to joke with the police guys.
‘Shut up, you just concentrate on yourself, in five minutes we will go down to the parking zone..He opened the hand cuffs on his wrists and shooed him to the door. Another constable Dhonde who was at the lobby joined them. ‘Chalo, koi natak nahi mangta hai. Hushyari nahi.
Santu just smiled his wicked smile. Even If were to do some harakiri what these three old men are going to do. He thought to himself. The trio got into the elevator. Santu’swent into nostalgia?.
Golden Eagle Music Academy, Jeppu. This was Santu’s address for 3 years. Here he learnt to play Guitar, Piano. Learnt whatever it takes about music. In the third year became an instructor himself. He had a great fan following. The nuns at the convent at Jeppu were very happy to invite him for their choir preparatory sessions.
His mentor was sure this young chap will become a great musician. Santu had given a few auditions. His mentor had introduced to one Pappu of Cochin who was planning to cut an album.. Santu’s joy knew no bounds when he came to know that he will be singing one solo number along with being part of the music arrangement.
His first advance amount of Rs. 5,000 was a big gift for him. He gave to his mentor. Life was looking up for him till this sad day when he thought of celebrating with friends on the roadside.
Naveen, Chittha and prem chopra of Ballal bagh were the close friends along with Santu who were at the carom table every evening near the Ballal Bagh circle. They were the thickest of friends who were very close to each other. Only Santu was a bit shy and was very much involved in Music and he was seriously looking towards a career in music.
Every day at home they will be pulled up by their respective parents, elder brothers alike for not doing any constructive work. No productivity in them. Just hanging around at the Ballal Bagh circle and wasting time.
Chittha had a family wine shop business at Kadri, his father and elder brother were managing it. Chittha and the gang used to get some booze whichever ways it was possible. That was some consolation. Prem Chopra, his real name is Karunakar Shetty. He was thus named by friends, as he did not only resemble the great villain but also was talking like him. He had a country liquor shop, so he could make both ends meet. He was the guy who will bail out Chittha and Santu always from the various police lock ups in Mangalore.
The Aloysius College Arts graduates were in their own world as if they were some school drop outs.
Santu remembers the day. It was 1st May – Holiday for all. It was 7.13 pm. As usual, the four of them were sitting near the circle. They were sipping chilled Kingfisher strong beers just brought by Chittha’s worker.
They heard a loud sound. Three Enfield bullets came to a scratching halt. The riders were playing with the accelerators contributing to the sound pollutions! Amidst the roaring sound, and the dust which shot up, three stoutly built guys with swords and one with a Sabre rushed to the opposite of Santu and gang.
Before batting an eye lid, they swooped upon the guys who were in the white Maruti Swift . They pulled them out and started showering deadly blows on the three guys inside the car. One guy gave a swing on the wind shield of the car with his sword. The wind shield came down with crackling sound. The bracelet wearing guy who was at the wheels was the most struck. He was attacked on his for head, hands & abdomen.
The other guy in the green shirt tried to remove the pistol from the dash board. Within no second he was hit on his hand by the 2nd attacker. ‘Macha, I will teach you. Words came out of the green shirt guy. Macha pulled him out and gave him a strong kick on his stomach. The green shirt guy tasted dust. ‘Bloody swine’ uttered Macha. And, swoosh? came down his sword on the guy’s legs, hands and the last blow on his head. In avoiding the fracas, the green shirt guy’s fingers were also broken.
Meanwhile, the third guy was slapping the third victim.
As the third victim seemed to be a joker kind of personality, he was holding the attackers legs and asking for forgiveness…’pleasssse lemme, go, I am innocent.. I was with them by chance only today…Macha shouted at the third attacker.
Hey, idiot, attack him, this Pakku has given witness against us on two counts…the third attacker was a bit emotionally caught, as Pakku was holding both his legs and weeping inconsolably.. Macha now totally agitated, pushed the third attacker away.
‘Thud’ his powerful kick landed at the chest of Pakku. Pakku’s scream and the Macha’s sword coming down at his legs happened simultaneously!
Macha again attacked Pakku on his right hand. Blood came out like a spring…guys lets go, c’mon fast ?the three bike riders have reached there. The third attacker pulled Macha .’C,mon, are you going to cut him to pieces?
Macha sat on one bullet at the pillion rider’s position, other two attackers sat in the other two bullets..vrooommmm! The bikes left the venue. Santu, Chittha, and rest rushed to the venue. Within 3 minutes of this incident taking place, a sizeable crowd had gathered. The chanawalla was shouting ‘call ambulance.’…..!!
Chittha, Santu both were at the Wenlock hospital gate. They were about to get in, S I Poovaiah landed there with his policemen. S I Poovaiah stood at the entrance, all 6 feet and 3 inches of him.
He was looking around and surveying the road. Chittha and Santu hid behind the Eicher Pickup parked at the entrance. The duo had to give the Inspector a slip and visit the emergency ward to find out about the victims. There was no opportunity, they thought of returning back. The cause of this attack was not known.
By now, whole of Ballal Bagh & Lalbagh was abuzz with news that Gopu Shetty’s son and nephew were attacked at Ballalbagh circle. Gopu who was the Panambur Port trust union leader rushed from Panambur with a convoy of vehicles filled with his cronies. They started showing off in Lalbagh, Ballalbagh and Kodialbail etc. Seething with anger Gopu shetty all five feet three inches of him started shouting at the crowd.
‘This is a gang rivalry who are competing through two political parties’ quipped a guy on a scooter who had stopped his scooter for a quick screening of the proceedings!
Santu and Chitta were picked up by Gopu Shetty’s gang. They were thrashed beyond recognition and were forced to confess about the attack and give information about the attackers.
Once they came out of the captivation of Gopu Shetty and his thugs, SI Pooviah picked them up from their respective homes. They were put in police lock up for no fault of theirs and were mentally tortured into becoming witnesses.
Santu and Chitta were now hardened. Unnecessarily they were beaten up by Gopu Shetty’s Thugs. They both along with Prem Chopra gate crashed into a specially reserved cabin at Kwality Hotel and attacked Gopu Shetty, his nephew Rajesh, Attawar Dinesh and Robert who was Gopu’s bodyguard. This was the revenge for the assault. They were left in a pool of blood.
News report came that Gopu was serious. Robert and Rajesh died on the spot.
The trio fled. The newspapers, televisions carried this report.
Santu, Chitta and Prem chopra fled to Bhatkal. Gopu’s people started searching for the trio.
Thus, started the innocent Santu’s entry into the big bad world of Gangsters. As is the practice in Gangland, he was nick named ‘Guitar Santu’!!
Guitar Santu got Gopu’s son killed. His accomplices shot at Macha and his friend Ashok. The reason was simple. Macha, in his drunken stupor once said that he is responsible of Innocent Santu transforming into the dreaded Don Guitar Santu.
Guitar Santu was ruling from Bahrain now. He had joined the powerful Saleem Ali’s gang. He had a live in girlfriend. All the riches in the world. His relatives had got excellent jobs in Corporates, Government institutions in Bahrain.
He had many Hotels. The riches come with power, Santu realized now.
However, He had only two companions now, one being his Pistol and another one his guitar.
When Santu used to get drunk, he used to start strumming the guitar. Hearing the sounds, his accomplices around used to joke?.It seems Santu had one too many..today!!
But, when he went underground in Mumbai, unnecessarily he accepted the supari to kill Corporator Vinayak?!!
There were nobody daring enough to kill him at the Crawford market, He had to do the killing himself! What foolishness! And, He was caught?!!
Santu suddenly woke up from his slumber. Looked around, His hands were handcuffed.. He was sandwiched between two policemen. He looked outside. They were approaching Crawford market.
‘So, you did not get enough sleep in the hospital’ quipped Viittal. Santu gave a half smile just to respect the gentleman. Santu’s mind was going back in times to a situation where he was unwillingly, unknowingly caught in the underworld web. How innocent I was? He started questioning himself??
‘Santu Bhai, get down. The constable who opened the Police van door was repeating again and again. Santu looked around.
Is there any gang member, chamchas of Nandu’s Gang. Nandu and Saleem Ali are sworn enemies. At least on the last count, Santu had eliminated at least eight gangsters in and around Mumbai. He assured himself.
There is no danger.
He ignored the sound created by the government ornaments he was wearing. ‘Thud! A constable closed the door of the Police van.
He was led by ACP Vittal in the front and other two constables were at his left and right.
‘Guitar bhai, Hum tumhare saath hain’ he heard these slogans while coming out of the lift.
He looked around, spotted,’ Annu. Iqbal Malik, Rashid and Koila Nadeem all waving at him. He raised his hands and acknowledged their greetings. Waved his hands as some kind of assurance.
He copied the same method as any scam tainted politician, or hardened criminal uses while being led to the court or coming out of it. This time, he sounded like a pro.
‘Order, order’ the proceedings started. The public prosecutor was repeatedly asking the court for a death sentence. The defense counsel had earlier met Santu outside and had briefed him about what to say and what not to say.
Santu had become clever. He always gave these dead pan expressions to the Judge and Public Prosecutor alike. It was difficult to read his mind.
Arguments and counter arguments followed.
There were no other cases against Santu except the one where he and his accomplices Ramesh Safaliga and Dhadi Abdulla shot dead the congress corporator of Kalbadevi, Vinayak Kadam along with his two bodyguards right in front of the Police Commissioner’s office at Crawford market.
Near the Mutton and Beef shops, Vinayak was collecting his hafta from the vendors. The trio died at the spot. But the people around and the police were very alert. They chased Santu and the other two. Dhadi Abdulla opened fire, he was shot dead by the police. Ramesh Safaliga escaped in the commotion, Santu was caught by all.
Thus, Public Prosecutor had a water tight case; still, there was some glimmering hope.
Santu had been to many jails.
In Mangalore, Bhatkal, Goa, Yerwada, Bahrain and Mumbai. It’s nothing new. Only this time the conviction rate was high. There was high end media trial and people were alert.
Police and Judges have to work according to the alertness of the masses and media. Or else the media will start their trials!
“The witnesses have turned hostile. There is no concrete evidence that Santu is the killer of Vinayak and his two bodyguards. We are not satisfied by the prosecution theory and arguments put forward by the Public Prosecutor.
The court is ordering that Guitar Santu alias Santosh Balkrishna Devadiga be released with all honors. However, he has to visit the Palton road police station twice every week, the appeal can be done at a higher court by the concerned parties. Judge looked tense, but was composed.
With a happy smile on his face, Santu came out of the court. Defense counsel and his team were there to congratulate him.
As Santu started walking towards Suleiman Badhshah, who was busy on phone with Bhais of Bahrain?suddenly Koila Nadeem came in front of him.
He was stopped in his tracks, not by seeing Nadeem..But the Star pistol in his hands”
“Court se chutkara mil gaya bhai, now get ready to go up’ he started pumping bullets into Santu as he was speaking?.Vittal who was behind Santu suddenly fired three rounds from his Glock pistol.
Suleiman Badshah also fired from his revolver all the six rounds into Nadeem and the other two accomplices who came in the front but were untrained and unsuccessful in firing. Their bullets pierced the Court building pillars and the roof.
Santu and Koila Nadeem both fell to the ground simultaneously?with shrieks and screams? Among his two accomplices, one was caught by police; the second one consumed four bullets and died on the spot.
Commotion followed?Santu was breathing?was unconscious. He got hit on right side of the skull, left shoulder, stomach and right leg? the crowd all around were too shocked to react!!
“Please give up crime, I had pleaded with Santu’ his elder brother who is a government servant was crying inconsolably?
Vittal, Sulieman Badshah , Waghmare and eight new constables , ACP Anil Gore, Encounter specialist Prabhu Dayal were around. Whole lot of reporters were being shooed away by the police.
” Nadeem is dead on arrival?Santu will survive, but the bullet lodged in his right side of the brain may make him paralyzed?.”Doctor uttered fastidiously, who came along with his team.
Vittal and Waghmare looked at Santu’s brother.
He was now weeping loudly??.
Author: Donald DSilva- Mumbai