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Those who live by the sword are often said to die by it. Therefore, it was not surprising when Nayeemuddin, 45, was killed in a police encounter 50 km from Hyderabad. But, since then, both intriguing and chilling disclosures have tumbled out of the police headquarters regarding his life, leading to questions about his death.
Dubbed as Telangana’s “Gaddafi”, the Maoist-turned-gangster is said to have used women as bodyguards and children as human shields. A cross-dresser with three wives, 250 bank accounts in the name of people he knew and 300 gangsters on his payroll, to whom he paid approximately one crore rupees as salary, Nayeemuddin’s life reads like the script of a complex gangster film.
It is curious that the police claim to be blissfully unaware of Nayeemuddin’s movements until August 8, the day he was shot, when he was apparently operating from small-town Bhongir in Nalgonda district, barely 52 km from Hyderabad, all this while. Police sources claim the gangster, reportedly nurtured by politicians and the police alike, had started feeling emboldened enough to threaten realtors close to the ruling party, perhaps even close relatives of Telangana CM K. Chandrasekhar Rao. The police also claim to have rescued 17 girls between the ages of four and 18 from his dens. His close female associates, Farzana and Afsa, who also doubled up as cook and caretaker, are said to have admitted that Nayeem would exploit these girls sexually and then sell them to clients in Saudi Arabia, Dubai and other gulf countries, besides neighbouring states.
Farzana reportedly confessed to the police that when a 16-year-old girl refused to sleep with Nayeem, she was murdered. When one of the Greyhounds officers questioned the girls, he found they could speak Lambadi apart from Telugu and Hindi. It was later found that Nayeem would procure girls from poor Adivasi families, mostly from DevarkoNDA Mandal in Nalgonda, give them Muslim names and sell them to brokers.
Some of the minor girls were also trained to use weapons and would accompany Nayeem on trips to his guesthouse in Pondaborni and Church House, Goa. The Ranga Reddy Child Welfare Committee, which recorded the statements of some of these girls, said some of them could not recall their native places or the names of their parents since they were picked up at an early age of three to five. The exact whereabouts of the girls are unknown, though some police officials say they are in state homes and are being DNA-tested.
Magsaysay award-winner Sunitha Krishnan, who runs Prajwala, an NGO that rehabilitates survivors of trafficking, says none of the children have been sent to their homes. “Yes, we have often heard of the involvement of Nayeem’s gang in child trafficking,” says Sunitha. “I am assuming that because Nayeem had a huge following in Nalgonda, it would be easy for him to procure girls and children from poverty-stricken Lambada families and those of other communities.”
Police sources say it was not easy to nab the gangster and that it took meticulous planning and the use of new technology for over two months before they could track him down. “He never stayed for more than two days at any one place and would move around in disguise, with women and children in tow so that the police would not suspect anything,” says a source. “The KCR government, which had given top priority to policing and security in order to attract investments to the ‘start-up state’, decided not to take it lying down anymore.”
Among the recoveries made during the operations is a diary containing names of police officers and politicians on Nayeem’s payroll. The Congress is demanding the list be made public. Congress spokesperson Madhu Yaskhi Goud points out that Nayeem, who was also involved in the brutal murders of folk singer Beli Lalitha, civil rights activist Purushottam and Maoist-turned-TRS leader Sambashivudu, had flourished under political patronage.
“Nayeem’s role in extortions was always well-known but the KCR government felt it necessary to eliminate him only when he threatened realtor Jupally Rameshwar Rao and one of the CM’s relatives,” claims Goud. “It is revealing that the government did not act earlier when the common man was being terrorised by him.”
Nayeem is also a key witness in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh encounter killing case and his elimination is seen by some quarters as an attempt by KCR to prove his loyalty to powerful politicians in Delhi. “Why doesn’t the KCR government make Nayeem’s diary public?” asks Goud.
By Madhavi Tata in Hyderabad