A shrewd businessman he might have been and scamster par excellence, but S.K. Jain's dubious public dealings seemed to have taken their toll on his private life. Described by sources as a "chronic, and very heavy drinker", he suffers from a serious liver ailment for which he has been hospitalised in the past. "Some time around the time of his arrest (in March 1995), can't remember whether before or after, Surendra had a (nervous) breakdown and was admitted to Sama Nursing Home (in south Delhi) where he was given Calmpose injections and kept under sedation for a few days," recalls a relative.
The speculation in Jain family circles is that SK's game plan is to lie low in the Jangpura family home, with clandestine visits to the Bhilai Engineering Corporation office on Barakha-mba Road, and wait for the storm to pass. Speaking to Outlook on condition of anonymity, SK's close relatives put up a spirited defence for him and his brothers implicated in the scam.
They believe that in making payoffs to 115 politicians and bureaucrats, the Jains only did what is "essential" for every businessman. The Jains, they say, merely played by the unwritten rules of a "corrupt system", and played it well. Their only "fault" was that the tell-tale diaries were found in the 1991 raids and subsequently "leaked" to the press. Perhaps SK kept too high a profile for his own good and was unlucky to get caught—that, they rationalise, is the only difference.
However, when asked to comment on the Jains passing on huge amounts of hawala money which funded Kashmiri terrorists and the Bombay blasts, they turned cagey. Said one: "Look, I know nothing about their business dealings. All I can say with certainty is that each of the four brothers have been extremely good to their relatives, helped out those of them in need and rewarded their faithful servants well." Another expressed "pain" at what the Jains have "suffered" in the recent past.
Indeed, SK has been forced to give up his sprawling Mehrauli farmhouse and lead the life of a recluse in his 99-year-old father Joti Prasad Jain's ("Rai Saheb") home. Since then, Rai Saheb has become the rallying point for the family. Relatives say he has been "saddened" by what has come to light, though they are "quite sure that Rai Saheb would not have known how his sons went about doing their business."