LIFE hasn't been the same for Manoj Prabhakar after Vol. III, No. 24 of Outlook rolled off the presses. The nice part was that the media glare was back on the former all-rounder, asking him to name the teammate who had offered him Rs 25 lakh to 'sabotage' a match against Pakistan in 1994. And he seemed to enjoy it, quoting his price to spill the beans.
Things soured soon after. Peers and 'experts' began commenting snidely on the irony of an accused turning accuser. An advocate filed a suit against him. Telephone calls warning him to keep his gab shut started coming in at his home and on his mobile. Finally, an incident occurred that told him what a can of worms he had opened, who he was up against.
Prabhakar was returning home in his Maruti Esteem when he was flagged down near his house by two persons who seemed to be lost and hunting for an address. The cricketer rolled down his windows to help. Before he could see who they were, he says one of them pressed his face to the headrest of the seat, held a gun at his temple, and said:
"If you take the name, we will kill you." In his response to the BCCI's request asking him to name the culprit, Prabhakar wrote he had been "visited by a man who has threatened to kill me if I disclose more." But Justice Y.V. Chandrachud says he shouldn't worry about that. "I might give him adequate protection—like guarding his security," he told The Indian Express. Adds former chief justice E.S. Venkataramaiah: "Manoj has nothing to lose now. He has been 'like this' from the beginning of his career."
Prabhakar's got a guard now. But he's taking no chances. He has changed his car since it was a giveaway. He has got himself a new mobile number. He screens all calls at home before answering them. He's got MTNL to observe all incoming calls. He doesn't use the same route to his workplace. He doesn't step out without an escort. He has to constantly play down his wife's fears. And his son doesn't go out to play.