Death or Dignity

I’ve known a wounded lion and this is his life story, not a cliche Bollywood tale. What I’m trying to write is not inspired from the 90’s films where the protagonist is the son of a gangster who falls in love with his father’s enemy’s daughter after returning to the country. This is about the 20’s unacknowledged, petrifying, heard but a less discussed tale of the era. Unlike movies, his dad, Manohar Shetty was not a gangster or a police officer for that matter. He was neither a hyped personality nor an infamous person who’d gather crowds when he would be out in public. He was a simple middle-class father who cared for this family more than his life.

I want to clear the clouds before I start narrating the tale that this story is not filmy. The elements that drive this story are bloodshed, crime and magnanimous power concentrated into one hand and onto the streets of Azad Ganj in the state of Uttar Pradesh.

1986- This was the time when India’s most wanted criminal and Mumbai’s crowned ganglord had just left for Dubai. In my twenty year’s of experience in serving the crime branch, I’ve never come across a getaway of a criminal mastermind of this sort. He had his deepest roots into the Mumbai police and as soon as he learnt that an urgent arrest warrant has been issued against him; he flew to Dubai, leaving his heavy guarded headquarter in musafirkhana before midnight.
The don’s departure had lighted a wildfire in the country. The Police department was being questioned, parliament was on the blaze, the crime branch officials and the government were doing everything that it takes to extradite him from Dubai. In between these circumstances, nobody could have imagined that the don’s departure will set an example to the country that criminals can escape to live free and that the police were at deficient. The media houses were flashing headlines that the Don had crossed the border and abscond the police just before his arrest, nobody had imagined the repercussion of the broadcast.

Mirza Shetty, a name that the village had just started to learn then. Stories say that mirza stood up only after don’s exit from the country, not that they were anyway connected or had known each other but mirza was slowly uncovering the ethics of crime because of the aura of the Don. The Mumbai Underworld was so much into the limelight at that time, that it had it’s net pretty well scattered throughout the country and across the borders, it could absorb anyone and everyone into the world of crime, fifty-percent because the country was fighting mass poverty and fifty-percent because of the aura of the underworld. But most of the people that were attracted towards crime were Muslims, I don’t know how to judge that, but the police records speak of it.
Mirza was a person of usual height, thin, healthy face with a little beard and blazing eyes. There was no building in Azad Ganj that could be constructed without Mirza’s nod. No business would enter the vicinity of that small Azad Ganj without his assent. Even the police officials were under his clout. People irrespective of their designation feared him, if there was something that made Azad Ganj into the front pages of the national newspapers, it was Mirza Shetty.

From smuggling to kidnapping- he had ventured into everything by the end of 2001 and there were eighty-nine cases filed against him and every alternate day an arrest warrant was issued. But unfortunately, not one had the audacity to step out of their police station and arrest him. The whole of the India knew about mirza, the other ganglords wouldn’t step into Azad Ganj and Mirza wouldn’t interfere outside Azad Ganj- that was how business rolled in the 20’s.

After much of a discussion with my alter ego, I’ve been able to come to a conclusion to sack this story because I think at this point of time I’m not equipped with much of an experience with the underworld to draft fiction. This was the rough start of the book that was being planned.

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