Notorious Maoist renegade Mohammed Nayeemuddin, who was killed in an encounter with the Telangana police early on Monday morning, was a larger-than-life figure, almost to the point of being romanticised. He belonged to that era of anti-Naxal operations, where the police allegedly used surrendered Naxals to neutralise the top guns in the Naxal outfit. If tales circulated about Nayeem are to be believed, he was a willing shoulder for the police to fire from, especially if Maoist sympathisers were the target.
Nayeem had blood on his hands. The most sensational of his killings, while he was still one among the outlaws, was the killing of Andhra Pradesh IPS officer KS Vyas in 1993, just after he had finished his morning jog at Lal Bahadur stadium in the heart of Hyderabad. Vyas had established Greyhounds, the elite anti-Naxal commando force of Andhra Pradesh in 1986.
Twenty-three years later, the Greyhounds has avenged its founder's murder.
In the late 90s, Nayeem exited the People's War, as the Naxal outfit was called prior to their merger with the MCC in 2004, following differences with the leadership. He made a dramatic escape during a hearing from a Hyderabad court in 2007 and has never been officially seen since then. At that time, the grapevine suggested that people in high places helped him escape. The suspicion was that he knew too much about some powerful people and it was not safe to keep him in the public domain.
Soon stories of how he was being used by the cops to eliminate Maoist sympathisers and civil liberties activists started floating around. The responsibility for many of these hits was claimed by vague letterhead outfits like Nallamalla Cobras, Kakatiya Cobras and Green Tigers. Civil rights activists believed that these were fronts of Nayeem, to help the black sheep within the police force suppress the Maoist movement.
It is also a fact that civil rights groups, who often protested against fake encounters, feared Nayeem. Celebrated human rights activist, the late K Balagopal had called Nayeem the ``most feared of the counter-insurgents, with a gang of 50 men with him''.
Realising that life with the alleged blessings of some part of the official machinery was good, Nayeem expanded his area of operations to settling land disputes through use of muscle power, extortions, providing hired killers and indulging in extra-judicial killings. Most believed one telephone call from him was enough to get his way. Human rights activists alleged that the alleged police protection had only emboldened Nayeem to be more brazen with using his private militia. There were over 100 cases of land grabbing and extortions filed against him and another 20 cases relating to murder.
Nayeem's name was always mentioned whenever a high-profile hit took place in united Andhra Pradesh. Like that of former Naxalite Sambasivudu who had joined the Telangana Rashtra Samiti in 2011. He is also believed to have passed on information about Sohrabuddin Shaikh's movement that led to his encounter by the Gujarat police.
In fact, the Gujarat CID suspected that Nayeem was the person who had persuaded Sohrabuddin and his wife Kauser Bi to come to Hyderabad in November 2005. His name was also mentioned in connection with the assassination of former Gujarat home minister Haren Pandya.
So the question that is being asked is what led to Nayeem's killing on Monday morning?
Unconfirmed reports suggest that Nayeem had tried an extortion bid with someone very powerful and close to the current dispensation and it was ordered that Telangana could do without such a nuisance. The official theory, however, is that the police on the lookout for Nayeem had credible information that he was visiting Millenium Township in Shadnagar (48 km from Hyderabad) and the Greyhounds commandos and Telangana police moved in for the kill.
For Telangana, that has almost wiped out the Maoist menace from its territory, the killing of Nayeem is a reminder of those bloody days when the state and the Naxals were often locked in eyeball-to-eyeball conflict. When the tag of 'Naxal' was a convenient fig leaf for criminals to carry out their activities.
Spending most of his life 'underground', Nayeem carried many secrets. And dead men tell no tales.
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Updated Date: Aug 08, 2016 14:25:31 IST