Criminal lawyer RK Anand mentions in his book, Close Encounters with Niira Radia, that she was his neighbour, friend, and confidant until "she perpetrated a fraud on him". According to Anand, he was not the only one who suffered at the hands of Radia. He narrates the plight of Rao Dheeraj Singh, her steady companion publicly in the initial days, who landed in Tihar jail because of her. Excerpts from the book:
Niira's vindictive side
"Out of the blue, in August 2003, I received a call from Singh (a former Sahara executive). He told me, to my utter amazement, that he had landed himself in jail and was calling me for assistance. I went to visit him in Tihar jail – Delhi’s largest penitentiary.
During the course of the meeting, he gave me a document in his own handwriting detailing how he had come to this present unhappy situation. Based on that document as well as lengthy interviews with him I am narrating in my own words his version of what transpired.
In February-March 2003, Niira’s father fell seriously ill and was admitted to Delhi’s Apollo hospital. Niira called Singh requesting him to donate blood. Singh and Niira’s father had the same blood group.
During this interlude, Niira confided in Singh that she had discovered her son Karan was taking drugs and asked Singh for help in tackling the crisis. Singh, virtually a family member, was close to all of Niira’s three sons.
Singh tried to raise the issue with Karan several times but the youngster evaded all direct confrontation. One day, Karan asked Singh to go out for a long drive with him. They had taken many such pleasure trips together in the past.
On April 4, 2003 Singh called Karan on the phone and told him he would be free that Saturday. Initially, they had decided to meet at Singh’s office in Gurgaon, but because Singh had some work in Janakpuri, they changed the venue to Priya Cinema where they would meet and drive to rural Rewari a few hours out of Delhi.
They also picked up Shailender Singh, a friend of Karan, and drove to Singh’s Rewari ancestral home, at one time a stately mansion, but still maintained well. As they relaxed Singh found Karan taking something out of his pocket and mixing it with cigarette tobacco.
Singh admonished him and warned him that use of this “rubbish” would ultimately ruin his young life. Karan responded with a smile: “Just chill, Uncle Dheeraj.” Singh snatched the cigarette and threw it in the toilet bowl.
Karan became furious and began heaping invective on Singh. Singh, too, lost his cool and slapped Karan around and the two had to be separated by family members who were present. In a fit of fury, Singh told Karan to get lost or he would break his bones. Karan ran out of the house.
Singh relented and went in pursuit of Karan to ensure that the boy made it back safely from Rewari to his mother, but Karan was nowhere to be found. Singh drove back home.
In the evening, Singh (who had by then remarried) went with his wife to a friend’s house. He received a call from Niira inquiring about the incident. Karan, she said, was very upset. Singh explained the circumstances and reiterated that he had been merely following her request to him to deal with Karan in solving his drug habit.
Following Niira’s call, her older sister called Singh demanding to know who had given him the authority to slap Karan. Singh refused to talk to her after telling her that whatever explanations were needed he had already provided to Niira.
On April 4, 2003, Chetan, a cousin of Singh who was staying with Karan, called Singh and told him that Niira and Karuna wanted to meet him at their farm house. Singh refused. He did not wish ever again to see Karan. He invited all of them to his own house instead, but without Karan.
At 5.30 am the next day Singh’s doorbell rang. When he answered the door he saw four men standing outside with Chetan. One of them flashed a Delhi police identity card and introduced himself as Inspector Bakshi, Crime Branch, RK Puram.
The police officer told him they had received a complaint from Karan that he was beaten up by Singh and that he would have to accompany them to the police station.
Upon arrival at RK Puram Crime Branch, Rao Dheeraj Singh saw Shailender’s car parked outside. The police took him to a room where Shailender was waiting with two policemen. After about two hours of questioning Singh was taken to another room where Niira, Karuna and Karan were sitting.
Karuna told Singh that they were willing to forget the whole matter if Singh would agree to a settlement. Rao was flabbergasted. What settlement? Why was he being harassed for perhaps going a little overboard in dealing with Karan at the request of his own mother?
Karuna spelled out the “settlement.” He should surrender all files in his possession relating to all of Niira’s business dealings to which he was privy when they were working together, to the sisters. He was, indeed, in possession of all the contracts of work they had handled. In addition, Karuna insisted, he should forget about any cash payments that were due from Niira.
Singh was flabbergasted. But he refused to budge. Niira and Karan stood up to leave and their last words to him were: “In that case, suffer.”
During this entire episode a policeman was holding Singh’s hand in restraint.
The police acted swiftly. They searched Singh’s office and took away cartons of files and papers. On April 28, 2003 Singh was sent to jail. He had been charged with a criminal conspiracy to abduct Karan, to extort ransom money from his mother. The case was filed under Section 364A, 365, 307, 120B/34IPC on the strength of which Singh languished in jail for nearly a year and a half before I helped bail him out. The case against him is still pending.
This was Niira at her vindictive best and demonstrated her amoral ability to use her political, social, and business contacts to achieve what she wanted, no matter who was hurt.
The man who knew too much
But why Singh, her former close business partner and soulmate? Why would she use her power and manipulative abilities, including the use of her family in what was obviously a contrived set up to manufacture a false and frivolous case against Singh? She had herself often referred to him as her husband, signed papers acknowledging herself as his wife.
Actually she wanted to teach him a lesson. They had developed differences because Singh had been demanding his legal share of money from the deals they had done together between the late 1990s and 2003.
Again, as her life repeatedly shows, money mattered more than human relationships. I will outline below some specific points over which the two had fallen apart both personally and financially.
(1) Singh was not being kept in the loop in Radia’s dealings with Ananth Kumar which were becoming personal and secretive.
(2) Singh was against Niira raiding senior staffers from Sahara Airlines in anticipation of starting her own. Singh felt this to be an act of disloyalty since Sahara Chairman Subrata Roy, who had always given a helping hand when Singh and Niira were not doing so well. He had always been a good customer for them.
(3) Singh opposed Niira’s selling of minutes of Cabinet meetings and other positive decisions which she was receiving from Ananth Kumar’s office in advance. She would show or peddle these to interested parties to strike quick deals and to impress upon foreign companies that she had the best links in the country for business deals.
(4) Singh had suspected all along but seemed to have confirmed by 2000 that Niira and Ananth Kumar were intimately involved. Emotionally, she had begun distancing herself from Singh.
(5) So he decided to separate his business dealings from Niira and go into independent consulting on his own. Singh had also refused to enter into a formal marriage of convenience with Niira—a fact she desired so she could show the world—especially Tejaswani, Ananth Kumar’s wife—that she was a legally wedded woman and that her interest in Ananth Kumar was purely professional.
6) In March 2002, Singh took a new wife, a woman called Gagan. Niira, always one to keep up false appearances, tried to remain friends with Singh. She invited her former partner and his new wife to parties at her house. But Singh was all too familiar with the balancing acts of which Niira was capable. On his insistence, he and Niira decided to give him his share of the business. The money was to be paid in four installments over the next two years.
(7) But before Singh could even glimpse the first installment of his money, he found himself in Tihar Jail charged with kidnapping for ransom."
Updated Date: Oct 19, 2011 17:04 PM