Mohammad Nayeemuddin, alias Nayeem, the 45-year-old former Maoist-turned -police informer-turned gangster, who was killed in a police encounter on Monday morning, left behind a Rs 4,000 crore empire of ill-gotten wealth, a portion of which is benaami for top police officers. Nayeem’s encounter happened at a farmhouse near Shadnagar, 45 km from Hyderabad.

The Special Investigative Team (SIT) of police, which was constituted by the Telangana government to probe Nayeem’s illegal empire, is saddled with the task of dealing with several senior IPS officers, including some retired DGP rank officials, and the properties acquired on behalf of them. SIT chief IG Y. Nagi Reddy told The Sunday Guardian that he would go by the court orders in this regard.

In simultaneous raids conducted on the houses of Nayeem and his immediate family members in Hyderabad and Nalgonda districts since the encounter, police has recovered cash to the tune of Rs 2.75 crore and gold worth 1.93 kg, besides thousands of land and house registration papers, mostly in benaami names and those who had a nexus with him in the crime world. So far, 12 persons have been arrested and the hunt is on to nab another two dozen of his mafia gang, which had been accused in dozens of murders and hundreds of extortion cases. The government has set up a SIT headed by Nagi Reddy, an IG rank official, to unearth Nayeem’s underworld.

Nayeem, who ruled the underworld in Hyderabad and Bengaluru for close to two decades, was “most wanted” in 52 murder cases and 49 other criminal cases. He was also “wanted” by the CBI in the Sohrabuddin Shaik encounter case since 2007. He also left behind dozens of diaries in which he clearly mentioned the names of several IPS officers and other cops for whose sake he had committed many crimes.

Nayeem shot into prominence by shooting senior IPS officer and Greyhounds anti-Maoists squad chief K.S. Vyas in 1993. Ironically, Nayeem got killed by the same Greyhounds on Monday. Since he was released on bail in 1996, Nayeem turned a police informer, but continued his underground lifestyle. living in hideouts in and around Hyderabad, Goa and Bengaluru.

Belonging to a lower middle-class Muslim family from Bhongir town, Nayeem started as a left-wing student leader and joined the Maoists in 1990. He rose in the ranks of the ultras after the ghastly killing of Vyas in broad daylight, when the officer was jogging in the LB Stadium in Hyderabad. Nayeem was arrested in the case.

However, Nayeem soon fell out with the Maoists when they failed to respond to his complaint against a senior militant, Edanna, that the latter had molested his sister. Subsequently, Nayeem was released on bail and turned police informer only to take revenge against Edanna two years later. As he gave vital clues about the Maoists, some police officials had provided him with full protection, cash and vehicles.

After killing dozens of Maoist supporters and civil liberties activists under his infamous “Green Tigers” banner, Nayeem also acted as a consultant to the police in liquidating top Maoist leaders between 1994 and 1998.

This gangster’s meteoric rise and bloody end in the past two and a half decades shows how Maoist violence, which started as a fight against social injustice and exploitation, turned into a war for money power and slowly slipped into the hands of the land mafia with the connivance of unscrupulous elements in the police and politics. If it was Vyas who first gave birth and shape to the Greyhounds, the elite anti-Naxalite squad, his subsequent officers fine-tuned the covert operations by building an intransigent informer-network among the militants. The Greyhounds, who enjoyed functional autonomy as well as financial muscle power, had kept at their disposal unlimited funds to build an informer network from among the Maoists.

In the earlier days of his release, Nayeem used to depend on this reward money for his survival until 2001. It is said that Nayeem was paid Rs 25 lakh for many of his tips in those days.

Having enjoyed the patronage of the anti-Maoist police officials, Nayeem had not limited to tipping off information on the whereabouts of the underground leaders, but also started carrying out his own mafia operations by settling land disputes and resorting to extortions and kidnaps for ransom, etc. Dozens of suitcases of land registration papers recovered from his hideouts bore testimony to this.

During 2002 and 2004, Nayeem was the darling of the police officials who would tip him off about the ill-gotten wealth of some big businessmen and politicians and he in turn would extort money from them. Nayeem’s diaries mention a retired DGP who entered politics two years ago, according to SIT sources.

As soon as SIT officials noted from Nayeem’s diary the names of as many as 15 IPS officers (including those who are retired now), several DSP-rank officers, a clutch of politicians and even journalists, denials of having a nexus with the gangster started coming thick and fast.

Former TDP minister Uma Madhava Reddy, from Nayeem’s hometown Bhongir, denied having any links with the gangster. She strongly objected to the SIT’s leaks that she was behind Nayeem threatening the present Bhongir MLA, Pailla Sekhar Reddy for extortion, and forcing him to resign his seat so that she could contest from there. She lost to Sekhar Reddy from TRS in the 2014 elections. “I never stoop down to that level. Some reports even suggested that I had called Nayeem from my mobile and landline numbers and asked him to kill the present MLA so that I can get re-elected from his seat. This is rubbish and baseless. Having lost my husband, the late Madhava Reddy (who was killed by the Naxalites in 1997), I know the pain of a family which loses its head,” she told journalists in Hyderabad on Thursday.

A retired IPS officer, Sriram Tiwari, who worked as the SIB (anti-Maoist Special Intelligence Bureau) head in early the 2000s, and whose name figured in Nayeem’s diaries, denied any unprofessional links with the gangster: “Whatever help we have taken from Nayeem, we have taken it openly and we paid him as per the norms.”

Former DGP of combined AP, V. Dinesh Reddy whose name figured in the diaries, told a media conference in Hyderabad on Saturday, “My salaam to CM KCR for this encounter.”  “I gave instructions to my officers to apprehend Nayeem, but my orders were not carried out due to lack of political clearance. I will soon meet CM KCR and disclose what all I knew about Nayeem,” he added.

Telangana Home Minister Naini Narsimha Reddy told The Sunday Guardian, “We will go after all the ill-gotten money and lands amassed by Nayeem and his gang and no one would go unpunished.”

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