24 years after T-Series founder and music baron Gulshan Kumar was killed by underworld don Dawood Ibrahim and his minions, the Bombay High Court has finally upheld the conviction of Abdul Rauf Merchant, the prime accused in the case. However, the courts through the tedious ‘justice’ process have managed to exonerate a few of the more suspicious perpetrators accused in the case. The biggest name of the lot is Nadeem Saifi, of the famous Nadeem-Shravan duo, who managed to evade the Indian court of laws.
Gulshan Kumar was shot dead on 12 August 1997 outside a Shiv Temple which was near his house. Mumbai Police had named 26 people, including music composer Nadeem Akhtar Saifi, in its 400-page charge sheet. Both Saifi and Ramesh Taurani, owner of Tips cassettes, were named as co-conspirators.
After the murder, an Interpol notice was issued against Saifi who conveniently was vacationing in the UK at the time. Even after the murder news reached him, Saifi stayed put in the UK on the advice of his friends, thus managing to evade the Indian authorities.
Gulshan Kumar had allegedly angered Nadeem by not giving proper publicity to his album ‘Hi! Ajanabi’ while Taurani allegedly paid Rs 25 lakh to Kumar’s killers. However, the police failed to prove the accusations in court on either of the two.
One of the accused, Mohammed Ali Shaikh, turned approver in the case and in his confessional statement accused Nadeem of playing an active part in the murder. However, London Supreme Court ruled that statements made by Shaikh were false and dropped them from the record.
As a result, in October 2001, Nadeem was cleared of all charges. His extradition case was dismissed by the UK court and he was awarded £920,080 in damages. Yet Nadeem remains on Mumbai Police’s fugitive list.
Since then, Nadeem has not touched foot in India, fearing the worst. He has parted ways with Shravan and launched a perfumery business in 2005, based out of Dubai.
Questions are being asked that if Nadeem is indeed innocent, why hasn’t he come back to the country, ever since the murder, leaving behind a successful career in the music industry?
As reported by TFI, ex-commissioner of Mumbai Police, Rakesh Maria in his autobiography had revealed that despite having the exact blueprint of the murder of Kumar, the Mumbai Police couldn’t thwart the incident.
It all began with a telephone call in the early hours of April 22, 1997, when an informant told Maria that Gulshan Kumar was about to be assassinated. The informant said, “Sir, Gulshan Kumar ka wicket girne wala hai (Sir, Gulshan Kumar is about to be assassinated).”
Maria asked, “Who is the wicket-taker?” To which the informant replied, “Abu Salem, saab. Usne apne shooters ke saath sab plan nakki kiya hai. Gulshan Kumar roz subah gharse nikalke pehle ek Shiv mandir jata hai. Wahin pe kaam khatam karne wale hain. (Abu Salem is the one planning to kill Gulshan Kumar. He has finalised the plan with his shooters. The first thing that Gulshan Kumar does in the morning after leaving home each day is to go to a nearby Shiv temple. That is where they are going to bump him off).”
Maria then called up the Crime Branch and filled them on all the crucial details and ultimately Gulshan Kumar was provided with the requisite protection by Mumbai Police. Though Maria delayed the inevitable for some months, the doomsday clock inevitably struck for Gulshan Kumar three months later.
The investigation after the murder revealed that Gulshan Kumar was being provided security by a contingent of the Uttar Pradesh Police as he owned a cassette factory in Noida. Therefore, the security provided by the Mumbai Police was withdrawn. Maria explained, “Somewhere down the line, routine and apathy could have set in, as it often happens in prolonged watch and ward duties.”
Despite the court’s conviction of Rauf, several questions remain unanswered. The Modi government is known for acting tough on convicts who flee the country and try to hide behind the extradition laws. The current administration is on the tails of Mehul Choksi and Nirav Modi, while it has already managed to nab Christian Michel, of the VVIP chopper scam. Hence, if Nadeem is indeed guilty, the government should extradite him and initiate a fresh probe against him.