'Muthappa Rai - The don who was just a clerk to me'

Submitted by Editor on Tue, 2016-12-20 19:21 Lava Kumar at Muttappa Rai's son's weddingDuring the 70s, Puttur, in the then district of South Kanara, was a small municipality. I was a young Sub-Inspector of Police while Muthappa Rai was just a clerk in Vijaya Bank. I was quite a popular police officer in Puttur those days for reasons I really do not know. Rich and influential people would invite me to their homes. But the police manual prevents cops from becoming unduly familiar with people, lest they come in the way of effective police functioning. So I was very choosy.Those days, Mutthappa Rai had no stigma of any sorts attached to him. So one evening, when he invited me over, nothing could stop me from going to his home for a small social gathering. That was in 1978. He was a good host. We became friends.I left Puttur in 1979. Thereafter we met occasionally. Later, the vicissitudes of life transformed him and many called him a 'don'.My association with him didn’t stop me from going against him in early 1990s during the ‘Amar Alva’ murder case at Mangalore in which Rai's role was strongly suspected. I secured him at the Puttur Inspection Bungalow to verify his complicity in the murder. MR Pujar, who was the Superintendent of Police, entered the interrogation room and asked, 'You are the Don Muthappa Rai? Impulsively Rai replied that he was, which made Pujar furious. He shouted at him saying, ‘How dare you claim you are the don."Realising his mistake, Rai apologised profusely and said he was not a don.We grilled him for hours and ultimately found that he had no role to play in the Amar Alva murder case. We let him go. Before leaving he said “ Sir, Any time you get evidence that I am involved in this case, you just send a word to me. I will surrender before you, you need not chase me.” That was his confidence.Professionally, I used Rai’s contacts in Dubai and met the underworld don Sharad Shetty to track down the accused Dilip Naik, who was the brain behind the killing of Karwar MLA Vasanth Asnotikar in 2000. I succeeded in bringing him back to India from Dubai where he was holed up after getting Asnotikar killed by sharpshooters from Mumbai.I met Muthappa Rai recently during his son Riky’s wedding reception at Palace Grounds and exchanged pleasantries. Maybe he was don to others. But for me, he was the same, simple and innocuous clerk of Vijaya Bank of yore.Author:Lava Kumar, former Assistant Commissioner of Police, Bengaluru Also Read... Reformed don and social entrepreneur Muthappa Rai ​(63) has remarried. Rai, the founder of social organization Jaya Karnataka, married Anuradha in a low-key affair at his Bidadi residence...