Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The First Encounter with Mumbai Police.

One evening in 1979, a man in his early 30s strolled into a gymnasium in Mahim. The gym was just filling up, but still everyone's eye was on the man wearing a tight T-stirt and baggy trousers with biceps and forearms bulging out. In those days, such a physique was not a frequent sight, and everyone inside watched appreciatively as the man strode in confidently, and stopped and looked around.

Everybody expected him to walk over to the weights and start pumping iron. But to everyone's surprise, he spotted a man called Papi Patil, calmly pulled out his revolver from his pocket and shot directly at Papi's legs blowing out both of his kneecaps. Then as calm as ever, he looked around at the others, and walked out. It was more than a minute before the stunned people could move and rush to help Patil who lay on the floor, bleeding and groaning.

The man was Manohar Surve, aka Manya Surve, a BA graduate from Kriti College and an ardent fan of thriller writer James Hadley Chase. But, above all he was notorious back then as one of the most feared gangsters of Bombay, who eluded the police for over a decade. Legends has it that Manya had also engineered the assassination of Dawood Ibrahim's elder brother Sabir Ibrahim Kaskar.

The police were shaken with Manya's unabated run of violence. On one occasion he lay in wait for a businessman outside a Dena Bank branch in Prabhadevi. Just as he was leaving the bank with a bag containing 2 lakh INR in cash - a significant amount back then - he walked upto him, shoved his gun and demanded the bag. Instead of complying, the businessman threw the bag back into the bank. Enraged, Manya pumped bullets into the businessman and ran away with the bag.

After a string of murders, violent robberies and kidnappings, the then Police Commissioner Julio Ribeiro fromed a special squad of policeman to hunt down the reckless mafia man in late 1981. The squad included Senior Police Inspector Issac Samson, Inspector Yashwant Bhide, and Sub-Inspectors Raja Tambat, Sanjay Parande, and Ishaq Bagwan. This squad would later be famous as Bombay's first encounter squad.

They visited all the places where Manya committed crimes, met his victims and alerted all their informants. But finally, it was the love of a woman that proved to be fatal for this dreaded gangster. On 11 January, 1982, the police got a tip off that Manya would be visiting his girlfriend near the Ambedkar College in Wadala and taking her to Navi Mumbai.

The police immediately swung into action and set the trap for the first ever encounter killing in Mumbai. Tambat, Bagwan and Parande, all in their mid-20s at the time, donned jeans and T-shirts and started loitering outside the college posing as students, while two older officers lay in wait posing as professors. All of them had guns concealed in cavities cut out in the pages of thick books.

Things began to heat up as Manya's girlfriend arrived and stood waiting for the bus. The cops' informants signaled and they stationed themselves around her. At around 10.45 am, Manya arrived in a taxi, drove past the bus stop and stopped several feet ahead. Oblivious of the trap, he got out and started back walking towards his girlfriend right past Tambat and his 'college-mates'.

"Manya Surve, thamb! Aamhi police aahot! [stop, Manya Surve, we are policeman]" shouted Bhide taking out his gun.

Within a second Manya drew out his Mauser pistol from under his shirt and pointed at Tambat and Bhagwan, who were directly infront of him. They took cover behind a parked car, Manya opened fire. In retaliation, the policeman shot him six times. Even with six bullets in his torso, he reached out for the bottle of acid under his socks. But he was overpowered and disarmed by then.

"Maderchod! Policewala bhadwa log!" [Motherfuckers! You cops are all pimps!] screamed Manya, spitting out blooded as he cursed the police. The victim of Mumbai's first encounter kept up his against the police till the last bloody hiccup took away his life. At Sion hospital, he was declared dead before admission.

Collected from: "Dongri to Dubai : Six decades of the mumbai mafia" by S. Hussain Zaidi.