- Muthappa Rai, the “last” mafia of Bengaluru dies at the age of 68
- The mafia was said to have managed to get a hold in the IT city post the LPG reform of 1991
Muthappa Rai, the “last” mafia of the IT city of India, Bengaluru, took his last breath on Friday. Rai, who was not a typical mafia don, reigned over Bengaluru’s underworld for more than 30 years and was educated, sophisticated and charming. Unlike his predecessors MP Jairaj and Kotwal Ramachandra, Rai was said to have belonged to a very good family near Mangaluru.
Rai was a commerce graduate and started off his career as an officer at a Public Sector Undertaking (PSU) Vijaya Bank. In the last 1980s, he came in contact with the underworld of the city and became an overnight sensation when he bumped off the then don of the city, MP Jairaj that too in broad daylight in 1990.
That murder gave him the position of a mafia boss and he never looked back.
Rai’s don life did not come easy and he had multiple attempts on his life, however, he managed to grab a hold over the land mafia of the city which was witnessing a huge boom in the realty sector after the 1991 economic reform Liberalisation, Privatisation and Globalisation. He was even attacked at a city court in Bengaluru when he was shot 5 rounds but he managed to survive.
In 1994, when the Karnata Assembly Elections were being held, a Youth Congress leader Jayanth Rai was shot dead at his officer in Puttur, the murder sent chills down the city as Bengaluru was never known for political killings. He was Muthappa Rai’s right-hand man. After the incident, Rai moved all his activities to Bengaluru.
Sauvé Rai was from a landed, upper-caste Bunt community in Puttur. The same community has produced Bollywood stars like Shilpa Shetty, Aishwarya Rai and even Suniel Shetty. There is a popular saying “Bunts are everywhere, from Miss World to Underworld”.
It explains the community’s enterprising skills and huge risk-taking nature.
Rai even came in contact with Sharad Shetty who was the right-hand man of Dawood Ibrahim and a fellow Mangalore Bunt in the 90s. Shetty was handling D Company’s affairs from Dubai and was in-charge of the Cricket match-fixing and betting business. Rai was given shelter by him in Dubai.
When Sharad Shetty was killed in the early 2000s in Dubai, Rai fled to Gulf as he was accused of snitching Shetty, the same man who provided him shelter in his difficult times.
Rai was wanted in numerous cases and was brought back to the country from the UAE in the 200s and then went to jail for a few months in the Central Jail but was later acquitted of every charge against him.
After becoming a free man, he moved into a fortress-like mansion in the outskirt of the IT city and controlled his activities from there. In the past decade and a half, he also donned the role of an activist in Karnataka after he launched an outfit “Jaya Karnataka”. This organisation was a common featuring in the protests in the city and many of its activists were also known for small-time extortions.
Rai claimed that he helped India’s external espionage agency RAW (Research and Analysis Wing) in Afghanistan and in return he was given a free and safe passage back home.
Just some month ago he made his deteriorating health public and said that he was a patriot who had served India’s interest overseas.
Rai was married twice and is survived by a wife and 2 sons.
A news agency in India said that some of Rai’s close aids claim that Rai has left “behind landed properties worth several hundred crores across Karnataka”.
However, some senior police officers in the state maintain that most of the stories about Muthappa Rai are exaggerated and he was nothing more than a land grabber who wore the mask of an activist or a sophisticated man.
Since organized mafia is almost dead in Bengaluru, perhaps Muthappa Rai was the last to rule the underworld in India’s IT city.