Nayak to khalnayak: Mumbai encounter-specialist Daya’s rise and fall
In 1979, a young boy from Yennehole village in Karkala district of Karantaka, was told by his mother to go to Mumbai to earn a living and support his beleaguered family. Daya Nayak, the youngest son of Badda and Radha Nayak, had just completed Class 7. He took up a job at a hotel in Mumbai, whose owner treated him like family and insisted that he continue his education as well. So for eight years, Nayak lived and studied at the hotel’s porch, completing his Secondary School Certificate (SSC) exams from Pahadi Municipal School in Goregaon before graduating from CES College in Andheri.Updated: Jul 11, 2015 11:02 IST
In 1979, a young boy from Yennehole village in Karkala district of Karantaka, was told by his mother to go to Mumbai to earn a living and support his beleaguered family. Daya Nayak, the youngest son of Badda and Radha Nayak, had just completed Class 7. He took up a job at a hotel in Mumbai, whose owner treated him like family and insisted that he continue his education as well. So for eight years, Nayak lived and studied at the hotel’s porch, completing his Secondary School Certificate (SSC) exams from Pahadi Municipal School in Goregaon before graduating from CES College in Andheri.
He then took up a job as a supervisor working alongside a plumber, during which time he came into contact with a few police officers from the narcotics department. Meeting them was a turning point in Nayak’s life and inspired him to become a police officer. In 1995, he was posted as police sub-inspector at Juhu police station after graduating from the police academy.
Mumbai’s underworld was at its peak in the mid-90s, and Nayak’s rise to fame, like his trigger finger, was quick. In December 1996, he was patrolling in Juhu when he got word about two Chhota Rajan gangsters in the area. Nayak set out to arrest them, but ended up killing both men after they allegedly opened fire on him.
This was the first of Nayak’s 83 ‘encounter killings’. He quickly became the favourite of his boss, who encouraged Nayak’s trigger-happy ways and made him lieutenant to the now-dismissed ‘encounter specialist’ Pradeep Sharma.
Even then, Nayak had an uncanny ability to make even an ordinary meeting seem like a scene from a Bollywood movie. The powerfully built cop would walk into a coffee shop at Lokhandwala in Andheri (W), his favourite place to meet journalists, invariably a tight shirt or t-shirt. He was always punctual, and would choose a seat that gave him a view of the entire coffee shop as well as the road outside.
Suspended Mumbai police officer Daya Nayak at a court appearance. (HT Photo)
Before he sat, Nayak would pull out his two weapons – a .38 revolver, issued by the police department, and a 9-mm pistol. Even as he spoke and listened, he would avoid eye contact; instead, his eyes would dart side to side constantly, indicating that he never let his guard down.
Nayak’s 83 controversial killings coincided with the decimation of Mumbai’s underworld. He quickly achieved celebrity status among his peers and the public at large, and despite unease about his controversial methods, his near-mythical status remained untainted until the turn of the millennium.
Nayak’s star began to wane in January 2002, when he became the subject of a disproportionate assets probe. Ostensibly on a police officer’s salary, he had managed to build a school in his village, which he named after his mother Radha Nayak. But what caught people’s attention, and sparked the probe, was the school’s inauguration ceremony, attended by Karnataka education minister H Vishwanath, painter M F Hussein, and actors Amitabh Bachchan, Suniel Shetty and Aftab Shivdasani. The issue died down after then police commissioner M N Singh endorsed Nayak as one of the best officers in the force – but only for a while.
In 2004, a Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) court ordered the Anti-corruption Bureau to investigate Nayak’s disproportional wealth. The ACB filed a case against Nayak and raided six places, including two in Bangalore. These raids revealed that Nayak allegedly owned two fleets of luxury buses – one in Mumbai, under a travel agency called Vishal Travels in Andheri, and another at Karnataka’s Karkala town.
Nayak was arrested by the ACB, and his interrogation revealed a startling list of properties that he allegedly owned. These include a penthouse in Yug Dharma apartments in Malad, a Kandivali flat worth Rs 21 lakh that he gifted to his brother Keshav, Kancha Bar and Restaurant in Goregaon, a flat under a government scheme in Powai, and Escape pub in Andheri.
Daya Nayak with Bollywood actor Nana Patekar. (HT Photo)
A senior police official, who did not wish to be named, said, "It is believed that Nayak used hotelier B R Shetty as his dummy to buy various bars and restaurants in the western suburbs. Shetty himself owns about 10 hotels. It is also believed that Nayak used to place bets on cricket games under the pseudonym Rakesh and used to mingle with hoteliers such as Sudhakar Shetty (owner of Deepa Bar), Harish Shetty (Sun and Sun Bar), and Prabhakar Shetty and Annappa Shetty (Ajit Palace in Dahisar)."
"Annappa Shetty committed suicide after he gambled and lost Rs 1 crore to Sudhakar Shetty. In his suicide note, Annappa accused Nayak, Sudhakar Shetty and Harish Shetty of mental and physical torture, following which a case was registered at Dahisar police station," added the police official.
But the issue died down in 2009 after then Maharashtra director general of police SS Virk denied the ACB permission to prosecute Nayak, citing insufficient grounds. Nayak was reinstated in 2012 at additional commissioner of police (west) control room.
Though he maintained a low profile, he continued to meet journalists in the same old way. Only the venue was different. Obsessed with working out, Nayak began to meet journalists at a gym in Andheri (West). In 2014 he was transferred to Nagpur, but refused to go, claiming a threat to his life. On Thursday, director general of police Sanjeev Dayal suspended him.