In August 1997, Bollywood music director Nadeem Saifi of Nadeem-Shravan fame was on a month-long vacation abroad when music baron Gulshan Kumar was shot dead outside a temple in Andheri. His stay stretched to 16 years after the Mumbai crime branch alleged that Nadeem conspired to get Kumar killed.
Nadeem stayed on in London and refused to return. In September 1997, a non-bailable warrant and a red-corner notice were issued against him. Now, after courts in UK and Mumbai have exonerated him, Nadeem, wants to return to Mumbai. In a telephonic interview from Dubai, Nadeem spoke to dna about his desire to return to Mumbai and his fear of the police.
What have you been doing lately?
I have been involved in the perfumery business. I have managed to launch a very successful high-end fragrance currently being marketed in the Middle East and will eventually be marketed across the world.
Any plans of coming back to India?
My first love is Bombay and I sure want to come back. I am only waiting for the government to give me the justice which I deserve and which is overdue. I am totally innocent.
I have been exonerated by four courts, which includes the House of Lords and also the sessions court in Bombay. Justice ML Tahiliyani has given a judgment that the conspiracy charges against all the accused must fail. There was no conspiracy. This was a fabricated case. I don’t think we should waste blood on this anymore and I should only concentrate on my work, continue to do my music and do what I am best at.
What is stopping you from coming back?
There are five officers involved in this and I have evidence to prove that they have fabricated the case. Naturally, with five officers and an ex Home official involved I am not going to stand a chance in trying to prove them guilty. Although it is on paper and it is clear-cut that they fabricated the case. The incident (Kumar’s killing) took place a month after my being in London. How the hell am I going to know what is conspiring in whose mind and whose heart?
Who are these officers?
I don’t want to get into that right now. Else this interview will turn sour.
Since you have been exonerated by all courts, including the Mumbai court, why don’t you come back?
I am really hopeful that if the Congress-NCP government gathers some courage and will not be bothered about any opposition to deliver justice, I would be walking the streets of Mumbai a free man.
Have you made any attempts to approach the government?
I have made so many attempts to approach the government. My poor father has tried so much. I think my case, if not given justice, would go down in the history of India as the case in which the gravest injustice was done..
What is it that you want from the government?
They (police) accuse me of conspiring along with Abu Salem. This was their allegation against me. Now they have Abu Salem with them and in their hands. What are they doing? Have they even put an allegation or a case against Salem with regards to Gulshan Kumar case? So what should I do and what am I supposed to come and answer? They made me suffer for 16 years just because I am a shareef (decent) man from a shareef family and they have taken advantage of this.
What would happen if you were to land in Mumbai tomorrow?
They will put me behind bars, which they don’t have any right to, because I have not done anything. I am not going to give them the privilege of doing that. And I have the material and proof to prove that I am innocent and not only innocent, but they (the police) are guilty. All I know is the strength of an innocent man is bigger than any government. I have no fear and I am not afraid of anybody because I have done no crime or any wrong. It is they who have done the wrong to me. And believe me, I am large-hearted enough to forgive and forget and start with my music.
Have you ever tried to get in touch with Gulshan Kumar’s family to tell them your side of the story
A hundred times, through the best of friends and so many other people.
What has been the family’s reaction? Are they convinced that you are innocent?
I don’t have any direct response, but this is what I have heard that Bhushan says, he does not have any problem.
What is this latest Bollywood project that you are working on?
My first passion, my first love is music and I have been receiving several offers from the film industry. So I thought to myself that it was time to go back to my first love. Now I am gearing up for the fourth round.
Yeah, this will be my fourth round in Bollywood. I am in the process of hearing scripts and finalising the projects.
How are your relations with your music partner Shravan Rathod?
Shravan is like my brother. And we will continue to make some films together and I will also be doing some solo projects. The idea is to fill the air with some beautiful music and songs.
The Gulshan Kumar case
On August 12, 1997, music baron Gulshan Kumar was killed outside the Jeeteshwar Mahadev Mandir in Jeet Nagar, Andheri (West). As Kumar was coming out of the temple, two gunmen fired at him and he died on the spot. The Mumbai crime branch in its investigations alleged that Nadeem Saifi, music director of the famed Nadeem - Shravan duo had conspired to kill Kumar.
According to the police, Nadeem hatched the conspiracy in Dubai with Anees Ibrahim Kaskar, the brother of fugitive gangster Dawood Ibrahim Kaskar and Dawood’s associate Abu Salem
The Mumbai police claimed to have arrested the shooters and others involved in the case. However, in April 2002, the sessions court rejected the conspiracy charge of the Mumbai police and acquitted 18 of the 19 arrested suspects
Nadeem too was cleared of all charges. His extradition case too was dismissed by the UK court and he was awarded Rs7.3 crore as damages.