"For years, Bengaluru's underworld has been ruled by shrewd and notorious dons, who grew from small-time extortionists to dreaded names in real-estate circles."
In the early 50's, every locality had at least one tough, well-built man who commanded respect and fear. Among these were dons such as M.P. Jayaraj who cut off the ear of a brothel owner who refused to pay him a monthly mamool and Yathiraj, who began attacking men who misbehaved with women, intervened in cases of domestic violence, caught and beat up thieves with his bare hands. Many would fight for justice while others for power and fame. The lives of the dons are dark, dangerous and daring and these men were feared for their muscle power.
Here, we have listed out the names of dons of Bengaluru. Let's check them out.
Mune Gowda of Kodigehalli was crowned the city's first don in the 1960's. He was a Pehelwan whose presence was enough to intimidate people. He would stand at the doors of small-time arrack sellers and brothels and owners would come out and hand him money, without him needing to say a single word. He crushed any defiance with a violent physical attack. He also targeted moneylenders but never enjoyed any of the money himself, being the son of a wealthy landlord. It was the power that he revelled in.
He despised the police. He stood up against injustice and gradually veered into the kala dhandas (shady businesses). He would extort from the rich and give to the poor and those who refused to pay him mamool were roughed up. He sponsored weddings, naming ceremonies, and even gave money to those who could not afford to perform the last rites of their loved ones. He had eighty-two criminal cases ranging from an attempt to murder, extortion or robbery and dacoity. Despite this, he was hired to shadow Nataraj, the son-in-law of then chief minister of Karnataka, D. Devaraj Urs.
Ramchandra Rao could strike fear into the hearts of people with his muscle power. He was a six-footer with a baritone voice whose family had cut him off. Without any financial support, he started to dabble in all sorts of antisocial activities like break-ins, thefts, and robberies. He went on to form a small gang of thugs that would extort from illegal chit funds and brothels. He derived a perverted pleasure in looting young couples at secluded spots. He and his men would also sexually assault the women here.
Shiva Kumar had taken his father's shoe company to great heights. He was close friends with Sampat, who would steal oil from tankers entering the city and sell it in black. He made a great profit, and when he decided to take a trip abroad, he left Shiva in charge. The big profits tempted Shiva. He beat Sampat's men and formed his gang to take over these operations and doubled his profits in no time. On return, Sampat, though unhappy, partnered with him in a film distribution firm called S.K.S Film Distributors. Everyone related to his work was bribed and silenced. He had the entire police force under his thumb and lawyers to bail him out of legal issues.
Hwas once India's most wanted man and now enjoys the reputation of being Bengaluru's godfather. He is what one calls a reformed gangster. He reigned over Bengaluru's underworld for over two decades and is acquitted in twelve criminal cases, including four murder charges and spent twenty-two months in prison (the duration of his trial). He is now reformed and breaking good. He has decided to give back to society and has carved himself as an influential social activist-cum- entrepreneur. His deeds have earned him a huge following.
The article is an excerpt of the book The Bhais of Bengaluru, written by author Jyoti Shelar, and published by Penguin Random House. Credit for the excerpt goes to Indrani Grewal.