Encounter
How will his death alter power equations?

Ever since Mohammed Nayeemuddin, easily the most infamous extortionist-cum-gangster for the last decade and a half in united Andhra Pradesh was killed in an encounter in Shadnagar, 50 km from Hyderabad on Monday morning, conspiracy theories have done the rounds on the why, who and how he was brought down. Doubts have also been raised whether the encounter itself was above board or whether it a case of a fake encounter, as human rights groups and Nayeem's mother have alleged. 

But who took the decision to go after Nayeem? What triggered the hit call, given his reputation as a ruthless killer and the presence of armed gangs to protect him? It is well-known that Nayeem who hailed from Nalgonda district of Telangana was close to several politicians and police officers in both Telugu-speaking states. How will his death alter power equations?

In the last five days, several theories - some real, some pure figments of imagination - have done the rounds. 

Theory Number 1 : Nayeem targeted TRS leaders

Nayeemuddin had threatened several politicians in Nalgonda district. Among them Bhongir MLA Shekar Reddy who even petitioned chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao to upgrade his security as a special case. Subsequently, he was given a bullet-proof vehicle, that is usually given only to ministers. Another TRS MLA Ramalinga Reddy revealed that he was threatened by Nayeem in 2004 not to contest the polls. Other MLAs in Nalgonda frequently received calls, putting them under pressure. They asked KCR to put an end to his nuisance.

Theory Number 2 : Nayeem made extortion demands of people close to KCR

But not everyone is sure if MLAs would have been able to convince KCR to pull the trigger. Which is why the conspiracy theory that Nayeem went too far by making a demand of Rs 50 crore from a top industrialist known to be very close to the CM, is gaining currency. 

Theory Number 3 : Land deals in Nalgonda district

Ever since KCR declared that Yadagarigutta, a temple town in Nalgonda district will be developed as a pilgrim centre on the lines of Tirumala-Tirupati, land rates between Hyderabad and Yadagarigutta, a distance of 62 km, have shot up dramatically. Among the buyers reportedly are several powerful political VVIPs. Nayeem reportedly also wanted a share of the pie, leading to a heated exchange of words and ugly interactions with some of them.

Theory Number 4 : KCR wanted to show he is the boss

Post the agitation on Mallanna Sagar and the High court putting down two executive decisions by KCR within a week, the CM was perceived to be on the back foot. Getting rid of a dreaded don was KCR's way of sending the message that he is in business. That he is a go-getter leader who will not brook any nonsense from an extortionist indulging in settling land disputes using muscle power. 

Theory Number 5 : Wooing Modi and Amit Shah

KCR wanted to impress Narendra Modi and Amit Shah. It is believed that Nayeem using the alias of Kaleemuddin invited Sohrabuddin and his wife Kauser Bi to Hyderabad in 2005 and then tipped off the Gujarat cops through his contacts in then Andhra Pradesh police. The couple were subsequently killed in an encounter. It was alleged that the killing took place on the orders of then Gujarat minister of state for home, Amit Shah. It even led to Shah's arrest in 2010, but he was subsequently acquitted. A couple of Andhra police officers were questioned by the CBI in connection with the case but Nayeem was never picked up for questioning to establish his role in the case. 

Theory number 6 : Pressurise Chandrababu Naidu

After the cash-for-vote scam, which resulted in the arrest of Telugu Desam MLA Revanth Reddy and virtually compelled Chandrababu Naidu to shift base out of Hyderabad, KCR has not had an issue to pressurise the TDP with. The Frankenstein monster called Nayeem flourished during the TDP years in power in united Andhra Pradesh (1994-2004) and many of the politicians who interacted with him, were of some consequence in the TDP. The grapevine suggests some of them are still in touch with him. This gives local TRS leaders a stick to beat the TDP with, with the help of mischievous leaks. 

Theory Number 7 : Was Andhra police using Nayeem?

There were reports that Andhra Pradesh intelligence was using Nayeem to snoop on Telangana interests. Andhra sources say that he was perhaps still being tapped for information on Maoists but that seems far-fetched given that it has been nearly two decades since he quit the outlaw group.  

Theory Number 8 : Nayeem as neta?

Nayeem harboured ambitions of entering politics, something that was not palatable to TRS leaders in Nalgonda district. They knew that with his criminal background, he would not be a pushover if he decided to take them on in an electoral contest. They feared he would not play by the rules. 

Theory Number 9 : Nayeem's goldmine

Nayeem was believed to be sitting on property worth some Rs 500 crore, though after confiscating over 400 original documents of property soon after the killing, the estimate is that the wealth could be higher. Most of these lands are in the vicinity of Hyderabad, many of them in the high-worth IT area of Cyberabad. His goons prevented clean transactions and that brought a bad name to Telangana as an investor destination. Getting Nayeem out of the way also sends a message to other operatives, employing similar methods in the same patch.  

Theory Number 10 : Nayeem orphaned by `friends' in the police

Nayeem was of no use to the present leadership of the Telangana police force. Most of the cops who are believed to have handled him, and even benefited from him in getting land at throwaway prices using his gun-toting influence, are now retired. Having little influence in helping him, they would not fancy Nayeem asking them for favours using blackmail as a tool. With no mai-baap left, Nayeem was easy kill.