The word 'underworld' has always revolved around blood-chilling crimes, gunshots, mystery and suspicions and moreover on its emperors, the so-called 'dons'.
Every city has its own underworld empire and a don who reigns it. For Bengaluru, Muthappa Rai was indeed one.
Rai (68) passed away on Friday due to brain cancer. Now what remains is the question hovering on the underworld empire he built. With no successor to rub off, is the empire to meet its end?
As per the reports from closes sources to Rai, he is survived by two sons, Rocky Rai and Rikhi Rai who but clearly is not interested in succeeding the 'throne'.
The former underworld don, Rai was the founder of not-for-profit Jaya Karnataka. The reformed social activist was battling cancer for two years and succumbed to the infection on Friday early morning.
Unlike the other typical don images that we learnt through movies and stories, Rai had reformed his image of an underworld don and dedicated most of his recent years in social service for the people of Karnataka through his not-for-profit organization Jaya Karnataka.
There remained a stark watershed in Rai's life. In his initial days, Rai has had a number of crimes listed under his name. The Karnataka police had issued warrants against him in eight cases under Sections 302 (murder) and 120B (conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code, the Arms Act, and the Explosive Substances Act.
In 2002, Rai was deported to India by Dubai Police, although due to the lack of evidence to prove his involvement in various crimes including extortion, land possession, and links to Dawood Ibrahim, he was acquitted.
Recently, Rai was questioned by the special investigating team (SIT), headed by Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime), Sandeep Patil in relation to the murder of builder Subbaraju.
What remains after Rai's death
Hailing from a good family, Rai had started a good career in a nationalised bank. He was having an exemplar family life with his wife and children when in the late 1980s Rai partnered with a bar and restaurant on Brigade Road, later growing to become its owner.
His consecutive deals with many bouncers and rowdies gradually paved his way to be the undisputed don of the city, particularly after the deaths of the former dons viz. Kotwal Ramachandra, MP Jairaj and Oil Kumar.
Rai's business soon concentrated and flourished on the illegal oil business and tapped into the booming real estate business.
Following the Brindavan incident in the 1990s, Rai started to lose the sand under his feet. While undergoing the court trails on this case, Rai was severely shot several rounds by a contract killer who, dressed as an advocate, carried a revolver inside a book and shot at him.
Later, while in Dubai in 1996, Rai started to improve his business further, growing more powerful. As per the sources, after his acquittal from the Dubai prison, Rai developed more reformed attitudes.
He later started a non-profit called Jaya Karnataka that no sooner became famous in the state for its activities. To forget not, there then came the Bollywood biopic on him by Ram Gopal Varma starring Vivek Oberoi.
While his sons are now busy carrying over their business that ranges from the real estate sector to an own IT company, Rai's close aide-turned-rival Rakesh Malli is seen as the possibility of a successor to his empire. Although, the tough competition and rivalry that remained between both, even before a few months of Rai's critical health conditions, less light is shed on such a chance.
Meanwhile, Rai's nephew Prakash Rai who takes care of the real estate business is the most probable successor. Adding up his chances are the strong familial relations Raj shares with Rai.
As disputes and questions remain after Rai's death, the beginning of an end for his underworld empire is expected by many.