Friday, April 1, 2011


This is one guy who must be inspiring awe and envy even amongst gold-plated and pedigreed billionaires like Sunil Mittal, Mukesh Ambani and Kumar Mangalam Birla. And why not? If you go by sensational media reports, this obscure stud farm owner blessed with a poker expression and fancy sunglasses, has stashed away more than $8 billion outside India. Currently in custody and being prosecuted by the Enforcement Directorate, the curious case of Hasan Ali Khan keeps getting more headlines simply because the Supreme Court has started asking uncomfortable questions to the Government. There are loud whispers, sly leaks and naughty innuendos about Hasan Ali 'managing' the black money of sundry high and mighty in the country.

But come on: if this guy was really worth $8 billion, do you really think he would be cooling his heels behind bars like a common criminal? That's not the way things happen in our beloved country. My wager is that if Hasan Ali was actually worth even a fraction of that fabulous amount, he would comfortably ensconced in a five star hospital, with a bevy of doctors with impressive credentials swearing on Hippocrates that his very life depends on his presence inside a hospital. Why, if the media (at least some parts of it) and a suddenly active and aggressive Supreme Court were not pursuing the matter so relentlessly, Hasan Ali would be watching horse races in Pune, Mumbai and Bengaluru. Let us be grateful that he is at least in the dock.

But let us also be realistic and accept the fact that nothing much will come out of this Hasan Ali case aft er the fire and brimstone has started petering out and is replaced by a new set of scandals to be lapped up by the media. Some of you will recall the notorious case of the Jain diaries back in the 1990s when sensational disclosures about the stashing away of ill-gotten wealth in foreign banks was disclosed. The matter went to Supreme Court and numerous politicians were accused – either directly or through strong rumours – about being involved in that case of money laundering. The fact is, nothing much came out of that and not a single person of any significance was convicted of any crime or forced to bring back any ill-gotten wealth from foreign banks.

But more than the long-buried Jain Hawala case, the curious case of Hasan Ali resembles yet another notorious caper that emerged from Maharashtra. [Isn't it funny how the most notorious cases of corruption and anti-national activities emerge from that State?] Yes, I am talking about Abdul Rehman Telgi and the brazen manner in which he could print fake stamp papers worth thousands and thousands of crores of Rupees and get away with it. Aft er a lot of hue and cry, Telgi was arrested and tried. There was compelling evidence that Telgi alone could not have done all that without the patronage of political Godfathers in Maharashtra. Most of us know the names of those political Godfathers.

But we actually got to read more stories about the sexual escapades of Telgi and his subsequent tryst with AIDS rather than concrete action against the real masters behind the fake stamp paper case. Of course, the evidence against Telgi was too strong to be ignored and he was convicted. It is just possible that thanks to the direct intervention of the Supreme Court, Hasan Ali too might be convicted. But the real masters behind Ali?

Forget it. This is India, aft er all.


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