I too went to the Kaun Banega Crorepati show expecting to become a Crorepati, but returned as ‘na ban saka Crorepati’, more than a wee bit disappointed monetarily. However, the spin-offs outweighed the monetary ones – lost friends, schoolmates, college-mates, relatives from far and wide (both by blood and distance) reconnected. Some merely to re-establish contact and some perhaps flaunting their association as long-lost buddies. My octogenarian parents and mother-in-law, likewise, were flooded with calls keeping them busy too. Dormant relatives came back alive too, temporarily though. My wife, disappointed, did not watch the telecast, but was equally busy.

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Some friends in Nagaland were anxious: whether I had already received the prize money (the visual dramatization shows that the prize money is instantly transferred); when am I travelling to Mumbai and the return (few people are aware that it is not a live telecast but a ‘recorded-live’ show); how much money would I receive (friends in Nagaland are not aware of the concept of ‘income tax’ because they are blissfully exempt); and last but not the least – how would I spend the prize-money.

Some conversations got lost in the process of ‘editing’ by the channel, probably attributable to time constraints. Let me dwell on some of the ‘edited’ conversations here.

I started off mentioning about the Dzukou Valley fold-mountains of Nagaland but also about the Pangti village being the annual destination of ‘Amur Falcons’ and Nagaland being the Amur Falcon capital of the world. From Nagaland,  the falcons fly almost nonstop to South Africa, in about three days. The state forest department has embedded tracking chips in a few Falcons. Without a mention of the annual Hornbill festival, the introduction of Nagaland would obviously have been incomplete.

Also Read | Amur Falcon: The most successful conservation story in the world from India’s Northeast

When I answered the question on ‘dogecoins’ and ‘stablecoins’ being ‘cryptocurrencies’, I sought to know whether AB had indulged in cryptocurrency trading. His answer was an unambiguous “No”, elucidating further “I am a brand ambassador of RBI, and have to be cautious about not being involved in some thing which may not be legal.” It was a sound explanation.

The first day ended with Amitabh Bachchan asking about jail reforms and was surprised when I mentioned about the plan to set up ‘petrol stations’ to be run by inmates of the jails. It is at some stage here that he mentioned about Abhishek Bachchan’s recent release ‘Dasvi’, a movie which I hadn’t watched but did subsequently – a movie based on a politician’s antics in jail, being disciplined by the ‘jailor’ and subsequent resolve to complete ‘Dasvi’ before release or resumption of office as Chief Minister again.

It is at this juncture that I mentioned about Abhishek being a better actor than him, and one could see a glimmer of pride in father-Bachchan something which was widely circulated on social media. However, what got edited during the telecast was my assessment and reasoning – that the quality of acting being equal, Abhishek has performed in a wider genre of movies than his father at the same age in their respective careers. Amitabh’s primary claim to fame was the “angry young man”, I said, as a proud father nodded in agreement.

The next day, AB, inquisitively started with “how did you get the petrol pumps and how the inmates can work there without the risk of their fleeing?” I explained that we requested the Indian Oil Corporation which readily assented and we were currently obtaining requisite Government approvals. Not one to be seen as a ‘lone performer’, I mentioned that many other jails in the country are doing this too and the jails have well-established protocols and procedures for selection of inmates who would be deployed at petrol stations.

Some states even have open jails. Most jails are no longer dungeons but are premises where certain freedoms like those of movement and expression and interaction with the society in its natural state of hustle and bustle are curtailed. Within the jail premises, judicial activism, human rights activists and the executive have ensured that the inmates are treated in ‘humane’ conditions, sometimes better than what some inmates may be able to afford even when enlarged.

“Don’t they run away?” AB intervened. I explained that most jail inmates are ordinary human beings like most of us – having landed up in prisons because of ‘mistakes and errors of judgement or behaviour’ – most often faltering just once. I elaborated that there is a very thin line between a sin and a crime – we are all sinners but only the ones who get arrested are branded as ‘criminals’.

Of course there are some habitual ones, sociopaths or even dangerous and violent ones too – their numbers being miniscule, who need to be treated with firmness.

Then came the Abu Salem conversation. I have always believed in the power of “We”, not “Me”. The story commenced with the fact that Salem had been involved in multiple crimes – almost 80 heinous ones when I joined CBI as Assistant Director of Interpol in 2001. Shortly thereafter there was an incident where a false alarm had been raised about his having been arrested in Sharjah. However, despite a clear-cut official denial by the Indian consulate in Dubai based on inputs from the UAE police, some senior officers had sadly tried to pass off the ‘non-event’ as a failure on my part. However, these brickbats had strengthened my resolve to get Salem. We updated, and consolidated our inputs and records !

I narrated that several Indian agencies – CBI, Mumbai Police and Delhi Police had done excellent investigation in linking Salem with the crimes he had committed. Nonetheless, he had evaded the dragnet and remained elusive since 1993. We put a team in place for fugitive tracking and finally got him arrested in Portugal.

Amitabh Bachchan was cued-in onto the latest ongoing in the Supreme Court of India in Abu Salem where Salem has sought protection from prosecution in cases in India other than those for which Portugal had granted his Extradition to India. At this stage, I explained that the legal position and practice in international law on extradition matters is settled – that a person cannot be prosecuted/punished for offences other than those for which the extradition has been granted.

Abu Salem had been extradited in 7-8 cases only. At that time, it had been consciously decided to seek his rendition only in those cases where there was a strong ‘prima facie’ evidence.

For the benefit of the audience, which I believed would be the entire country and the law enforcement community, I had suggested that the Government of India and police agencies should prepare and send ‘fresh extradition requests’ to Portugal seeking the latter’s consent/approval/permission to prosecute him for the other crimes he was involved in. We still have some time to go before the 25-year period elapses and there is a decent chance that Portugal will accede to the Indian request.

Kaun Banega Crorepati is not just a platform to earn money but a platform for entertainment and celebrating the ‘ordinary Indian’ and also for reaching out – I  tried to celebrate Nagaland and also give a way out in the Abu Salem impasse – the latter got trimmed; hopefully this piece fills the void and we succeed in prosecuting one of India’s most villainous criminals.


Born in Himachal Pradesh, Rupin Sharma, IPS, has been a part of the Nagaland police force for almost two decades. He is currently posted in Kohima as the state’s Director General of Prisons, Homeguards, Civil Defence and SDRF. Views are personal.


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