MUMBAI ~ On a recent Tuesday evening, as news of a man trying to enter the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in Mumbai carrying a gun emerged, a fear seemed to have come true—a terrorist attack on one of India’s premier institutions. The RBI’s security guards had managed to stop him, but the man had fired a round at them. He missed and no one was hurt. Policemen quickly arrested him. And before long, given the sensitivity of the case, the Crime Branch took over.
But as investigators later found out, the assailant, Padma Shekar Nair, was far from a terrorist. He had tried to enter the RBI to rob it. And he wasn’t exactly carrying firearms, but an air gun.
According to Additional Commissioner of Police (south region) Krishna Prakash, “We initially thought it might have been a planned terrorist attack. Why else would someone carry a gun and try to enter the RBI?” Nair initially remained evasive and continued to change his statement to the police during interrogation. But eventually they learnt that he was a resident of Kochi in Kerala. And that he had earlier allegedly cheated the proprietor of a lottery centre in Kochi and made off with Rs 3.5 lakh in cash. The police were able to recover around Rs 40,000 from him. They also learnt that Nair had visited Mumbai on 21 March, remaining here until 27 March.
As it turns out, Nair seemed quite certain that he was going to make it big with his planned RBI heist. According to his uncle, Gopinath Nair, he had written to his mother a few days prior to the incident saying he had found a job in Mumbai and that he was going to return home a millionaire.
It is likely that Nair also suffers from clinical depression. According to Prakash, when he was interrogated on the day of the attempted robbery, he was speaking incoherently. “When we made inquiries at his native place, we learnt that he was being treated for depression,” he says. “He may have been suffering from depression, but if he was trying to rob the RBI,” he adds, “one thing is certain. He wasn’t particularly bright.”▪