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'Our friend can't be the Beer Man'

By Firdaus Ashraf in Mumbai
February 23, 2007 20:55 IST
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His name strikes fear in the minds and hearts of the ordinary Mumbaikar but for his friends the 'Beer Man', who is accused of killing atleast 15 people since October 2006, was a pious Muslim who always talked of peace and love.

Born Ravindra Parshuram Kantrolu, the alleged Beer Man converted to Islam and changed his name to Abdul Rahim ten years ago after being influenced by a convict in jail.

Recalling his conversion, his close friend Abdul Razzak Patel said, "I know him since childhood. He was a gangster once upon a time but everything changed for him ten years ago. He converted to Islam and was a changed man. He is a very pious Muslim who will not hurt anyone."

Known as Ravi by close friends, the Beer Man, once moved in dangerous company and was involved in the extortion business.

The Fishmarket Lane in Dhobi Talao, South Mumbai, know `Beer Man' as Ravi and everyone in the area is shocked to hear that he may be a serial killer.

Everyone though admits that the Beer Man was associated with the Dashrat Rane gang in the 1980s. The Rane gang had taken on the might of Ashwin Naik gang in Dhobi Talao.

However about ten years ago he severed links with gangsters and even became a police informer.

"He used to be a drunkard and womaniser and was involved in illegal activities," recalled Razzak Patel. "I have never seen a man transformed so much in my life. He influenced me with his Islamic thoughts all the time."

Mohammad Umar Shamshuddin, another friend of the Beer Man, says, "He always used to keep his prayer beads with him. He used to talk of cleanliness and I have never seen him missing his prayers. I too am surprised by the news that he is the Beer Man who killed 15 people." Abdul Rahim always wore a netted cap and sported a beard.

"He used to follow all Islamic traditions and used to fast during the month of Ramzan," says Razzak.

Razzak himself was a Hindu (Rajesh Patel) but converted to Islam after marrying a Muslim woman.

"He taught me namaaz, the Koran and spoke all the time of Hadith (the Prophet's sayings). I just cannot believe he is a serial killer. I think the police have got it wrong," added Razzak.

Asked whether it could not be true that he killed men with homosexual tendencies because Islam prohibits homosexuality, Razak says, "No way. He was a peace loving person. In the last ten years I never saw him losing his cool."

The police claim that the Beer Man was averse to homosexuals being a devout Muslim and therefore only targeted homosexuals.

Another friend of the Beer Man, Ashok Shetty, say, "I am a Hindu but Abdul never discriminated against me. He had many Hindu friends."

Interestingly, Shetty used to visit the Ajmer Dargah with Abdul during the annual Urs and offered prayers.

"Last year too, I accompanied him to Ajmer and we all offered prayers at Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti's tomb. He was a very pious man. He never touched alcohol or beer," added Shetty.

He says, "Three years ago, the police caught me for the minor offence of street fighting. They were not releasing me from prison. In those days no one was ready to be my guarantor. Abdul stood guarantee and I was released." 

Abdul's friends hardly know much about his family except that his wife and daughter live in a village near Pune.

"He had a son too but he died prematurely. His mother too dies after a prolonged illness," recalls Razzak.

After converting to Islam, Abdul frequently visited all mausoleums in the South Mumbai area and was also a close friend of Anwar Tantrik.

The police claim that Anwar used to do black magic and was influencing Abdul in his acts.

However Shetty denied that Anwar was a tantrik and instead he just used to keep a watch at a mausoleum in Marine Lines area of Mumbai.

"The police are floating strange theories. The whole world knows that Anwar is based in Mumbai and he has no connection with any of the criminal activity," concludes Ashok.

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Firdaus Ashraf in Mumbai