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Gulshan Kumar shot dead!

Syed Firdaus Ashraf and Suparn Verma in Bombay

Gulshan Kumar Gulshan Kumar, who changed the face of the Indian music business, was shot dead as he emerged from a Shiva temple in Andheri, northwest Bombay, on Tuesday morning.

Two men hiding in the hutment colony near the temple fired three shots at Kumar who fell to the ground and tried to crawl to safety into one of the huts. He asked the woman within to shut the door and keep the killers out. But the woman was too shocked to respond, giving the killers time to force their way in and fire another 15 bullets into the music baron's body. Kumar was declared dead on arrival at the Cooper hospital.

Admitted singer Sonu Nigam whom Gulshan Kumar had groomed personally, "He had been receiving threatening calls for the last four days. In his usual style he did not tell anyone about it and ignored the calls. His bodyguard has been sick since yesterday (Monday). Today was his second day alone in public. The killers must have known this. He might have been saved had the bodyguard been around."

While the city police have no clue who the killers could be, Bombay Police Commissioner S C Malhotra told Rediff On The NeT that Kumar's negligence caused his death.

"Even when he was threatened a few days ago, he did not inform us. I am sure if he had done so, we would have been able to save his life like we saved Rajiv Rai." Director Rai, who was threatened last month, had informed the police and was given a bodyguard who shot one of the gangsters when the hoods arrived to extort money from Rai at his central Bombay office.

"I am sure if Kumar had informed us, we would have saved his life too," the commissioner said. When asked if any film stars had been attacked or threatened after the killing of producer Mukesh Duggal in June, Malhotra said, "We don't know what happens in anybody's drawing rooms. But if they inform us about threats issued to them, we will surely protect them."

The police found the taxi in which the killers had fled at Kapas Wadi junction close to the site of the killing.

The killers stole the taxi from Labh Shankar who rushed to the D N Nagar police station and filed a complaint. Sensing trouble, the policemen passed the word on. But it was too late. Kumar had already been shot dead.

The police have obtained a description of the killers from Ram Pal, Gulshan Kumar's driver, who was injured in the firing. Two other witnesses, Madan Sharma and Madhukar Kavakar, have provided the police with some clues, police sources said.

"Every citizen can't be given protection since we have a small force. However, we give protection to individuals after assessing the situation, like we did in Rajiv Rai's case," said Joint Commissioner of Police (Law & Order), Charansingh Azad. There are just 30,000 policemen in Bombay to cater to a population of nearly 10 million, meaning there is one policeman for every 333 people.

The Bombay film industry will shut shop on Wednesday to protest the murder and various extortion attempts being made on Bollywood folk, said Anil Nagrath, executive secretary, Association of Motion Pictures and Television Programmes.

"First they used to deal with builders. Now that they (the builders) have no money, they (the killers) must have decided the film industry is a soft target," Nagrath said

Prime Minister Inder Kumar Gujral was one of the first to express shock at the killing, saying, "This criminal act is totally out of place in a civilised society and particularly in a city known for its discipline and civic consciousness..." Kumar, Gujral said, had "carved a niche for himself in the world of film music. His loss will be mourned by all music-loving people."

Singer Abhijeet, who was close to Kumar, said, "It is a big loss to the music industry. Gulshan Kumar had made history by making film producers realise the potential of music... He exploited that potential and showed the world that it is not only in films you can make money...."

Archana Joglekar, who used to anchor Geet Bahar, a musical programme produced by T-Series, Kumar's company, said the music mogul used to visit the Shiva temple every day. She praised him as a fine businessman, stating, "Gulshanji had a natural knack for smelling money; it was god's gift to him."

Director Tinnu Anand, who had differences with Kumar, said, "We did not part amicably, but his death has really shook me up. No one deserves to die a death like he did. He was a tremendous businessman; it is he who brought music back into films and created an entire industry of it. He was the most hardworking man I know."

He felt there was a nexus between politicians, the police and the underworld that was making things easy for extortionists. "The politicians need the underworld when the elections are on. And the underworld needs money. First it was the builders; now it's us."

Director Mahesh Bhatt, who directed the hit Aashiqui for Kumar, felt, "When you kill Gulshan Kumar, you kill one of the biggest people in the entertainment industry. By killing Gulshan Kumar they are saying, 'We are calling the shots,' and they have proved it... The entire film fraternity is in a state of terror."

RELATED LINK: Gulshan! The lives and triumphs of the man who changed India's music business

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