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A gangster’s battle for his dignity

Rahul Jadhav was a gangster and a drug addict. He transformed his life and to spread awareness about de-addiction, he completed a run of 1476 km in 19 days & 7 hours between two major states of India

Rahul has completed 22 marathon run events, and three solo runs so far.

Today he lives a simple but happy life. He works for Morde foods, a chocolate production company and run marathons.

Please watch a short video on his transformation journey and don't miss to read his full interview with Inspirational Beings team to know his battle for regaining dignity in society.

Please tell us about your family background and education

I am from the lower strata of society, my father worked as a supervisor in a small private firm, and we were meeting our primary need. I was the youngest of the three children. I have an older sister and brother. I completed my high school but left college halfway.

How did you enter the criminal world?

In college, I had a girlfriend, but she was married off by her parents as at that time, I was neither earning nor had financial support to back me. Her parents wanted a financially well-settled man. Thus, I started feeling that only wealth could change my fortune. I wanted people to value me for being wealthy and powerful. I wanted to be rich in a short time, so I decided to start earning and thought that education was a waste of time. I got into a company of criminals and local goons of our area. They hired me for doing criminal activities like hawala transactions and extortion. For every $ 15000 my earning was $1500, and I felt it was huge money for the simple work. I continued hawala activities for some time.

Meanwhile, my father tried persuading me to leave those criminal activities. He was insisting for me to take up a computer course so that I could get a job. Internet was a new concept in India, then. I joined computer classes and learned the internet, but I was taking that knowledge, enhancing my skills to apply in the criminal world. With those skills, I could manage valuable data of wealthy people for my criminal boss; we exploited that data for extortion activities. I wanted to become famous and influential in our gang, so I further got trained in operating gun and became gunman.

I was continuously on the run because of fear of police or threat of different gangs; my company was only goons and criminals, and our resting places used to be the bars. In that atmosphere, I got addicted to alcohol and drugs. I didn't mind that. It used to boost me to keep my head lighter while doing crimes. I continued these activities for seven years. Finally, when police took me into the custody and put in a jail in 2007, I had 11 cases against me, which included three attempts to murder charges.

How was your mindset in Jail, and why did you think of leaving the criminal world?

Days in Jail were difficult. In that lonely time, I started thinking about the life I lived post leaving my education and house. I had become a shame and embarrassment for my entire family.

My parents never accepted any money from me. My brother was not getting marriage alliances because of my criminal background. I was stamped as a permanent nuisance from the world. In the same time, I was hearing about the stories of my criminal friends who were forsaken by their families. One friend got arrested and lost his father to a heart attack as his father couldn’t bear the news of him being arrested for criminal activities. Many of them became addicted and sick. All those thoughts started haunting me, and there was no alcohol or drugs which could give me temporary relief by stopping those thoughts or where I could hide my frustration and loneliness.

I started hating the life of a criminal and wanted an ordinary life of a common man. At the same time, I was vulnerable and doubtful about my acceptance in my own family or outside society. I decided to reform my life; the first step was getting released from prison. I couldn't afford a lawyer, thus started learning the law for preparing my bail papers. I made and presented my argument and got bail and was relieved from Jail after three years of imprisonment.

How was your life after you were relieved from Jail? Why you again relapsed in addiction?

After my release, I returned home. Though I was determined to change, people around me, including my family and police, were skeptical about my intention and behavior. With my father’s encouragement, I attempted many job interviews and finally managed to get a job. After five months suddenly cops came to my office, they grabbed me by the neck and started interrogating. My co-workers and supervisors were offended as it was their workplace. Later police went, but all my co-workers had become suspicious about me, and I had to leave that job. After that, I attempted many interviews, but all prospective employers were asking for character certificate or reference from previous employers. Since I couldn’t produce either of them, I was rejected everywhere and eventually relapsed into addiction. The stage continued for another three years when the good news came; I was acquitted from all the criminal charges. Though it was a relief from police nagging and legal cases, I was emotionally broken because of my addiction and had lost hopes on life. Due to cheap drugs, no food and sleep for days together, my health had deteriorated. My family took me to the health center for my addiction therapy, though medical treatment was severe, I completed it. The doctor suggested joining the Muktangan Rehabilitation center for further recovery.

Tell us How you developed an interest in running in Muktangan rehabilitation center?

After I stayed sober in Muktangan center long enough to start working, I started working for the center as it was impossible to get a job outside without a character certificate. I used to work for 15 hours a day and clean toilets, throw trash, do other cleaning activities, and helping counselors in managing new addicts who used to vomit or have outbursts in the center. Meantime I was regularly attending my counseling session. Once when my counselor insisted in me finding out what I was good at, I thought a lot and a thought flashed in my mind, I thought, “I have been running all this while from the police, from the places, the people I shot at, from the goons of rival gangs, to hide myself from my failures and the world.” I figured I was good at running. My counselor, Habiba Jetha, encouraged me to practice running, so I started my running practice. Very soon, I realized an important fact; my running helped me in releasing my anger and the turmoil of my past life. With the help of a rehabilitation center director, Mukta Puntambekar, I enrolled myself for a 10km run, and I completed the race in 54 minutes. Finishing that run gave me the boost of confidence I needed, and I was motivated to practice long-distance running and marathons.

Your best and worst moment in the journey from normal man to an addict and criminal and a marathon runner?

My happy moments : My family never accepted a single penny from my criminal income. Later, when I started working and staying in the Muktangan rehabilitation center as a housekeeper and fertilizer project worker, I was not earning any salary in the form of money then. One day my mother came to meet me, and as a gift, I gave her a sack of fertilizer which was costing only $1, but my mother proudly took it as it was out of my hard work. The other incident is, I happened to meet a reformed addict with his wife on the railway station whom I had helped and counseled when I was working for Muktangan rehabilitation center; they greeted me with welled eyes and said, “Because of your support, we are living a happy life.”

My worst moment: Once, the police were taking me from court to Jail in their vehicle, I was handcuffed, and police guards with machine guns were seating with me. When in the traffic, we came in front of a school bus, all kids started pointing out at me and shouted: "Thief, thief, robber” some of them were scared, and others began glaring at me scornfully. I felt awful as I love kids, I have never injured any kid in my lifetime; in my college days, I always played with young kids. I couldn't swallow that hatred and felt ashamed of my life.

His Message to others

Once you make up your mind and take action with full dedication, overcoming any problem or addiction is easy. We may not have a chance of correcting the beginning, but we can undoubtedly impact ending and finally, if the ending is happy, then everything is good.

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