(Eds: adds time of death, details, reax) Bengaluru, May 15 (PTI) Reformed underworld don N Muthappa Rai died battling cancer at a private hospital here on Friday, hospital sources said.
Rai, 68, was suffering from brain cancer for the past one year and was admitted at Manipal Hospital on Old Airport Road, where he died at 1.34 am, they said.
Rai is survived by two sons.
'After a prolonged illness and hospitalisation, we regret to inform the demise of 68 years Mr Muthappa Rai.
He breathed his last at 1.43 am today,' the hospital said and conveyed its condolences to the bereaved family.
Rai's last rites were performed at Bidadi on Friday, family sources said.
Born into a Tulu-speaking Bunt family in Dakshina Kannada's Puttur town, Rai entered the crime world at a very young age.
Karnataka police issued arrest warrants against Rai in eight cases, including murder and conspiracy.
In 2002, Rai was deported to India from the United Arab Emirates.
On arrival, he was questioned by various investigation agencies such as the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) and Intelligence Bureau (IB), and by the Karnataka police.
He was later acquitted due to lack of evidences.
About two months back, a police team probing the activities of another underworld don Ravi Pujari, who was deported from Senegal, wanted to question Rai, based on the information provided by the former.
However they could not question him due to his ill health.
In his reformed years, Rai founded a charitable organisation called 'Jaya Karnataka'.
He acted in a Tulu film 'Kanchilda Baale' in 2011 and Kannada film 'Katari Veera Surasundarangi' in 2012.
Bollywood director Ram Gopal Varma wanted to make a movie based on Rai's life. The film roped in actor Vivek Oberoi for the lead role and it was shot in Bengaluru, Mangaluru, Mumbai, Dubai and London.
However, it was not released due to production delays.
Rai was enthusiastic about the film and even celebrated his birthday with Varma and Oberoi.
After his cancer diagnosis, Rai withdrew from public life and resigned from Jaya Karnataka.
The Karnataka Athletics Association, of which Muthappa Rai was president for two years, mourned his demise.
Calling Rai a sports lover and sports promoter, the Association said in its condolence message that Rai's contribution towards developing athletics all over Karnataka for the past two years was 'inspiring.' His main aim was to develop athletics at the grass root level and produce many international level athletes, the association said. PTI GMS APR RAVINDRANATH APR RAVINDRANATH