New Delhi: Gunshots rang out at the Rohini district court in Delhi Friday afternoon when two assailants shot and killed gangster Jitender Maan alias Gogi. Delhi Police swung into action, gunning down the assailants. Apart from the three criminals, no one else was injured or killed, according to the police.
The incident, however, has raised the question of security — how did two armed assailants manage to clear police checkpoints when Delhi’s ‘most wanted’, by the police’s reckoning, was in the courthouse?
The answer, it’s turning out, is alarmingly simple: They dressed as lawyers.
“Gogi’s killer had entered the courtroom before him. We suspect they entered from gate no.4, the lawyers entry gate,” a senior police officer told ThePrint, though Deputy Commissioner of Police, Rohini, Pranav Tayal said, “We are yet to confirm the gate.”
Lawyers ThePrint spoke to said there is no frisking at the entry points, ID cards are not checked, cars are not inspected and the metal detectors don’t work. All one needs to enter the premises is a black coat and a white shirt, unlike at the Delhi High Court and the Supreme Court where security is more robust.
Following the shooting, personnel of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police were stationed outside the court premises apart from the heavy police deployment.
Gate no.5, through which the general public is directed, and gate No.6, the entry point through which individuals in custody are brought in by police, have been completely cordoned off. The district court complex has a total of nine gates, of which numbers 1, 3, 7, 8 and 9 are usually kept closed.
Plan of attack
According to police sources, Gogi was shot dead by members of the Tillu gang, run by Sunil Tajpuria, who is currently in Tihar jail. Tajpuria had apparently vowed to eliminate Gogi during a court hearing. The two shooters were identified as Jagdeep and Rahul.
Four bullets hit Gogi, who was declared dead at the hospital. This despite armed policemen escorting him. Over 22 policemen, including officers from the Delhi Police Special Cell, Counter Intelligence Unit and local police, were present in the courtroom at the time, sources said.
A senior police officer, on the condition of anonymity, told ThePrint that the shootout was planned. Jagdeep, the officer said, had told his family he would not be coming home for a week and that he had got a job in the Rohini court.
Terrorist attack — that’s what lawyers and staff inside the Rohini court premises thought when they heard the gunshots Friday noon.
“There was blood, blood all over. It took us a lot of time to understand that three people have been shot dead inside a courtroom. All of us thought it’s a terror attack. We wouldn’t be surprised if tomorrow terrorists enter the courtrooms and kill all of us after this,” advocate R.C. Sharma told ThePrint.
Sharma added this wasn’t the first time such a security lapse has happened. “Today’s is the third such incident,” he added.
In 2017, Vinod alias Balle was shot dead inside the Rohini court complex. In April the same year, another undertrial, Rajesh of the Neeraj Bawana gang, was shot outside gate no.3.
“At one moment, I saw Gogi being brought in, the police personnel had stepped aside and suddenly there was shower of bullets from one end … He fell on the floor motionless and the police started firing at the two men dressed like lawyers. There was total chaos, no one knew where to hide,” said advocate Awadh Narayan, who was present in the courtroom at the time.
Advocate Rajiv Agnihotri, who was on the court premises at the time, said more security personnel have now been deployed and people are being frisked following the incident.
“Almost all the metal detectors don’t work, and most of the time there are no cops standing at the gates. Today it’s a gangster, tomorrow it will be someone very important, probably then the authorities and the police will pay attention to major security lapses here,” he said.
“They have lifted the metal detectors now for showing to you media people, the scanner machines also don’t work here,” Sharma added.
Advocate Deresh Gulia noted that there are a number of CCTV cameras in the court premises, but there isn’t adequate surveillance. “Someone has to see what the cameras record. Remember this happened when Gogi was here for hearing … this explains the magnitude of security lapse at the court.”
When ThePrint asked officers at the spot about the security situation, all declined to comment on how the two assailants managed to carry .38 and .30 pistols into the courtroom.
“There was security deployed only inside the courtroom, what about the entry points? Today it’s this, tomorrow, someone will drop a bomb here,” Gulia said.
Some lawyers claimed that “a female intern was shot in her leg” in the cross firing, though the police did not confirm this.
The lax security is not just at the Rohini courthouse though. In 2015, a Delhi Police constable was killed and three others injured when assailants fired inside the Kardooma district court. In July this year, a man was shot outside a lawyer’s room in the Dwarka court complex.
(Edited by Manasa Mohan)