New Delhi: Four days after youth Akali Dal leader Vicky Middukhera was shot dead in Mohali last August, Lawrence Bishnoi allegedly made calls to Canada-based gangster Goldy Brar from Tihar jail using the Signal and Wickr Me apps.
The jailed gangster told Brar that he wanted to avenge Middukhera by killing singer and Congress leader Sidhu Moose Wala, sources in the Punjab Police told ThePrint. The 28-year-old singer was shot dead on 29 May.
Bishnoi is believed to have macromanaged the murder — right from arranging fake passports for his brother and a close aide and sending them abroad so they could coordinate the killing without being caught, making sure exortion money reached his associates to purchase guns and figure out logistics, to personally keeping track of Moose Wala’s social media’s activities, the sources added.
While the Delhi Police had earlier alleged that Bishnoi was the mastermind behind Moose Wala’s murder, the Punjab Police said Thursday that the gangster had admitted to his role.
“The first call he made was to Goldy Brar, to discuss how to coordinate the attack. He revealed during interrogation that they spoke through Signal and Wickr Me,” said a Punjab Police officer on condition of anonymity.
Police officers privy to the investigation told ThePrint that during interrogation, Bishnoi said that Moose Wala’s songs made him uneasy, and he felt that one of the singer’s songs, ‘Bambiha Bole’, released in 2020, was in support of his gang’s arch rivals, the Bambiha gang.
Bishnoi hence suspected that Moose Wala was close to the Bambiha gang that had allegedly orchestrated the murder of his friend Middukhera, sources said, adding that the gangster told his interrogators he’d been having sleepless nights since Middukhera was killed.
“’Bambiha Bole’ is a folk song that was recreated by two singers. In fact, the other singer is seen more in the video than Moose Wala,” Gabbar Sangrur, a Punjabi film producer who had previously worked with the singer, told ThePrint. “Bambiha means ‘bird’,” he added.
“Bishnoi said during interrogation that he had no concrete evidence for his allegations against Sidhu Moose Wala. He said that he was extremely upset after Middukhera was murdered and wanted to hit back at the Bambiha gang. So he ordered the hit,” the officer quoted earlier said, adding that no proof of a link between the deceased singer and the Bambiha gang, or of them being in contact, had been found so far.
Moose Wala’s then manager Shagunpreet’s name had cropped up during the investigation of Middukhera’s murder, but he allegedly fled the country soon after. “When told that Shagunpreet’s name came up only later, Bishnoi said he had already suspected his involvement,” said a source in the Punjab Police.
“He said that Moose Wala’s songs and their gun culture references were a taunt to the Bishnoi gang, which is the Bambiha gang’s arch rival,” the source further said, adding: “Bishnoi assumed Moose Wala supported the Bambiha gang, and feared that the singer, a Congress leader, would now further help that gang. He kept saying, ‘He (Moose Wala) was anti us,’ (against us).”
According to police sources, Bishnoi arranged for a weapons dealer and also made multiple calls from Tihar to his gang members to procure the weapons.
“Bishnoi hatched a conspiracy to mislead the police and protect his brother Anmol Bishnoi and close associate Sachin Thapan. He arranged for them to flee the country before the killing, as part of the entire murder plan,” Punjab Police Additional Director General of Police (ADGP) Pramod Ban told mediaperons.
Sources said that Anmol and Thapan fled to the US through Dubai, adding that Anmol left in January and is currently believed to be in Mexico, while Thapan left the country in April.
Bishnoi ‘stalked’ Moose Wala through Instagram reels
Sources further told ThePrint that Bishnoi allegedly stalked Moose Wala through his social media accounts regularly, and kept track of his movements through Instagram reels. However, the gangster allegedly told the police that he was only involved in the macro planning, while payments and logistics were arranged by other gang members and Brar.
“Asked if the gang made extortion calls to Moose Wala, Bishnoi said that Brar may have got that done and that he had no idea about them,” another police source said, adding: “Bishnoi wanted to create an impact — killing someone who is famous.”
The Delhi Police have arrested two shooters who were allegedly involved in the singer’s killing, while four others have been identified but are yet to be arrested. Two cars and multiple sophisticated weapons were used in the attack. According to sources in the Delhi Police, these weapons are suspected to have been dropped by drones from Pakistan.
Sources in the Punjab Police said that around Rs 40 lakh was spent on transportation of the weapons and other logistics.
Sent aides abroad with ‘fake passports’
“To execute this plan, he (Bishnoi) procured passports for his brother Anmol Bishnoi and Sachin Thapan on fake particulars that were issued by Delhi RPO (regional passport office), and made them flee the country before the execution of this murder. He settled them abroad from where they could coordinate and facilitate this crime without being noticed or held culpable,” ADGP Ban said.
The passports, accessed by ThePrint, indicated that Anmol fled the country under the name ‘Bhanu Pratap’ while Thapan left as ‘Tilak Raj Toteja’.
Anmol has 18 cases lodged against him and was released from a Jodhpur jail on bail in October 2021, while Thapan has 12 cases lodged against him, the ADGP said.
“A deeper probe will be conducted to unearth the modus operandi and role of officials in this unholy nexus in which persons with criminal backgrounds manage to procure passports on fake particulars from RPO Delhi and flee the country,” the senior police officer added.
(Edited by Gitanjali Das)