New Delhi: He is an aspiring model, a TikTok buff and loves fast bikes. He always aspired for fame and dreamed to see his picture on the cover of a fashion magazine.
But when he finally made it big, it was for his notoriety — pointing a gun in public during the worst Hindu-Muslim riots in the national capital since Partition, and becoming one of the main faces of the horrific violence.
Shahrukh, infamous as the ‘shooter in a red shirt’, finally landed in the police net Tuesday. He has been booked for attempt to murder, under the Arms Act, and for using criminal force to deter a public servant from performing his duty.
Went to ‘save’ protesting sister
During questioning, Shahrukh told the police that he went for the protest and did not intend to take out his pistol, but did that “in the spur of the moment” when the “other side” started pelting stones.
Shahrukh’s neighbours, however, told ThePrint that his sister was one of the protesters at the Jaffrabad sit-in protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act, and he went to the site to “save her” when he got to know about the violence that had broken out in the area.
“He got very angry when he got to know about the violence, and that is why he went to the site, to protect his sister. This could possibly be a reason why he carried a pistol with him,” one of his neighbours said on the condition of anonymity.
Father has cases against him
According to the police, Shahrukh, who runs a sock-manufacturing factory from his residence, does not have a criminal record. However, his father has two cases registered against him — under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, and for allegedly smuggling Fake Indian Currency Notes.
A second neighbour claimed that the father, Shabbir, came out of jail on bail just three days before the incident.
Shahrukh’s father was a Sikh, who fell in love with a Muslim woman and converted to marry her. “That is the reason why Shahrukh loves Punjabi songs,” a police source said.
Addicted to PUBG, smoked hookah
According to the police, Shahrukh was pursuing his BA but dropped out in the second year to make a career in modelling.
“He got portfolios made, went to the gym every day to build his body, and wanted to be a music video star,” said a senior police officer said.
When ThePrint visited Shahrukh’s residence in Arvind Nagar, many of his neighbours said that he is a “fun-loving” person, who is “addicted” to the mobile game PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, better known as PUBG.
“He is a PUBG addict. If he was not playing that, he would be in the gym. Most of his friends from the gym were Gujjars,” said Shahbaz, his neighbour.
“The family was looking for a suitable bride for him. His mother was annoyed with his habits and wanted him to settle down and take part in the family business.”
Shahrukh, who loved to go out with his friends and smoke hookah, had even shot for a music video which is up for release.
“He said he had shot for the music video and had worked hard for it. He said he was upset that the video will not be released anymore,” a senior police officer said.
Went around Delhi for a day, slept in parking lot in CP
After Shahrukh’s picture went viral, he left home in his car and went around Delhi for more than 24 hours to evade arrest.
According to another police source, he also slept inside his car at a parking lot in Connaught Place.
“He slept inside his car in CP, and the next morning, he left for Jalandhar, Punjab, to meet his friend. But then he did not go there and went to Bareilly instead,” a police source said.
“Before reaching Bareilly, he also stopped over at Panipat, Amroha and Kairana. He stayed in Bareilly for a few days and then left for Shamli He was leaving from Shamli and was at the bus stop when we nabbed him.”
Chenu gang link
Shahrukh also told the police that he went to the protest on 24 February at the encouragement of a friend, and took out his pistol after stone pelting in the area began.
Police have found instances of Shahrukh having been in touch with members of the Chenu gang — a criminal gang known to operate in Northeast Delhi and parts of UP — though it has not been established whether he worked with them or not.
The police said the weapon Shahrukh used was a semi-automatic 7.65-bore pistol made in Munger, Bihar, which he had procured two years ago.
“A labourer from Munger who worked at Shahrukh’s sock-manufacturing unit had got him the pistol two years ago. It is a good quality country-made weapon,” the officer said.
“During interrogation he said that he was carrying five bullets with him, of which he fired three and misplaced two.”
When the police asked why he was in possession of the weapon, Shahrukh apparently said he got it “for pleasure”.
“He said he felt good walking around with a pistol and that is the reason he had ordered it. He said though he kept the weapon for fun and for people to take him seriously, he never used it,” the officer said.
It is still unclear if the bullets fired by Shahrukh hit any of the protesters. “He is seen pointing the pistol at a policeman, but he did not fire at that time. He fired three to four random rounds but we still do not know if those bullets hit anyone. What we know for sure is that over 500 bullets were fired in the violence,” the officer said.
The police are now probing if Shahrukh was in regular touch with members of the Chenu gang, and if he was involved in arranging weapons for rioters.
“We have also seized his mobile phone to ascertain if he was involved in inciting the violence by instigating or leading a mob in any way,” the police officer said.