New Delhi: Singer and Congress leader Sidhu Moose Wala, who was shot dead Sunday evening, had a target on his back for at least six months, sources in the Delhi Police have said.
The Lawrence Bishnoi gang had been planning to eliminate Moose Wala for half a year and had even given a contract to a sharpshooter and wanted a gangster named Shahrukh to carry out the task, the sources alleged. However, they added, Shahrukh, who was arrested by Delhi Police in April, had not been able to carry out the shooting since Moose Wala had four round-the-clock bodyguards.
The murder took place a day after Moose Wala’s security cover was reportedly partially withdrawn by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government in Punjab.
Lawrence Bishnoi, who is currently in Tihar Jail, as well as his associates Shakhrukh, Kala Jathedi, and Kala Rana are now being questioned by the Delhi Police in connection with Moose Wala’s murder.
Sources in the Uttarakhand Police confirmed that five other people were detained in connection with the shooting Monday. “We received information from Punjab Police about a vehicle. We intercepted the car, and Punjab Police interrogated all five of them. During the initial interrogation, the involvement of one of (the suspects with the Lawrence Bishnoi group) surfaced. However, all five were handed over to Punjab police,” an Uttarakhand Police source said.
Soon after Moose Wala was gunned down in Mansa, Punjab, a Facebook profile purportedly belonging to a Canada-based gangster named Goldy Brar claimed responsibility for the attack in a post, also saying he is associated with the “Lawrence Bishnoi group”.
Written in Punjabi, the post claimed that the murder was to avenge the killings of Goldy’s cousin Gurlal Brar and an Akali leader called Vikramjit Singh ‘Vicky’ Middukhera, as they suspected that Moose Wala aided members of the Bambiha gang to carry out their murders. The post further claimed that Moose Wala’s name had come up in the investigation but that he had evaded arrest “using his power”.
“It’s our work. Moose Wala’s name surfaced in our brother Vikramjit Singh Middukhera and Gurlal Brar’s murder, but the Punjab Police did not take any action against him. We also came to know that Moose Wala was also involved in the encounter of our associate Ankit Bhadu. Moose Wala was working against us,” the post purportedly written by Brar read.
While Vicky Middukhera was shot dead in Mohali last year, Gurlal Brar was killed in Chandigarh 2020, with the Bambiha gang claiming responsibility. Ankit Bhadu was shot dead in an encounter in 2019.
When asked if Moose Wala’s name had come up in the investigations into the murders of Middukhera and Brar, Punjab Director General of Police (DGP) V.K. Bhawra declined to comment.
However, the Punjab Police Sunday said that preliminary investigations pointed to Moose Wala’s murder being a result of inter-gang rivalry. DGP Bhawra also said Sunday that Goldy Brar and the Lawrence Bishnoi Group were involved in the killing. The Punjab Police have registered an FIR under sections of the Indian Penal Code, including for murder and attempt to murder, and the Arms Act.
So, who is Goldy Brar and what is his link with the Lawrence Bishnoi gang? And what drives the gang wars of Punjab?
Also Read: The ‘Goldy Brar’ seen with Punjab CM in viral photo isn’t the gangster linked to Moosewala’s death
Who is Goldy Brar? What is his connection to Lawrence Bishnoi gang?
Satinder Singh, alias Goldy Brar, is a key associate of Lawrence Bishnoi and is wanted in connection with over 50 serious crimes, including murder and extortion, a Delhi Police source said. A native of Faridkot in Punjab, Brar has been living in Canada for at least four years, he added.
According to police sources, Goldy Brar’s distant location is leveraged by the Lawrence Bishnoi group, who use him as an intermediary for their communications.
“The gang members know that normal calls and forms of communication will be intercepted and tracked down to them. So, they contact Brar, who is in Canada, who in turn then passes on the message to other gang members. Intercepting these calls becomes a hurdle for investigating agencies since they are routed from servers outside India,” the Delhi Police source said.
According to the Delhi Police source, Brar and Bishnoi met during their time in Panjab University, when they were both involved in student politics.
“Most of these gangsters met during their days of student activism. The Lawrence Bishnoi gang started with Bishnoi, his friends, and cousins… and the network grew over time,” the source said.
In one of the more high-profile crimes linked to the gang, Bishnoi’s associate Sampat Nehra allegedly issued threats to Bollywood actor Salman Khan in 2018 over the blackbuck case. A former president of the Student Organisation of Panjab University (SOPU), he has more than 20 cases registered against him, including those pertaining to allegations of attempt to murder, extortion, and carjacking.
Hailing from Faridkot in Punjab, Bishnoi has been in jail since 2017 — first in Ajmer and currently in Tihar — but still runs his gang from behind bars, sources said.
Over the last few years, the fierce turf battle between the Lawrence Bishnoi and Bambiha gangs has reportedly led to several shootings across Punjab, Chandigarh, Rajasthan, and Delhi.
‘The idea is to make it look gruesome’
The Moose Wala killing has thrown the spotlight on the deadly gang wars of northern India.
“These gangsters mostly use rifles to carry out high-profile murders. The Bishnoi gang is known to shower bullets at the target. They carry out these killings for two motives — eliminating rival gang members, and to send a message to potential rivals and others from whom they want to extort money. The idea is to make it look gruesome. They then claim responsibility on social media to establish their power,” the Delhi Police source said.
In February last year, a Delhi Police special cell team arrested three men days after the shooting murder of Youth Congress leader Gurlal Singh Bhalwan. The accused were allegedly members of the Lawrence Bishnoi gang, which had taken responsibility via a purported Facebook post.
This post had mentioned that the murder of Bhalwan — who they claimed belonged to the Bambiha gang — was to avenge the 2020 killing of Gurlal Brar, who had been a leader of the SOPU.
Goldy Brar had reportedly played a key role in planning the murder of Bhalwan.
The Lawrence Bishnoi gang in 2020 had also allegedly gunned down Ranjeet Rana, a former leader of the National Students’ Union of India (NSUI), the student wing of the Indian National Congress, and a purported member of the Bambiha gang. Back then, too, the Lawrence Bishnoi gang claimed responsibility for the murder, citing vengeance for Gurlal Brar’s death as the motive, via a purported Facebook post.
In August 2021, Vicky Middukhera, who had been a SOPU and Youth Akali leader, was gunned down at a market in daylight. Moose Wala’s manager Shagunpreet was named in this killing, but is said to have fled the country and is believed to be in Australia currently.
Shagunpreet had reportedly arranged for the stay of the shooters, who were allegedly working for Lucky Patial, a leader of the Bambiha gang. Davinder Bambiha, this gang’s ‘founder’ and whose name it still goes by, was killed in an encounter in 2016.
This March, after 12 members of the Lucky Patial-Bambiha-Kaushal gang were arrested in a multi-state op, a Delhi Police source had told ThePrint that funding for these criminal nexuses came from “the Punjab pop music industry and sports — kabaddi”.
These industries are indirectly controlled by gangs, which generate sizeable revenue not only in India but also in UK, US, Australia where their “handlers” are based, the police source had said then. He had further said that the Bambiha “alliance” had also threatened singer Mankirt Aulakh.
In the Moose Wala case too, Aulakh’s name has popped up, with the Bambiha gang alleging that he was involved in the murder.
Moose Wala was ‘receiving threats’ before shooting
In his statement to the police, Sidhu Moose Wala’s father Balkaur Singh reportedly claimed that his son would often receive threat and extortion calls from members of the Lawrence Bishnoi group.
Speaking to ThePrint, a friend of Moose Wala — who contested the 2022 Punjab assembly election — also said that the slain singer had received calls demanding money from the Lawrence Bishnoi group.
“[Moose Wala] is a world-famous singer, a politician, so they made calls to extort money. He isn’t associated with any gang,” the friend said.
While the Punjab Police have not officially commented on Moose Wala’s association with any criminal organisation, a source in the force said his killing was “a suspected case of gang rivalry”.
According to sources in the Punjab Police, Moose Wala was shot at by six men in two cars, using automatic weapons, when he was on his way to Jawaharke village with his cousins. The assailants waylaid Moose Wala’s car and fired at him, the Punjab Police source said. They are yet to be identified.
“CCTV footage showed Moose Wala’s vehicle being followed by two cars from a distance. He was travelling without his personal security and had also not gone in his bullet proof vehicle. He was shot at multiple times. Over 40 bullets were fired,” the source added.
(Edited by Asavari Singh)
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