New Delhi: On 27 March, gangster Kuldeep Maan alias Fajja was killed in an encounter with the Delhi Police Special Cell. Fajja had escaped from police custody following a shootout at a hospital in northeast Delhi.
Days later, on 2 April, Delhi Police arrested five members of the Lawrence Bishnoi-Kala Jathedi gang. The accused were wanted in 17 cases, including contract killings, attempt to murder, extortion etc., registered in Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan and Uttarakhand.
Fajja was a close aide of jailed gangster Jitender Mann alias Gogi whose gang — called the Gogi gang — is involved in extortion and collecting ransom.
Police officials say Fajja’s encounter is only the beginning of a crackdown on the gangsters who continue to operate in and around Delhi, even as the leaders of some of these gangs are lodged in jail.
“Fajja’s encounter is only the beginning of a systematic crackdown against gangsters and gangs operating in the national capital. Raids are being conducted to locate other gang members, associates along with the likes of Fajja and Gogi in Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh,” a source told ThePrint.
As Delhi Police conduct raids to nab these gangsters, ThePrint tracks seven gangs — Lawrence Bishnoi-Sandeep alias Kala Jatheri alliance, Jitender Mann alias Gogi gang, Manjeet Mahal gang, Sunil Pehelwan alias Tillu gang, Neeraj Bawana gang, Kapil Sangwan alias Nandu gang, Hashim Baba gang — who are on the police’s radar.
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Police officials say these gangs operate in the outer districts of the national capital and many of them believe in the idea of “being a Robin Hood”.
“All of these gangs based in the Delhi-Haryana-Punjab region operate prominently in the outer districts areas of the national capital, areas in and around Rohini, Dwarka, Najafgarh and northeast districts,” a senior police officer said.
Apart from Sandeep alias Kala Jatheri and Kapil Sangwan alias Nandu, the other gangsters run their operations from within the jail.
Lawrence Bishnoi: Bishnoi hails from Ferozpur and is currently lodged in Ajmer jail, along with his associate Sampat Nehra. They had allegedly issued a death threat to Salman Khan in 2018 over the blackbuck case.
Bishnoi, former president of the Student Organisation of Panjab University (SOPU), has over 20 cases registered against him, including attempt to murder, extortion, snatching, carjacking, and other cases under the Arms Act.
Sandeep alias Kala Jathedi: Bishnoi has been working with Sandeep, who escaped from Haryana Police custody in February 2020 and is carrying a reward of Rs 7 lakh. Sandeep has allegedly been involved in 10 murder cases and now runs a syndicate of over 100 criminals.
Sandeep, who earlier operated from Sonipat, is now believed to be shuttling between Dubai and Bangkok. According to the police, he is assisted by a gang member of Lawrence Bishnoi gang, who is suspected to be hiding in a South Asian country.
“Fajja’s escape was planned by the Lawrence Bishnoi-Kala Jathedi gang alliance. He was the perfect man to fill in the void created in the region after Bishnoi’s arrest and the encounters and arrest of other gangsters along with that of Anand Pal Singh and Neeraj Bawana,” a police source said.
“Now that Fajja is dead, the position of Gogi’s closet aide remains vacant, so the syndicate is looking to induct new faces to extort money. All gangs recruit new faces to carry on their gangs, this is for two reasons — no past criminal record and mostly juveniles, who even if apprehended are released in no time,” the source added.
“There are many who believe in the idea of being a Robin Hood by picking up guns and killing those with money. Most are inspired by Dawood Ibrahim and think that they will all become like him one day,” the source further said.
Rival gangs — Jitender Mann alias Gogi gang & Sunil Tillu gang: Gogi is a native of Alipur village in Delhi.
“Gogi, a school dropout, took to crime after his father’s demise. He first fired at a man in 2010 and then during elections at Shraddhanand College, DU. He formed his gang in 2011,” another source said.
Gogi and Sunil Tillu emerged after criminal Neetu Dabodia was neutralised in 2013 and Neeraj Bawana was arrested in 2015.
Gogi, who formed an alliance with the Lawrence Bishnoi—Kala Jathedi gang, is lodged in Delhi’s Mandoli jail currently. He has been booked for over a dozen cases of murder, extortion and dacoity. He was allegedly involved in the murder of Haryanvi singer Harshita Dahiya in 2017.
Gogi and Sunil Tillu have been at war with each other for a long time now.
Police sources say that the rivalry between Gogi and Tillu, a native of Haryana’s Jhajjar, started during a students’ union election at Shraddhanand College in 2013.
Sunil alias Tillu from Tajpur, Delhi has has been named in over 22 cases of murder, extortion, dacoity, robbery, and assault on police.
Manjeet Mahal & Nandu gang: Manjeet Mahal gang and Nandu gang have been arch-rivals since 2015. Police claim that Mahal, a native of Najafgarh’s Mitraon, who was arrested in 2016, was allegedly involved in planning the murder of former Indian National Lok Dal MLA Bharat Singh, brother of Delhi gangster Krishan Pehalwan.
Mahal operated in the outskirts of Delhi and his gang comprises criminals from Delhi, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand.
Kapil Sangwan alias Nandu, who operates his gang in Delhi’s Najafgarh had jumped parole in 2019 and has been absconding since. Sangwan’s gang, according to the police, is involved in gang-related violence in Delhi’s southwest area and outer districts. He is allegedly involved in multiple cases of murder, attempt to murder, extortion and Arms Act. His brother Jyoti Baba was nabbed by the counter intelligence team of Delhi Police Special Cell in July 2020.
The Nandu gang, led by both the brothers, had allegedly gunned down Mahal’s father in January 2017.
Hashim Baba gang: Gangster Hashim Baba, operating in northeast Delhi’s trans-Yamuna area, was nabbed by Delhi Police in November 2020 after a brief exchange of fire.
Hashim, who entered into the world of crime through gambling network in 2007, has multiple cases pending against him, including extortion, murder, and attempt to murder.
He is believed to have entered the crime world at the age of 25 and formed his gang that terrorised northeast Delhi. Hashim, according to the police, wanted to be like Dawood Ibrahim.
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How do they operate?
These gangs extort money from their targets by killing their close aides, blackmail them by showing videos of their shootings, and issue threats through social media profiles.
“They mostly target builders, businessmen, contractors and those with illegal money [who] are already vulnerable. Saddam alias Ghauri, a sharp shooter who ran an extortion racket, showed his victims videos of his shootings to scare them. They also gun down associates of businessmen and property dealers to send a warning to the main target,” another senior police officer said.
The tech challenge
Even as the Delhi Police calls Fajja’s encounter the beginning of a systematic crackdown, what remains a huge challenge for it is “tech-savvy” gangs who operate from within prisons.
“Gangsters operate their gangs from inside jails, cell phone usage is a known thing in jails. Even though the most notorious ones are shifted from one Delhi jail to another within 3-4 months, they still have communication with members outside,” another senior officer said.
“They use social media — Facebook, Messenger, Wickr, Telegram — to send their messages. They also post things on their handles and gangster pages. Instructions for executing orders are also sent through these apps,” the officer added.
Add to this, even with massive surveillance and raids, it becomes difficult for the police to trace details of men recruited by these gangs as many of them are juveniles and don’t have a past criminal record.
“Besides surveillance, social media is also being continuously tracked to keep tabs on them. When lead gangsters are arrested, other gang members go on the look [out] for youths to recruit who want to keep up guns and get into their business of crime. Some of them are found to be juveniles due to which in the initial years, even if they are apprehended, they manage to get relief of legal provisions,” DCP Chinmoy Biswal, PRO said.
(Edited by Neha Mahajan)
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