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Who is Lawrence Bishnoi? ‘Farmer’s son who threatened Salman now in news for Moose Wala killing’

Believed to be the leader of a 700-member gang, Lawrence Bishnoi's tryst with criminal world is said to have begun during his time at Panjab University.

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New Delhi: Google the name ‘Lawrence Bishnoi’ — the man who has been accused of killing Punjabi singer and Congress leader Sidhu Moose Wala — and you are confronted with images of a man in a hoodie, with a well-cared-for beard, a moustache, and flashing black eyes.    

The 31-year-old Bishnoi is believed to be the leader of a 700-member gang that has allegedly been involved in several murders and extortion cases in Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab, and Rajasthan.  

Originally from Dutaranwali, a village near Abohar in Punjab’s Fazilka district, Bishnoi has been in Delhi’s high-security Tihar jail since 2021. But that hasn’t stopped him from actively leading his gang — even those based abroad.  

Sources in the Delhi Police said that Bishnoi, whose name cropped up in Moose Wala’s killing, has shed responsibility for the attack but mentioned that the Punjabi singer was killed over revenge for the murder of Youth Akali Dal leader Vicky Middukhera in Mohali last year. 

Mohali Police issued a Lookout Notice against Moose Wala’s manager Shagan Preet Singh in connection with the murder after he allegedly fled to Australia. 

“Bishnoi said Moose Wala had apparently helped Shagan Preet flee the country,” a source from the Delhi Police said.

Soon after Moose Wala was shot dead while driving in Punjab’s Mansa district on 29 May, Goldy Brar, a Canada-based gangster, claimed the murder via a Facebook post.  

The post also said that the killing was to avenge the deaths of Middukhera and Goldy’s brother Gurlal Brar in Chandigarh in 2020. 

Meanwhile, Sachin Thapan Bishnoi, a cousin of the dreaded gangster, said in an interview with News18 that he had killed Moose Wala with “his own hands”, claiming that the Punjabi singer had given shelter and financial support to Middukhera’s killers. 

“He killed our brother,” Sachin Bishnoi claimed in the interview. 

A source in the Delhi police also said Bishnoi had not been cooperating in the investigation.

So who is Lawrence Bishnoi? ThePrint traces his journey from being an athlete and a student leader to being a man wanted by the police in over a dozen cases.


Also Read: Sidhu Moose Wala’s killing planned ‘6 months ago’ but ‘bodyguards came in the way’


From missionary school to student politics

Son of a well-to-do farmer, Bishnoi studied in a prominent missionary school in Abohar till Class 10 and then moved to Chandigarh for higher education. 

While in classes 11 and 12 in Chandigarh’s DAV College, he developed a keen interest in athletics, especially in the 1,500-metre race, his interrogation report, accessed by ThePrint, said. 

It was while he was studying law at the Panjab University (PU) that he met Sampat Nehra, who would go on to become his close aide. The Punjab Police questioned Nehra in connection with Moose Wala’s murder on 2 June.

In 2018, the duo allegedly threatened actor Salman Khan over a 1998 case in which the actor and some of his colleagues were accused of shooting two blackbucks in Rajasthan’s Kakani. The Bishnoi clan holds the blackbuck sacred.

A student of Chandigarh’s Khalsa College, Nehra would visit the university grounds for sports training. It was here that he met Kala Rana, another suspect in the Moose Wala murder case.

While at PU, Bishnoi was actively involved in student politics. He became president of the Student Organisation of Panjab University (SOPU), a student party, between 2011 and 2012.  

It was also around this time that Bishnoi allegedly had his first brush with the criminal world. He also met his close aide Brar during this period. 

Run-ins with the law

Sources in the Delhi Police claim that Bishnoi had run-ins with the law while he was still active in student politics — even going to jail during that time. 

“He made contacts with other local criminals and understood the importance of networking. He wanted to be the undisputed leader of the nexus running from Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana, and Chandigarh,” a source in the Delhi Police said. 

Bishnoi’s advent into the world of crime began in 2008 when he allegedly shot his friend  Brar’s rival candidate during the PU student body elections, his criminal dossier shows. He was arrested for attempted murder but was granted bail two months later.

While in jail, he allegedly befriended Ranjit Dupla — an arms dealer believed to be based in the US now who allegedly supplied him with sophisticated guns. 

Months after being released on bail, he was rearrested for firing at the winning candidate’s brother to avenge Brar’s defeat, says his dossier.

In 2010, after losing PU’s student body elections, Bishnoi and his friends allegedly assaulted the winning candidate. According to the criminal dossier, he and his friends surrendered after 10 days but was granted bail after a fortnight. 

By 2012, he had left PU but still wielded control over student elections: He allegedly ensured that the members of his ‘gang’ were made candidates in the elections

After this, his visits to jail increased, the dossier showed.  

In 2014, he and his aides, including Goldy Brar, shot dead a rival of his cousin’s friend who was contesting in the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation polls. It was at this time that he also began to show an interest in the liquor trade. 

In January 2015, eight of Bishnoi’s aides helped him escape from police custody while he was on his way to a jail in Punjab’s Ropar for a hearing.

After he was arrested again by Faridkot Police in March 2015 for alleged possession of foreign weapons, Bishnoi was accused of making extortion calls from the jail premises. 

While in jail, his network grew, a source in Delhi Police said.

“Bishnoi would call up his associates outside the prison to order hits on rivals, demand ransom from musicians and sports personalities, and make plans to escape [from jail] for some of his friends,” a source said.

In 2019, Bishnoi was allegedly found using a cell phone inside Bharatpur jail after property dealer Rajveer alias Sonu Shah was killed

Bishnoi was brought to Delhi in 2021 in connection with a Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act case and has been lodged in Tihar since then. However, his contact with the outside world remains. 

“Bishnoi and his associates have moved to Voice over Internet Protocol (a technology that allows you to make phone calls over the internet) communication, and use their associates living in the UK, Canada, and Armenia to send out orders since it’s difficult for Indian agencies to trace servers based outside the country,” the source said. 

(Edited by Uttara Ramaswamy)


Also Read: ‘Inspiration, immortal’ — Fans throng Moose Wala home with talk of revenge & a grim ‘premonition’


 

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