Notorious gangster Sukhbir Singh Kahlwan, alias Sukha Kahlon, was gunned down by at least 15 unidentified assailants — who even filmed the act and danced around the body in front of the policemen — in Phagwara on Wednesday when six cops were taking him back to the Nabha jail in a jeep after a court hearing in Jalandhar.
The assailants, reportedly belonging to rival gang, in two white Toyota Fortuner SUVs intercepted the police vehicle outside a private school in full public view on GT Road around 4.30pm. Their faces covered, they got the policemen and another prisoner to get off before pumping around 20 bullets into Kahlwan’s body; and drove away without harming the cops or the other prisoner.
Sukha, who took his popular surname from his village Kahlwan in Kartarpur, was facing around 40 cases across India, including two murder cases, seven for attempted murder and eight for robbery in Punjab and Haryana. On Wednesday, he had been brought from the Nabha jail in a murder case to appear before the court of additional district and sessions Judge Harjinder Pal Singh in Jalandhar.
Senior police officials including DIG Jalandhar range, Kapurthala SSP Dhanpreet Kaur, Jalandhar rural SSP Narinder Bhargava and other senior officials of Phagwara police rushed to spot and started investigation in the case.
Phagwara superintendent of police (SP) Gursewak Singh Brar said the incident — on National Highway 1 — occurred “within a few minutes” and the cops “did not get time to react”. A case was registered against unidentified killers at the Phagwara sadar police station and the body sent to the civil hospital. A Muktsar-based rival gang could be involved, believe the police.
After the murder, Kahlwan Facebook page, which he used to operate even from behind bars, was flooded with messages from his fans, such as, “Miss U” and “RIP”. Testimony to his image, some exaggerated the number of times he was shot to “more than 50”.
Called himself ‘sharpshooter’, flaunted acts on FB from jail
Gunned down on Wednesday, Sukhbir Singh Kahlwan, better known as Sukha Kahlon ‘Sharpshooter’, is probably the only criminal who has almost a dozen fan pages and over 20 accounts on Facebook dedicated to him. And at least one of these was operated by Kahlon, who is said to be in his 30s, from inside the jail.
Created by him or his “followers”, most of these accounts are active, on which are posted, regularly, pictures of his activities: brandishing guns, arrests, news reports on him, his court movements in handcuffs, his group’s activities, their weapons, his favourite music, and on one page even his purported WhatsApp contact number.
After he was killed, comments of RIP (rest in peace) were put up by his followers.
One page created in early 2013, which has 25,000 followers, was considered to be his “official” page and believed to be updated by him from jail. On this page, the last post is of January 2 in which he is requesting his followers to listen to one of his favourite songs. On December 31, he wished everyone a happy new year.
On another picture, in which he is handcuffed and is with policemen, he has asked his followers to give a caption. In another post he asked followers to support Gurbaksh Singh Khalsa, an ex-militant who was on a hunger strike to seek release of some Sikh prisoners. In others, he rebuked the Taliban.
Another picture shows him in a village near a field brandishing two guns and saying ‘zulmi bada dukh-dayak hoon main’, a Bollywood song.
Some of his Facebook accounts talk openly about his being in the “profession of killing” and his living in “crime city”. The responses to his posts are sympathetic, glorifying crime. Many followers ask him when he would be out of jail.
In September 2013, he landed the Kapurthala jail authorities in soup when he uploaded two videos via YouTube on his Facebook page of his brutally beating up two other inmates. The videos went viral and the matter was probed.
The police then shifted him back to the Nabha high-security prison where he was currently lodged.
Sukha lived by the gun
When he escaped
Sukha Kahlon had almost 40 cases against him in Punjab, Haryana, West Bengal and Rajasthan for crimes ranging from contract killing to robbery. He was lodged in the Nabha jail but escaped with the help of his accomplices in June 2012 while being taken to a court for hearing. He was then arrested in November 2012 by the Haryana police. Punjab police brought him to the state later. On June 24, 2013, Jalandhar police arrested two men who were allegedly planning to free Kahlon from police custody when he had gone to attend his brother Sona’s cremation at his native Kahlwan village. Pictures of him at the cremation were also posted on his Facebook page.
Death that wasn’t
After he had fled from jail in 2012, Sukha Kahlon was thought to have been killed by a dreaded gangster named Yamin from Uttar Pradesh whom he had reportedly joined while on the run.
When Yamin was arrested by the Hisar police, he said he had got Sukha killed through his relatives and got his body thrown into a river.
However, police probe revealed that he had survived the attack and, though injured, managed to make it to a hospital.
Cops arrested him from Howrah in West Bengal where he was undergoing treatment at a hospital on November 6, 2012.