Google ‘Abdul Tunda’ and the website throws up more than 9,000 results of a man sporting heena-dyed hair and beard, accused of serial blasts across Delhi in the early 90’s. In police records, the man, who was allegedly hiding in Pakistan, till his arrest, was Abdul Tunda alias Tunda the bombmaker.
But very few people know that the man Indian authorities were hunting for was not named Abdul Tunda at birth.
Born as Syed Abdul Karim, the 74-year-old alleged LeT bomb maker was named Tunda by intelligence officers and Delhi police after he lost his hand while allegedly making a bomb.
Tunda is not alone in the list of those carrying infamous aliases. Most of the city’s criminals and gangsters – both dead and alive - have aliases which are quirky and unique to them. But many of these names have even more interesting histories behind them.
While some acquired these names either from physical traits such as a missing hand, which could have been ripped apart in an explosion, there are criminals who got their aliases depending on the village or the caste to which they belonged, for example Vikas Langarpuria and Manoj Bakkarwala. Vikas is a Delhi gangster, while Manoj has been accused of stealing over 500 vehicles till date.
Name: VIKAS GULIA
Details: Wanted in more than a dozen dozen murder and attempt to murder cases, Vikas got his name from the village he was born in — Langarpuria village — in Haryana.
Name: NAFE SINGH
Details: Nafe’s aides gave him the name Mantri as he was very intelligent and was almost the second in-command of the Manjeet Mahal gang. Mantri carried a reward of Rs 1 lakh on his head and was arrested in February 2017 after almost a two-year run.
Details: The cops are unsure of how he got his alias. Involved in around 30 cases of murder, extortion and carjacking, Bholu committed suicide in 2015 in Amritsar and was the city’s one of the 10 most wanted criminals.
“Both the aliases — Langarpuria and Bakkarwala — were derived from the places they come from — Langarpur village and Bakkarwala colony,” said a senior police officer.
But some gangsters got their names because of some special qualities or for the position they held in their gangs – some for their sharp brains, some for shooting skills and some for their styles.
“Take for example Nafe Singh alias Mantri who was arrested from Najafgarh area in February. The alias Mantri was given to Nafe by his aides as he was quite intelligent and was almost the second in-command of the Manjeet Mahal group. He was a close aide of the gang-leader Manjeet and used to advice and pass orders to the gang members,” said LN Rao, former deputy commissioner of police.
The list doesn’t end here. There are weird aliases as Imam Saab, Fauji, Shooter, Angrez, Kabar Khoda and Filmy among others.
“Most of these names were given to the criminals by their gang members and aides because of some qualities they possessed. An alleged criminal named Asif Kabar Khoda, who was killed in an encounter, got his name because of the threats he used to make – “Kabar Khod dunga (will dig a grave),” said a senior police officer.
Kishen Pehelwan gang member ‘Shooter’ was given this name by his aides. He was the only person in the gang to shoot and kill people on orders.
Dreaded criminal Sohanbir alias Sombir alias Filmy dropped out of school and joined the Rajesh Naharia-Satender gang as a minor. He was called filmy by as he was very fond of Bollywood heroes and used to imitate them. He even insisted that his aides call him as ‘Bajrangi – The making of a hard core criminal’.
The police is unsure of some aliases and said that some criminals like Bholu, Mangu, Pawan may have been given their names by their parents during childhood.
“But there are also criminals whose original names were either forgotten by cops or unknown. Ask any police officer about Raju Hakla, they won’t be able to recall the original names. Hakla ran a gang of pick pockets,” said an inspector of Delhi police’s special cell.