An eighteen-month-long wait, an anonymous tip, a night-long vigil, a high-speed chase, whizzing bullets is what it took before the Delhi Police laid hands on one of their biggest prizes.
Neeraj Sehrawat, better known as Neeraj Bawana, who ruled Delhi's underworld, terrorised businessmen and realtors with extortion demands , grabbed land and was wanted in murder cases, was arrested early Tuesday, police said.
An aide, Mohammad Rashid Khan, who was with him in the car was also nabbed after a brief gunfight with the personnel of the Delhi Police's special cell near Mundka on the western periphery of the city at around 3.45am.
"Bawana was a ghostly figure for us as neither he nor those around him used mobile phones to avoid tracking. He used internet-based communication system and camouflaged his location," SN Shrivastava, special CP (special cell), said.
Police were tipped off that the gangster was travelling from Mumbai to Delhi and would visit family in Bawana.
The elusive gangster, who took his name from the agricultural-industrial belt of Bawana in western Delhi where he comes from, was also wanted in neigbouring states of Haryana, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh ever since he jumped parole in 2013.
The Delhi Police conducted 20 unsuccessful operations to nab Bawana who has 40 cases against his name. They arrested some 36 of his men, but he would always make his escape hours and even days ahead of police raids, sources said.
As he played hide-and-seek with the police, he favoured cities in western India - Mumbai, Ahmedabad and Silivassa - as his hideouts but also had bases in east and central India, police said.
Believed to be an opium addict, Bawana didn't use public transport. Irrespective of the distance, he would use a car or an SUV to visit Delhi. To keep police off his trail, he would not use a car for more than a week.
Born in 1989 to a Delhi Transport Corporation conductor Prem Singh and Sudesh, Bawanawas first arrested in Haryana while planning a robbery. He was 18.
"He never looked back and developed a formidable syndicate. He befriended, waylaid and killed many gangsters and local criminals," a police official said.
He collected a steady stream of cash extorting factories operating in Narela and Bawanaand was also the protector of gambling and betting dens, the official said.
When friend-turned-foe Neetu Dabodia was killed in a gunfight with the police on October 26, 2013, Bawana sensed an opportunity.
"He wanted to be the don of Delhi, and even adopted the signature style of Dawood Ibrahim in the way he ran his extortion empire," a senior police official said.
His brother Pankaj and mother were recently arrested from the IGI airport for carrying illegal ammunition.
The police are also investigating if former Mundka MLA Rambir Shokeen, who joined the Congress a month before the recent Delhi elections, helped Bawana, his nephew, evade law.