The main suspect in the daring attack on BJP leader and former constable Brijpal Teotia in Ghaziabad on August 11 had planned the ambush meticulously with hired killers to avenge his father’s murder 17 years ago, police said on Wednesday.
Investigators learnt the motive after the arrest of four people — Ram Kumar, Nishant, Rahul Tyagi, and Jitendra alias Pope — suspected to be in the dozen-strong gang that the lynchpin Manish Diwan had pulled together to assassinate the prominent Jat leader.
Manish and cousin Manoj, both from Mehrauli village in Ghaziabad, are on the run.
The 52-year-old Teotia and five of his associates were wounded but survived the attack. He is recuperating at a Noida hospital.
“Manish Diwan hatched the plan … He was harbouring a grudge against Teotia since his father’s murder in 1999. Teotia was named in the case, but he came out clean as police had no evidence against him,” inspector general of police (Meerut zone) Sujeet Pandey said.
At least three assassination attempts were made on Teotia before, but the August 11 attack was the most vicious.
Manish and his gang fired an AK-47 assault rifle and small automatic firearms from close range, and riddled Teotia’s Mahindra Scorpio with bullets. They fired nearly 50-60 rounds before leaving the scene on Rawli Road in Ghaziabad, convinced the target is dead.
Police said seeds of a blood feud were sown after four murders at Mehrauli in 1984 and a triple murder near Dasna jail in 1997. The conflict grew when former Delhi police constable Teotia was named an accused in the murder of Manish’s father, Suresh Diwan, in 1999.
“We were not involved in any murder. My brother came out clean in Diwan’s killing. All those who were killed in 1984 and 1997 were Mehrauli residents and Manoj’s family or associates were named in those cases. If they suspect us, we cannot do much about it,” said Vikas Teotia, brother of the BJP leader.
Police said Manish planned the conspiracy after selling a plot of land he owned in Ghaziabad. Flush with funds, he connived with Manoj, hired sharpshooters from professional gangs, and bought an AK-47, an Italian Beretta and a pistol made in an Indian ordinance factory. The gang had a Toyota Fortuner, which was robbed from DLF Gurgaon. All these were ready by August 8.
The conspirators met at Manish’s home in Mehrauli village on August 6 and 8 to finalise their plan.
It was decided that Ram Kumar would trail Teotia on a scooter and gather information about his activities — where he goes, whom he meets.
Manish and his team were aware of the odds, having failed in a previous attempt to kill Teotia on July 12. They had to abandon another attempt when Teotia had gone to meet the Ghaziabad mayor. There were too many policemen, and the BJP leader travelled mostly in his bullet-proof Mitsubishi Pajero.
The chance came when the gang’s spotter saw Teotia in a Scorpio on August 11.
“Ram Kumar was trailing Teotia’s Scorpio since afternoon. CCTV cameras picked up his image, while six witnesses corroborated the presence of the other accused persons at the scene,” a police source said.
“We have enough electronic and recorded evidence against Manish and Manoj.”
Police said the gang included hired shooters Billu and Pehalwan from western UP. A third shooter, Rahul Tyagi, had backed out on August 9 as he wanted more money after learning Teotia’s profile. He was arrested later and charged with criminal conspiracy.
Manoj’s brother-in-law Sansar Singh of Meerut, who knew gangsters operating in the region, is suspected to have introduced the kingpins to the hitmen.
Moreover, Manoj’s friend Sunita, a UP police constable and wife of slain gangster Rakesh Hasanpuriya, had accused Teotia of criminal conspiracy. She had alleged that the Jat leader had informed police about her husband’s before his death in April 2005.
The rest of the gang were either friends of Manoj and Manish, or joined them for money.