Mukeem Kala, the man suspected to be the reason for the Kairana exodus, shot to infamy in West UP, and in neighbouring states of Haryana and Uttarakhand, for running a bloody extortion racket.
It was this constant threat of being targeted by Kala’s gang that allegedly drove Kairana villagers out of the district. A majority of the gang members are today either behind bars or dead, but their reign of terror continues.
Kala was arrested in October last year and sent to Saharanpur jail, police said. He was later shifted to the Maharajganj district jail in East UP, where he is currently lodged. But sources say the dreaded criminal still operates the extortion racket from his cell.
“While four members were killed in different encounters, 25 were caught and sent to prison, including Kala,” assistant superintendent of police, Shamli, AK Jha said.
One of the gang members, Wajid Kala escaped from police custody in Saharanpur a few months ago and is still at large. But Jha said the police are close to arresting him. “Another member of the gang, Dr Israr also escaped from Kairana court but was caught again a month ago in a joint operation of Shamli and Panipat police,” Jha added.
Kala entered the world of crime in 2010, when he joined the gang of Mustafa aka Kagga of Gangoh, Saharanpur. His first crime, a robbery in Panipat, Haryana, got him noticed in the gang and Kala never looked back.
In December 2011, after Kagga was killed in an encounter, Kala took over the reins of the gang. Today there are more than 30 cases of loot, robbery, murder, extortion and other crimes registered against him in Shamli, Dehradun, Panipat, Baghpat and other districts.
Kala is also accused of killing four police officers, including Rahul Dhaka, a gunner of the circle officer of Saharanpur, a few years ago. The gunner was reportedly shot at point-blank range while attempting to stop the gangster’s car during a routine check.
Kala’s name surfaced again last year in a jewellery showroom robbery in Saharanpur.
But the Kala gang was not the only one operating in the area. Police said another gang, led by one Furkan, was also running an extortion racket. Former associates of Kala — Shabir, Mehtab and Sader and Dr Israr too ran parallel criminal activities, either by using Kala’s name or on the basis of their individual reputation.