Famous for adding muscle to the Indian Army every year, the Shekhawati region of the state -- comprising districts Sikar, Churu and Jhunjhunu -- has also given Rajasthan its most wanted criminal, Anandpal Singh.
Absconding since last September, the gangster rose from being a petty shopkeeper, who contested a local body polls unsuccessfully, to become the state’s dreaded criminal. Anandpal now carries a bounty of Rs 5 lakh.
However, with the arrest of several of his aides in the last three months, especially Mahipal Singh and Azad Singh, the right hand men of the criminal, the Anti Terrorist Squad (ATS) and Special Operations Group (SOG) have claimed to be closing in on Anandpal. Mahipal and Azad were arrested on Saturday separately from Udaipur and Mauli in Haryana.
“We have broken the backbone of the Anandpal gang and now it is a matter of time before we arrest their leader. Monty and Azad used to be the brain and muscle of the gang…We have placed multiple teams in different locations and ensured that there are no loose ends (to arrest the fugitive criminal). For this case, we have ventured beyond the conventional methods of working and used new techniques which have been extremely instrumental tracking the miscreants down,” said superintendent of police (ATS), Vikas Kumar.
For the last few months, a team led by Kumar has doggedly pursued members of the Anandpal gang, arresting them in clinical strikes, giving minimal time to react or retaliate.
“Revenge, casteism, political patronage and extortion are few of the factors behind the rise of the Anandpal gang. Originally a shopkeeper, Anandpal had also unsuccessfully contested the panchayat elections. After losing the elections he blamed his rivals and tried to showcase himself as a victim among the Rajputs. He gradually gained a few followers and soon became a well-known troublemaker in the Shekhawati region,” said a senior ATS official, on condition of anonymity.
He said, initially Anandpal and his aides committed murders to settle personal scores, but soon began to extort people. Later, they started doing biddings for politicians and helping them get Rajput votes, while continuing their activities as land mafia.
With most of Anandpal’s lieutenants behind the bars, the gangster has been forced to forge alliances with small time criminals to evade the police.
After the arrest of Monty and Azad, the only people who are left to be arrested from the list of Rajasthan’s top five wanted criminals are Anandpal, his brother Rupendrapal alias Vicky and Devendrapal alias Gattu.