“Since 2014, my family has been living in constant fear. My brother began using a bullet-proof vest. He was also planning to make his car bullet proof, no matter the cost,” said Iqbal Malik, younger brother of 27-year-old Arshi Malik, who was gunned down inside ATS Advantage highrise in Indirapuram on the night of March 11.
Arshi, a cloth trader, lived in fear of Kale, a man who hails from from Pasonda village in Ghaziabad and has several criminal cases against him. The family said Kale extorted money from Arshi several times and even murdered Arshi’s brother Amjad in January 2015.
“Kale’s still roaming around free is a slap on the face of the police as he openly gunned down my second brother. This murder took place despite police gunners being provided to Arshi. There are four of us left now and we are counting our days. For the past two years, my family has remained at home, except for the appearances in the court,” Malik said.
“Even in the court, Kale’s brothers threatened to kill Arshi if he stuck to his statement. Now they will threaten us to change statements in Arshi’s murder. When Arshi’s business started to flourish, Kale started extorting money from him. We paid him `12.5 lakh. He again demanded `20 lakh. Due to fear, we sold our house in Pasonda and shifted to Mustafabad in Delhi. Arshi shifted to ATS highrise,” he said.
“Even after coming to Ghaziabad, Arshi was very circumspect when it came to his family. Two of his three sons, aged 10 and 8, were studying at a reputed school in Indirapuram but only family members knew this,” said another member of the Malik family.
Arshi used to frequent police stations in Ghaziabad and the district police headquarters. These visits to the office of the police brass was to reassure himself about his safety and security. His wife and children also accompanied him on many occasions. Sometimes, he came with sweets and snacks for the police personnel “to maintain good relations”. While at the police HQ, he was also seen talking to journalists and persuading them to write about his plight.
“After the murder, Kale and two accomplices fled the spot by scaling the wall of the highrise complex. Probably, there was someone waiting in a car outside to pick them up,” a police officer said.
The police have formed eight teams, including that of Ghaziabad police crime branch, to nab Kale. All details of the operation are being kept a secret as there are apprehensions of a mole within the force.
“We are working full time to nab Kale. Only a few officers are in the loop about our investigation. We do not wish to let the accused slip away,” said Salman Taj, superintendent of police (city).