The arrest on Monday is the latest in a series of setbacks alleged gangster Mukeem Kala suffered after his gang committed a sensational armed robbery at a showroom of jewellery brand Tanishq in Saharanpur. They had escaped with jewellery worth Rs. 12 crore in February this year.
Following the robbery, a number of Kala’s men were arrested. Several months ago, even his wife, along with the wife of his accomplice Sabir, was arrested when they were returning from Punjab in a car.
The two women were returning with their husbands in a car when the police caught up with them. In the raid, the two men escaped, leaving behind their wives who were found wearing some of the stolen jewellery. The women are still in jail.
“This broke Kala and he started looking for probable partnerships with other gangs in NCR in order to continue his crimes and also to find safe hideouts. Kala is of a suspicious nature and would take care that his hideouts were not known to his accomplices. Even if he stayed near his accomplices, he would ensure that no one knew his address,” a police officer said.
“He is trigger-happy and, in many instances, has shot victims first on the knees and then in the chest. He also changed his gang members often,” the officer said.
Before the Tanishq robbery, Kala had also robbed various places in UP and NCR. In one of the major robberies in 2014 in Deoband, the gang escaped with 1 kg gold and 5 kg silver along with Rs. 70,000 in cash. The gang also committed a double murder in Kairana this year --- two members of their rival group were gunned down, police said.
Police said the gang also used police uniforms to commit crimes. In the Tanishq robbery itself, the gang used the uniforms of a constable and sub-inspector to enter the showroom. Firoz, who was arrested before Kala on Monday, allegedly kept a watch at the showroom’s main entrance with an AK-47 during the operation.
“Apart from other weapons, both Kala and Firoz also knew how to operate an AK-47. This was revealed during Firoz’s questioning,” superintendent of police Dr Ajay Pal said.
Kala also allegedly used stolen bikes and cars and was using a Swift Dzire for the past four to five months. Of late, the gang used the Honda that the police seized during the encounter on Monday.
Following Kala’s arrest, police said nearly all his gang members -- Mobin Kala, Sadar, Sabir, Mehtab Kana, Naushad, Pappu, Hafeez, Firoz, Rihan and Dr Israr -- are now in jail. Further, police also hope for a dip in crime as a number of major other gangsters like Amit Sail, Vicky Jaat, Harendra Khadkhadi, Jimmy, Ashok Gujjar and Sanjeev Jaat were arrested this year.