Bullets replace all that’s beautiful in Chandigarh as gangs hold sway over city
The murder of Gurlal Brar, a former student leader and close associate of gangster Lawrence Bishnoi outside a mall in Industrial Area in the early hours of Sunday, again highlights how Chandigarh has, from Le Corbusier’s planned and organised city, become a haven for gangsters.
The mushrooming of high rise buildings and housing societies in the periphery areas helps criminals find hideouts easily without tenant verification as strict police checks have stopped being the norm.
Paying guest accommodation and even university and college hostel rooms are, therefore, safe areas for gangsters.
“People renting out their houses skip the tenant verification process so it’s easy for gangsters to camp in the tricity without being noticed. Porous borders, too, make it easy for members of various gangs to flee without fear of being caught,” says a senior Chandigarh police official.
“The anonymity factor is attracting criminals to the tricity and markets and pubs in the periphery operate without any checks. The apartment culture too facilitates movement of gangsters. No one notices as neighbourhood ties are not as strong as before,” says Kuldeep Singh Chahal, senior superintendent of police (SSP).
Stressing on the need to strengthen basic policing, Satinder Singh, Mohali SSP, adds: “Active night life attracts both youngsters and criminals alike. Co-ordination for quick sharing of information will help block escape routes.”
Terming the tricity a “Centre point for gangsters wanting to maintain a low profile and hide,” a senior Punjab police official posted in Mohali, says, “Many gangsters now active in Punjab and Haryana have studied in Chandigarh and have taken to crime during their student days.”
The macho image propagated on social media by some criminals, flaunting guns and pistols and showing off bulging muscles and sculpted bodies, has a fan following among youth.
“These criminals lure youngsters who for a ‘kick’ get hooked to crime, little realising the repercussions. Many students help them by getting them accommodation, updating their social media accounts and arranging for logistical support,” shares a Chandigarh police officer.
Gangsters of Chandigarh
Born in 1992 in Ferozepur district, Bishnoi was a Punjab police constable’s son and once considered close to Neeraj Bawana, a gangster active in the Ferozepur area. Currently lodged in a jail in Rajasthan, Bishnoi is in touch with his gang members and is still active on social media. Named in a number of murder and attempt to murder cases, he is wanted by Haryana, Punjab Rajasthan and Chandigarh police. In 2015, while in Punjab police custody, he made an unsuccessful escape attempt in Banur, Punjab.
Nehra, born in 1990 in Rajgarh in Rajasthan, is the son of a retired assistant sub-inspector of Chandigarh Police. A national level athlete, he studied at Chandigarh’s Sri Guru Gobind Singh College in Sector 26 and led Lawrence Bishnoi’s gang after his arrest. Nehra was booked in two cases in Chandigarh, including an extortion attempt against the owners of chemists Kumar Brothers. Wanted in a number of cases, including murder, by various police forces in the region, Nehra was arrested by Haryana Police’s special task force from Hyderabad in Telangana.
A sharpshooter for the Nehra gang, Tinu is notorious for never missing a target. He is currently lodged in jail after his arrest by Bhiwani police. Tinu escaped police custody from the Sector 6 Civil Hospital in Panchkula in 2017. Among the murder cases he was involved in, one of his victims included the member of a rival gang, Lavi Deora, in Kotkapura.
Bharat Bhushan alias Bhola shooter
Involved in many criminal cases in Chandigarh, Haryana and Punjab, Bhola used to provide money, logistic support and manage communications between Bishnoi’s gang members. Bhola came into the limelight for his involvement in a robbery at the Sher-e-Punjab Gun House at Kotkapura in Punjab.
A Bishnoi gang sharpshooter, Bhandu was shot dead in an encounter in Zirakpur in February 2019. From Sherewala village in Abohar district of Punjab, Bhandu was president of Students’ Organisation of Panjab University, Rajasthan, even though he was a school dropout. He had taken over the operations of the gang after Bishnoi’s arrest and was arrested by Fazilka police in July 2015 and jumped bail from Kapurthala jail in October 2017. Arrested again, he escaped during an encounter by a joint team police from Sriganganagar in Rajasthan and Haryana in August 2018.
Gangster Davinder Bambiha, 25, was shot dead in a police encounter at Gill Kalan near Rampura in September 2016. He has been “virtually” kept alive by his gang members who post his pictures regularly on social media. From Bambiha Bhai village in Moga district and wanted for six murders, Bambiha studied up to Class 12 and his gang gained notoriety in 2013 after a shootout at Paonta Sahib. A man named Lucky now manages the gang’s operations from abroad.
Dilpreet Singh Dhahan
He gained notoriety after taking responsibility for shooting and injuring Punjabi singer Parmish Verma at Mohali in April 2018 as part of an extortion racket targeting such celebrities. Soon after the attack on Verma, singer Gippy Grewal too lodged an extortion complaint with the police. On April 9, 2017, Dhahan was caught on camera shooting at a Hoshiarpur sarpanch outside a gurdwara in Sector 38 (West), Chandigarh. He was arrested after he sustained injuries during an encounter in the city.
Ravinder alias Kali Rajput’s name cropped up in an extortion case following the kidnapping of a Burail hotelier in December 2017. A resident of Balongi in Mohali and a member of the Lawrence Bishnoi gang, Kali, police sources say, helped Bishnoi escape police custody in January 2015 from Banur. There are about five cases of extortion, murder and attempt to murder registered against Kali in the tricity.
In April 2018, Bhupesh Rana, a Monu Rana gang member active in Haryana, was murdered in broad daylight a few metres from the police station at the busy Barwala market in Panchkula by a rival gang. Rana was allegedly involved in the murder of a member of the Bhupi Rana gang in 2014.