Industry growth, real estate boom lead to rise in gang wars in Haridwar

Five major gangs are active in Haridwar. They are of Sunil Rathi, Amit Bhura, Chinu Pandit, Sanjeev Maheshwari alias Jiva, and Prakash Pandit alias PP. Maximum clashes take place between the Sunil Rathi and Chinu Pandit gangs.

dehradun Updated: Aug 21, 2018 01:14 IST
Kalyan Das
Kalyan Das
Hindustan Times, Dehradun
Industry growth,real estate,gang war
Gangster Sunil Rathi was recently in the news for his alleged involvement in the murder of another gangster Munna Bajrangi (pictured) inside UP’s Baghpat jail. (PTI/File Photo)

An economic boom after inflow of investments and growth of industries has prompted gangsters, mostly from western Uttar Pradesh, to vie for influence in Uttarakhand’s Haridwar, which has led to increasing gang wars in the religious centre, police officials said.

According to the state police’s Special Task Force (STF) that keeps tabs on gangster-related crimes, five major gangs are active in Haridwar. They are of Sunil Rathi, Amit Bhura, Chinu Pandit, Sanjeev Maheshwari alias Jiva, and Prakash Pandit alias PP. Maximum clashes take place between Sunil Rathi and Chinu Pandit gangs.

Rathi was recently in the news for his alleged involvement in the murder of another gangster Munna Bajrangi inside UP’s Baghpat jail.

Gangster activities hogged headlines recently after STF arrested sharpshooter Deepak Mann, associated with Rathi, with a pistol on August 2. Mann told police that he was assigned to kill a labour contractor in a factory located in the State Infrastructure and Industrial Development of Uttarakhand Ltd (SIDCUL) area in Haridwar. Mann confessed that he got the contract from Rathi’s associate Rupesh Tyagi jailed in Almora.

In June, STF nabbed two men of imprisoned gangster Chinu Pandit who had planned to gun down Rathi’s counsel in Haridwar. In November 2017, a sharpshooter of Rathi gang, Dev Pal Rana, was shot dead in a shootout between gangs outside Ramnagar court at Roorkee in Haridwar district.

“In the past couple of years, Haridwar has turned out to be a hotbed of gang wars because every gang is battling to increase its influence. The city has drawn the attention of the gangsters; they are based in western UP but have a criminal records here before Uttarakhand was carved out,” a police official associated with STF said on condition of anonymity.

Haridwar, he said, is becoming the centre of organised crimes in the state because of the booming economy. “Industries have come up in Haridwar in the past few years. They are bringing money and the business community has grown in the city. It is the money that is drawing the gangsters,” the official said, adding they are mostly aides of underworld dons and strongmen having operations in UP.

“Booming real state in Haridwar is also drawing them here. Being a border district, gang members, mostly based in Saharanpur and Muzaffarnagar, find it easy to flee after committing crimes.”

Industrialists of Haridwar are aware of the growing criminal activities. “We know about the recent incidents, but are grateful to the administration and police for shielding industries against crimes,” said Arun Saraswat, president of the SIDCUL Industrial Association.

“With industrial growth, land prices have soared here, and the per-capita income of the city’s residents has increased. Gangsters may be fighting among themselves for land, but luckily no incident of extortion from industrialists has been reported.”

Anuj Sharma, 38, who runs a gift shop in Haridwar town, expressed a sense of fear over gang wars. “Incidents of hiring a sharpshooter to kill someone were unheard of in this town. Now that it has happened, residents will definitely feel a sense of fear. Though the magnitude of the problem is not big, but God forbid, it may increase in the coming years.”

Senior superintendent of police, STF, Ridhim Aggarwal said that among the five gangs, the focus is on those of Sunil Rathi and Chinu Pandit who are rivals.

“Earlier Sunil Rathi’s was the only major gang in the state. Chinu and Bhura were working for him but later broke out over some disputes and formed their own gangs. The Rathi gang has affiliations with the dreaded Brijesh Singh gang and has a bitter rivalry with the Maheshwari gang as it is linked to Singh’s arch-rival Mukhtar Ansari,” she said.

At present, leaders of these gangs are in jail, but their confidantes are running them, the SSP said. “Members of the Rathi and Chinu gangs often clash in Haridwar. As both have cases against them in Haridwar court, their members try to ensure that witnesses reach court and give testimonies against their rivals. This often leads to clashes.”

Bhura’s gang has become the least active after he was lodged in Patiala jail in Punjab, she said. “Gangs of Sanjiv and Prakash are active but not on the scale of Rathi and Chinu gangs. The former two are now lodged in Haridwar and Sitarganj jails, respectively. The five gangs are mainly involved in cases related to murder, extortion, Arms Act and NDPS Act,” Aggarwal said.

“Police are keeping a close watch on activities of the gangs. Every step will be taken to stop the gangsters from spreading their tentacles in Haridwar and other parts of the state.”

The gangs and their bosses:

Sunil Rathi: Rathi hails from Baghpat and has criminal records in Uttarakhand since its formation. He is now lodged in Lucknow jail.

Chinu Pandit: He hails from Haridwar. He was a confidante of Rathi but later formed his own gang. An arch-rival of Rathi, Pandit has criminal records since Uttarakhand’s formation. He is lodged in Haridwar jail.

Amit Bhura: Hailing from UP’s Shamli district, Bhura was a former confidante of Rathi. He later formed his own gang but is less active. He is lodged in Patiala jail in Punjab.

Sanjiv Maheshwari alias Jiva: Maheshwari hails from Muzaffarnagar in UP, and has affiliations to the dreaded Mukhtar Ansari gang. An arch-rival of Rathi, he is at present lodged in Mainpuri jail in UP.

Prakash Pandey: Hailing from Nainital, he runs his own gang. He has criminal records in the state since 1998. He also has some cases in Mumbai. He is lodged in Sitarganj jail of Uttarakhand.

(Source: Uttarakhand police records)

First Published: Aug 21, 2018 01:14 IST