UP gangs call the shots in Haridwar

Gangster’s killing at Roorkee court spotlights rising crime graph in the district; illegal property business behind gang wars

dehradun Updated: Nov 26, 2017 19:58 IST
Sandeep Rawat
Sandeep Rawat
Hindustan Times
UP gangs,call the shots,Haridwar
Garhwal range DIG Pushpak Jyoti during an inspection after gansgter Devpal Rana was attacked by armed assailants on the premises of a Roorkee court on November 20.(HT Photo)

The deadly attack on policeman-turned-gangster Devpal Rana on Roorkee court premises on November 20 has put the spotlight on the rise in crime graph in Haridwar district, known for its pilgrimage importance.

Three assailants fired at Rana who had been brought to the court from Deoband prison in Uttar Pradesh for a hearing; he succumbed to his injuries. The attack was allegedly orchestrated by another gangster Rishipal Rana.

Haridwar appears to have turned a safe haven for criminals from western UP because of its proximity with crime-sensitive districts of Muzaffarnagar, Bijnore and Saharanpur.

Three major gangs run by Sunil Rathi, Chinu Pundit and Jeeva are active in western UP, and Roorkee-Haridwar-Dehradun belt of Uttarakhand. Notorious criminals Praveen Valimiki, Sachin Khokhar, Pappu and Vishu from western UP also operate in the belt, police said.

“In many crime incidents, the name of Sunil Rathi has come to light; police will file cases against Rathi after investigations,” Haridwar SSP Krishan Kumar VK told Hindustan Times. “A major clampdown on gangster activities will be done; past criminal records and activities of gangsters were being scrutinised.”

Apart from extortions, the three gangs are involved in selling lands through forged documents and forcefully occupying commercial plots. Roorkee has become an epicentre of crimes in recent times as its rural segment borders western UP.

Devpal Rana had emerged as a manager of Rathi gang’s illegal property business, police said. Uttarakhand police arrested last week Sunil Rathi’s mother Rajbala from Baghpat in connection with an extortion threat to a Roorkee-based doctor. She is kept in Roorkee jail where Rathi’s bête noire Chinu Pundit is also imprisoned. Rathi is now lodged in Baghpat prison.

“Sharpshooter Sachin Khokhar, who is currently manning Sunil Rathi gang activities, has also been named along with Rajbala in the case of extortion threat to Roorkee-based doctor ND Arora,” said Manikant Mishra, superintendent of police (rural).

Many businessmen in Roorkee and Haridwar have also got extortion threats from Amit Bhura and Chinu Pundit gangs.

“Devpal had denied share to Jeeva in a Dehradun property sale recently; it was possible that Rishipal Rana, Chinu Pundit and Jeeva gangs had come together to eliminate Devpal,” a senior police officer said on condition of anonymity.

“After Devpal’s killing, Rathi gang has become weaker; in this situation, gang war may intensify as it’s now a matter of survival and revenge for Rathi gang. This can come handy for police as it will be easier to know gangsters’ hideouts and nab them,” the officer said.

In the recent past, gang war claimed a deputy jailor, a police station in-charge and two police personnel in Roorkee.

DIG (Garhwal Range) Pushpak Jyoti said policemen had been asked to bring criminals to court with fool-proof security.

“Additional force has been deployed at Roorkee and Haridwar prisons after the Monday incident. Hardened criminals and gangsters are put under watch. All district police chiefs have been briefed about the measures to be taken to prevent Roorkee-like incidents,” Jyoti told HT.

“Extortion threats need to be taken seriously as involvement of gangsters has come to light. District-wise updates on criminals – jailed, on bail, underground or released -- will be done.”

After Uttarakhand became a state in 2000, police launched special operations against criminals and gangsters during the early years and curbed crimes, said JP Pandey, president of statehood agitators’ committee. “In recent years, western UP-based criminals have become active again.”

Bar council district association secretary Ajay Chauhan said, “Lawyers and petitioners coming to court remain in fear as most of gang attacks have taken place on court premises.”

Major gangster-related incidents

December 23, 2000: Nahar police station SHO Mangu Singh Verma was killed in encounter with gangsters

September 12, 2003: Police shot dead three criminals when they tried to run away from court premises in Roorkee

May 31, 2005: Five criminals fled from Roorkee prison

September 12, 2011: Roorkee sub-jailor Narendra Khampa shot dead by criminals outside the prison

August 14, 2013: Gangsters shot dead constable Sunit Negi during a robbery at a nursing home

August 5, 2014: Members of Sunil Rathi and Chinu Pundit gangs were involved in shootout at Roorkee prison gate; 3 gangsters killed. Devpal Rana was present during the incident.

November 20, 2017: Devpal Rana, brought to Roorkee court from Deoband prison in UP, killed after firing by assailants

First Published: Nov 26, 2017 19:58 IST