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Delhi’s most wanted gangster gives 16-member police team slip, flees under cover of darkness

While gangster Ashok Pradhan, who carries a reward of Rs 2 lakh on his head, managed to flee taking advantage of darkness after firing at the police personnel, his hitman, Vinod Pandit alias Dada, received a bullet in his left leg and was arrested by Delhi Police after a shootout at Delhi’s Ghazipur paper market.

delhi Updated: Nov 05, 2018 08:49 IST
Karn Pratap Singh
Karn Pratap Singh
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
delhi,delhi police,gangster Ashok Pradhan
Delhi Police have seized a stolen motorcycle on which gangster Ashok Pradhan and his associate were riding. A semi-automatic pistol and six cartridges have also been recovered. ( Photo Credit: Delhi Police )

One of Delhi’s most wanted gangsters, Ashok Pradhan, gave Delhi Police’s special cell sleuths the slip while his 40-year-old ‘hitman’ was shot at and caught during a shootout at east Delhi’s Ghazipur paper market on early Sunday morning. More than a dozen bullets were exchanged between the two men and a 16-member special cell team, which raided the area after a tip-off, police said.

While Pradhan, who carries a reward of Rs 2 lakh on his head, managed to flee taking advantage of darkness after firing at the police personnel, his hitman, Vinod Pandit alias Dada, received a bullet in his left leg and was arrested. A stolen motorcycle on which the duo was riding was seized, along with a semi-automatic pistol and six cartridges. Two of the six bullets fired by the two men hit the bulletproof jackets of two head constables, but they escaped unhurt.

The police said Pradhan’s gang has a longstanding rivalry with another gang led by Neeraj Bawana, a jailed gangster. Around six years ago, Pradhan’s brother, Dilbagh Singh, was allegedly killed by Bawana and his men in Delhi. According to the police, the two men were plotting to kill Bawana and his key associates to take revenge for Dilbagh’s murder.

Deputy commissioner of police (special cell) Pramod Singh Kushwah said his team received information that Pradhan and Vinod would come near the Ghazipur paper market to meet their associates and they would have firearms with them.

“Our team laid a trap. Around 4.30 am, the suspects arrived on a motorcycle and were blocked by a police gypsy. When the two were asked to surrender, they opened fire at the police party. Our team members retaliated and fired six bullets in self-defence. One of the bullets hit Vinod’s leg while Pradhan managed to flee,” said Kushwah.

Kushwah said during the interrogation, Vinod revealed that he was first arrested in 2001 in an attempt to murder case and was lodged in Rohtak Jail. Another gangster, Neetu Dabodhia (now dead), and Pradhan were also in the same jail. Vinod joined Dabodhia’s gang and after coming out of jail, they committed several cases of kidnapping for ransom and extortion.

“Dabodhia was killed in an encounter with special cell sleuths in 2013. His death weakened his gang and two other key members, Paras and Pradeep Bhola, were killed by Neeraj Bawana and his aides in a moving jail van in 2015. Vinod then joined Pradhan’s gang,” said Kushwah.

The police said that after jumping parole, Pradhan killed Bawana’s relative, Kale, in April last year. Kale was the brother-in-law of former Delhi MLA and Bawana’s uncle, Rambir Shokeen, who recently fled from police custody while being taken to a hospital from Tihar jail.

“Vinod had recently procured illegal firearms from Madhya Pradesh to execute the killings of Bawana and his other gang members,” said a police officer, associated with the operation.

Pradhan is involved in more than 20 serious crimes such as murder, kidnapping for ransom, extortion, attempt to murder, among others. Apart from the Delhi Police, he is also wanted by the Haryana and Uttar Pradesh police, officers said.

Vinod has over a dozen similar cases against him. The Uttar Pradesh Police was also looking for him in a case of attempt to kidnap a businessman from Agra for Rs 10 crore ransom, in which his five associates were arrested on November 1 this year, said the police.

First Published: Nov 05, 2018 08:49 IST