Dwarka shootout: ‘Decent boys who kept to themselves’ leave neighbourhood scarred

Police recovered 17 firearms, 100 cartridges after a 30-minute long exchange of fire with the alleged gangsters in Shanti Park neighbourhood of Dwarka

delhi Updated: Nov 22, 2017 13:02 IST
Shubhomoy Sikdar
Shubhomoy Sikdar
Hindustan Times
Dwarka shootout,Shanti Park,Punjab gangsters
Police said no one was injured despite multiple shots being fired by both the sides in a residential neighbourhood that is located close to Dwarka Mor Metro station.(Vipin KUmar/HT PHOTO)

On Tuesday, 30 minutes of intermittent firing didn’t just shatter a couple of windows in the quaint Shanti Park neighbourhood in Dwarka.

For the local residents, the shootout also shattered the image of the neighbourhood being a peaceful one.

A joint team of Delhi and Punjab Police on Tuesday arrested five members of Punjab’s infamous Lawrence Bishnoi gang after a gunbattle and recovered a huge cache of arms and ammunition.

A man named Toni from Punjab had taken one of the flats in Plot Number 5 of Shanti Park on rent on October 21 this year, locals said. Soon, five more men moved in with him and together they presented the image of perfect neighbours — “nice decent boys who kept to themselves and were pleasant when they occasionally interacted.”

Exactly a month later on Tuesday, sounds of heavy firing and surrounding rumours led the same locals to believe that “terrorists” were living in the house. Later, when news broke out that the arrested men were gangsters and not terrorists, most residents said it made no difference to them.

“This was a safe neighbourhhood. And whoever they were, they disguised themselves really well. They would greet us and were well behaved. Had we known there was a problem, we would have reported it to the police. We are still scared about our safety,” said a resident of the building where the shootout took place.

His was the only family present during the shootout. The building has three floors with three flats each on every floor and a real-estate dealer’s office on the ground floor. The house where the alleged gangsters were residing is owned by one Inderjeet Khullar according to police.

Khullar had applied for tenant verification before renting the house to Toni. Asked about the status, DCP southwest, Shibesh Singh, said they had sent his documents to Punjab Police for local verification but could not share whether a clearance had come or not.

Khullar was unavailable to comment while the property dealer, who usually brokers the deals between tenants-landlords, refused to comment.

Toni and his associates did nothing to raise any red flags. Amit Gandhi, a neighbour, said he used to often exchange greetings with the arrested men and sometimes even smoke hookah with them, a daily routine for the gangsters.

“How could we ever think that they had weapons. Even today, I was in a certain disbelief when our guard came and told us about gunshots. We locked ourselves at the DMRC office and emerged a couple of hours later only after the police had sanitised the whole building,” said Aman, a DMRC staff who worked in the office that shares a boundary with the building.

First Published: Nov 22, 2017 13:02 IST