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New gangs, easy guns lead to rise in shootings in Delhi

Refusal to pay extortion money, dispute over property, refusal to sell liquor, gang rivalry, enmity, robbery and gang wars — were some of the reasons why 220 bullets were fired in 43 shootingincidents on the streets of the capital in the last 30 days.

delhi Updated: Jun 17, 2019 08:03 IST
Prawesh Lama and Shiv Sunny
Prawesh Lama and Shiv Sunny
New Delhi
easy guns,new gangs,gangs
The car in which a gangster was gunned down by his rivals in Dwarka Mor on May 19.(HT Photo)

What does it take for criminals in Delhi to open fire?

Not much, an analysis by HT has found.

Refusal to pay extortion money, dispute over property, refusal to sell liquor, gang rivalry, enmity, robbery and gang wars — were some of the reasons why 220 bullets were fired in 43 shootingincidents on the streets of the capital in the last 30 days.

The analysis of the shooting incidents also show how even petty criminals — those who are not gangsters —and juveniles had access to illegal weapons and did not hesitate in opening fire at anyone, including the police. In three cases, the gunmen were two 16-year-olds and a 17-year-old. Two of them were involved in two murders.

An analysis of those arrested in the past month also show that the city’s criminals did not specialise in any crime, but were willing to shoot anyone for money. Because these shootings happened in public places, some innocent bystanders too fell prey to the bullets.

For example, a passerby was shot dead in Jyoti Nagar when some criminals targeted a property dealer. In Ranhola, two passersby were injured when motorcycle-borne gunmen began firing on June 1.

The past month’s cases also show that the gunmen usually come in large number to carry out a shooting incident — there were four men involved in the Dwarka Mor incidet, four in Nand Nagri, at least six in the Jyoti Nagar shooting.

A senior Delhi police officer said that newer gangs had taken over the city, even as police cleaned the streets of the older ones. One example, the officer said, was that of three men — Lakshay Parashar, Nitin Yadav and Jatin – who were arrested last week. The trio had formed a gang in March-April and were involved in a number of cases.

“On April 23, they robbed a man of his Swift car. Three days later, they fired at a shopkeeper in Jhajjar because the man had not paid Rs 25 lakh extortion money. They then travelled to Delhi and on May 6, robbed a shopkeeper in Bawana of Rs 4 lakh. The following day, they went back to Rohtak, Haryana, and murdered a rival, Mukesh. A week later, on May 15, they were back in Delhi, robbing another car from Rohini and were allegedly involved in one robbery and one murder case till May 31. Look at their range of crimes. These are youngsters who have become fearless and will do anything for money,” an officer said.

Another officer said that even small time criminals, such as snatchers, had started firing at police officers when they are asked to surrender. Of the 220 bullets fired in the last 30 days, police had to fire back at least 32 bullets in self defence in nine cases.

In most cases, the criminals were shot in the leg.

“Initially snatchers would not resort to firing while committing the crime. These days, we have noticed that even motorcycle-borne snatchers carry weapons and do not hesitate in shooting our men,” the second officer said.

On June 12, a 34-year-old man, and his woman friend were arrested after a snatching spree near Subhash Place. The suspect, Shrikant Reddy and his woman friend had first snatched a motorcycle from a man.

The two then rode the bike for less than a kilometer and snatched a gold chain. A police team then chased the couple for over three kilometers and asked them to surrender, only to be met by a volley of gunfire. Police could arrest Reddy, only after shooting him in the chest.

Retired IPS officer Prakash Singh, who has served as the director general of Uttar Pradesh Police and Assam Police and whose report on reforms is considered a benchmark for policing in the country, said, “Though I have not served in Delhi, I can deduce that fear and awe is fast disappearing in the city. The byproduct of that are these cases of shooting. Delhi Police will have to take serious notice. I am not saying that police have to be more aggressive but if criminals are becoming bolder, they must be dealt with.”

Delhi police officers, however, maintained that heinous crimes were declining and police commissioner Amulya Patnaik has warned officers to perform or perish.

On Saturday, police chief Patnaik held a meeting with senior officers of the crime branch and special

cell. Delhi police spokesperson, Madhur Verma, said that the police chief has asked his officers to break the nexus of arms suppliers and focus on arms suppliers in Bihar and Madhya.

“Most of these shootings were not gang wars. There are no major underground gangs operating in Delhi anymore. Most of the gang leaders and their members are in jail. Some smaller gangs are still operating, but we are after them,” said Verma.

The spokesperson also said that police are focusing on gangs working in the border areas of Delhi.

“The police commissioner has tasked the special cell and crime branch to work with the local police and break the supply chain of weapons and get to the source of firearms used in violent crimes. During the meeting, the commissioner acknowledged that over the last 2 years there has been a substantial rise in seizure of firearms. This year also till May 31, there has been a quantum jump in the recovery of firearms,” Verma said.

First Published: Jun 17, 2019 00:50 IST

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