On day he died, Sangam Vihar crossfire victim got call for job after two months
Around 7 pm on Friday, while he was returning home, Kanhaiya Lal found himself in the middle of a gun battle between two criminal groups in south Delhi’s Sangam Vihar and became a victim of crossfire.Updated: Feb 04, 2019 12:29 IST
After being jobless for two months, Kanhaiya Lal, a 31-year-old electrician, on Friday finally got a call — a job in Noida for the next day, which could fetch him at least Rs 500 that day. A day ago the family had celebrated his two-year-old’s son’s birthday, now Lal could to buy his son a tricycle.
But a stray bullet put an end to all that.
Around 7 pm on Friday, while he was returning home, Lal found himself in the middle of a gun battle between two criminal groups in south Delhi, not more than 200 metres from Sangam Vihar police station.
“We got a call around 8.30 pm reporting that he has died,” said Mata Prasad Chaurasiya (65), Lal’s father who lives in Patel Nagar with his wife. “Just the previous night he had called me. He spoke to his mother for about an hour. He was concerned about the family’s finances and had told her that he will soon find a permanent job,”
Lal was a native of Rae Bareilly in Uttar Pradesh. A class six drop-out, he worked as a daily wage electrician. His elder brother and his family also live in the same locality.
For the Chaurasiya family this is the second tragedy in three years. In 2016, Chaurasiya’s son-in-law fell under a a municipal corporation truck and was crushed to death. His daughter and her two teenage children now live with him.
“Now Kanhaiya’s wife and two-year-old son will be our responsibility too... In my oldage I have been burdened with responsibilities one after the other. I have no idea who will take care of these children after me,” said the father.
Locals described Friday evening as mayhem on the busy market street of Sangam Vihar when the two gangs opened fire indiscriminately. While some ducked, others ran and shopkeepers pulled down shutters.
Navratan Kaushik, who runs a garment store right close to where Lal had collapsed, said he heard five gunshots. “My house is on the first floor of my shop. I pulled down the shutter and ran upstairs. There was heavy traffic on the road and the firing had caused panic and a stampede-like situation as people ran in all directions to protect themselves,” he said.
Across the road, Mahesh, who works as a cook at a roadside dhaba said he heard people screaming. “I stepped out and saw a man had been shot. I rushed out and ran towards my house,” he said.
A woman, who lives not more than 10 metres away from the spot, said the area has become unsafe.
“If people can open fire at each other at daylight on a street with heavy traffic, this means they have no fear of law. It is frightening to live in such environment. Our children were petrified,” she said, requesting not to be identified.
On Saturday, deputy commissioner of police (south) Vijay Kumar said they have arrested six of the eight suspects for the murder. The arrested men were aged between 19 and 25 and all of them were booked for murder. Four of them have previous criminal records, including offences like attempt to murder, stalking and under the arms act. All the six men are residents of either Sangam Vihar or the nearby Dakshinpuri, the DCP had said, adding that the efforts to arrest the other accused are in process.
The gang war
Police have found that the gun battle between the two groups broke out after one of the arrested accused Manoj Kumar alias Hathodi came to know that Mohammad Arshad from the rival gang, who was also arrested, was an “informant”.
“Last month, Hathodi and his men were arrested from a parking lot in S-block Sangam Vihar. They were later given bailed. Hathodi believed that it was Arshad who had leaked their location to the police. This led to the Friday’s gunfight when the two groups bumped into each other,” said an investigator who did not wish to be named.
First Published: Feb 04, 2019 12:26 IST