The year when Gurugram police nabbed some of its most wanted
At least 28 most wanted gangsters, who were allegedly involved in heinous crimes in the city, have been arrested this year, the police say. The police in Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh had announced monetary rewards totalling ₹28 lakh for their arrests.
According to police records, two ‘hardcore’ criminals were arrested, one killed by his own gang members, and 18 were injured. In all, 248 people were arrested this year. According to the police, these men were also involved in crimes such as carjacking, snatching, and thefts. The police say these arrests resulted in the resolution of nearly four dozen cases of loot, robbery, dacoity, extortion, murder, and snatching.
Dreaded criminals such as Kaushal, Johhy, Udham, Jitender, Moninder, Ravinder alias Raboo, Pardeep, and Amit Dagar were arrested. The police of different states had announced rewards ranging from ₹50,000 to ₹400,000 for their arrests.
The police have also begun massive search operations to arrest Raju Bisodi, Akshay Palda, Ashok Pradhan, Ashok Doga, and Manipal, some most-wanted gangsters, who are still at large.
The police say they have been successful in arresting the kingpins of major gangs, many are still operating and have been involved in major cases reported in the city this year. “We have booked 249 history-sheeters and arrested 19 gangsters this year. The major crackdown came after we arrested the elusive gangster Kaushal. It was not an easy task,” Gurugram police commissioner Muhammad Akil says.
The police say they had prepared a database of the details of gangsters and their relatives at the beginning of 2018 before starting to track them down. The crime teams had also taken note of their hideouts and the mobile numbers of these gangsters were surveilled.
“We kept a close watch on their friends and relatives who met them in jail and court. We carried out operations based on tips and intelligence reports. We have arrested 248 criminals of 86 gangs and have solved 414 cases. These criminals were wanted in connection with dozens of murder, attempt-to-murder, dacoity, robbery and extortion cases in the state and were active in the city,” Akil says.
Satheesh Balan, deputy inspector general (DIG), special task force, says that 19 of the 32 most-wanted gangsters have been arrested by his team. He said that the Special Task Force’s focus has been to destroy the nexus of organised crime from the entire region.
The police say they are now identifying persons who are actively involved in petty and unorganised crimes like snatching, loot, theft, robbery, and vehicle-lifting in the city. The station house officers of 41 police stations across the city have been asked to take stern action against the offenders and to keep a close vigil on those who have completed their sentences and are living in the neighbouring areas.
The gangs of Gurugram
After the the arrest of notorious gangster Kaushal on August 26 from IGI Airport, Delhi, and with most of his gang behind bars, other gangs from Haryana are in the fray to try and dominate Gurugram. Ever since Gurugram transformed into an urban hotspot, gangs across Haryana have been trying to control the turf, as there is a lot of money to be made in real estate activities, extortion, betting (also called satta) and other nefarious activities.
Most Gurugram gangs that dominated the scene have had a short shelf life, barring the Kaushal gang. The Kaushal gang started operating in the region from 2006 and was up and running until he was arrested from Dubai and brought to India in August 2019. However, despite its long run, and the continuing power struggle among several gangs, to the credit of Haryana Police, they never quite managed to emerge as alternative power centres like in Mumbai or even Delhi.
Presently, Gurugram’s gangs run extortion rackets, settle land disputes, organise satta games (gambling) and make money through legitimate as well as illegitimate means on a smaller scale, but after the takedown of the Kaushal gang and the recent murder of Ashok Rathi in November 16, smaller gangs have been eyeing the space.
The police department has already started receiving complaints of calls being made by extortionists from the Raju Basodi gang, the Papla gang, and others, who are trying to seek a foothold in the city.
First gang of Gurgaon
While gang wars in Haryana started in 1980, as per police records, there were no gangs in Gurugram, then Gurgaon, before the mid-1990s, mainly because there was little to gain from what was then little more than a dusty village.
It was former advocate and Armyman Bunty Yadav alias Fauji who saw the potential for organised crime in the city, setting up a gang in 1995 that specialised in extortion. The police say that since real estate business had begun booming, the gang started extorting money from developers and builders and started demanding protection money.
Fauji’s example was quickly emulated by a Rajesh Thakran aka Rajje, who was involved in assault cases, property disputes and was also booked for attempt-to-murder, and, immediately, the gangland battles began.
In 1996, Fauji shot Rajje, which led to a battle to carve out territory in what was now a rapidly urbanising region of skyrocketing real-estate prices.
By 1998, a wannabe don emerged in the form of dismissed Delhi police constable Dilip Kumar, who named his gang after Mumbai don Dawood Ibrahim’s —D-Company.
This gang was a trendsetter in the extortion business, preying on wealthy residents moving into new gated communities on MG Road, and even murdering a prominent jeweller when his family couldn’t pay the ₹25 lakh ransom.
The gang fell apart in 2001, though, after Dilip was arrested. He was eventually acquitted and is believed to be leading a retired life in some corner of the city, but his actual whereabouts are unknown.
Several smaller gangs came up between 1995 and 2005, but were finished off, either in police crackdowns or gang rivalries. These included the gangs of Sunil Takla, Dharambeer Ullahwas, Sudesh alias Chailu, and Raju Langda.
The present crop
“There has never been a major gang leader in the city who could call the shots or dictate terms. No gang has survived for that long a period,” Akil says.
Akil, however, chooses not to discuss the gangs’ alleged nexus with local law enforcement, and the ‘protection’ rackets run by gangs to extort money from prominent businessmen and ‘settle’ real-estate stalemates.
“We have solved almost all major cases and are trying our best to make sure that residents of the city feel safe. The so-called gangsters are either behind bars or have been shot by their rivals. We are also keeping a close watch of people involved in such cases and have requested people to inform us if they receive threatening calls. This year, we have registered more than a dozen cases of extortion, and in most cases, suspects have been arrested. Kaushal was one of the major suspects involved in most of the cases, and is presently behind bars,” he says.
According to the police, there are currently six men in Gurugram whose gangs allegedly deal in the more traditional money-spinners of gambling and betting on the side —Surjeet, Harender alias Heavy, Bindar Gujjar, Rakesh Banjara, Koushalpal, and Rakesh Hayatpur.
The police say the gangs have developed channels in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and Rajasthan for arms and ammunition. And as the stakes get higher, particularly in the real-estate business, growing rivalries spill onto the streets— this year, in the form of about 100 gang-related attacks and killings.
On November 16 this year, one of Haryana’s most-wanted gangsters, 44-year-old Ashok Rathi, who was out on parole from Bhondsi Jail, was shot dead by his three of his close aides at his residence in Alipur village, nearly 2.5 kilometres from Bhondsi.
According to the police, Rathi, who was lodged in Bhondsi jail since 2014 was out on parole and was at home when three of his accomplices, carrying arms, entered his house and shot him. He died undergoing treatment at a private hospital.
The gangs’ bloody history
As per police records, in the early 2000s, Bindar Gujjar emerged as one of the most feared gang leaders, responsible for the elimination (directly and indirectly) of several prominent gang leaders —Surendar alias Fauji, Rajesh alias Rajje, Neetu Gehlot, Sunil Malik, Sandeep Gadoli and Mahesh Attack, Ashok Rathi.
According to the police, it was Gujjar who continued the gang war in Gurugram by killing its first underworld don Fauji in 1997, who had started a gang after he retired from the Army. There were 30 people in his gang, all involved in gambling and extortion. Gujjar, at that time, was working for one Rajesh alias Rajje, who was looking to wrest control over the extortion business from the Fauji gang.
The police say Rajje had picked Gujjar as his hitman, impressed by the latter’s fearless and aggressive attitude. Aided by Gujjar, Rajje soon became the undisputed don of Gurugram. Their ties, however, soured, and Gujjar fell out with Rajje, allegedly over the distribution of extortion money. Plotting revenge, Gujjar joined hands with Neetu Gehlot, a gangster based in Laxmi Garden. Rajje was killed at his Arjun Nagar home in 2003.
The murder set off a cycle of revenge attacks with the kith and kin of slain gangsters plotting to end Gujjar’s supremacy.
The police say the first was Rajje’s wife Sangeeta, who, with the help of gangster Sunil Malik, plotted to kill Gehlot and Gujjar. According to the police, Gujjar anticipated the plot and eliminated them both within two months of Rajje’s murder in 2003. The police say he also bumped off Sunil Malik’s accomplice Dharamvir Ulhawas in 2006 with the help of contract killers.
The police say that Sunil’s mother Raj Bala Malik then took it upon herself to eliminate both Gujjar and Gehlot, and hired killers to do so. However, the hitmen managed to kill only Gehlot, shooting him dead at home in 2008. Raj Bala died on June 4, 2011, during a baton charge by the Delhi Police.
As per police records, the first attack on Gujjar took place in May 2011, when he and his close aide Ashok Kakran were at the Municipal Council of Gurugram (MCG) office to file a nomination for the councillor elections. The police say attackers sprayed bullets on Gujjar and Kakran indiscriminately as they stepped out of the MCG office around 8pm, but Gujjar managed to escape with injuries as Kakran shielded him, dying in the process. Reportedly, the attack on Gujjar was orchestrated by Gadoli, who was trying to wrest control of the extortion racket from Gujjar.
A brief period of peace ensued till 2015, when, according to the police, Gadoli triggered a fresh spate of violence by killing Gujjar’s nephew Ashok Kumar in October that year. The Gujjar gang retaliated by killing Gadoli’s right-hand man Raj Kumar Sethi alias Raju, a day before Diwali in November 2015. The gang war between the two intensified and culminated in the killing of Gadoli in February 2016.
The retaliation came in September 2016, when Mahesh Attack, a gangster reportedly close to the Gujjar gang was gunned down. And with the murder of Gujjar’s older brother Manish alias Pappu in October 2016, it seemed the past was catching up with Gujjar. However, Gujjar after getting bailed out in June this year (he had been jailed in 2017) has been lying low and has not been involved in any other case thus far.