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Posing as lawyer, taking a village to cops: UP gangsters look for creative ways to surrender

Suspected criminals in the badlands of Uttar Pradesh found creative methods to avoid being shot to death before surrendering to law enforcers in India’s most populous state, where a crackdown is underway against criminals.

india Updated: May 21, 2018 07:59 IST
Prawesh Lama
Prawesh Lama
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Uttar Pradesh,UP gangsters,UP
Nine districts in western Uttar Pradesh account for 70% of the 49 encounter deaths that have taken place across the state since BJP came to power. (Virendra Singh Gosain/HT File Photo)

When a suspected gangster, whose name figured in at least three murder cases, wanted to give himself up, he took the entire population of his village with him to the police station to bear witness.

Another, a fugitive, posed as a lawyer to reach a court to surrender.

Two other wanted men reached the office of the district superintendent of police wearing placards with bold handwritten messages that they had faith in the law.

Those are some of the creative methods used by suspected criminals in the badlands of western Uttar Pradesh to avoid being shot to death before surrendering to law enforcers in India’s most populous state, where a crackdown is underway against criminals.

More than 1,000 suspected gangsters have given themselves up to the Uttar Pradesh police or the courts in the past one year to avoid being shot in encounters with the trigger-happy police.

According to UP police data, between March 19, 2017 (the day of Yogi Adityanath’s appointment as chief minister) and March 30, 2018, at least 1,086 ‘wanted criminals’ surrendered in nine UP districts near Delhi. The average in previous years used to be around 100.

The nine districts — Gautam Buddha Nagar, Bulandshahr, Meerut, Saharanpur, Muzaffarnagar, Hapur, Ghaziabad, Baghpat and Shamli — that are part of western Uttar Pradesh account for 70% (34) of the 49 encounter deaths that have taken place across the state since the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government came to power in March last year and launched the crackdown on criminals.

Those who have surrendered face charges of all kinds; they include gundas (thugs) to gangsters and highway bandits to multiple murderers.

Mukhim Lala, one of western UP’s most dreaded gangsters, currently in prison, recently wrote to the jail superintendent that he wanted to be chained when he is produced in court.

“Mukhim, who ruled western UP and has a history of prison escapes, feared he would be bumped off by police claiming he had tried to flee custody, so he wrote to superintendent wishing to be chained and paraded in front of the press,” said a senior police officer on condition of anonymity.

Vinay alias Maange, wanted for killing two men in Meerut and booked under the Gangster Act, crossed into the national Capital and surrendered to the Delhi Police crime branch in February. Maange carried a reward of R25,000 on his head. Also in February, Mohammed Mohsin, who was involved in a shootout in Gautam Buddha Nagar, surrendered at the Sangam Vihar police station in Delhi.

Additional director general of police (Meerut zone) Prashant Kumar said the law and order situation in the nine districts of western UP had improved considerably.

“No wanted criminal gets political patronage these days. This is why they are surrendering. Historically, this part of western UP has always seen a law and order problem but things have changed now. There are no gang wars now. It is a good thing that criminals are surrendering and wish to lead a reformed life.”

Kairana, a small town in western UP’s Shamli district, is infamous for its trigger-happy criminals.In this part of western UP, even traders have bodyguards or police security officers to protect them from gangsters. Earlier this year, a police constable died in a shoot-out in which one of the most wanted UP gangsters, Mohammed Shabir, was gunned down. Shabir had killed three police officers in three separate cases. His death was celebrated by traders in the Kairana jewellery market. In the past one year, the police have smashed at least three factories that were making country pistols in Kairana.

A seven-kilometer drive from the Kairana police station through sugarcane fields and broken roads leads to Mohammedpur Rai village. At the last house in the village, where the path ends, Shalim alias Baba,45, who surrendered and is now out on bail, watches his son crawling on a cot.

“I wanted my children to have a father when they grow up. I was worried that my rivals would set me up and get me killed in a police encounter,” he said, offering an explanation for his surrender, adding that he carried a reward of R 15,000 for his arrest.

Shalim denies involvement in any crime, but a police file lists at least 15 cases against him, including two of murder. Shalim’s elder brother Irshad, 48, has three murders in his police history sheet.

Irshad and Shalim were the two men who wore placards with the message that they had faith in the lawbefore surrendering at the office of the superintendent of police in Shamli. “We took help of local reporters and approached the police. We have enemies in the village and don’t want to be killed for no reason. We said we have left our past behind and don’t want to die a dog’s death,” he said.

First Published: May 21, 2018 07:00 IST