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The rise and fall of UP’s ganglords amid police crackdown

Yogi Adityanath has ordered a crackdown on criminals keeping the BJP’s poll promise of reducing crime in the state

india Updated: May 22, 2018 16:29 IST
UP POlice,UP gangsters,Yogi Adityanath
The Uttar Pradesh police have killed 50 hardcore criminals, injured 390, arrested more than 3,435 and booked 36 people under the National Security Act since Yogi Adityanath government came to power in March 2017.(Virendra Singh Gosain/HT PHOTO)

In 13 months from March 2017 to April 2018, police recorded 647 operations against criminals in Meerut zone.

The result, according to police records, is impressive — 50 hardcore criminals killed, 390 wounded, more than 3,435 arrested, and 36 booked under the National Security Act.

But in comparison, 897 cases of kidnappings and 181 rapes were registered in 13 months against 697 and 163 cases, respectively, the previous year.

The crackdown is part of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s promise during the assembly elections last year, to reduce the crime rate in India’s most populous and politically sensitive state.

Chief minister Yogi Adityanath’s government swung into action after assuming power in March last year, ordering a widespread operation against criminals.

Meerut zone, comprising nine districts of western UP and bordering New Delhi, Haryana and Uttarakhand, has been known as the “Wild West” because of its high crime rate. Criminals continue to run organised gangs, some armed with sophisticated weapons such as the AK-47 assault rifles.

The fear of criminals had forced many industrialists and entrepreneurs to leave the region and set up business in New Delhi and elsewhere. But the sustained police efforts instilled fear in the criminals. In places such as Kairana and Muzaffarnagar, several known hardcore criminals were seen in grainy mobile phone video clips marching on streets with folded hands, apologising to people for their crimes and promising to live an honest life.

UP, however, continues to see the rise and fall of gang-lords. Here is a quick look at some of the biggest gangsters of UP.

Mukhtar Ansari
Turf: Eastern UP
Status: MLA for Mau and in jail for over 13 years
Crimes: Accused in the murder of former BJP legislator Krishnanand Rai and contractors in 2005. At least 10 people fired at the MLA’s motorcade killing seven people, including Rai, in Ghazipur district after he defeated Ansari’s elder brother and five-time legislator Afzal Ansari from Mohammadabad constituency in the 2002 assembly elections. Ansari was accused of hatching the plot in jail.

Brijesh Singh
Turf: Eastern UP and Bihar
Status: Independent MLC for Varanasi from 2017 and in jail since 2008
Crimes: Considered an arch-rival of Mukhtar Ansari, he is accused of multiple murders. His men are said to be involved in coal mining, railway construction, scrap disposal, public works and liquor business. Singh’s group allegedly ambushed Ansari’s convoy in Ghazipur in 2001 and killed three men. Singh was reportedly wounded in retaliatory fire and was presumed dead until Delhi police arrested him in Bhubaneswar in 2008.

Prem Prakash Singh alias Munna Bajrangi
Turf: Eastern UP and Bihar
Status: In Jhansi jail since 2009
Crimes: Munna Bajrangi, known as Mukhtar Ansari’s sharpshooter, was accused of multiple murders, including that of BJP MLA Krishnanand Rai. His gang members were involved in extortion, contract killing, land deals and government work contracts. He survived half-a-dozen bullets in a police shooting in 1998 and apparently became more brazen. He contested assembly elections but lost. He was arrested in Mumbai in January 2009.

Atiq Ahmed
Turf: Allahabad, Kaushambi and Sultanpur
Status: A former MP, he is lodged in Deoria jail for the past one year
Crimes: Multiple criminal cases of kidnapping, murders, including that of Bahujan Samaj Party legislator Raju Pal in Allahabad. His gang was active in extortion, sand mining and land deals. Atiq was jailed for several years when the BSP was in power, but came out during the Samajwadi Party rule. He was arrested again for assaulting the staff of an agricultural university in February 2017.

Babli Kol
Turf: Chitrakoot and Bundelkhand in UP and Madhya Pradesh
Status: Carries a reward of Rs 5 lakh
Crimes: Dacoity, murder, kidnapping, extortion and tendu leaf smuggling. After ganglord Shiv Kumar Patel alias Dadua was killed in July 2007, dacoit Babli Kol became undisputed crime king of Bundelkhand with over 47 cases of dacoity, loot, murder and kidnapping. Kol’s gang controls the lucrative tendu leaf trade in Chitrakoot, Banda and parts of Madhya Pradesh. He is ruthless and killed a farmer in Jhansi district last September for not paying rangdari, or extortion money.

Sunder Bhati
Turf: Western UP, Haryana and parts of Delhi
Status: In Hamirpur jail since 2014
Crimes: Bhati’s gang is involved in contract killings, extortion, scrap contracts, and grabbing properties. He started with the Satbeer Gujjar gang in the 1980s. Said to be operating from jail, his name cropped up in the murder of BJP leader Shiv Kumar Yadav in Noida recently. His gang is equipped with AK-47 and semi-automatic pistols. A native of Ghanghola village in Greater Noida, he contested assembly elections from Dadri as an Indian National Lok Dal candidate, but lost.

Randeep Bhati
Turf: Western UP, Haryana and parts of Delhi
Status: In Basti jail since 2015
Crimes: His gang is involved in contract killings, extortion, kidnapping and illegal mining. Randeep Bhati is the leader of the Ritholi gang that he took over after brothers Naresh and Ranpal were killed in an internecine gunfight with the Sundar Bhati gang. Both gangs lost nearly 50 men in the rivalry since 2003. He has grown stronger with support from gangsters Anil Dujana, Amit Kasana and Mukeem Kala.

Sushil Mooch
Turf: Western UP, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan
Status: Fugitive; wanted in the murder of an elderly woman and her son in Meerut.
Crimes: Contract killings. At 66, Sushil Mooch is the oldest ganglord in UP with more than 50 cases against him — the majority being murder. Though has been active for four decades, police could get his photograph in 2012 when he was arrested for a second time. He got bail, and is on the run now. He is known for providing sharpshooters. Before his arrest in 2012, Mooch was operating from Jaipur.

First Published: May 22, 2018 13:42 IST