Two notorious gangsters from Punjab gunned down by Bengal STF near Kolkata
Two notorious gangsters from Punjab, who were wanted for multiple crimes, were killed in an encounter with the Special Task Force (STF) of the West Bengal Police in the eastern outskirts of Kolkata around 3.40 pm on Wednesday, police said.
One of the criminals was suspected to be Jaipal Singh Bhullar who was involved in the murder of police personnel in Ludhiana on May 15. The second gangster was reportedly identified as Jaspreet Jassi. They were allegedly involved in smuggling of firearms and explosives. The Bengal Police did not make any official statement till 5.15 pm
The criminals were hiding in a rented apartment at a posh multi-storeyed residential complex in New Town area. A police officer was injured when the criminals opened fire.
A huge police contingent was deployed in and around the complex since it was suspected that the slain gangsters could have had associates who might have slipped out during the encounter.
All roads were sealed. The West Bengal Police was in touch with their counterparts in Punjab.
Police officials said the STF got information about the Punjab gangsters from two men who were arrested near Siuri in Birbhum district on Sunday while they were trying to smuggle in a consignment of explosives and 9 mm pistols from Bihar.
STF personnel are examining footage captured by security cameras installed inside the complex to find more details about the movements of the slain duo.
The injured STF officer, Kartick Mohan Ghosh, was shot in the shoulder. He was rushed to AMRI Hospital in Salt Lake. He lost a lot of blood, said an officer.
Jaipal Singh Bhullar, alias Manjit Singh, was the son of a retired assistant sub-inspector (ASI) of Punjab police. He was wanted in several states including Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh in connection with more than 45 cases involving murder, kidnapping, robbery and smuggling. He was earlier a sportsman.
Bhullar, who carried a price on his head, was known for indiscriminate use of firearms. He and three others were involved in the killings of two Punjab police ASIs at New Grain Market in Jagraon, Ludhiana on May 15.
Bhullar and his associates were living in a second floor apartment at Sukhobristi, a complex built by the Shapoorji Pallonji Group.
After the encounter, residents told the media that although this was the first shootout inside the complex, in the past the state and Kolkata police had arrested some criminals. “Many apartment owners do not even live in Kolkata. They rent out properties without checking the background of the tenants. The issue has been raised by the residents’ society several times,” said a resident who did not want to be identified.
Tapas Chatterjee, the local Trinamool Congress legislator, visited the spot and assured the residents that their safety would be ensured by the administration. “I will not make any statement on the shootout. It is a police matter,” he said.
“The Punjab police have confirmed that the deceased are Jaipal and Jaspreet who had rewards of ₹10 and 5 lakhs respectively on their heads. We were on the lookout for quite some time and were in touch with several agencies, including the Punjab Police. The two were being hunted for the killings of two policemen on May 15. We went to the apartment to arrest them but had to open fire in self defence when they fired at us, injuring an inspector,” Vineet Goyal, additional director general of police, West Bengal STF, said at 7.30 pm.
“We have recovered around ₹7 lakh in cash, five sophisticated pistols, including Glocks, and 89 rounds of unfired ammunition from the apartment,” Goyal said. “We cannot say right now how many shots were fired during the shootout,” he added.
“The two criminals were wanted in connection with numerous crimes committed since 2016. They killed a politician as well. A Punjab Police team has arrived in the state just now. The West Bengal CID and bomb disposal squad have been deployed. The apartment is being searched as the criminals could have hidden explosives there,” Goyal said. “Since the shootout took place in Bengal, a case will be registered here. The operation was carried out entirely by the state STF,” he added.
The bodies were removed from the apartment around 7.45 pm.