Wannabe Godfathers of NCR

Wannabe Godfathers of NCR

Wannabe Godfathers of NCR

They are young, restless and brash. Gangsters in Delhi, restricted mostly to the city’s fringes in west and north districts, are like any other men from the rural belts, only that they live to kill.

Quite like the glamourised, stereotyped villains in Bollywood movies, the members of the gangs of Delhi get a kick from carrying imported pistols and automatic weapons — most of them illegal — and are chasing the dream of emulating local baddies who have made it big in the world of crime.

“They can kill a man for Rs 1 lakh,” says an officer of Delhi Police Crime Branch.

Easy money for them is a way of achieving a lifestyle that brings women, wine and five-star luxury. And for that they will do anything that needs a trigger pulled.

These gangsters are involved in a number of extortion cases, contract killings, abductions for ransom, attempts to murder and murders in Delhi and adjoining areas. When arrested they are remorseless, and act as if they have not done anything wrong.

“They feel that the crimes they have committed are their routine job like any other job,” says a senior police officer.

They start their career in crime when they are 18 or 19 years old. They begin with getting involved in local property disputes, and later go around with aides of dreaded gangsters of their areas.  

“Over a period of two-three years they become active members of gangs. They feel the adrenaline rush in firing a gun for the first time. And once they get guns in their hands, they start their criminal career,” says Additional Commissioner of Police (Crime Branch) Ravindra Yadav.

Most gang members in Delhi are under 30. The bigger names are said to be in awe of a “political master” based in Gurgaon, who helps them identify targets and assigns lucrative tasks. The master, when these gangsters face bad days, provides them hideouts, money and then the next target.

The gangsters too aspire to enter politics later in life or become the musclemen of some politicians.

A living example is criminal-turned-Municipal Corporation of Delhi councillor Kishan Pehlwan.

For over a decade, Pehlwan featured among the most wanted criminals of Delhi. He was considered as one of the most notorious gangsters in the capital in the past decade. At one point, Pehlwan, a former wrestler, faced several criminal cases, including murder charges, and carried a reward of Rs 1 lakh for anyone providing information leading to his arrest.

He started out with a tender mafia in the early 1990s, and entered the extortion business later. But he started maintaining a low profile after his men shot dead Anoop of Anoop-Balraj gang in 2004. At least 27 murder cases were registered against him.

Pehlwan was arrested in Bharatpur, Rajasthan. He later entered politics, and also ensured his younger brother, Bharat Singh, 35, became a Member of Legislative Assembly.

In 2012, Bharat Singh was shot at. After the attempt on his life, Delhi Police in a seeming bid to crack down on self-styled gang lords operating in the National Capital Region, drew a list of some of the most wanted men known to lead loosely-knit gangs that maraud and terrorise Delhi at will.

In the past one year, police have arrested some 40 people, including six wanted gangsters, from the city’s outer parts, particularly south-west and outer Delhi. After a year-long chase, police caught up with notorious gangster Neeraj Bawana, 21. Wanted in a number of extortion cases and carrying a reward of Rs 1 lakh, he was arrested in Rohini last year.

Neeraj became a ‘wanted man’ after he made an extortion call to MLA Jaswant Rana in May 2012. He demanded Rs 50 lakh from the MLA, police said. In all, he is wanted in 12 criminal cases — nine in Delhi and three in Haryana.

Among the top 10

Similarly, Manoj Morkheri, who is among the top 10 criminals in Delhi, was arrested after a shootout in March this year. He was allegedly involved in the killing of a Haryana police inspector.

Morkheri and two of his associates, Vivek and Praveen, were arrested while another person Rakesh, a former wrestler, died in the encounter that took place in Alipur in March, says Additional Commissioner of Police (Crime Branch) Ravindra Yadav.

During his school days, Rakesh was inclined towards wrestling and started practising in Chattarsal Stadium from January 2003. “In a very short span of time he became famous in wrestling. He won the bronze medal in Senior State Wrestling Championship held in Delhi in 2006. In 2007, he won gold medal in the same championship and became the state champion. In 2007, he also won bronze in Rajeev Gandhi Gold Cup,” says the officer, and adds that thereafter he took to crime.

The gangsters may be outlaws, but they too have certain set of “principles”. They do not indulge in “petty” crime such as snatchings or thefts as it is viewed as below their “dignity”.

“They desire to earn easy money and become famous, and not get involved in petty crime as it hampers their image,” says the officer.

Businessmen and builders have been victims of these gangsters.

Some gangsters lodged in Tihar Jail operate from the prison itself. “They manage to get mobile phones and other items like alcohol easily inside the jail premises. From there they keep their illegal activities running. They also entrap small-time criminals and undertrials and make them members of their gangs,” says a police officer, who does not want to be named.

Infighting among gangsters happens frequently over territorial dominance.

Vikas Lagarpuria from Lagarpur village, Vicky from Jharoda village and Sandeep Mental’s gangs from Baba Haridas Nagar and Naveen Bali gang, have long been trying to challenge the dominance of old gangs in their areas. This led to the arrests and killings of gang members.

Unlike Mumbai’s gangsters, the Delhi ones operate only in the National Capital Region, and they have their own geographical boundaries.

“They commit crime to live a lavish lifestyle, and spend money on call girls, expensive whisky and SUVs. After committing a crime, the usually do not indulge in another crime till they have money. They have hardly made any wealth, except for those who turn to a political career,” adds the officer.

The lifespan of such criminals is also short. When they reach 35, they stop indulging in criminal activities, get arrested or live in prisons.

They either get killed before they reach this age or try to look for some political affiliation.

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