Delhi wakes up to early morning shootout on Wednesday

The Delhi Police’s special cell team arrested a 19-year-old suspected criminal, the son of gangster Manoj Bakkarwala, after a brief chase and exchange of bullets in outer Delhi’s Prahladpur near Shahbad Dairy in the early hours of Wednesday.

The arrested criminal, Ashish Bakkarwala, had been released from Delhi’s Tihar Jail in April as part of the Delhi government’s move to decongest prisons to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19). He was in jail for committing a murder, senior police officers associated with the early morning operation said.

Five bullets were exchanged between the special cell sleuths and Ashish, who suffered a bullet injury in the right leg and has been admitted to a government hospital, where he is being treated. Of the three bullets Ashish fired, one hit the bulletproof vest of a sub-inspector, who escaped unhurt, senior special cell officers said.

Deputy commissioner of police (special cell) Sanjeev Kumar Yadav said that after being released as part of the prisons’ decongestion move, Ashish attempted to extort two persons for ₹1 crore each and shot at them in outer Delhi’s Bakkarwala near Mundka in May.

The gangster father-son duo belongs to the Bakkarwala locality in outer Delhi. The city police had announced a reward of ₹1 lakh on Ashish’s arrest.

“Ashish was wanted for both cases. On Tuesday, our team received information that he would be coming to Prahladpur area to kill someone. Accordingly, we laid a trap, and around 4am, spotted Ashish riding a scooter. Our team members asked him to surrender. But he opened fire in a bid to flee. Our officers fired in self-defence and one bullet hit Ashish’s right leg. We overpowered him and admitted him to a hospital,” said DCP Yadav.

A special cell officer, who is not authorised to speak to the media, said on condition of anonymity that Ashish committed the two serious crimes within an hour on the night of May 17. Around 10pm, Ashish and his associate went to the house of a property dealer in Bakkarwala, fired two shots in the air and threw down a piece of paper asking the property dealer to pay ₹1 crore and threatening him of dire consequences, the officer said, quoting the contents of the first information report registered on the complaint of the property dealer, who is constructing a school in the neighbourhood.

Within an hour, the officer said, Ashish went to an under-construction hospital site in the same locality, put a gun to a security guard’s head and asked him to inform the hospital owner to arrange ₹1 crore as “protection money”. Both the cases were registered at the Mundka police station.

According to the officer, to avoid arrest, Ashish hid out in Punjab and Haryana and visited Delhi only to extort people for money or commit other crimes.

“Ashish entered the world of crime while he was a juvenile. He has been involved in at least six other crimes, including a murder. We are collecting details,” the officer added.

Between mid-2000 and 2012, Manoj Bakkarwala ruled Delhi’s crime world and was involved in more than 300 cases of carjacking and vehicle thefts. Manoj, who allegedly started his criminal career in 1998, was first arrested the same year. Manoj has escaped from police custody on at least three occasions and is reportedly on the run.

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