For one-and-a-half months, occupants of room number 204 at Gulia Properties limited their movement, venturing out only to refill their hookah or buy essential supplies. Their neighbours at room number 202 said the men, usually seen in groups of three, would occasionally speak to them and exchange pleasantries.
“One of them would always wish me in the morning. He would say namaste aunty. I was told by police that they are hardened criminals. We never thought they had guns with them,” said Lakshmi, a neighbour.
The five men were contract killers who had so far managed to fly under the radar of Delhi Police. Police are now trying to ascertain how they managed to rent out rooms or procure Aadhaar cards for this purpose. The main focus is to figure out why they were holed up with a huge cache of weapons.
“We have reasons to believe the gang was planning a hit. They had been staying at a low-profile hotel and could have been conducting a recce and planning an execution date,” said an officer.
The gang, Mohali Police said, were prime suspects in several high-profile murders in Punjab. Mohali SSP Kuldeep Singh Chahal said the five men were associated with Haryana-based gangsters Sampat Nehra and Lawrence Bishnoi. They were involved in three cases, including a murder case that took place in Banur in September. The cases were registered in Derabassi, Banur and Zirakpur.
The gang allegedly murdered Daljeet Singh alias Prince Walia — the husband of Banur’s ward number 7 councillor Preeti Walia — on September 7.
Sampat Nehra, along with one of the men arrested on Tuesday, was also booked by Derabassi police in an attempt to murder case when they tried to kill one Satwinder Singh last year. Satwinder was Nehra’s college mate. The third case was registered after the gang allegedly tried to snatch a Maruti Swift from one Major Singh in Zirakpur. The gangsters also shot Singh, but he survived.