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Meet Lawrence Bishnoi, the ‘introvert’ who wanted to kill Salman Khan

Born in the sleepy village of Dhattaranwali near Abohar in Ferozpur district, Lawrence Bishnoi hit the national headlines when one of his associates, Sampat Nehra, was arrested from Bengaluru in June 2018. Nehra was planning to eliminate Bollywood star Salman Khan -- who was convicted in the blackbuck poaching case.

Written by Saurabh Prashar | Chandigarh |
Updated: September 7, 2020 7:54:10 am
salman khan, plan to kill Salman khan, salman khan assassination, blackbuck poaching case, Lawrence Bishnoi, chandigarh city newsPolice had said that Lawrence belongs to the Bishnoi community, for whom blackbucks, a protected species under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, are sacred. He wanted to avenge the killing of blackbucks by killing Khan, they claimed.

“It was back in 2010 when the annual exam of graduation courses was going on in our college. During one of the exams, a student was caught copying from a chit. The invigilator was about to hand him over to the examination superintendent when the student jumped out of a window of the single-storey building with his answer sheet. A security guard managed to grab him by his shirt but he managed to flee, leaving his shirt in the guard’s hands. Later, the name of the student was revealed to us — Lawrence Bishnoi,” said a professor of political science at DAV College in Sector 10.

The professor, who did not wish to be named, further said, “He was a troublemaker. But we had never imagined that he would become such a dreaded name and would run his gang while sitting in jail, something we had only seen in movies.”

A staff member of the examination branch of DAV College said, “He was aggressive. He was always eager to indulge in arguments with staff. He was so notorious that I still remember his roll number. He attempted to clear BA part-1 twice, but failed. Once he had come to the college handcuffed for appearing for an examination. In 2011, he was the campus president of the Student Organisation of Panjab University (SOPU)”.

Born to a well-off agriculturist in the sleepy village of Dhattaranwali near Abohar in Ferozpur district, Bishnoi hit the national headlines when one of his associates, Sampat Nehra, was arrested from Bengaluru in June 2018. Nehra, son of a former ASI of Chandigarh Police, had disclosed during interrogation his plan to eliminate Bollywood star Salman Khan — who was convicted in the blackbuck poaching case — at the behest of Bishnoi, who is lodged in Bharatpur Jail of Rajasthan and is believed to run his activities using cell phones inside prison.

Police had said that Lawrence belongs to the Bishnoi community, for whom blackbucks, a protected species under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, are sacred. He wanted to avenge the killing of blackbucks by killing Khan, they claimed.

A former SOPU leader who had worked with Bishnoi during his college days in Chandigarh, told The Indian Express, “He is the eldest son of his parents. He was passionate about wrestling and used to practise at an akhaara behind Sukhna Lake. He was an introvert. During his later days in college, he managed to form a gang of youngsters including sportspersons and wards of police personnel. Students from well-to-do families considered themselves lucky to stay in his company. Some of his college friends are still loyal to him”.

Another former student of DAV College, who had studied when Bishnoi was there, said, “He liked to stay in the company of his seniors. Always eager to do something big. Bishnoi had two addresses, one of hostel no. 4 in PU and another in Sector 4, Panchkula.”

The first FIR against Bishnoi was of attempt to murder, followed by another of house trespass in April 2010. In February 2011, a case of assault and robbery of a cell phone was registered against Bishnoi. All the cases related to student politics.

“Why do you want to portray him as a dreaded gangster? He is nothing. Only earning fame while sitting inside the jail barrack,” was the reaction of a police officer, who has privy to the interrogation of Bishnoi multiple times.

The police officer, who is with the crime branch, said, “In the initial years, Bishnoi was nowhere in the world of crime in Punjab and Haryana. There were already so many gangsters active in these two states that it was difficult for him to survive. He had connections with a gangster-turned-politician from Fazilka, Jaswinder Singh, alias Rocky who was gunned down near Parwanoo in May 2016. He along with his accomplices preferred to stay active in Rajasthan, especially Sri Ganganagar, Bharatpur, under the garb of student politics.”

The officer said, “Bishnoi has built a cult of followers through his friends, who are operating his different Facebook accounts, depicting him as a patriot keen to help needy people. He stayed in five days’ police custody with us in a case of firing at the house of a liquor tycoon. He pretended to have taken to religion, doing Sukhmani Sahib path every morning inside the lock-up. In the recent weeks, he had moved multiple applications in the local courts fearing a fake encounter.”

In November 2019, when Bishnoi was brought to Chandigarh on production warrants for interrogation in the murder case of Rajveer, alias Sonu Shah, a criminal-turned-property dealer, evidence emerged to indicate that he was using a cell phone inside Bharatpur Jail for extortion, murders and settling of property disputes. Chandigarh Police had taken up the matter with Bharatpur jail authorities.

According to Chandigarh police records, 7 FIRs were registered against Bishnoi in the city — he was acquitted in four.

SP (Crime), Chandigarh, Manoj Kumar Meena, said, “Bishnoli is a shrewd criminal. He knew there is no benefit in hiding things which are already known to investigation agencies. He has a huge network in Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan. His gang members easily misguide youngsters, luring them to commit crime for easy money. Usually, we interrogate the criminal specifically related to our cases.”

According to police records, there are 11 members in his gang and 9 of them are lodged in different jails.

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