A man accused of extortion and murder in parts of Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Delhi was shot dead in an encounter, conducted by joint teams of the Haryana and Uttar Pradesh Special Task Force (STF), on Monday. Police claimed Balraj Bhati, who carried a reward of Rs 2.5 lakh, was trying to escape in his Maruti Swift Dzire and had opened fire at the officers.
According to the Gurgaon STF, a “special intelligence” input — that Bhati would be near Sector 37 overbridge in Noida to “collect extortion money” — was received on Monday morning, following which a team reached Gautam Buddh Nagar district.
Around 11.30 am, police teams from Haryana and Noida intercepted Bhati’s vehicle near the Sector 41 market. “He tried to escape and fired at the police teams. The teams chased his vehicle and when he reached Sector 49 crossing, his car tyre burst. Thereafter, the three accused, including Bhati, tried to flee the scene while firing at the police party. Our teams also chased them. One of the teams was behind Bhati, who climbed a rooftop and kept firing, injuring two civilians and two of our head constables. In retaliatory firing, Bhati was killed,” Ravinder Kumar, PRO of Gurgaon Police, claimed.
Among those injured in the exchange of fire are a seven-year-old-boy and a 30-year-old passerby, police said. “An FIR has been registered on the basis of a complaint received by Haryana Deputy SP, Rahul Dev. Two civilians received injuries in the firing from Bhati’s side. The man, Ajay, has received a bullet injury in his torso. Both he and the child are recuperating at the Noida district hospital. Head constable Raj Kumar received a bullet injury in his torso, while head constable Bhupinder received injuries in the leg,” said Avnish Dixit, SHO of Noida’s Sector 39 police station.
Elaborating on the past cases Bhati was allegedly involved in, Rajeev Mishra, SP, UP STF, said a reward of Rs 1 lakh had been announced after he allegedly tried to extort a Delhi-based businessman. “This happened around three-four months ago. In 2007, he got involved with the Sunder Bhati gang and became a contract killer. He was involved in more than seven cases of murder in Faridabad, Bulandshahr, Ghaziabad and Delhi. There were two others who were with Bhati, but they managed to flee. Bhati had left the car on a pavement at a traffic signal and scaled a wall to climb a terrace, from where he fired several shots,” Mishra claimed. He claimed that Bhati, who hailed from Dalla Dhoosri village in Bulandshahr, had also been involved in the murder of a man who was under police protection.
In November 2012, Bhati’s close associate, Jitendra, had contested and won the village head elections — which was opposed by a section of village residents, including Gulab Singh and Pappu Kataar. “On November 19 that year, Kataar and his wife were shot dead. Around 140 bullets were pumped into the couple. Gulab Singh had been provided police protection in the aftermath of the double murder, but he, too, was shot dead in Bulandshahr on April 18, 2014. At the time, investigation had revealed that Bhati was involved in property-related murder and extortion cases in Delhi-NCR,” Mishra said.