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Deadly Najafgarh gangs sprang from a land dispute

Dichaon Kalan and Mitraon villages have seen gangs clash with one another in a long-drawn war of supremacy.

Written by Mahender Singh Manral | New Delhi |
April 6, 2015 3:17:26 am
Police outside the office of Bharat Singh in Najafgarh after he was shot at in 2012. (Source: EXpress photo) Police outside the office of Bharat Singh in Najafgarh after he was shot at in 2012. (Source: EXpress photo)

It may sound like a film script, but this violent story has been played out on the streets of two Najafgarh villages for a long time. Dichaon Kalan and Mitraon villages have seen gangs clash with one another in a long-drawn war of supremacy and financial gain.

Udaiveer Singh alias Kale, a property dealer from Najafgarh, is said to have been nursing a deep grudge against local strongman and councillor Kishan Pehalwan and his younger brother Bharat Singh, the former MLA from the area.

Nearly two months ago, he openly told Delhi Police and local villagers that he would eliminate his enemies as it was the only purpose of his life. Last Sunday, Singh was killed in an attack at a function in Najafgarh.

This bloody incident, apparently the outcome of the town’s gang rivalry, has revived the frightening memories of the frequent shootouts between criminal gangs in Outer Delhi in 1990s and has once again brought the two villages into focus. Recalling the early 1990s, a senior police officer said the recent deadly attack is believed to be a renewal of the old feud involving land-grabbing and real estate business.

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Seeds of gang culture

The rivalry began in the 1990s between the families of Kishan Pehalwan and Anoop and Balraj in Dichaon Kalan village over three acres of land. It all started when one Prakash Gehlot sold a plot of land, worth around Rs 8 crore today, to Surat Kane for a pittance. Prakash’s family members later alleged that Kane, notorious for forged property deals, tricked the owner into selling the land. Anoop and Balraj were brothers and their father Surat Kane was a “land shark” during the 1990s. When Prakash’s younger brother Balwan Fauji came to know of the deal, he refused to transfer the land to Kane though the land’s deed had changed by then,” a senior police officer of Crime Branch told Newsline.

“Balraj earned notoriety after he killed two prominent businessman on Rohtak Road. Kane wanted the piece of land from Balwan Fauji. Fauji hired a local muscleman, Kishan Pehalwan of Dichaon Kalan, to deal with the matter, who in turn started hiring local youths to his gang. Anoop and Balraj were determined to wrest the land even after the death of their father. Since then, the two gangs have been involved in bloody gun battles in which dozens of lives have been lost,” the officer said.

Sources said both gangs started hiring contract killers for settling their land disputes in 1990s, and later Pehalwan hired one Kapil of Mitraon, whose father was allegedly killed by Balraj. Kapil was seeking an opportunity to take revenge and he was allegedly supported by Pehalwan. Pehalwan provided him all the logistical support but, in the meantime, Pehalwan was arrested and sent to Rohtak jail.

Initially, Balraj had an upper hand, but Pehalwan, in the meantime, lured many local youths to his gang by offering them money and weapons. “After Balraj was killed by Pehalwan’s associates in 1998, Anoop took over the gang and tried to compromise with his rivals by dividing their areas. However, it didn’t materialise and members of both the gangs got killed one after another. In September 1999, Anoop’s gang members killed Pehalwan’s younger brother Kuldeep in Central Delhi. In retaliation, Anoop’s 19-year-old nephew Yash Pal was gunned down by that afternoon outside his shop in Mitraon. In 2004, Anoop was also shot dead on the premises of Haryana’s Rohtak court,” a police officer said.

Property and politics

With the passage of time, the area started witnessing development and, apart from land-grabbing and extortion, the dreaded criminals became property dealers and started dealing especially in disputed land.

Pehelwan was arrested by Delhi Police in 1998, but after coming out of jail, he shifted to politics. In 2008, Pehelwan became more powerful after his brother Bharat Singh contested on an Indian National Lok Dal ticket from Najafgarh and was elected MLA. Pehelwan was also elected as a municipal councillor. He reportedly started dealing only in disputed land matters.

Pehalwan vs Udaiveer

Udaiveer harboured enmity against Pehalwan and his family as he held them responsible for the murders of his father Surajmal, a former sarpanch of Dichaon Kalan, and his elder brother. Udaiveer’s father and brother are said to have been killed by Pehalwan’s gang during a marriage function in Rohtak. Udaiveer was looking for an opportunity and in 2011, he came to know about an altercation between one Vikas Dagar and Bharat Singh over money matters involving Vikas’s aunt Ramo Devi and her husband, a senior police officer said.

Udaiveer decided to take advantage of the situation and later started supporting Vikas or Vicky, a resident of Mitraon. Udaiveer also told Vicky that after the municipal election, Bharat Singh would eliminate him. “Udaiveer had claimed in his interrogation in 2012 that Pehalwan, the MLA’s brother, had got his brother and father killed in 2002,” police sources said. “In 2012, Udaiveer hired local youths Vicky and Kuldeep as they also wanted to take revenge on Pehalwan,” then Additional Commissioner of Police (Special Cell), Ashok Chand said.

Outlaws of Outskirts

Nowadays, extortionists are targeting realtors from Najafgarh and Outer Delhi and businessmen whose factories are situated in the Bawana industrial area, police sources said. “Neeraj Bawana, Vikas Lagarpuria, Manoj Morkheri, Anil Pehalwan, Sanjay Rathi, Pappu Pandit, Sonu Daryapur, Satish alias Pehalwan are running extortion rackets,” police sources added.

Some of the criminals, who are now in jail, are still running their rackets from inside Tihar, Rohini and Rohtak jails. The Delhi Police’s Special Cell and Crime Branch have intercepted phone calls and received inputs from their informers that gangs are demanding Rs 30 lakh to Rs 50 lakh every month from industrialists who own plants in Outer Delhi areas.

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