Twenty days after the murder of Noida resident Gaurav Chandel, police have made the first arrest in the case. Teams comprising Noida and Hapur police officers arrested 26-year-old Umesh, an alleged member of the Mirchi gang, after a brief encounter on Sunday.
Chandel was murdered on January 6 in Noida’s Phase 3 by the gang, which robbed him of his mobile phone, laptop and other valuables and fled in his car, a Kia Seltos.
According to police, the gang’s kingpin Ashu Jaat allegedly shot Gaurav from close range. Police had initially suspected that he was beaten to death. A .32 bore pistol has been recovered from the accused, which police claim is the murder weapon.
“We had been closely monitoring the activities of members of the Mirchi gang… Through sources, we got information about the gang members’ whereabouts and managed to arrest Umesh — a close associate of Ashu. He and others involved in the crime are absconding,” said Ranvijay Singh, ADCP, Gautam Budh Nagar.
According to police, Umesh hails from Bulandshahr and has more than 12 cases of murder and loot, among other crimes, registered against him.
The accused told police that Gaurav’s murder did not involve any planning and that he was shot at the spur of the moment.
According to police, between 10.30-11 pm on January 7, Ashu, Umesh and another accused stopped Gaurav’s car as he was heading home to Gaur City. The accused tried to steal his car but Gaurav resisted, following which Ashu allegedly shot him. They later dumped Gaurav’s body at a service road more than 7 km away from his home.
Police said Umesh also admitted to his role in a carjacking following Gaurav’s murder, the same night. A Ghaziabad resident had alleged that his Tiago car was stolen on January 7. The accused told police that Gaurav’s car was used to steal the Tiago.
Police said the Mirchi gang operates primarily in Ghaziabad, Gautam Budh Nagar and Hapur.
According to senior police officers, the gang got its name in 2008 after instances of crime involving loot after throwing chilli flakes or ‘mirchi powder’ at victims were reported.
Police said Ashu has more than 40 cases pending against him in multiple Western UP districts and carries a bounty of Rs 1 lakh for his arrest. According to police sources, Ashu’s wife Poonam has been arrested on charges of criminal conspiracy in Chandel’s murder. Another accused has also been detained for questioning to gain information about his whereabouts.
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