It was like shooting fish in a barrel. The Delhi Police managed to arrest 22 members of a criminal gang in one sweep Monday, after they crashed a party held by the gang to celebrate their boss Kapil Sangwan being granted parole.
According to an officer, the party was held at a nondescript farmhouse built on encroached government property in Najafgarh, and the guest list included criminals from South West Delhi and Haryana.
Of the 50-plus people at the party, which took a week to plan, many were carrying weapons made in the US and England. The party was organised by Sangwan’s associate Jatin Narula. As the crowd waited for Sangwan to arrive from Bhondsi Jail, they ran into unexpected guests instead: 25 policemen armed with AK-47, SLR and MP-5 weapons, donning bulletproof jackets.
A total of 54 men were rounded up, of which 22 were arrested Monday night, police said. According to an officer, three police personnel posted with the Special Cell were also invited to the party, and were present when the raid took place.
While they were among those initially detained, they told police they were not aware the party was for a gangster, and had received the invitation via relatives.
“There was a heavy gathering of men with criminal backgrounds, armed to the teeth. Lives could have been lost. We managed to come out unscathed,” said ACP Manoj Pant from the inter-border gangs investigation squad (IGIS) of the Crime Branch.
Additional Commissioner of Police A K Singla confirmed the party was hosted to welcome Sangwan, who made his name by extorting money from local businessmen in South West Delhi and emerging as a rival to Manjeet Mahal.
“We have recovered nine pistols and 65 rounds. Barring three men, the rest have criminal records ranging from extortion to murder,” Singla said. Sangwan was on the run before he was arrested by Rajasthan Police in a shootout, and has been in jail since 2016. After being released on parole, he was taken to Rajasthan for a court hearing, an officer said.
IGIS officers had been keeping tabs on gang leaders since a shootout at the Dwarka Mor flyover. As Sangwan’s parole date came closer, police mounted surveillance and found a heavy influx of Scorpio and Fortuner cars headed to a farmhouse in Najafgarh.
ACP Manoj sent his team to the farmhouse, and officers took photographs of the building a week in advance and gathered intelligence on the owner.
“They were planning on getting weapons and big cars in a show of strength. Some members had also planned to open fire in Sangwan’s honour,” an officer said.
Gang members took services of a catering staff, used pink table covers and installed water coolers to ensure guests’ comfort. Most of those invited were in the 22-27 age group.
Fresh recruits were given a separate section than those with criminal records. An officer had spent the last one week memorising entry and exit points. On Monday, he entered the farmhouse and saw men drinking and clicking photographs.
“We surrounded them, but some of them confronted us and said ‘hum police se nahi darte’. A youth pulled out a knife kept at the dessert section, injured an ASI, and managed to flee,” the officer said.