Behind attack on police van,seven brothers and a village living in fearhttps://indianexpress.com/article/india/crime/behind-attack-on-police-van-seven-brothers-and-a-village-living-in-fear/

Behind attack on police van,seven brothers and a village living in fear

The police van that was attacked was carrying five members of the Bhagwan gang.

Behind the ambush on a police van near the national capital last evening that killed three undertrials lies a reign of terror lasting over two decades,involving seven brothers,and playing out in a village in Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda’s home district Rohtak.

Even after two of those brothers — Dilbagh and gang head Sri Bhagwan — were killed in yesterday’s attack,such is the fear among Karor villagers that no one was willing to talk against them today. Of the 600 homes in the village,they tell you,around 35 lie vacant because the families have moved to undisclosed locations because of the gang’s terror.

The police van that was attacked was carrying five members of the Bhagwan gang. Haryana police records show that this gang,comprising the Bhagwan brothers and their acolytes,has over 30 cases of murder,extortion,dacoity,possession and use of illegal arms and explosives,against its name. Apart from the two brothers killed yesterday,two others,Phool and Shidak,had been murdered by a rival gang belonging to Karor some time back while another,Rohtash,had died of illness. The two surviving brothers,Anand and Dharampal,are in Karnal and Mahendergarh jails respectively.

“These brothers (Sri Bhagwan and Dilbagh) were undoubtedly not less than terrorists,roaming free,” said Inspector Lalit Kumar,Station House Officer of police station Sampla.

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Villagers tell you of a time 20 years ago when all seven lived in a shack. Now they occupy over 12 of the 7 brothers and a terrified village led to attack on police van

biggest houses in Karor while another 25 are said to be under their illegal possession.

All the houses are under lock and key now,but no one has ever dared raise a voice or recapture their properties. “Two of the brothers are still alive. Who will face them when they come out of jail?” a villager says.

While one of the occupied homes housed the nearly one dozen,foreign-breed dogs the brothers kept as pets,another was used as stable for their cattle and horses.

The police acknowledge that the fear of law,even their physical presence,has never deterred the Bhagwan gang. For the past three years,around 12 police personnel have been deployed on permanent guard duty at five houses targeted by the gang,where families of the victims continue to live. Sub-Inspector Dharamraj,who got posted here three months ago,said: “The gang has muscle and money power and no policeman dares confront them. Despite being in jail,they ran their extortion racket blatantly. If anybody refused to pay them money,he was shot dead.”

Dharamraj doesn’t expect this to change because of Sri Bhagwan and Dilbagh’s deaths. “This is not the end of this terror as two of their brothers are still alive and capable of reacting to their brothers’ death,even from inside jail,” the S-I said.

The trail of violence started in 1992 when Sri Bhagwan shot dead the brother of a groom during a wedding ceremony in the village. After that,he was alleged to have killed over a dozen people,mostly in Karor,to enforce his supremacy.

His brothers joined him and within 10 years,the Bhagwan gang was a force to reckon with in Rohtak district. Extortions,murders,forcible occupation of land — cases against them kept piling up.

In 2002,the first brother,Shidak,was shot dead at Khadawar railway station,followed by the murder of Phool and his son. In retaliation,the Bhagwan gang shot three villagers,Ram Chander,Ramesh and Jai Bhagwan,in broad daylight. The Bhagwan gang members got arrested for this,but when they came out of jail in 2003,they shot two more villagers,Ram Niwas and Ramesh. Two others were later killed in 2004.

On the strength of his brute power,Sri Bhagwan got elected as sarpanch of the village in 2002. However,the killing spree and forcible occupation of houses didn’t stop and having killed half a dozen more people in the village by 2009,the gang entered into rivalry with another contender for the post of sarpanch,Rajesh.

The Bhagwan gang was held responsible for the killing of Krishan a.k.a. Fauji,a resident of Karor and owner of the Fauji dhaba,a prominent food joint on the Delhi-Rohtak highway.

Even the wives of the brothers are lodged in jails on murder charges. Two of the them gave birth while behind bars and the children are being raised in prison.

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Police believe that Rajesh,whom the Bhagwans had tried to stop in his bid for the sarpanch’s post,carried out the killing of Sri Bhagwan and Dilbagh yesterday. Among the long list of victims of the Bhagwans in Karor were Rajesh’s wife Rani and aunt Roshni — shot when Rajesh tried to contest the elections. Last year,finally,Rajesh had won and become sarpanch of Karor.