They were planning to kill a student at a Rohtak University

Four alleged sharpshooters of an inter-State gang who — for establishing their supremacy in students’ union politics in a university in Rohtak — were planning to eliminate a student have been arrested following an encounter with the Delhi Police Crime Branch and their counterparts in Haryana. A police officer sustained a bullet injury in the crossfire.

Police investigations revealed that the alleged mastermind, Manoj Morkheri, had been operating from Tihar Central Jail. He was arrested from Alipur here on March 20. “We received a specific input on Friday evening that his gang had plans to kill a student on the Maharshi Dayanand University campus in Rohtak the next day. His accomplice, Arun Morkheri, is presently lodged at Bhondsi Jail in neighbouring Gurgaon,” said Additional Commissioner of Police (Crime Branch) Ravindra Yadav.

According to the police, Manoj had through Arun deputed some sharpshooters to eliminate Praveen, a resident of Rohtak, who was to appear for LL.B entrance examination there on Sunday. The weapons of the intended offence were arranged at Arun’s instance.

Acting on the tip-off, a team under supervision of Additional DCP Bhisham Singh was formed to conduct raids. The team shared the information with Superintendent of Police (Rohtak) Vivek Sharma at whose initiative a joint team was constituted for the operation. The policemen laid a trap around the university campus and on spotting the suspects, asked them to surrender. However, they opened fire.

Rohtak Police Head Constable Sandeep sustained a bullet injury. However, the four suspects were overpowered. Three sophisticated .32 pistols with 18 live and three empty cartridges, besides a country-made pistol of .315 bore with two live rounds, were purportedly seized from the accused.

During interrogation, the accused identified themselves as Jagdeep (30), Raj Kamal (26), Anil (24) and Sandeep (21), all residents of Rohtak.

Mr. Yadav said the gang runs an extortion racket on the outskirts of Delhi and Haryana. They target builders, property dealers and bookies operating in these areas. “A bookie earlier arrested by us in South-West Delhi had revealed that twice he had paid protection money to Manoj. The protection money was collected by his accomplice Anil and his cousins. Their conduits, who are in the money lending business in Narela, provide inputs to the gang on prospective targets.”

An alleged gang member named Manish, arrested by the Rohtak Police, also provided information on bookmakers from whom money could be extorted. The accused would make extortion calls while on the move to evade getting tracked down by the police. “Having acquired notoriety, the gang members used their influence to get licences for liquor shops in the name of their relatives in Haryana,” said Mr. Yadav.

“Manoj is considered to be one of the most dreaded criminals in the National Capital Region. Way back in 2003, he committed his first crime when he helped one Ramdhan to escape from police custody by throwing chilli powder in the eyes of the escort team. He is suspected to be involved in several cases of contract killings and kidnapping for ransom. He had escaped from Behror Jail in Alwar, Rajasthan, in 2003. While he is involved in at least 16 criminal cases, his accomplice Arun has earlier been booked in over 15 cases of kidnapping, abduction and attempt to murder in Haryana and Delhi,” the officer added.

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