The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Tuesday searched 76 locations in Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Delhi to “dismantle the nexus between terrorists, gangsters, drug smugglers and traffickers based in India and abroad”.
The agency said it had registered three separate cases since August 2022 to probe the nexus. The NIA said several persons, including some kabbadi players, have been identified and booked for their alleged involvement in terror and other criminal activities such as targeted killings and extortion of leading businessmen and professionals.
“Incidentally, the investigations have revealed that conspiracies for several such crimes, including the sensational killing of Maharashtra builder, Sanjay Biyani, and Sandeep Nangal Ambia, an international kabbadi organiser, in Punjab last year, were being hatched in jails of different States and were being executed by an organised network of operatives based abroad,” an NIA official said.
The agency said ₹2.3 crore has been recovered. “A few of the most desperate gang leaders and their associates based in India and abroad, who are spearheading and carrying out such terror and criminal activities were identified and booked in the three cases,” the NIA said.
This was the fifth round of raids and searches as part of the NIA crackdown on top gangsters, and their criminal and business associates in Punjab, Delhi, Haryana and Rajasthan and arms suppliers based in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Delhi. The associates involved in hawala network were also targeted in Tuesday’s raids, with a recovery of over ₹1.5 lakh.
The NIA said it searched locations in Abohar, Bhatinda, Muktsar Sahab, Moga, Ludhiana, Mohali, Ferozpur, Tarn Taran and Ludhiana districts in Punjab; Gurugram, Yamuna Nagar, Rohtak, Mahendragarh, Sirsa and Jhajjar districts in Haryana; Churu, Bharatpur and Alwar districts in Rajasthan; Baghpat, Bareilly, Pratapgarh, Bulandshahr and Pilibhit districts in Uttar Pradesh; and Dwarka, Outer North, Central and Outer North districts of Delhi.
“Searches were conducted at the houses/premises of Lakhvir Singh of Gidderbaha at Muktsar, Naresh at Abohar, Surender alias Cheeku of Narnaul in Haryana, Kaushal Choudhary and Amit Dagar of Gurugram and Sunil Rathi of Bagpat, U.P.,” it said. The agency added that the houses of hawala operatives, weapon suppliers, business associates, financiers and those who provided logistics were also searched. During the search, 11 pistols, revolvers, rifles and “incriminating” documents, digital devices and cash were seized. The NIA said that further investigations would continue to dismantle such terror networks as well as their funding and support infrastructure.
Preliminary investigations have revealed that these gangs were carrying out targeted killings and were also raising funds to carry out such criminal activities through smuggling of drugs and weapons and hawala networks.
“The recent sensational crimes and extortion calls by criminal syndicates and gangsters to businessmen, professionals, including doctors etc., had created a widespread scare among the people. These gangs were using cyberspace to publicise these crimes to create terror among the public at large,” the NIA said. It added that investigations had revealed that such criminal acts were not isolated local incidents but there was a deep-rooted conspiracy among terrorists, gangsters and drug smuggling cartels and networks, who were operating from both within and outside the country. “Many gang leaders and members have fled India and are now operating from foreign countries, including Pakistan, Canada, Malaysia, Australia etc.,” the NIA said.