Patiala, May 31
Gang wars in Punjab are not a new phenomenon, but in the past few years they have got bloody.
One sensational murder is followed by another retaliatory murder with different gangs owning responsibility.
The presence of gangs first made headlines when the armed gangsters attacked the Nabha Prison and managed to rescue six inmates, two of whom were terrorists and the remaining four gangsters.
The main gangster behind the incident, Vicky Gounder, along with his aide, was later shot dead in a police encounter while those who led the jail attack were arrested.
In the past four years, the gangs are back in news with almost six of them being operational in Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan, Delhi and Madhya Pradesh. “What is surprising is their nexus spread across states, helping gangsters with hideouts, logistics, boarding and even a safe passage,” said a cop, privy to the unit tracking them.
Within hours of the killing of popular Punjabi singer-turned-politician Sidhu Moosewala on Sunday, Canada-based gangster Goldy Brar allegedly took responsibility for the murder.
The name of Lawrence Bishnoi also came to the fore for being involved in the killing. However, Bishnoi’s lawyer has denied his involvement.
“We fear another gang war now, as the chain of gangs is inter-connected and complex and it is important to understand it. Every gang wants to prove its supremacy over the other and control territories under their banner,” said another police official.
“Various incidents of violence show that a murder is avenged with a murder. We have to be cautious,” he added.
He explained: "In October 2020, 26-year-old Gurlal Brar, former state president of the Student Organisation of Panjab University, was shot dead by three motorcyclists outside City Emporium Mall in Chandigarh.
He was an acquaintance of gangster Lawrence Bishnoi.
Later, Beant Singh, the alleged shooter, arrested by the Moga police in 2021, revealed that he, along with his accomplices Neeraj Chaska and Mandeep Mandy, both residents of Jaitu in Faridkot, had allegedly killed Gurlal Brar to avenge the murder of Lavi Deora, an associate of Bambiha group, who was killed by members of the Bishnoi gang at a fair in Kotkapura in 2017.
In retaliation, on October 22, 2020, Ranjit Singh, alias Rana Sidhu was shot dead by four armed attackers at Aulakh village on the Muktsar-Malout highway. The then Muktsar SSP D Sudarvizhi in December 2020 had claimed that accused Pawan Nehra had been arrested and two pistols seized from him.
“Mastermind Goldy Brar, currently in Canada, and two other accused were yet to be arrested. Goldy wanted to avenge the death of his cousin, Gurlal Brar, who was shot in Chandigarh,” he said.
In February 2021, Gurlal Pehalwan from Faridkot was shot dead and later the Punjab DGP had claimed that the killing was organised by Goldy Brar, with the help of gangster Bishnoi, to avenge the murder of his cousin.
In August last year, Youth Akali Dal leader Vicky Middukhera was shot dead in broad daylight in Mohali by two armed assailants. The name of Sidhu Moosewala’s manager came up in the case, along with that of Bambiha and Haryana-based gang members.
“Now, it is anybody’s guess what we expect next as the gang rivalries have reached another level and a couple of Punjabi singers already face threat. We need to act strictly and ensure justice and arrest the masterminds behind these cases. But in majority of the cases, they are abroad,” said an IPS officer.
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