New Delhi,Azaan Bhat(dna): After being chased for one-and-a-half years by police of three states, the national capital's most wanted and feared gangster, Neeraj Bawana, was arrested here on Tuesday by the Special Cell of Delhi Police following a brief exchange of gun fire. Police is considering the arrest as a breakthrough in halting the march of organised crime in Delhi. Bawana is involved in more than 40 cases of murder and attempt to murder and extortion.
The 27-year-old, whose real name is Neeraj Sehrawat, was arrested from main Rohtak Road around 3:45 am when he was on his way to meet his family along with an associate Rashid Khan after months of hiding in Mumbai.
Special Cell further informed that the accused was arrested using aerial surveillance without specifying if drones or helicopters were deployed to monitor Bawana'a activities. Given the timing of the arrest, there are speculations police might have procured some high-tech equipment the details of which are currently confidential.
A cult figure among the youth who had joined his Neeraj Bawana gang, the 27-year-old is involved in more than 40 criminal cases which include murder, attempt to murder, extortion of senior politicians and land grabbing. Bawana claimed the top spot of Delhi's underworld after his friend-turned foe Neetu Daboda, the then reigning don of Delhi, was killed in an encounter by Delhi Police in 2013.
"He jumped parole after Daboda's death and had gained much ground in outer parts of the Capital under the mentorship of his maternal uncle, the former Mundka MLA Rambeer Shaukeen," a senior police officer said. While Bawana managed to give police a slip frequently in the past 18 months, 35 of his associates have been arrested by Delhi police.
"After Daboda was killed, his successor Paras and Rajesh were arrested. Bawana's gang seized the opportunity to establish itself operating a syndicate of extortion and contract killings," the officer added.
The officer said that Bawana's case is a one with the most elaborate and sophisticated chases in the history of Delhi police and added that the youngster was very 'sharp and surgical' while committing crimes as well as evading arrest.
In fact the 27-year-old had put police departments of Delhi, Uttarkhand and Uttar Pradesh in an embarrassing position after he successfully coordinated the escape of his aide Amit from the custody of Uttarakhand Police while he was being produced at Baghpat.
"A lot of times we came close to arresting him but he was always a step ahead of us. He barely used mobile phones and heavily relied on word of mouth. He moved around shifting bases in 12 states of India last being Maharashtra where he stayed for a brief time in Mumbai," said Sanjeev Kumar Yadav, DCP (Special Cell). Based on inputs from human intelligence network of the Delhi police, it came to fore that Bawana would come to visit his family.
Sources also told dna, that Bawana being quite a popular figure in his native, garners sympathies of a lot of locals which explains his delayed arrest. However Bawana's luck seemed to have run out.
"The criminals were cornered following a brief chase. They fired at us in a bid to escape, but we fired back in self-defense and overpowered them, "said SN Shrivastava, Special CP, Special Cell who also added that a US-made 'Smith & Wesson Springfield' pistol were recovered (worth four lakh rupees) from him.
The Special Cell told dna that it is now hoping to create a 'water tight' case against the accused in order to bring order to keep him away from areas where his gang has been operational for years now.