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Mumbai: How Lawrence Bishnoi became a headache for intel sleuths and NIA

Updated on: 25 April,2024 06:48 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Diwakar Sharma |

Sources say gangster uses gift of gab to persuade dreaded criminals to join his ever-expanding network

Mumbai: How Lawrence Bishnoi became a headache for intel sleuths and NIA

Gangster Lawrence Bishnoi is lodged in Sabarmati jail. File pic

Key Highlights

  1. Law enforcement agencies in India are facing daunting challenge posed by Lawrence Bishnoi
  2. Bishnoi has been fortifying his network
  3. He has been collaborating with dreaded prison inmates

Law enforcement agencies in India are facing a daunting challenge posed by the rapidly expanding network of the notorious gangster Lawrence Bishnoi. Sources reveal that despite being imprisoned for long years on multiple serious charges, Bishnoi has been fortifying his network, which is engaged in terror and smuggling operations. He has been collaborating with dreaded prison inmates to provide logistical support to his henchmen on the ground. 

An officer who worked in Central agencies believes that the Bishnoi gang is on a quest to expand its network in Maharashtra because the gangster said that he is opposed to underworld don Dawood Ibrahim, whose network is spread in and around Mumbai.

The suspects who were involved in the recent Bandra shooting in police custody in Bhuj. File pic/PTIThe suspects who were involved in the recent Bandra shooting in police custody in Bhuj. File pic/PTI

“See, Bishnoi has been expanding his network despite being imprisoned in Ahmedabad’s Sabarmati Central Jail. He is an excellent orator who can convince other dreaded criminals to join hands with him,” said the officer.

“We assume that the firing incident at Galaxy Apartment might be an attempt to reach prisons in Maharashtra so that Bishnoi can expand his network there,” said the officer, requesting anonymity.

The bike abandoned by his henchmen; (right) Actor Salman Khan at his farmhouse. File pic The bike abandoned by his henchmen; (right) Actor Salman Khan at his farmhouse. File pic 

“Though he already has a widespread network in Gujarat, where his younger brother Anmol, who is now abroad, hid after a sensitive murder in Jodhpur in 2017. The jailed gangster has had actor Salman Khan in his crosshairs over the blackbuck incident,” said the officer.

“In past, Bishnoi has openly threatened Salman after which the Mumbai police increased the security apparatus around him. Yet something went amiss of late,” he added.

Brother takes responsibility

Anmol, who is believed to be holed up in Pakistan or Canada, was quick to take responsibility for the firing. “Bishnoi knows that the Mumbai police will take him into their custody for interrogation and after this, he might be kept in a Maharashtra prison. This would fulfil his ultimate plan to expand his nexus,” said the officer.
A senior officer in Mumbai police Crime Branch told mid-day, “We are in the process of bringing Bishnoi to Mumbai for questioning in this case, but once the custody period ends, we will send him back.”

The apartment in Panvel which the shooters rented. File picThe apartment in Panvel which the shooters rented. File pic

Lawrence, his brothers Sachin and Anmol and associates such as Goldy Brar, Kala Jathedi, Kala Rana, Bikram Brar and Sampat Nehra were also raising funds to carry out terror and criminal activities through smuggling of drugs and weapons and widespread extortion.

“To communicate seamlessly with each other and dodge intelligence agencies, the gang members carry Wi-Fi devices and high-end smartphones,” an officer from the Rajasthan police told mid-day.

In November 2022, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) arrested Bishnoi in a case pertaining to a conspiracy hatched by members of a criminal syndicate and gangs based in India and abroad to raise funds, recruit youth to carry out terrorist acts in Delhi and other parts of the country to execute sensational crimes—including targeted killings of prominent persons—to strike terror in the minds of the people of the country.

“Terrorist operatives have established a robust nexus with drug smugglers and members of the criminal syndicate overseen by Bishnoi. The gangster has instilled widespread fear and alarm among the public,” said an NIA officer.

The criminal acts attributed to him are not isolated local incidents but rather interconnected elements of a far-reaching conspiracy involving terrorists, gangsters, drug smuggling cartels and networks operating both domestically and internationally.

“It was found that most conspiracies had been hatched by Bishnoi from behind bars and were being executed by a network of criminal operatives based in India and abroad,” the officer said.

Criminal network

The arrested gangster is involved and wanted in many cases, including the conspiracy to carry out killings in Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan and Delhi for more than a decade.

“Bishnoi’s network is growing in Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand. We have been keeping a close watch on them,” said a source from Punjab police.

Last year, in November, the NIA took significant steps in dismantling the network associated with banned terror outfit Babbar Khalsa International and Bishnoi’s gang, charge-sheeting four accused: Darman Singh alias Darmanjot Kahlon, Parveen Wadhwa alias Prince, Yudhvir Singh alias Sadhu and Vikas Singh.

Darmanjot is one of the key links between Canada-based absconder Lakhbir Singh alias Landa, an operative of Babbar Khalsa International, and Bishnoi’s crime syndicate. Operating from the United States, Darmanjot has been involved in a range of criminal activities, including the smuggling of weapons, explosives, and drugs from Pakistan.

Prince was a linchpin in the dissemination of vital information among the members of the terror gang.  NIA Investigations indicate that he was instrumental in coordinating communication channels, enabling seamless interactions among gang members, even those incarcerated in different jails.

Sadhu has figured as the chief arms procurer of the syndicate. His role and expertise extended to facilitating the procurement of arms and ammunition from foreign countries.

Vikas Singh has been involved in providing sanctuary to different gang members involved in executing terror attacks and criminal operations across multiple states. Notably, he provided safe harbour to the gang members responsible for the RPG terror attack at the Punjab Police State Intelligence Headquarters in Mohali.

Long arm of law

The NIA has seized arms, ammunition and other incriminatory digital devices and documents from the accused. The investigations further led the NIA to the hideouts set up across Haryana, Punjab and UP, which were being used to harbour gangsters and store weapons.

In another major step towards demolishing the terrorist-gangster-drug smuggler nexus in the country, the NIA in January attached four properties owned by members of Bishnoi’s syndicate.

The properties, of which three were immovable and one movable, were attached in a coordinated swoop by NIA teams in Haryana, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh under the provisions of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967. The NIA found all these properties to be ‘proceeds of terrorism’.

Year NIA arrested Lawrence Bishnoi

Aug 2022
Month NIA registered case against Bishnoi under UAPA

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