NEW DELHI: The farmhouse community in south Delhi’s Chhatarpur was jolted out of its somnolence on Saturday by a car chase that ended in a shootout between personnel of Delhi Police’s Special Cell and dreaded criminals. At the end of the dramatic encounter, gangster Rajesh Bharti and three of his associates lay dead, while nine others, including eight policemen, were in hospital with gunshot injuries.
More than 150 rounds were fired in the fierce gunbattle that lasted for 10 minutes. Apart from Bharti, considered the third most wanted man in Delhi, the others killed were Sandeep Vidrohi, also among the most wanted, Umesh alias Don, and Bhikhu. They were wanted for murder, kidnapping, extortion and car robberies. These men audaciously left behind boastful notes at crime scenes and had no reservations about revealing their identities to their victims.
The Ford Endeavour used by the criminal on Saturday is believed to belong to a Chhatarpur farmhouse owner named Sanjit, police later said.
After camping in Chhatarpur the entire Friday night after a tip-off that Bharti and his pals would visit a farmhouse that police had kept an eye on for some months, the cops persevered with the stakeout on Saturday. Around 30 police personnel were present on the location, posing as security guards and gardeners.
A little after 1pm, the gang made an appearance in an SUV and two other vehicles via Kharak-Chandanhola road. Challenged to stop by the cops, the criminals tried to make a run for it after turning their weapons, including Glock and Chinese Star pistols, on their pursuers. The local residents were caught off guard, and many thought a terror attack was on. Their front yard turned into an astonishing battleground, as policemen crawled in commando fashion and fired their AK47s, MP5 sub-machine guns and Glock pistols on the cars occupied by gang members.
Explaining the operation, Sanjeev Yadav DCP (Special Cell) revealed that an all-out operation to nab Bharti and his associates had kicked off in mid-February. The gang managed to dodge the pursuit teams on at least two occasions when the cops found themselves outnumbered and not equipped with bulletproof vests.
At May end, the special cell was informed that the gang often visited a farmhouse in Chhatarpur. A covert police team was stationed there round the clock after that. On Friday evening, police were told that Bharti and his gang would come to the farmhouse for a party. DCP Yadav formed teams led by ACP Pankaj Sood and inspectors Prabhat and Pankaj to intercept the wanted men.
Police commissioner Amulya Patnaik later said, “The special cell had been tasked to track the group because of a spate of criminal acts involving the men. On Thursday, Bharti had called a city businessman and demanded Rs 1 crore from him”.
After a futile vigil through Friday night, on Saturday afternoon the police team spotted a white Ford Endeavour (HR 95 9) that was being followed by an i20 and a third car. When the cops flagged them down, the cars turned towards Chandanhola village. As the police set off in pursuit, the criminals opened fire at them. However, other police teams had set up road blocks and the Endeavour and i20 got trapped. The third car, however, escaped.
“A fierce gunbattle ensued as the desperados opened fire on the cops and injured some of them,” said DCP Yadav. The police team fired around 100 rounds, while the criminals fired around 50 rounds.” Eight policemen were injured in the shootout, and five of them are stated to be in serious condition with bullets embedded in their bodies. One of the cops, shot four times, is battling for life. Four of the criminals died on the spot, while a fifth is in hospital.
Bharti had a reward of Rs 2 lakh for his capture, Vidrohi Rs 1 lakh, Umesh Rs 50,000. Bharti and Vidrohi were considered the third and tenth most wanted in Delhi’s crime list. TOIhad reported on this list in January this year.
“Head constable Girdhar sustained four gunshots, constable Gurdeep was shot in the chest and right arm, SI Krishan was shot twice in the arm and hand, ASI Hari Chand sustained two shot in his right leg while SI Bjender was shot in the arm,” Yadav said. Seven policemen are being treated at AIIMS Trauma Centre, while Girdhar is under observation at Fortis Hospital. The injured criminal, Kapil, underwent an operation late in the evening and the doctors are optimistic of his survival.
The daughter of Krishan is a doctor, and when the injured sub-inspector was brought to AIIMS Trauma Centre, he was received by his daughter who calmly assisted the medical team in his treatment.