| 27 May 2024, Monday |

Rival hitmen gun down notorious gangster inside courtroom in Indian capital

Two gunmen in the guise of lawyers, barged inside a courtroom in the Indian capital of New Delhi, and shot dead three gangsters, including the leader of a rival criminal gang.

The two assailants were shot dead by the police in a brief gunfight that triggered chaos at the high-security Rohini court complex.

Police said the shootings took place during the hearing of Jitender Mann, the head of Delhi’s “Gogi” gang, in an extortion case. The two assailants, armed with pistols, fired a volley of bullets at him, leading to his death on the spot.

“All 3 gangsters dead. No other injury or death occurred,” the Delhi police said on Twitter.

Police identified the assailants as associates of Sunil Tajpuria, a rival gang leader that is engaged in a turf war with Mann’s group.

Criminals have often targeted each other during court appearances, making courtroom shootings a regular feature at Delhi courts. The shooting triggered panic among court occupants as policemen rushed to the spot and shot dead the two hitmen wearing black coats.

Mobile phone videos of the incident showed policemen armed with assault rifles shooting from the door into the courtroom as several lawyers and litigants scrambled for safety.

“Look at their courage, they were shooting inside the courtroom…they were heavily armed,” Rakesh Sherawat, chairman of the Bar Council of Delhi, told The National. “This is the third such incident in the last two years and shows the security lapses from the police’s end.”

Later visuals showed three dead bodies lying in pools of blood in different parts of the courtroom.

Mann from Delhi took to crime along with Tajpuria in 2010, but both fell out soon after over a dispute during the students’ election at a Delhi college in 2013.

Mann is accused in nearly a dozen cases of murder, extortion and banditry.

At least 25 gang members from the two groups have been killed in a decade-long bloody rivalry.

Scores of small and big criminal gangs are active in Delhi, mostly committing offences such as contract killing, kidnapping, extortion and drugs.

But the criminal syndicates still pose a challenge to the capital city despite most gang leaders having either been arrested or killed by police in recent years.

A 38-year-old member of the Neeraj Bawana gang, a notorious Delhi-based criminal syndicate, was gunned down by two people outside the main gate of Rohini court in March this year.

In 2019, two such killings took place at Rohini court.

The incident has again raised concerns about security of the court and under trials, with Delhi lawyers calling for a day-long strike in protest against the incident on Saturday.

“We will be absent from work at all city courts tomorrow in protest. We have demanded the police commissioner for accountability and upgrading security systems at the courts,” Mr Sherwat said.