Anybody could be a hired killer in Delhi, say police; they are ready to pull the trigger for as low as Rs 40,000.
Four women and a security guard were stabbed to death in their house at Mansarovar Park, Shahdara, in 2017.
A mother of seven, a science graduate, a property dealer and a man looking for a job — the profiles of Delhi’s contract killers are diverse. For as little as Rs 40,000, some of these dreaded murderers for hire can fire a gun or wield a knife.
At least 50 contract killing cases were solved by the Delhi police in 2017. Not all of the accused had previous criminal records — some were first-time offenders with dreams of becoming rich overnight. The solved cases have offered the police more insight into the people who kill for a living in the city, and has led them to realise that it is hard to find a pattern.
“Delhi does have not an organised contract-killing gang such as the ones in Mumbai or other cities, but the number of murders here are more in comparison with other metros. Petty criminals are willing to pull the trigger for as little as Rs 40,000,” said a senior crime branch officer, who asked not to be named.
In February last year, for example, four men who had taken the biggest murder contract in the Delhi police records were arrested. Sushil, Amit, Sunil, and Ramesh, known only by their first names, had allegedly received around Rs 4 crore — Rs 1 crore each — for the murder of Haryana-based gangster Sandeep Badsawania and his two aides by his rival Ram Karan.
“It was a high-profile contract killing planned by the gangster’s rival,” said the officer.
Sushil worked at a rice mill, while the others masqueraded as property dealers. The four were involved in nine murders between 2016 and 2017. Police said a total of 40 people were involved in Badsawania’s murder. Informers monitored his movements for months, private detectives helped dig call data records, and a driver drove over 400 kilometres to dispose of the body.
While his murder was a battle over turf, the reasons for contract killings in Delhi are myriad — from jealousy to failed marriage, property dispute to simple rage. But the most common motive, police said, is a relationship gone sour. One of the earliest contract killings recorded in Delhi was a result of a failed marriage — the murder of Defence Colony resident Vidya Jain in September 1973. Jain’s husband, eye surgeon Narendra Singh Jain, had paid his wife’s killer’s Rs 25,000. He was convicted in 1977.
Last November, a woman hired Bareilly resident Abdul Munnar, 33, to murder her husband. Munnar, a trained sharpshooter shot his target in his leg after receiving just Rs 50,000 of the Rs 5 lakh he was promised.
Deputy commissioner of police (south) Romil Baaniya, who arrested Munnar, said the man was awaiting full payment of the contract money before killing the husband. “People like Munnar are trained killers with a crime record. He has a record of taking murder contracts. He has been in prison more than 10-15 times and makes friends inside. They know the system well. In 2015, he was arrested for taking contract from a jailed IAS officer to murder a man,” said an officer.
Not every hired hitman has a record like Munnar. One contract killer who grabbed the headlines last year was a jobless physiotherapy graduate who killed his target by injecting him with a poisonous drug. The physiotherapist Prem Kumar, who was paid ?5 lakh for the murder, told the police that he needed the money to fund his wedding. Kumar injected a lethal dose of two drugs to execute the murder in what was his first crime.
Last September, the police solved the murder of a milk vendor in east Delhi’s Kondli by arresting the man’s wife and two contract killers, Pramod Kumar (24) and Vivek Kumar (21). According to their interrogation report, the two were labourers working at a shoe factory, who murdered the man for Rs 40,000. It was their first crime.
Retired IPS officer Prakash Singh, who served as the director general of police in Uttar Pradesh and Assam, said: “Criminals taking money to commit crimes have increased over the years. This is a change in the values. Earlier, people worked hard to make money, there was no shortcut. Now because of everything around us, some do not mind taking a shortcut to become rich.”
Former Delhi commissioner Ved Marwah said that though the phenomenon of professionals taking money to kill is spread across the world, first-timers taking money to kill shows the decline in social values. “Contract killers are professionals and are everywhere in the world. But first-timers indulging in such crimes shows degeneration of social values. We have to strengthen the criminal justice system, raise the threshold of social behaviour and maintain higher standards.”
A look at the antecedents of contract killers shows that most of them are from villages of Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. On April 24 last year, police arrested eight contract killers while they were on their way to allegedly murder the owner of a hotelier in Noida. The men were property dealers and gym trainers from Baliawas village in Gurgaon and from some villages in Gautam Budh Nagar.
There are also some who take contracts to get rid of the vicious circle of court cases. On the list of most wanted men in Delhi is a 62-year-old woman, Basiran. The mother of seven, whose sons are jailed for crimes ranging from robbery, extortion, murder and snatching, took a contract of Rs 60,000 last September. The woman kept Rs 18,000 to pay for her jailed son’s legal fees, and gave the rest to two unemployed men to stab the target, burn his face, and bury him in the jungles of south Delhi.