Extortionists go hi-tech to hide their identity

Officials say that these big-time gangsters are more tech-savvy.
Image used for representational purpose only.
Image used for representational purpose only.

NEW DELHI: Small time or big, incarcerated or free -- for any gangster, extortion is the prime source of income and they are now adopting crude methods to instill fear in the minds of their targets.

In one of the recent cases, a desperate sharpshooter of the notorious Naveen alias Bali-Neeraj Bawania gang named Neeraj Kumar was arrested by the Delhi Police in a case of extortion. Neeraj has been previously arrested in six cases, including those of extortion, the Arms Act, and MV theft.

After coming out on bail in the extortion case of Jhajjar, Haryana, in August 2023, Neeraj came in contact with Naveen alias Bhanja and Chiku through social media apps. Both instructed him to drop a threatening note in the name of the ‘Chiku-Tillu’ gang for a demand of Rs one crore at any prestigious hotel in Baddi, Himachal Pradesh and also instructed him to open fire there to create fear. Notably, Naveen Bhanja is lodged in a Himachal Jail in a murder case, and Chiku Bakheta is lodged in Tihar Jail.

They were arrested in the sensational murder case of a gym trainer in Himachal Pradesh. In the wee hours of September 7, Neeraj, along with his associates, handed over a threatening note to the security guard of the M G Regency Hotel in Baddi. In the threat note, a demand of Rs one crore was made in the name of the Chiku Tillu gang. Neeraj also fired three shots in the air in front of the hotel to create terror.

A similar case was also reported in Delhi when two desperate sharpshooters of Dinesh Karala- Jitender Gogi gang named Kartik and Pardeep reached in the area of Om Vihar, Uttam Nagar on November 7 and opened fire indiscriminatorily on the owner of a property dealer. The gangsters like Lawrence Bishnoi gangster alliances or Bambiha group have their own methods of extortion and not using the traditional ways like handwritten letters or calls.

Officials say that these big-time gangsters are more tech-savvy. In order to hide their identities and evade legal action they use encrypted internet calls or some apps like Signal or WhatsApp at the time of threatening their target. But the act of firing or what is known as warning shots -- the job given to small-time petty criminals, who are either juveniles or highly impressed from the lifestyle of a big gangster. Notably, in the first 9 months of 2023, the police have registered 157 extortion cases. When compared to previous years, the data does not show much deviation.

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The New Indian Express