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Arm-in-arm with Gabbar

Calcutta, Oct. 30: It's not just Lake Town, Baguiati and Barasat. Hatkata Dilip's network branched deep into the heart of Calcutta. He was brushing shoulders with some of the top underworld names and at times, even providing them support.

Police records show Dilip had lent a .45 mm revolver to Rashid Alam alias Gabbar, one of Calcutta's dreaded extortionists and the man behind the murder of businessman Sanjiv Jhulka alias Bunty.

This was in May 23, 2001. After killing Bunty with Dilip's revolver, Gabbar dumped the body on the EM Bypass.

Dilip Banerjee's association with Gabbar did not end there. CID sleuths said that at least on two occasions they had come close to arresting Gabbar from Dilip's residence in Basakbagan, off Lake Town. But the duo gave them the slip.

'Dilip, then known as Lulla Dilip, was frail and used to sport a beard. He used to frequent the red light area of central Calcutta,' said a senior officer of Burtolla police station. 'On one occasion in 2003 we were able to arrest him from a brothel there.'

The detective department had grilled him for hours, learning about Dilip's association with Gabbar.

Dilip had confessed he got to know Gabbar through his network of criminal contacts and was in the process of developing a crime nexus with him. 'It seems that the two were working out a quid pro quo arrangement whereby they would help each other out in their respective strongholds,' a police official said.

'The idea was that by consolidating their strengths, they would have sway over a larger area and yet not come into conflict with each other. But fortunately, with his arrest, their enterprise was nipped in the bud.'

Police believe Dilip took to his criminal ways quite early in life after his father threw his mother out and brought in another woman.

In 1997, he met Pinaki Mitra and decided to take the leap from petty thefts to big-time crime. 'It was Pinaki who taught him to hold a gun and initiated him into his first murder,' the official said.

Dilip has not looked back since and, with political patronage, rose to rule the underworld in North 24-Parganas. That is, till his luck finally ran out in Haripal early on Friday.

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