The 10-year-odd search for gangster Mantu Sharma yielded results on Sunday when a special task force (STF) team of Uttar Pradesh police had picked him up in Lucknow.
Mantu alias Pradumna Sharma, originally from Muzaffarpur, has been on the run for over a decade while operating with another gangster, Sambhu Singh, in Patna and other districts in Bihar. The Sambhu-Mantu gang, which had shifted its base from Bihar to Uttarakhand and even to Delhi since 2002, had given shape to numerous killings and ruled over tenders of the railways and the Central Public Works Department (CPWD).
Mantu’s arrest from the Gomti Nagar area in Lucknow came as a relief to police in Patna as he carried a reward of Rs 1 lakh.
“He was involved in many serious criminal offences — mostly murders and extortions — across the state. The veteran criminal has never faced an arrest. At present, the Patna police are preparing a list of all cases, which had direct or indirect involvement of Mantu and the gang. He has a lot of FIRs lodged against him in Bihar and soon will be brought here on remand. A request for the same will be put before the court in Lucknow. Once he is brought here, a lot of things will come into light about him and the gang,” DIG (central) Sunil Kumar said.
Mantu’s compatriot, Sambhu is a resident of Chhapra and the gang consists of many highly trained sharpshooters. The duo are known to carry AK-47 rifles always on the move. When the STF team arrested Mantu after a brief firing from both sides, a .32 bore US-made pistol, a two-wheeler, four cartridges and Rs 8 lakh in cash were recovered from him.
The gang was also involved in the October 14, 2011, murder of middle-aged Basant Kumar Singh, a Grade V contractor of the CPWD and a resident of Moldiar Tola area of Mokama.
The murder took place at the CPWD office at Punaichak under Shastrinagar police station. He was shot dead by two gunmen inside the building while he was coming down the stairs after meeting an official.
“All contracts related to the railways and the CPWD are under the gang’s control. The other contractors are scared to raise their voices against them. The gang is believed to be very organized and had its own group of contractors, who would always bag the tenders. They left the state long back and their new bases included Uttarakhand, Haryana, Delhi among other places,” another police officer said.
“The gang is known for killing many contractors. The police had earlier tried to arrest them many times but had failed. They used to remain very careful and would call up anyone using just one SIM and one phone. The second call used to see a different SIM and phone. At present, it cannot be ascertained if there is any blood relationship between Mantu and Sambhu,” he added.