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Suspect shot dead in Delhi court
- Firing outcome of gang war, say police

New Delhi, Feb. 20: A murder suspect was shot dead by a rival gang member inside a crowded court complex in Delhi this afternoon.

The shooting at the Rohini court, in the city’s north-west, took place around 12.15pm when Naveen was being escorted by cops from a lock-up in the complex to the courtroom for a scheduled hearing.

The 28-year-old had been granted a two-day interim bail yesterday and was due for release this weekend, his lawyer said.

“Mukesh, a member of Naveen’s rival gang, was arrested from the spot. Another assailant who fired a round managed to flee from the spot. A country-made pistol used in the crime has been recovered from Mukesh,” said deputy commissioner of police B.S. Jaiswal.

“The attack was the outcome of one of the longest-running gang wars between two crime lords in north Delhi. Raids are on to arrest the others who were involved in the murder plot,” the DCP added.

One of three police constables escorting Naveen suffered a bullet injury on his ankle but his condition is stable, Jaiswal said.

Four persons, including two women, who were inside the complex when the shooting took place have been detained for questioning, the police said.

Naveen, who was facing trial for allegedly murdering a member of Mukesh’s gang, was shot in the chest and abdomen while he was being taken to the court of additional sessions judge Sanjeev Kumar.

“Naveen slumped to the ground after the bullets hit him and was lying in a pool of blood. He was rushed to the nearby Baba Bhim Rao Ambedkar Hospital where he was declared brought dead,” said another officer. The injured constable, Anurag, was also rushed to the same hospital.

Witnesses said Mukesh waited outside the court premises for some time before going inside and opening fire at Naveen in full view of people and officials.

Officers said Naveen was locked in a feud with another ganglord, Ashwani, since 2008. Mukesh belongs to Ashwani’s gang. So did Sushil, the accomplice Naveen is accused of killing.

“Both are residents of Narela in Outer Delhi. Ashwani got married to a girl whom Naveen was in love with,” said the officer. Outer Delhi is the name given to a cluster of neighbourhoods on the north-western fringes of the capital.

Ashwani is in Tihar jail in a murder case. The bad blood between the two intensified when Naveen killed Ashwani’s brother in 2007. “In a bid to take revenge, Ashwani killed Naveen’s uncle,” the officer added.

Jaiswal, the deputy commissioner, said today’s attack was pre-planned. “Mukesh feared Naveen’s associates would eliminate him. This is why he decided to kill his rival.”

Members of both gangs had clashed several times in several parts of Delhi over the past few years.

The two women detained from the courtroom today are Ashwani’s family members, police said. “The women are said to be Ashwani’s family members. They were present inside the court and were said to be the part of the conspiracy. They are being questioned,” said another officer.

Naveen’s advocate B.S. Rana said his client was granted two-day interim bail yesterday by the court and was to be released from jail on February 23.