The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Don a new name, step into crime

What’s in a name of a criminal' Plenty, if you consider the following: Gabbar, Bang, Ghutghutey, Dracula or Shona.

Unlike the names of normal people, the above-mentioned denote the line of activity of the city gangsters, who acquire these names for various purposes.

According to police records, Bang, a south Calcutta criminal involved in a number of extortion and dacoities, hops like a frog. “He is equally at ease while jumping over a fence or scaling an eight-foot wall. He can easily reach the roof of a five-storeyed building in minutes,” said an officer, on condition of anonymity.

Zulfiquar Hasan, deputy commissioner of police, central division, confirmed the anecdotes behind the gangsters’ nicknames. “They acquire these names either to terrorise people or reflect their characteristics. Initially, they become popular in their own circle. Soon, word spreads and by the end of it, even these gangsters forget their real names. In some cases, their parents, when interrogated, also refer to their sons by such names,” Hasan added.

Hasan said Gabbar, arrested from Phoolbagan a few months ago, was actually born Rashid Alam. “I believe he is a diehard fan of Gabbar Singh — the character played by Amjad Khan in Ramesh Sippy’s Sholay — and acquired the name from childhood. He committed his first crime when he was only 13 and the first murder when he was 18,” said Hasan, adding: “Gabbar never loses his cool. He operates on the lines of the Sholay villain — laugh while killing.”

Imtiaz, an extortionist, has acquired the name Dracula only to terrorise people and rivals. “Ironically, Imtiaz is not half as dangerous as Dracula, but he uses it as a cover. This suburban criminal has never been among the top-line gangsters of the state, which is why he uses a name like this to spread terror,” said an officer.

Ghutghutey, a gangster from the Behala-Thakurpukur belt, is famous for his habit of striking at night. “Just like a cat, he moves silently in the cover of darkness. We came to know about his extra-ordinary skills only after interrogating his associates,” said the South 24-Parganas district officers.

Kingpin Faiam Ahmed, alias Shona, is famous in the area for his benign nature. According to Hasan, when Faiam was a child, his neighbours used to call him shonar chheley (golden boy).

“He is known to address his rivals gently. He never raises his voice, even during the most serious of arguments,” added Hasan.

Soumen Mitra, deputy commissioner of police, detective department, said that initially, these nicknames serve as a code for the various gangs. Later, they become popular. “The criminals themselves never reveal the stories behind their names. It’s their associates who provide us with the details,” added Mitra.

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