In a dramatic swoop, the Special Operations Group of Kanpur police rounded up a contract killer from a nondescript house in a dingy lane of central Calcutta on Tuesday. Cops in Calcutta remained clueless about the crackdown till it was in full swing.
The local Entally police, in fact, only came to know of the operation when residents of the area reported 'what appeared to be a dacoity', with armed men storming the hideout of Mohammed Rafiq, 31.
Named in at least 22 cases of murder, extortion and dacoity in and around Kanpur over the past few years, Mohammed Rafiq was picked up from the second-floor flat of a highrise at 1B/H/2, Chhatu Babu Lane. He was carrying a reward of Rs 1 lakh on his head.
Uttar Pradesh police claimed he had links with associates of international crimelord Dawood Ibrahim. A sharpshooter, he had gunned down Dharmendra Singh, a member of the Special Task Force during an encounter in Kanpur in 2004, and topped the list of Kanpur police's most wanted.
Around 9.30 am on Tuesday, a day after the Kanpur police arrived in town, a six-member team of the Special Operations Group, led by Sujit Kumar and Rishi Kant, turned up at the swoop site.
Two of the plainclothes team members, armed with AK-47s, took the flight of stairs to reach the second floor, when they were spotted by local residents.
'They thought dacoits were entering the flat and alerted us. We reached within 15 minutes and realised that this was a raid by the team. There was no prior information,' said Baidyanath Saha, officer-in-charge of Entally police station.
Rafiq, who hails from the Coolibazaar area of Kanpur, was arrested for illegally possessing an improvised revolver. The city police will seek his custody on Wednesday.
'He had a gang called D-2 and was a real terror in Kanpur. His clients included big names, from trading to real estate. For the past few years, Rafiq has been on the run, moving from Delhi to Mumbai and finally, Calcutta. The arrest is a major breakthrough for us,' P.C. Meena, senior superintendent of Kanpur Police, told Metro.
Sources said some of Rafiq's close associates were still hiding in the city. The hitman had reached Calcutta a few months ago, aided by his brother Mohammed Atique, who is engaged in the leather trade and is familiar with the city. Rafiq had shifted to the Chhatu Babu Lane address just a week ago.