| Sunil Bagaria’s 9-mm pistol (encircled) along with other firearms seized from the gang of 10 on Wednesday night. Two of the members outside Park Street police station on Thursday. Pictures by Amit Datta
A Godfather-style meeting of some ganglords and a few greenhorns was busted late on Wednesday in the heart of the city’s fun district.
The gang of 10 goons, with a history of rioting and extortion, had gathered at a hotel on Free School Street before setting out to raid a petrol pump on Camac Street.
A little after midnight, cops from Park Street police station, acting on a tip-off, raided the hotel’s bar, rounded up the gang and seized arms and a map with the detailed layout of the petrol pump.
Half the goons were from Narkeldanga North Road, while the rest were from Diamond Harbour Road, Burtola and Taltala.
“It is too early to comment, but we will interrogate the rookies to find out how they had teamed up with some hardened criminals. The fact that such a gang was forming in the heart of the city is cause for concern,” said Ajay Kumar, deputy commissioner, (south).
None of them, however, had any past record of being involved in the kind of raid they were allegedly plotting on Wednesday night.
Police went into action mode when alerted about a “gang of youths” splurging at the bar of a Free School Street hotel, “as if to kill time before some kind of operation”.
The duty officer alerted Nisar Ahmed, officer-in-charge (OC) of Park Street police station, and a team set off.
“We suddenly saw a police team arriving at the hotel in a jeep and a van. The officers just rushed into the bar and rounded up the gang members. The operation lasted less than five minutes,” said an employee of the hotel.
Sources said the gang had been formed in Sonagachhi, under the leadership of Deepak Agarwal, of Diamond Harbour Road.
In his early 20s, Agarwal was desperate to claim a large amount of money locked with some toughs in the Sonagachhi area. So, on Wednesday evening, he called in the gang for an extortion drive.
“Deepak went prepared with some hardened criminals from Narkeldanga, like Selim Hossain,” said OC Ahmed.
After the Sonagachhi operation, the team headed for a bar in Dacres Lane, where Nadir, a bouncer at the bar, joined them.
Cops claimed one of the gang members, Sunil Bagaria, a 25-year-old from Sambhu Chatterjee Street, in Jorasanko, was carrying a 9-mm pistol.
Initial investigation suggests that the gang was mainly into extortion, for which Selim Hossain and the other history-sheeters came in handy.
“They have been operating in the Burrabazar belt for some time now, settling business disputes using muscle power. They have definite links with the betting network in Burrabazar. There is talk of them losing heavily in the gambling game, pushing them to plot the raid of the petrol pump,” said a Burrabazar businessman.