December,24,2015: A bullet narrowly missed a judge as his courtroom became the scene of another brazen gang war in the city on Wednesday morning. Four armed assailants fired indiscriminately inside the room in the Karkardooma complex for two minutes, killing a policeman and critically injuring the shooters’ target — a notorious criminal being produced in the court.
Three of the shooters, all borderline juveniles, were immediately overpowered but the incident sent shockwaves through the court complex and beyond. It came two days after reprisal killings between two gangs left two persons dead in west Delhi.
The home ministry has asked for a report on the incident from police chief B S Bassi, said sources. Ironically, the accused juveniles cannot be tried under the new law as it has not yet been enforced yet.
The shootout took place at 11.40am as Irfan alias Cheenu Pehelwan, who has 23 criminal cases against him, was being produced before a metropolitan magistrate. He was accompanied by head constable Ram Kumar Meena from the 3rd battalion, who died in the shooting, along with other cops.
The four armed youths stood at the door of the courtroom and suddenly opened fire at the witness box. This was followed by a hail of bullets flying across the courtroom — around 10-12 shots were fired — as the judge, lawyers and public ran for cover.
The metropolitan magistrate had a close shave when a bullet hit his chair just as he ducked.
However, cops sprung into action and nabbed three of the assailants from the spot amidst high drama. A cop from the battalion, Uday Bhan, even grappled with one of the shooters, snatched his pistol and pinned him to the ground. A hunt is on for the fourth shooter.
The deadly shootings were planned in jail, said sources. The masterminds are jailed gangster Shakti Naidu from Madangir in southeast Delhi and a satta don from east Delhi, Ibley Hasan. The two became friends in jail and decided to eliminate their common rival, Cheenu, police sources said. Naidu and Hasan will also be interrogated and arrested, they added.
The shooting took place in court number 73 on the sixth floor of the complex. The accused teenagers, who had apparently managed to sneak in through the unmanned rear gate of the premises, had mingled with the crowd and had pistols tucked in their waist.
“We saw them sitting at the waiting area outside the court while the police took Cheenu into the courtroom. They suddenly got up and barged into the room and opened fire,” said Nadeem Ahmed, a lawyer present at the spot.
The accused took positions at the door and began to fire as soon as Cheenu entered the witness box. Of the 12 rounds fired, five hit head constable Meena as Cheenu used him as his shield. Cheenu was hit thrice, in his chest, thigh and hand. The youths then walked out of the court room flashing their pistols and ran towards the staircase. However, policemen and lawyers chased the killers. While a 3rd batallion cop pinned one near the lift, two others were nabbed on the fifth floor. Two pistols used by them were found near the staircase.
Police commissioner Bassi was in a meeting with special commissioner Dharmendra Kumar and Deepak Mishra, amongst others, when he asked the latter to take charge of the case.
A heavy police cordon was thrown around the court. Cheenu and Meena were rushed to Hedgewar hospital, where Meena was declared brought dead while Cheenu was referred to a private hospital. His condition is stated to be critical.