From AK-47 to AN-94, gangs across India upgrade their deadly arsenal

by IANS |

New Delhi, June 4 (IANS) The murder of acclaimed Punjabi singer Shubhdep Singh Sidhu, popularly known as Sidhu Moosewala, has shocked probe agencies as the weapon used was an AN-94 Russian Assault rifle. This is the first time that the AN-94 has been used in a gang war as criminals would earlier carry out killings and encounters with AK-47s.

Sources told IANS that the sophisticated assault riles were being smuggled through Nepal, but the neighbouring nation had no clue about the AN-94 deliveries to India.

The AN-94 is a Russian-made assault rifle, whose initials stand for 'Avtomat Nikonova' 1994 model. The name Nikonova is a homage to its chief designer, Gennadiy Nikonov, who had previously worked on the Nikonov machine gun.

Intelligence agencies and police are of the view that such sophisticated weapons are also being supplied to other state-based gangsters. They also doubt the involvement of an international racket.

"Through the sea route in Mumbai, AK-47s were supplied many times, through Nepal border it were smuggled into other part of India. Even the security staff of Moosewala had the AK-47. But now we have to focus on the AN-94, its buyers and sellers in the underworld," the sources said, adding that such sophisticated weapons can be procured only after making their payments via hawala channel.

The AK-47 culture started with Mumbai's notorious D-Company led by underworld don Dawood Ibrahim in 1988. The Mumbai underwold had the AK-47 which they used in extortion, land grabbing and other criminal activities.

In 1991, a shootout took place between the police and criminals of the Maya Dolas gang at the Lokhandwala Complex in which the latter were armed with the AK-47.

Several years later, the AK-47 culture reached Uttar Pradesh. Shri Prakash Shukla, an Indian gangster and contract killer active during the 1990s, used the AK-47. Shukla had threatened to kill BJP leader Kalyan Singh.

Shukla, apart from land grabbing and extortion, murder, used to get railway contracts to earn money.

The Uttar Pradesh Special Task Force, which was first formed in 1998 to kill Shukla, ultimately gunned him down on September 22 of that year.

In 1997, BJP leader Brahm Dutt Dwivedi was killed by gangster Sanjeev Maheshwari using an AK-47.

On November 29, 2005, BJP MLA from Ghazipur Krishnanand Rai was killed by Munna Bajrangi, who also used an AK-47.

In 2016, BJP leader Brijpal Tewatia was shot dead by car borne assailants using an AK-47.

In Western Uttar Pradesh, a number of gangsters are using AK-47. The gangs who used to have this sophisticated weapons are Sundar Bhati and Randeep Bhati gang of Noida; Anil Dujana Gang; Vicky Tyagi of Muzaffarnagar; Sunil Rathi of Baghpat-Uttrakhand; and the Narender Fauji Gang.

In Delhi, an AK-47 was recovered from former MLA Rambir Shokeen who was allegedly supporting his nephew Neeraj Bawana, a dreaded gangster.

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