Race to fast life and luxury cars crashes on highway of crime

Wanted in Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh, Delhi and other states, this gang with two dozen unlikely young members was responsible for over 35 highway robberies, several murders, kidnappings, extortion and half a dozen bank heists.

Now, with the alleged gang leader killed and his predecessor and many other members in jail, the Chandigarh police believe they have reached the end of a chase that had lasted several years and during which several lives had been lost.

They were unlikely gangsters because they came from police, sports and academic backgrounds. Two of them were sons of policemen. Two including one policeman's son were national-level hammer throwers, while the other policeman's son was a shot-putter and a law student. The gang also included a kabaddi player. All of them had a weakness for sophisticated weapons and fast cars, and they began by snatching cars on highways, police say.

Gurshahid Singh Pawar alias Shera, the alleged kingpin who was shot dead by the police on September 6, was the son of a Milkfed employee. He belonged to village Khubban in Fazilka and studied in Khalsa College, Ferozepur, and SGGS College in Chandigarh. Shera had cleared IELTS and was planning to go to New Zealand when a meeting with gangster Jai Pal Singh changed his life, police say.

Shera and Jai Pal were the two hammer throwers, the latter a former junior national champion, and they met at a sports event. Jai Pal, son of a Punjab police sub-inspector, is an undergraduate from Ferozepur. He had been leading a highway gang along with Chandu alias Chand Miyaan since 2004 and roped Shera in, police say. Jai Pal has been in jail since 2009 and the leadership fell on Shera's shoulders, they say.

Harinder Singh Tinu, the former shot-putter said to be in the gang, was pursuing law in Chandigarh. He is the son of Chandigarh police inspector Tarsem Rana, who incidentally was arrested this week by the Panchkula police for aiding a person impersonating an IPS officer. Tinu's younger brother too is in jail for kidnapping.

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