A gangster and his aide wanted for the murder of two Punjab policemen were gunned down in a shootout with the West Bengal Special Task Force (STF) in New Town, near Kolkata, on Wednesday afternoon. An STF official was injured in the encounter.

Jaipal Singh Bhullar and Jaspreet Singh — wanted in several cases of murder and extortion as well as drug smuggling — had rented a flat in Sukhabristi Apartment in New Town, officials said. The STF said it had been working closely with the Punjab Police to track down the two. Punjab DGP Dinkar Gupta said they had tipped off their Bengal counterparts earlier Wednesday about the presence of Bhullar and Singh in the flat.

The Punjab Police had announced a reward of Rs 10 lakh and Rs 5 lakh for information leading to the arrest of Jaipal and Jaspreet, respectively.

“We got information that the two were hiding here. We planned the operation and surrounded the building. But they started firing. We fired in self-defence and they died,” Additional Director General, West Bengal STF, Vineet Goyal said, adding that the Punjab Police had confirmed their identities.

Sources said Bhullar was the son of a former policeman from Punjab’s Ferozepur district, and at one time was a national-level hammer thrower. He was wanted in more than 15 cases of murder and robberies. Singh belonged to Kharar.

Bhullar and Singh were also wanted in the firing on a police party at the Jagraon grain market in Punjab on May 15. Two Assistant Sub-Inspectors were killed in the attack.

Addressing a press conference in Chandigarh, the Punjab DGP said they had launched “a massive operation, code named OP-Jack Manhunt” to hunt the two. “Many teams were dispatched to various states.”

Gupta said an accomplice of Bhullar’s, Bharat Kumar, had been arrested Wednesday from near Shambhu border in Rajpura area, with a pistol. Kumar, who allegedly helped Bhullar and Singh while they were on the run, revealed that the two were holed up in a rented apartment in Kolkata, the DGP said.

He added that they had dispatched a team to Kolkata by flight, while also tipping off their Bengal counterparts. “A senior police officer from the Kolkata Police informed us in the afternoon that both had been killed,” Gupta said, thanking the Bengal STF for acting promptly on their input.

Police claimed to have recovered Rs 7 lakh, five sophisticated weapons, and 89 rounds of live ammunition from the New Town flat.

The injured STF official, Kartik Mohan Ghosh, 50, is hospitalised with a bullet wound. —with inputs from ENS, Chandigarh



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