An alleged aide of gangster Chhota Shakeel, arrested in Delhi on Friday, wanted to become a top gangster like underworld don Dawood Ibrahim, India’s most wanted, say sources in the Delhi Police. 21-year-old Junaid Chaudhary was allegedly planning to kill Pakistan-born Canadian writer Tarek Fatah; he was arrested late on Wednesday night from Wazirabad in northeast Delhi.

According to police sources, Junaid thought that assassinating Mr Fatah would land him in Delhi’s Tihar Jail where he could then kill Chhota Rajan – once Dawood Ibrahim’s right hand and now his arch rival – who is lodged there. The son of a milkman from Delhi’s Bhagirathi Vihar in northeast Delhi and a school dropout, Chaudhary thought that this “achievement” would win him Dawood’s praise.

Deputy Commissioner of Police (Special Cell) PS Kushwah said Chaudhary was planning to target the writer, known for his controversial remarks criticising hardliners and strongly opposing terrorism. Chaudhary was enraged with Fatah’s remarks and wanted to kill him, Mr Kushwah said. “Mr Fatah was not in Delhi, Chaudhary was here to carry out a recce,” he said.

The writer, however, isn’t scared. “These goons don’t scare me. I will turn 68 in November and even if they succeed in killing me, the Muslim fight against (radical) Islamism will continue by others,” he told PTI in an email response.

The sources said Chaudhary got in touch with Shakeel through WhatsApp to avoid detection. Chaudhary had apparently received Rs. 1.5 lakh, the first instalment for the deed, from unknown sources, and had arranged for weapons from Western Uttar Pradesh, the police added. He had also hired a few youngsters to carry out his plan. The police recovered a pistol and four live cartridges from him.

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He was arrested in June last year along with Roger Robinson, Yunus and Manish with arms and hawala money sent by Shakeel, but was released on bail within four months. They had been planning to kill Hindu Mahasabha chief Swami Chakrapani and Chhota Rajan at that time.

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