Surendranagar encounter killings: Last rites of Talpatri gang leader, son performed in Gediya

Hanifkhan’s wife Bilkishbanu is facing six criminal cases and is currently lodged in Ahmedabad's Sabarmati Jail under judicial custody.

HANIFKHAN ALIAS Kalo Munno Jat-Malek, the alleged leader of the notorious Talpatri gang of highway robbers, and his son were buried at their native village of Gediya in Surendranagar Monday as peace prevailed in the village a day after the duo were killed in an encounter with police.

“The family claimed the bodies of the two from Rajkot Civil Hospital around 8 pm Sunday and brought them to Gediya around 1 am Monday. Hanifkhan’s wife is in judicial custody in connection with a GUJCTOC Act case and the family tried to secure parole for her. A local court in Surendranagar granted her parole, allowing her to attend the funeral of her husband and son for an hour and with the condition that she would report back to jail by midnight. Subsequently, the family moved the Gujarat High Court seeking longer parole but did not get immediate relief. Therefore, the family members performed the last rites of the two around 4 pm Monday,“ said Himanshu Doshi, in-charge Superintendent of Police of Surendranagar.

Hanifkhan’s wife Bilkishbanu is facing six criminal cases and is currently lodged in Ahmedabad’s Sabarmati Jail under judicial custody.

Hanifkhan was named in 86 cases, including robbery, theft, assault and assault on police, among others, and was wanted in 59 of them. He was gunned down by police sub-inspector (PSI) Virendrasinh Jadeja, in charge of the Bajana police station, in an encounter at Gediya Saturday evening. Hanifkhan’s 18-year-old son Maddinkhan was also killed in the encounter. The PSI stated in his complaint that he attacked the police team with a scythe.

Gediya vice-sarpanch Secundar Malek said it was common knowledge that Hanifkhan was involved in unlawful activities. “He was a son of a farmer but fell in bad company and took to stealing in his youth.

Everyone in the village knew he was committing theft. But villagers are anguished in the manner in which police killed his son who was a school-going boy and had no criminal antecedents,” said Malek.

The 44-year-old Hanifkhan led the Talpatri gang of highway robbers that had been terrorising truckers on the Viramgam-Maliya state highway and National Highway 8 connecting Ahmedabad and Rajkot for the past 15 years. “Their modus operandi was to drive a vehicle parallel to a truck, jump on the truck and cut open talpatri (tarpaulin sheet) covering the goods loaded on the truck. After that, the robbers would throw the goods in their vehicle that would be trailing the truck. Till a few months ago, truck drivers would dare drive on the Viramgam-Maliya state highway at night,” said a police officer, adding, “The robbers used to rob even TV sets, refrigerators, batteries, etc.”

In 2019, Hanifkhan and his gang had allegedly tried to run their car over then PSI of the Limbdi police station at Surendranagar when cops of Limbdi and Joravarnagar police stations tried to apprehend them.
Another key member of the Talpatri gang was Nasibkhan Malek alias Dholo Munno, who was killed in a road accident a few years ago.

In November last year, the Dhrangadhra taluka police in Surendranagar had booked 20 members of the gang under the GUJCTOC (Gujarat Control of Terrorism and Organised Crime) Act and arrested 17 of them. Those arrested included Bilkishbanu, her cousin Hazratkhan Jat-Malek and Hanifkhan’s younger brother Rashidkhan. Hazratkhan has been named in 80 criminal cases while Rashidkhan has also been named in cases of murder and assault on police.

Of the 20 booked under the GUJCTOC Act, 18 are residents of the Gediya village and hence, the gang was also known as the Gediya gang. Two other members of the gang, police said, are residents of the Ingrodi village in the neighbouring Lakhtar taluka and Bhatasan village in Mehsana.

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