How stolen vehicles were sold in Sotiganj, how this business was stopped due to which the kings became scrap dealers. – Khel Ja

Sotiganj in Meerut, Uttar Pradesh, although it is a small locality, but it has a big name. Till the end of the 70s, coal, animal fodder etc. were used here. Then the 80s started and in the first three-four years there was such a change that this entire locality became the biggest scrap market not only of Meerut or Uttar Pradesh but also of Asia. It was fine till now, but when this locality became a den of stolen vehicles, no one even heard about it. By the end of the decade, the network of this market went beyond Delhi NCR and spread to the entire country and to neighboring countries Nepal and Bhutan.

Today we are going to tell the entire story of this Sotiganj, about which even Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself had once discussed in his Mann Ki Baat. Actually, Haji Naeem alias Haji Galla, Haji Iqbal, Haji Aftab, Mustaq, Mannu alias Mainuddin and Haji Mohsin, living in the same Sotiganj, used to buy and sell small scrap here. When their business became profitable, they started buying and selling old cars. Till 1984, these people also used to buy vehicles seized in police stations at auction and sell them separately for their parts.

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This was a number one business and under the guise of this business, these scrap dealers also started buying stolen vehicles. During this time some more people joined the business. Among these, the names of Salman alias Sher, Rahul Kala, Salauddin etc. are taken prominently. Then, within no time, the warehouses which were earlier used for coal or animal fodder were converted into scrap warehouses. In more than 100 of these warehouses, a market for spare parts of old vehicles was held on the outside, while vehicles were being dismantled on the inside.

The bike takes 7 minutes and the car takes 14 minutes.

By the time the 90s arrived, these scrap dealers also started using technology. Such a technology, by which parts of a bike could be disassembled in just 6-7 minutes and even the biggest car in 12-14 minutes. In other words, once the vehicle entered their warehouse, within the blink of an eye its condition would become such that no one could recognize it. The interesting thing is that even the police was fully aware of this racket. The police also raided many times, but these scrap dealers used to get away with just saying that only the vehicles bought at auction are scrapped here.

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In this way this business continued till 2019. During this period, there was a terror of bike thieves across the country. The situation was so bad that even the vehicles parked in the police stations started being stolen. The network of this market was such that vehicles stolen in Nepal and Bhutan also started coming to Meerut for harvesting. At the same time, parts of vintage vehicles of the Second World War started being available in the scrap market of Sotiganj. Even the brake pistons of the Ambassador which was discontinued 45 years ago and the gear box of Mahindra Jeep Classic were available here. The engine, wheel and other parts of any vehicle were removed and sent to different parts of the country.

Supply of spare parts from Sotiganj to Delhi

Even to the scrap markets of Jama Masjid and Ghaffar Market in Delhi, spare parts were sent from here. In those days, IPS Ajay Sahni, who had come to Meerut as SSP, got input that the main hub of vehicle theft and cutting of stolen vehicles was in Meerut. He ordered his ASP Dr. Iraj Raja to wipe out this network. Dr. Iraj Raja did a lot of work to break this network. Later he was transferred. Then on 15 June 2021, Prabhakar Chaudhary came to Meerut as SSP. He joined duty and immediately went on leave. People thought that he had gone to his home, but later it was found out that during these two-three days of his leave, he was roaming around Sotiganj wearing dirty kurta pajama and a turban on his head.

Assets worth billions of rupees confiscated

In these three days, Prabhakar Choudhary took out the entire raw material of the black market of Sotiganj and as soon as he returned to duty, he started the process of registering a case against more than 100 policemen along with transfer, line appearance and suspension. On the very first day, he held a meeting with top officials of the district and started raids from the very first night of the first day. Its result is in front of everyone today. More than two dozen big and more than two hundred small scrap dealers have gone to jail. Their assets worth billions of rupees have been confiscated.

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