Police arrest notorious shooter ‘paid tens of thousands to murder trans woman Ekta Joshi’

Josh Milton April 12, 2021
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Ekta Joshi smiles to the camera, her hair to the side

Ekta Joshi, a trans community leader in the New Delhi area. (Facebook)

Authorities in New Delhi, India, arrested two men, including a notorious shooter linked to more than 14 crimes, for murdering a trans woman.

Ekta Joshi, considered a leader among the local trans community, was found dead in the Shahdara neighbourhood in 2020.

After a months-long manhunt, Delhi Police’s Special Cell confirmed Saturday (10 April) that two men had been arrested in connection to the killings.

The suspects, Gagan Bhardwaj and Varun, 19, allegedly carried out the contracted murder for a bounty of more than ₹55 lakh, or 55,00,000, according to The Hindu newspaper.

They claimed during police interrogations that they were contracted to kill Ekta by leaders of a rival group of trans folk in the area.

The killing was, police said, an attempted power-grab amid a skirmish between the factions over money-collection turfs in the Trans-Yamuna area.

Bhardwaj, the force’s deputy commissioner Pramod Kushwaha said, is linked to at least 14 other cases that span murder, attempted murders and robberies across Dehli and Uttar Pradesh.

The victim, from the state of Uttarakhand, had been staying with her stepmother, Anita Joshi, at the time.

Ekta Joshi represented a lifeline for many low-income residents in the area, providing logistical support as well as raising money for those without the means to do so.

After she and her stepmother, joined by stepbrother Anish Joshi, returned to Anita’s home on 8 September, two men hopped off a scooter and opened fire, killing Ekta. Anita, whose three adopted children were staying at the home, survived.

Police explained how a “trap” was set to capture the pair following a tip-off they were in Nirankari Samagam Grounds in northern Dehli, the culmination of a three-month-long pursuit.

When cornered by cops outside Majlis Park metro station, Bhardwaj and Varun opened fire but, after a brief scuffle, were arrested.

“They were signalled to stop, but the accused whipped out their pistols and fired at the police,” Kushwaha told the outlet.

“However, the police team led by inspector Shiv Kumar, nabbed the duo.”

“While one of the arrested men, Gagan, carried a reward of ₹1 lakh on his head, the other, Varun, had a bounty of ₹50,000,” Kushwaha added.

“Two pistols and five cartridges were seized from them.”

More: anti-trans violence

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