Two hardened criminals fired gunshots at a police party near Eros Hotel in Nehru Place on Monday and one of them was arrested barely three months after they took on policemen in a similarly brazen manner.
The police signalled Akbar and Asif, known dacoits with a R25,000 reward on their arrest, to stop at a barricade around 2.50am on Monday as there was prior information about their arrival. As the criminals sped away, another police team that had taken position in a private car gave chase and intercepted their motorcycle.
“We rammed the motorcycle with our car to stop them. They responded by firing at us,” said a member of the team.
The duo fired 10 rounds at the policemen who hit back with five. Bullet-proof jackets saved the policemen from serious injury and they managed to nab Akbar while Asif managed to flee.
A .32 bore pistol and four cartridges were seized from Akbar. The motorcycle left behind by the accused was found without any number plate, said Romil Baaniya, DCP (South-East).
Earlier, the duo was out to commit a dacoity along with five associates in South Delhi’s Pul Prahladpur area on December 1 when a police team chased them. Finding themselves cornered, the gang opened fire. While their five associates were nabbed from the spot, Akbar and Asif kept firing on the police party until they managed to escape.
That forced the then Delhi Police commissioner to announce a reward of Rs 5,000 on their arrest. So, when sub-inspector Yogesh Kumar and assistant sub-inspector Shyamvir Singh walked out with their team to nab the two criminals in Nehru Place in the early hours of Monday, they went prepared for a gunfight.
The battle-hardened officers are no strangers to shootouts. Kumar was involved in an encounter near the Modi Mill flyover just two weeks ago. Singh has been part of over half-a-dozen encounters in his 17-year career.
In Monday’s gunfight, both policemen were hit in their chests but were saved by their bullet-proof jackets.
Akbar could also have managed to escape but for the quick response of Kumar and Singh who recovered swiftly after being hit. “When I felt the bullet against my chest, my instant reaction was to feel nervous. But that immediately turned into anger and I began shooting at them, not realising that I was safe because of the bullet-proof jacket,” Kumar told Hindustan Times.
Singh touched his chest twice to check for blood before joining Kumar to pin Akbar down. “Barring the first few seconds immediately after being hit, the only thing on our minds was to catch the criminals,” Singh said.
Like on previous occasions, both officers initially avoided mentioning the encounter to their families. “My wife and children got to know from news channels that I was part of the operation, but they don’t know I was hit,” Kumar said.
“They will soon get to know about how close we were to death, but by then I will have pacified them,” Singh said.