The list of invitees at the Republic Day function at the Harsaon police lines on Tuesday included a 27-year-old daily wage labourer who had gone out of his way to help the police during an encounter in Modi Nagar on January 14. Kumar drove a tractor through the nearly 10 acres of thick sugarcane fields inside which the alleged robbers had hidden and helped the police trace them.
At that point, the accused had already shot and injured a police constable and were holed up inside the fields with the constable’s Insas rifle. “Police sought help from villagers to rope in tractors to drive through the sugarcane fields, but no one was ready. However, seeing a number of policemen around, I raised my hand and borrowed a tractor from a local. The police gave me a bullet-proof jacket and headgear and walked behind the tractor taking cover,” said Deepak Kumar, who hails from Nagla Musa and works as a daily wage labourer at his village.
“I drove the tractor for around 45 minutes and spotted a man hiding. I shouted at him to give up and told him that he would be spared. Later, he surrendered and was arrested from the spot. I drove the tractor for around an hour and the fields were also damaged in the process. When I returned home, my wife shouted at me as my actions could have endangered the family in case anything happened to me,” Kumar said.
His father Sheesh Pal, 57, who works as a local guard in the village, had also helped look for the men. He said, “I also entered the fields to look for the robbers and saw four of them holding the bag of cash. I told them to give up but they told me to keep quiet. They offered me money too. Soon, the policemen arrived but the robbers fired a shot which hit a constable. However, he managed to snatch the bag from them. In the meantime, his rifle fell down and one of the robbers picked it up they all fled further inside.”
“Later, Deepak brought a tractor and drove through the fields to search for them,” he added.
Following a massive search, police nabbed three of the alleged robbers while another one escaped. The four had allegedly robbed a Meerut-based trader of Rs. 25.5 lakh cash at Kharkhauda in Meerut and fled towards Ghaziabad where they were encountered by the police.
For his bravery, the police awarded Kumar with a commendation letter and a memento on Tuesday. His efforts were also lauded before the huge gathering by Rajya Sabha member Ram Gopal Yadav, who was the chief guest at the function.
Kumar sustains a family of six including his parents, wife, and two children. He gave up studies after class 6 and worked as labourer in fields to support his father.