2 Rajasthan police constables killed in firing by suspected drug peddlers
Two Rajasthan police constables were killed in two incidents of firing by suspected poppy husk smugglers in Bhilwara on the intervening night of Saturday and Sunday, said police officials. The incidents of firing took place four hours apart at police barricades at Kotdi and Raika respectively. The accused have not been arrested so far.
Vikas Sharma, superintendent of police (SP), Bhilwara, said barricades were put at Kotdi police station area first following intelligence input of movement of suspected drugs peddlers.
“The Kotdi police received input that a good quantity of poppy husk was being smuggled in a SUV and some cars were escorting it. Around 10.45 pm barricading was done near Charbhuja Nath Crossroads, where four policemen were present for checking. Some ten minutes later, four cars in a row arrived at the barricade. When one of our constables, Omkar Singh Raika (21), approached the car for checking, one of the occupants started firing. Four bullets were fired at the constable and other policemen before the suspect escaped,” he said.
One of the four rounds hit Raika on the chest; he was rushed to the hospital but declared brought dead. Later, barricading was done across all the important points of the city, he added.
“There were probably seven to eight accused in four cars. At 2.45 am early Sunday, the same four vehicles crossed a police patrol near the barricade put up at Rayla police station area on the Ajmer state highway. Both the accused and the police exchanged multiple-rounds of fire, resulting in constable Pawan Chaudhary, in his twenties, getting hit above the waist by a bullet. He died while he was being taken for treatment,” added Sharma.
Superintendent of police (SP) Vikas Sharma and inspector general of police (IGP) Ajmer range S Sengathir visited both the incident spots and are presently camping in Bhilwara. All police stations of the district were put on alert at night. On Sunday afternoon, officials of the special operation group (SOG) also reached the spot.
Another police official familiar with the developments said, “The vehicles have moved towards Beawar in Ajmer. Police teams are camping in Rajsamand, Bhilwara and Ajmer. Intelligence has been gathered from Chittorgarh and Pratapgarh, hotbed of opium cultivation and poppy-husk smuggling. One of the cars used by the suspects was found abandoned near Rayla. It had multiple fake number plates. We will catch the accused soon.”
Rashtriya Loktantrik Party convener and Nagaur MP Hanuman Beniwal said the strict action must be taken for the “pure intelligence failure” of Bhilwara police and the state government. He also met the relatives of the killed police personnel and demanded immediate relief from the state government.
“At present there are a dozen ministers and 40 MLAs of Rajasthan government in Bhilwara district. Apart from this, many ministers and MPs of the Central government are also roaming here. Despite this, the police machinery of Bhilwara district has been negligent,” said Beniwal referring to the ongoing campaigning by political leaders for the April 17 assembly by-polls on the Sahara assembly constituency in Bhilwara.
State Congress spokesperson Archana Sharma said “opposition and Beniwal were doing politics over the issue. However, the accused will not be spared.”
In Rajasthan, the Central Bureau of Narcotics has allowed regulated opium cultivation in two districts of Chittorgarh and Pratapgarh. Smugglers trade in poppy husks known as ‘Doda’, which is leftover once the milk has been extracted from the plant. In northern and western Rajasthan, ‘Doda’ has a big market among labourers, daily-wage workers, truck drivers and farm workers.