Criminals shoot 8 cops on raid in UP, hack one with axe before killing himUpdated: Jul 04, 2020 00:20 IST
Criminals owing allegiance to a dreaded gangster in Uttar Pradesh sprayed a volley of bullets on a team of policemen who went to raid their village in Kanpur Dehat district on Thursday night, killing eight including a deputy superintendent in a chilling 15-minute ambush, officials said.
The killings prompted a massive hunt for 48-year-old Vikas Dubey, a hardened criminal who faces 60 cases and carries a reward of ~25,000, and his group after they escaped Bikru village in the dark. Hours later, security personnel gunned down two people suspected to be from the gang. Operations were underway to apprehend Dubey, who allegedly killed a senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader in 2001.
“None of those responsible for this heinous act will be spared, and the sacrifice of the slain policemen will not be allowed to go in vain,” chief minister Yogi Adityanath said, facing criticism from opposition leaders over the law and order situation in the state.
Director general of police Hitesh Chandra Awasthi, who visited the ambush site along with other top officials, said the policemen fell victim to a conspiracy. “An earthmover machine was put there deliberately to stop their way and in the darkness; they were attacked. This incident would not have happened without a well-planned conspiracy.”
The ambush on the 13-member police team began after they reached Bikru around 1:20am on Friday, a day after Rahul Tiwari, a resident of the village, filed an attempt to murder case against Dubey.
Officials found the road leading to Dubey’s fortified one-storey house blocked by an earthmover machine. They got off their vehicles and decided to walk, but criminals began firing at them from the roofs of Dubey’s residence and the houses nearby, according to Dinesh Kumar P, Kanpur senior superintendent of police. The ambush continued for 15 minutes, killing the eight policemen and wounding seven people including a civilian.
According to local police officials who did not want to be named, the team came under attack from three sides. Taken by surprise, as they ran for cover, criminals on the ground accosted them and snatched their weapons, they said.
The four constables and a sub-inspector took shelter in a small toilet. They were the first to be killed. Devendra Mishra, a deputy superintendent of police and the officer leading the team, tried to hide in a house, which belonged to a relative of Dubey. He was attacked with an axe and then shot dead. Two police sub-inspectors were shot five times, according to officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
By the time a wounded policeman escaped the site and raised an alarm, the criminals — believed to be around 20 in number — escaped, prompting a coordinated search operation involving about 3,000 personnel and the sealing of borders in all six districts in the Kanpur division.
“There was retaliatory firing, but criminals were at a height...eight of our men died,” said Jai Narayan Singh, Kanpur additional director general of police (ADG).
Around 7am on Friday, the police cornered two people — Dubey’s uncle, Prem Prakash Pandey, and his close aide, Atul Dubey — in the jungles of Kaashi Ram Nivada village, about 3km from Bikru, and shot them dead in a gunfight. Two personnel were wounded and a pistol said to have been looted in Bikru was recovered in this operation.
A police spokesperson said the weapons snatched in Bikru included an AK-47 rifle, an INSAS rifle, a Glock pistol and two .9mm pistols.
Inspector general (special task force) Amitabh Yash said the weapon used in the initial attack was a rifle seized from Dubey by the police when they arrested him in Lucknow’s Krishna Nagar in 2017, according to news agency PTI. The automatic rifle was released into the custody of someone else by a court, PTI reported.
Forensic teams from Kanpur and Lucknow visited the crime scene and collected samples. Late in the evening, police announced a Rs 50,000 reward for information leading to Dubey’s arrest. A first information report (FIR) was filed against Dubey and 20 others.
Dubey, whose criminal records date back to 1993, was linked to the killing of BJP leader Santosh Shukla inside a police station in 2001. He was acquitted in the case after witnesses turned hostile.
Dubey, a former member of Kanpur Dehat zila panchayat, was last arrested in October 2017 for illegal possession of arms and sent to the Kanpur Dehat district jail. He got bail in May 2019, according to officials working in the case.
CM Adityanath visited Kanpur to pay tributes to the slain policemen and offered condolences to their families. “The government will provide an ex-gratia of ~1 crore to the kin of each deceased,” he said, while also promising government job for a member of each of the eight families and pension.
Opposition leaders criticised the government over law and order. “Another proof of ‘goonda raj’ in UP. When police are not safe how can the people be?” Congress leader Rahul Gandhi tweeted in Hindi.
Party general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra said criminals in the state did not have any fear. “From the common man to policemen, no one is safe,” she added.
The Samajwadi Party called Uttar Pradesh “Hatya Pradesh (land of murders)”, where criminals “patronised by those in power” killed policemen. It said this “connection” must be exposed.
Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Mayawati termed the incident “shameful and unfortunate”.
(With agency inputs)