Hunt for UP gangster Dubey ends in Ujjain
Uttar Pradesh gangster Vikas Dubey was taken into custody outside a temple in Madhya Pradesh’s Ujjain on Thursday, ending a frantic and often frustrating manhunt for a fugitive behind one of the deadliest attacks on policemen in recent years.
In this six days since Dubey went underground, police in Uttar Pradesh killed at least five of his accomplices who were involved in the attack, demolished his sprawling bungalow, and arrested at least a dozen people, including his wife and son, and cops who aided his escape and shelter.
“Main Vikas Dubey hoon, Kanpur wala! (I am Vikas Dubey of Kanpur),” Dubey yelled out as he was being bundled into a police SUV in Ujjain.
In Lucknow, the Uttar Pradesh police acknowledged that chasing Dubey was a challenge. “We have found our most wanted, who is accused of killing eight policemen in Kanpur’s Bikru village… His arrest was a major challenge for us and we were chasing him continuously,” said UP director general of Police (DGP) Hitesh Chandra Awasthy in Lucknow.
As he remained on the run, the police increased the bounty on his head from ₹50,000 last week to ₹5 lakh. On several occasions, sleuths from the state police’s special task force (STF) came up empty, discovering his getaway vehicles and hideouts only after he would leave them.
The game of cat and mouse nearly turned in the police’s favour when he was spotted in Faridabad on July 7, the first time his whereabouts were confirmed since he fled Kanpur, but he slipped away even as one of his top accomplices who had accompanied him till then was caught.
It was around this time that rumours spread about Dubey planning to surrender at a TV studio In Noida, forcing police to seal off the Film City area and begin checking commuters. By this time, Dubey is believed to have left NCR in a bus for Ujjain, according to what he told his interrogators, who are yet to corroborate the sequence of events.
The accomplice caught in Faridabad, identified as Prabhat, was killed on Thursday morning while being brought back to Kanpur, UP police officials said, adding that he was shot when he tried to snatch a cop’s weapon and escape.
Later on Thursday, Dubey was handed over to the Uttar Pradesh police. Officials also arrested Dubey’s wife and one of his son, in addition to their domestic help.
The circumstances of his arrest were unclear, with a Madhya Pradesh minister saying he was caught by a policeman, while police officials, eyewitnesses, and an administration official saying he was spotted by locals and may have given himself up.
“Our police was alert after the UP incident. A police constable spotted him and on being suspicious about him informed his other colleagues. Later, when his identity was confirmed, he was arrested by police,” MP’s home minister Narottam Mishra told reporters in Bhopal.
Director general of police, Madhya Pradesh, Vivek Johri, gave a different version: “A man selling flowers spotted Dubey and informed the security agency deployed at the Mahakal temple. They informed the police outpost nearby. They checked his identity card to find that it was in the name of one Naveen Pal. When police started questioning him, he could realise that his identity will be revealed and he started shouting.”
The flower seller, who appeared before media several hours later, said: “When Vikas Dubey came to my shop he looked suspicious given his movements. I could realise that he could be Vikas Dubey. Then, I informed the security agency guard at the gate of the temple.”
A senior administrative officer, asking not to be named, said Dubey surrendered to police since he feared that he could be killed in a similar manner as his accomplices. The administrative officer added that Dubey purchased a ticket for Rs 250 from the temple counter for a viewing in the temple at about 8.30am. After he emerged, he told the flower shop owner that he was Vikas Dubey from Kanpur.
The July 3 shoot-out exposed alleged collusion within Uttar Pradesh Police, with officials later realising that their men had walked into a trap because some other police officials tipped off Dubey about an attempt to arrest him.
The resulting violence left a deputy superintendent of police, three sub-inspectors and four constables dead – some of whom were hacked to death.
Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan later praised Ujjain police and said he had spoken to UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath over the development.
A police officer said Dubey kept changing his responses while initial questioning in Ujjain. “He is a very shrewd criminal. He is changing his statements repeatedly. He is yet to tell how he reached Ujjain and from where and when. He said to us he came to MP from Kota on Wednesday by a bus but the fact is the interstate bus service is still suspended. We have learnt that he stayed in a hotel in Ujjain last night. We are checking the facts,” said an officer from the team that questioned him, asking not to be named.
A liquor company’s manager, who is a relative of Vikas Dubey, was reportedly picked up by police to find out whether he had called Dubey to Ujjain. The police did not confirm his detention.
Dubey has nearly 60 criminal cases against him, including murder and attempt to murder.