‘Nine hours of unforgettable nightmare’: UP village shudders recalling the hostage crisis
It was a nightmare they would never be able to forget, residents of Karthia village said on Friday, several hours after the nine-hour hostage crisis ended with the rescue of all 25 children and the killing of their captor in Farrukhabad district of Uttar Pradesh late Thursday night.
It was evident that the villagers were still struggling to recover from the shock and finding it difficult to return to their daily routines as more frightening details of the hostage crisis kept emerging. The police revealed that they had recovered around 300 crude bombs from the hostage taker Subhash Batham’s house, apart from other weapons.
The crude bombs included some high-intensity ones and were in various stages of assembly, said police. A country-made pistol and a rifle were also recovered from the house.
Karthia, the village where the kids were taken hostage, is 40km from the Farrukhabad district headquarters.
Batham’s neighbours and other villagers said that while the scenes on Thursday night were like an action-packed Bollywood film, unfortunately it was all too real for them.
“We are still finding it hard to believe what happened. Although we all knew about Batham’s criminal background and we socially boycotted him for the same reason, we could never imagine that he could commit such a crime. The act has maligned the name of our village that was so far known for its potatoes and peace-loving people,” said Harveer Singh, the head of Karthia village.
People from the neighbouring districts of Mainpuri, Kannauj and Etah also began reaching the village on Friday morning as the news of the hostage drama spread.
“What happened was unimaginable. We strongly condemn the act (of taking the children hostage),” said Raj Kamal Yadav, a farmer from Farrukhabad.
Police said the search at Batham’s house had to be suspended after crude bombs were found there.
“But since the team noticed two sacks of live bombs, we called a bomb disposal squad (BDS) from Moradabad to defuse the bombs first. The squad reached on Friday morning after which the search operation resumed,” said Tribhuvan Singh, additional superintendent of police, Farrukhabad.
A rifle, pistol, cartridges, crude bombs, a five-litre LPG gas cylinder that was transformed into a live bomb, and other explosive materials were recovered from the house, said Singh.
Singh said the explosive found at Batham’s possession was enough to blow up other houses nearby.