Eight police personnel, including a Deputy Superintendent of Police and three Sub-Inspectors, were killed during a raid to arrest a criminal in Bikru village, near Kanpur city, past Thursday midnight.
According to police, a team of about 20 policemen had gone to the village, in Chaubeypur police station area, to arrest Vikas Dubey, a history-sheeter who faces about 60 criminal cases including murder and attempt to murder.
Police said the team came under heavy fire, including from rooftops. At least seven other security personnel were injured in the attack. A homeguard is reported to be critical.
“There is a notorious criminal named Vikas Dubey who has around 60 cases against him. On Thursday, an FIR was registered against him for attempt to murder. A police team went to his village to arrest him, as he is a known criminal and was continuously involved in such activities. These people blocked the road using a JCB. When the policemen got down from their vehicles, the assailants opened fire. There was retaliatory fire from our side, but as the assailants were standing in the dark and were at a height, our policemen suffered bullet injuries. Eight of our policemen were martyred,” said Uttar Pradesh DGP Hitesh Chandra Awasthy.
Besides Deputy SP Devendra Kumar Mishra, who was posted as the circle officer in Bilhaur, the others killed in the attack are Sub-Inspectors Mahesh Chandra Yadav, Anup Kumar Singh and Nebu Lal, and constables Jitendra Pal, Sultan Singh, Bablu Kumar and Rahul Kumar. Police sources said Mishra was just a few months away from retirement.
Additional Director General, Kanpur Zone, Jai Narain Singh said the firing began soon after the police team reached the village around 1.30 am. The gunfight went on till about 2.15 am, he said. Singh said he and other senior officers reached the spot at 3 am.
“We agree that if we had assessed the situation better, the PAC or SWAT teams could have been sent. The village is notorious and we should have sent better equipped teams,” he told The Indian Express.
Singh said the bodies were found at three different spots. Two were found outside the door of Dubey’s maternal uncle, Prem Prakash Pandey’s house; one was found in the verandah of the same house; and five were found near a toilet about 20 metres from the rear boundary of the house.
Police sources said there were 15-20 men, armed with automatic weapons. At the site on Friday, bloodstains could be seen in over half-a-dozen spots. A JCB was parked about 30 metres away from the iron gate of Dubey’s mansion-like house, covered by about a dozen CCTV cameras.
Later in the day, police said two men, identified as Prem Prakash Pandey and his associate Atul Dubey, were killed during a combing operation. They said a service pistol and a country-made pistol were recovered from their possession.
A senior police officer said the attackers had snatched an AK-47, an INSAS rifle and two pistols from the police team.
DGP Awasthy said the operation to catch the criminals was still on. “Our top priorities include proper treatment of the injured, identifying and taking action against the assailants involved, and finding out where they got their weapons from,” he said.
Meanwhile, Kanpur SP (Rural) Brijesh Kumar Srivastava said the FIR against Dubey was registered on the complaint of a person, identified as Rahul Tiwari, from a neighbouring village. He said Tiwari had alleged that Dubey had opened fired on him on Thursday afternoon, in connection with an ongoing land dispute.
“We have heard that two days before the incident, Dubey and Rahul Tiwari were brought to the Chaubeypur police station, where Dubey slapped Tiwari in front of the police station in-charge. We are confirming the details,” said IG, Kanpur (Range), Mohit Agarwal.
He said there were indications that the attackers had prior information about the police operation, and the informant could be from the department itself. “If that is the case, the culprit will be dismissed and sent to jail,” he said.