Residents of Bikhru village in Kanpur remembered hearing gun shots and crude bombs for around 45 minutes late Thursday night, when the raid to arrest a criminal resulted in the death of eight police personnel.
While most of the residents said they had locked themselves inside their houses and only heard sounds of the incident, Pintu Tomar, the 26-year-old gunner of a deceased SO, described his experience as both a tragedy and a comedy. Speaking to The Indian Express later in the day, he recalled that it was one of the crude bombs hurdled by the assailants that saved his life.
“Our team of around 20 reached the village and left our vehicles 200 metres from the house of Vikas Dubey (the criminal they planned to arrest). Around 20 people were waiting for us behind a JCB and on rooftops on three sides. We crossed the JCB machine and they opened fire. By the sound I could tell they had automatic guns, pistols, rifles and crude bombs. We could not fire a single shot. There was no time,” said Tomar.
“We ran for cover, but three or four of us were hit by bullets. I ran towards a house on my left. There was a heavy wooden door, which was broken by a crude bomb thrown by an assailant, thus giving me a place to hide. Minutes later, the assailants came into the room, but I ran to the roof and jumped on the other side. They fired at me but I was able to run into the fields,” he said, adding that he was lucky to survive with a few injuries.
Bloodstains marked the 50-metre radius of the crime scene at Bikhru village. There was no one in Dubey’s house, apart from a domestic help and her two children. Around 40 metres from Dubey’s house, there was a pool of blood at the porch of his maternal uncle’s house. Officials said that the bodies of SO Mahesh Yadav and SI Anup Kumar were found at that spot. They apparently died begging to be let in.
“Around 1.30 am I was woken up by a loud banging at the door. I heard gunshots in the distance and two voices begging to be let in. I froze. They did not tell me they were policemen. I have been told that they tried to hide below a bench at the porch. Minutes later, the gunshots came closer. Soon there were more gunshots and the banging and pleading stopped,” said 60-year-old Sushma Pandey, wife of Dubey’s maternal uncle Prem Prakash Pandey.
In the corner of the verandah of their house was another pool of blood, where the Circle Officer was found dead. Sushma’s 25-year-old daughter-in-law Manu Pandey said, “I was woken up by the sound of gunfire, and hid in my room with the iron door locked from inside. Minutes later I saw someone jumping into my verandah and lying against a wall. The attackers were on the roof. From a small window I saw them coming towards him as he said ‘tum mera encounter karega’, but he could not finish the sentence and was shot.”
Members of the police team later said that five bodies of police personnel were found within 30 metres of the boundary wall of the house, near a toilet.
When asked about the other members of her family, Manu broke down. She said that the male members of her household, her father-in-law Prem Prakash and husband Shashikant Pandey, had run away soon after the incident. Hours later she was informed that her father-in-law had been shot in a police encounter. The husband is missing.
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