Babuli Ramcharan Kol, who headed perhaps the last listed gang of dacoits in Madhya Pradesh, and his accomplice were gunned down in an encounter in the Ledri jungles on the border of MP and Uttar Pradesh late on Sunday, police said.
Kol’s gang operated in the Bundelkhand region of UP and the Satna and Rewa districts of MP. According to the police, Kol had been active for more than a decade. More than 110 cases have been registered against the gang in recent years including those of murder, extortion, kidnapping and loot.
In the latest incident, the gang had kidnapped a farmer in Satna and demanded a ransom of Rs 50 lakh. The farmer returned home last week amid conflicting claims over whether the ransom was paid.
Police from both states had been on Kol’s trail. He was a resident of Chitrakoot district of UP before he first took up arms.
Inspector General (Rewa Range) Chanchal Shekhar told The Indian Express that the police had received a tip-off that the gang was seen in the jungles near Ledri village. He said the encounter took places 12-15 km inside the border dividing MP and UP, about 65 kms from the district headquarters of Satna.
“We executed our plans. They fired 16 bullets while the police fired 35,” he said.
Local reports suggested however, that the duo was killed by a member of their own gang, who surrendered later and led the police to the two bodies.
Shekhar refuted the allegation. “There is a tendency to always come up with a counter narrative to discredit the police,” he said.
He added that the police believe that at least five members of the gang were at the encounter spot but three managed to escape.
Alleging that the encounter was under a cloud of suspicion, former minister and BJP leader Narottam Mishra demanded a probe. An official spokesman of the police said there will be an inquiry as the procedure calls for one.