THE UP government Sunday ordered a probe into an encounter in Jhansi between police and a gangster after an audio clip surfaced on social media purportedly of an officer alerting the “target” — and asking him to strike a deal with two BJP leaders.
The government suspended Mauranipur police station in-charge Suneet Kumar Singh, who is allegedly heard on the clip tipping off gangster Lekhraj Singh Yadav about the encounter.
In the purported tape, Singh is also heard asking Yadav to “manage” Rajeev Singh Parichha, BJP MLA from Babina seat in Jhansi, and Sanjay Dubey, BJP district president. In the clip, the officer is also heard boasting: “Don’t know how many I have killed and dumped”.
No one was injured in the encounter that took place Friday evening at Basari village under the Mauranipur station limits. Police claimed that all accused escaped from the spot.
The tape has emerged at a time when UP’s BJP government, under Yogi Adityanath, has courted controversy with a spate of encounters since coming to power on March 20, 2017. According to police records, 48 criminals have been killed in 1,755 encounters since then (see box).
When contacted by The Indian Express, senior police officers said Singh admitted that the voice on the purported clip was his. They described him as a discredited officer who was once sacked for acts of misconduct before he rejoined on the basis of a court order. They said that Singh was trying to “extort” money from Yadav.
Parichha and Dubey denied any link to the gangster or the encounter.
In the purported clip, Lekhraj is heard asking Singh: ‘Madad karo, yaar, madad karo (Help me, friend help me)”.
In reply, Suneet is heard saying: “Meri majboori samjhiye… Maine aapko bata diya hai… Sanjay Dubey ziladyaksha… Rajeev Singh Parichha… Do aadmiyon ko manage kariye. (Try to understand my compulsion… I have told you… Sanjay Dubey district president… Rajeev Singh Parichha…. Manage these two men.”
When contacted by The Indian Express, Parichha said: “Suneet Singh knows well that I don’t speak with criminals so he was sure that this criminal (Lekhraj) would never come to me. Suneet wanted to extort money so he was using my name. Strict action should be taken against him.” Dubey did not respond to calls from The Indian Express seeking comment.
Jhansi SP Vinod Kumar said: “Suneet Singh has been suspended and an inquiry ordered against him. An ASP-rank officer has been asked to conduct an inquiry into the audio clip and the encounter that took place on Friday. On the basis of his report, strict action will be taken.”
Abhishek, the IPS officer who is conducting the inquiry, told The Indian Express: “Suneet Singh has accepted that it was his voice on the audio. Since Suneet has accepted it, the clip will not be sent for forensic examination. The inquiry into the encounter is on.”
Jhansi SP Kumar said Singh did not inform senior officers before the encounter. Asked about Singh’s record, Kumar said: “He was expelled from the force in 2007 for an offence. A year later, he rejoined on a court directive. An FIR on charges of unnatural offences was filed against him in Jalaun in 2011. He was acquitted by the court in 2016.”
Kumar said Singh has 12 entries of “misconduct” in his service records between 2007 and 2016.
When contacted, Additional Director General, Kanpur Zone, Avinash Chandra said: “It appears from the audio that Suneet Singh was trying to extort money from the criminal. Strict action will be taken against him.”
According to K K Pandey, who took over on Sunday from Singh as SHO of Mauranipur, Yadav has 57 criminal cases against him, including those of murder and robbery. “Police are looking for him in two cases registered recently, including extortion and assault registered in March,” said Pandey.
The SHO said the complainant in both cases is Pradeep Gupta, a corporator from the Ranipur area in Jhansi. “In one case, Gupta alleged that Lekhraj tried to extort Rs 5 lakh from him and in the other, that Lekhraj attacked him in his house,” said Pandey.
Jhansi SP Kumar said another inquiry has been ordered in the two new cases registered against Yadav. “The inquiry officer has also been asked to look into the role of Gupta, the complainant.”
Cop on tape: ‘Don’t how many I have killed’
Edited transcripts from the purported audio clip of a conversation between Lekhraj Singh Yadav, a known gangster, and Suneet Kumar Singh, in-charge, Mauranipur police station, Jhansi:
Yadav: “Madad karo, yaar, madad karo (Help me, friend help me).”
Singh: Meri majboori samjhiye… maine aapko bata diya hai… Sanjay Dubey, ziladyaksha… Rajeev Singh Parichha… do aadmiyon ko manage kariye (Try to understand my compulsion… I have told you… Sanjay Dubey, district president… Rajeev Singh Parichha…. manage these two men).”
Yadav is again heard asking for help. Singh responds: “Aapke upar 60 mukadma hai… aap encounter ke liye sabse fit case hai pure UP mein… aap maan lijiye… aur BJP sarkar hai… ab aapki madad kaun karega yeh aap jaano… ke aap apne aap ko kaise bacha rahe ho (There are 60 cases against you… you are a fit case for encounter in entire UP… you try to understand that… and it’s a BJP govt… who will help you, only you know… how you can save yourself).”
Referring to himself, Singh says: “Hum log toh apraadhi they shuru se… aur rahenge… zindagi bhar apradh kiye… jaane kitne maar ke phenk diye kinare… jaane kitni hatyaen hain apne haath mein… jaane kitni baar jail kaate…. sab system hai apne paas… sab nipat gaya Mata Rani ki kripa se (We were criminals from the beginning… and will remain so… committed crimes throughout life… don’t how many I have killed and dumped them… don’t know how many murders I have committed with my own hand… don’t know how many times I have gone to jail… I have all the system… all problems have been solved thanks to the grace of God).”
On the police action, Singh is heard saying: “Pichhle 14 varshon mein Bhajpa sarkar ke pehle, kitne encounter hue zille, pradesh bhar mein, nahi hue… Basapa aayi Sapa aayi… ab system chal raha hai… STF bhi… lage hain… sab pura team hai… surveillance cell mein hai number aapka… kya batayein aap ka… aapki location vagaira sab trace-out ho rahi hai aur 10-20-50 aadmi bhi aapke saath honge toh koi badi baat nahin hai… log lage hue hai (How many encounters took place in the last 14 years before the BJP government, did not take place… BSP came, SP came… now the system is going on… STF is also there… the entire team is involved… your number is with the surveillance cell… what should I say…your location is being traced… even if there are 10-20-50 people with you, it is not a big deal… people are working on it).”
When Lekhraj says he doesn’t want to die, Singh says: “Woh (encounter) toh tay hai… ab umar ho hi gayi hai, ab kya hai… sab raaj-kaaj hai… bahut ji liye ab kya hai… arrey, joh bhi mamla hai isko dekh-dikha apna jaise manage karna hai …niptao ise… lambi fasai fasenge… hum bhi kuch nahin kar payenge phir (The encounter is for sure… now that you have aged, what’s there… it is all about the rule… you have lived at lot now what’s there… sort it out.. whatever the issue is, see to it, manage it, resolve it, otherwise you will be fixed… I would also not be able to do much).