Police in Uttar Pradesh arrested an aide of criminal Vikas Dubey and intensified search for suspected informers in the force who could have tipped him off about a raid that eventually led to the killing of eight personnel by his gang, officials said on Sunday.
Daya Shankar Agnihotri, suspected to be part of the gang that laid a trap for the police team raiding Kanpur Dehat’s Bikru village and attacked them on Thursday night, was arrested after a gunfight in Kalyanpur area near Kanpur city.
Agnihotri, who has three criminal cases including two cases of attempted murder against him, suffered a bullet wound in his right leg. He carried a reward of Rs 25,000, and was allegedly Dubey’s domestic help.
Agnihotri said in a video statement that a caller from a police station informed the 48-year-old Dubey, who faces 60 criminal cases, about the raid. HT has seen the video.
Officials suspect it could be the police station in Chaubeypur, about 14km from Bikru. It is the place where an attempt to murder case was registered against Dubey by a villager on Wednesday. The team that went to raid Dubey’s village past Thursday midnight left from Chaubeypur.
Agnihotri said at least 25 people were waiting with Dubey for the police team, which walked straight into their trap and was ambushed in a 15-minute onslaught, according to the official.
Dubey’s gang fired at them indiscriminately, killing a deputy superintendent, three sub-inspectors and four constables in an ambush that the police later said was a “well-planned conspiracy”.
Hours later, security personnel launched a massive search for the criminals who escaped in the dark, and gunned down two suspected gang members about 3km from the village.
In a first information report (FIR) filed on Friday night, the police named a total of 22 people, including Dubey and Agnihotri, and 10 unidentified people.
On Saturday, Chaubeypur station officer (SO) Vinay Tiwari was questioned for nine hours over his role in the raid. He was later suspended and shifted to Lucknow. Officials did not specify the nature of allegations against him.
Officials believe that Dubey, an influential gangster whose criminal records date back to 1993, has supporters in the police force and that they helped him and his gang enjoy a free run despite cases of murder, attempted murder and abduction against them.
Mohit Agarwal, inspector general of police, Kanpur range, said at least three policemen were suspected to be in touch with Dubey and an investigation was underway. “Services of police personnel in league with him will be terminated and they will face criminal trial,” he said.
The police are yet to trace Dubey, who has been missing since the ambush. Director general of police (DGP) Hitesh Chandra Awasthy has sounded an alert in all 75 districts of Uttar Pradesh. On Saturday night, a reward of Rs 1 lakh was announced for his arrest. Fifty teams and over 3,000 police personnel across the state have been deployed for the mission.
Police officials associated with the investigation, who did not want to be named, said an abandoned SUV parked on the roadside in Auraiya, 60km from Bikru, was recovered on Sunday. Bloodstains were found on the car window.
“There are multiple shortcuts and interior roads from Auraiya that lead to the Madhya Pradesh border,” a senior police official in Kanpur said. There is a possibility that Dubey moved further to other states after entering Madhya Pradesh, he added.
DGP Awasthi said in Lucknow several inputs were being received that hinted Dubey entered Madhya Pradesh or Nepal. But nothing substantial has emerged, he said.
He confirmed that police recovered an abandoned SUV in Auraiya registered in the name of one Amit Dubey, a close aide of the gangster. Local authorities were trying to verify if Dubey and his aides were travelling in the vehicle and left it on the roadside.
A day after the police demolished the palatial house of Dubey in Bikru village, two kilograms of explosives, six country-made pistols, 25 live rounds and sharpnels in a bunker there, according to officials. Police said Dubey built a bunker inside his house for stocking items in case of a siege. Police pulled down the house following inputs that criminals had hidden firearms on the premises.
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