Vikas Dubey, with more than 60 cases against him and accused of shooting dead eight policemen in Kanpur’s Bikru village last week, was arrested in Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh Home Minister Narottam Mishra said on Thursday.
Later in the evening, he was handed over to a team of the U.P. police. “He was handed over to the U.P. police, who took him to their State by road,” an M.P. police official said.
Kanpur shootout | Two more aides of Vikas Dubey shot dead in Uttar Pradesh
However, opposition parties as well as the family of Circle Officer (CO) Devendra Mishra, who was killed in the Bikru ambush, have questioned the manner of Dubey’s arrest, terming it a staged surrender.
Held in temple
Dubey, on the run since the attack on the intervening night of July 2 and 3, was arrested near the Mahakal temple.
According to Ujjain district officials, an alert shopkeeper outside the temple tipped off the security after spotting Dubey on the premises. Around 8 a.m., Dubey arrived at the temple reportedly to offer prayers and asked a shopkeeper where he could get a ticket, said Ujjain Collector Ashish Singh, who also heads the temple committee.
“The shopkeeper got suspicious and informed the temple security that he appeared to be the person whose photograph was being circulated,” he said.
Dubey bought a VIP ticket for ₹250, and by then temple officials began tracking him, said another temple official. “Then when he exited the temple gate, he was called in for questioning. They asked for his identity card, but he showed a different one which didn’t match him, and he started scuffling,” said Mr. Singh.
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Eventually, he was handed over to the police who took him to the Mahakal police station. “There he confessed to his actual identity, which was also confirmed using his mobile number,” said Mr. Singh.
In a video doing rounds on the social media, Dubey can be seen being escorted out of the temple by the security personnel. In another video, before the police bundle him into a jeep, he is seen shouting, “Mai Vikas Dubey hun Kanpur Walla. (I am Vikas Dubey, the Kanpur one)”, at which a policeman is seen slapping him on the back.
“He tried to enter from the back gate. And he appeared suspicious to us,” Lakhan Yadav, a security guard posted at the Mahakal temple, told reporters.
‘Success for M.P.’
Mr. Mishra said Dubey’s associates Bittu and Suresh were also arrested. “Our police doesn’t leave anyone. They have arrested Vikas [Dubey] and he is in our custody,” Mr. Mishra told mediapersons, describing it as a huge success for Madhya Pradesh.
Dubey carried a reward of ₹5 lakh on his head for allegedly setting up an ambush and shooting dead the policemen, including a circle officer (CO).
The police said two more aides of Dubey, including one who was being brought to U.P. on transit remand from Faridabad , were shot dead earlier in the day in encounters.
Editorial | Gangster of Kanpur
Question over arrest
The manner in which Dubey was arrested was questioned by the family of the slain CO as well as the Opposition.
Congress MP in Rajya Sabha Digvijaya Singh claimed the episode seemed like a “staged surrender” to help Dubey escape an encounter by the U.P. police. “My information is that a senior leader of the Madhya Pradesh BJP has made it possible,” he alleged.
“The notorious gangster’s contacts with leaders and police personnel must be investigated. While keeping Dubey in judicial custody his complete security should be ensured so that all secrets can come out,” Mr. Singh said on Twitter.
While sharing a media report on Twitter, Mr. Singh also pointed out that Madhya Pradesh Home Minister Narottam Mishra was BJP in-charge for the Kanpur region during the 2017 Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections. “Does it ring a bell?” asked Mr. Singh.
Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav asked the government to clarify if it was a surrender or an arrest. He demanded that Dubey’s call detail record be made public so that the “real collusion” could be revealed.
However, the Uttar Pradesh police maintained a studied silence over the arrest. They said they would comment further on the manner in which Dubey reached Ujjain from Chaubeypur and on his arrest, after investigation under remand.
The two accomplices killed in alleged encounters were identified as Bauwa Pandey and Prabhat Mishra. The police claimed that both were involved in the Bikru ambush.
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When the police, escorted by a special task force (STF), were bringing Prabhat under transit remand from Faridabad, one of the tyres of the police vehicle got punctured near the Panki police station in Kanpur. Prabhat snatched a police pistol, fired indiscriminately at the police team and tried to flee, said ADG Law and Order Prashant Kumar.
Two STF constables were injured in the shooting, while Prabhat was injured in the firing by the police in self-defence, said Mr. Kumar.
Prabhat, who was arrested on Wednesday along with two others in Faridabad, was taken to a hospital where he later died, said the police.
Bauwa Pandey alias Praveen was shot dead in Etawah district, the police said.
Etawah SSP Akash Tomar said around 3 a.m., some persons were seen escaping in an SUV after looting a car on a highway near Bakewar. They were intercepted at Kachaura road at 4.30 a.m. and during the chase, the car hit a tree. The criminals then started firing on the police, the Etawah police said.
“When he [Bauwa] was intercepted, he fired at the police team and in the return fire, he got seriously injured and was declared brought dead in the hospital,” said Mr. Tomar.
A pistol and a DBBL gun were recovered from him. The Etawah police said his three accomplices managed to flee in the SUV.
Slain policeman's brother sees nexus
Kamlakant Mishra, brother of slain CO Devendra Mishra who led the police team raid in Bikru village, said Dubey’s “surrender was carried out in a planned manner”.
“In 12 hours, he reached the doors of the Mahakal [Temple] from Faridabad. And the police that arrested him took the media along with it,” Mr. Mishra told reporters.
“How many such encounters and arrests have you seen,” he asked, further questioning how Dubey was able to travel such long distance safely despite the alert and deployment of police at the State borders.
Mr. Mishra said many other people could be involved in the ambush of July 2-3 and demanded action against those helping the wanted history-sheeter stay safe since the incident and until the arrest in Ujjain. “The entire nexus needs to be dismantled,” he added.
The U.P. police claimed they got to know about the arrest through the media.
Also read | M.P. Congress calls it staged ‘surrender’
Mr. Prashant Kumar said a team of investigators would go to Ujjain to bring Dubey to U.P. Action would be taken as per law.
“We got to know through the media that he has been arrested,” said Mr. Kumar,when asked by a TV channel if anyone provided shelter to Dubey in Ujjain.
“It is not possible to state imaginary things about this as of now,” he said, when asked how the gangster may have given a slip to the U.P. police and reached M.P.
“When we take him under remand and question him or on the basis of the information received in the questioning by the M.P. police, we will share things with media,” he said.
The U.P. police would not rest till all the other accused were caught and punished. The police would try to arrest those on the run and produce them before court, he stated.