A nationwide manhunt to nab gangster Vikas Dubey concluded with a twist on Thursday morning when the man accused in over 60 criminal cases was spotted at the Mahakaleshwar temple in Madhya Pradesh’s Ujjain district.
Vikas Dubey had been on the run since early hours of July 3 after he set up an ambush outside his home in Kanpur’s Bikru village where eight policemen lost their lives and another seven suffered severe injuries.
The UP Police’s official stance is that a police team went to raid Dubey’s home and place him under arrest in the later hours of July 2 when the history-sheeter’s aides opened indiscriminate fire at the cops. He had been missing since and a reward of Rs 5 lakh was announced for any information that might lead to his arrest.
Vikas Dubey’s home in Kanpur where the ambush took place, razed by the local administration (Photo Credits: PTI)
Several versions have since come to light. A number of reports suggest that it was a flower vendor stationed outside the temple who recognised Vikas Dubey and alerted the local police. Others say home guards deployed at the Mahakaleshwar temple along with the temple’s caretaker spotted him as the man keeping police in three states on tenterhooks for the better part of this past week.
It has also been reported that one of the security guards at the temple apprehended Vikas Dubey and asked him to show credentials. This is when the gangster produced a fake ID card with the name ‘Naveen Pal’ while claiming that his name was ‘Shubham’. Dubey even tried to slip away but was caught by the temple’s security guards and handed over to Ujjain Police.
A video of Ujjain Police escorting the dreaded criminal to a vehicle has also surfaced. In the video, he can be heard saying, “Main Vikas Dubey hun. Kanpur wala (I am Vikas Dubey, the one from Kanpur).
— ANI (@ANI) July 9, 2020
STF takes custody, arrests wife
The Special Task Force (STF) hired a chartered plane on Thursday and flew to Ujjain to take custody of Vikas Dubey. He was handed over to the STF on the orders of Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan. Officials clarified that there was no need for transit remand since Dubey was never officially arrested by Ujjain Police.
Later in the day, STF arrested Dubey’s wife Richa and the family’s domestic help from their residence in Lucknow’s Krishnanagar. Reports have indicated that Vikas and Richa’s elder son, a minor, has also been detained by the STF on charges of abetting his father, a fugitive.
Cops deployed outside Vikas Dubey’s home in Lucknow on July 9 (Photo Credits: PTI)
‘Planned to burn bodies of slain cops’
During preliminary interrogation by police in Ujjain, Vikas Dubey told investigators that sources in the Kanpur Police had alerted him about the raid beforehand. This gave him enough time to summon his aides, arm them and set up an ambush using lights and a JCB.
Dubey further added that he had planned to gather the bodies of policemen who fell during the failed raid and burn them to destroy any evidence. However, the arrival of a backup police team forced him to flee the spot without getting rid of the bodies of slain cops.
Police officials in MP who interviewed Dubey also said that he instructed his aides to run in different directions in the aftermath of the encounter.
“I was scared that police will shoot me in an encounter,” said the man accused in at least 11 murder cases prior to the ambush on July 2.
Site of the ambush in Kanpur’s Bikru village (Photo Credits: PTI)
According to inputs, Vikas Dubey fled his home in Kanpur’s Bikru village and spent two days at the home of an associate in neighbouring Shivli village. He then managed to travel to Faridabad in Haryana where he was captured outside a hotel on CCTV.
Hotel in Faridabad where Vikas Dubey was staying (Photo Credits: PTI)
Dubey then travelled to Ujjain in a four-wheeler along with two lawyers. The car they used had a Lucknow registration number and a High Court sticker on it. Ujjain police found recovered this car from Dewas Gate. It was also captured by cameras at the Shivpuri toll plaza at 11 PM on July 7.
He travelled through three state borders and across seven districts, dodging the STF and more than 40 teams of the UP Police on his trail.
Vehicle used by Vikas Dubey recovered in Ujjain (Photo Credits: PTI)
Crackdown on aides
Both the lawyers who accompanied Vikas Dubey are being questioned.
An Ujjain-based liquor trader, originally from Chitrakoot in UP, has been arrested on suspicion of facilitating Dubey’s commute and stay in Madhya Pradesh.
During the manhunt to nab the gangster, police have also arrested his brother-in-law from Shahdol.
Site of aide Prabhat’s encounter in Panki (Photo Credits: PTI)
Vikas’ right-hand man Amar Dubey was funned down in an encounter with UP Police in Hamirpur district. Another of his aides, Prabhat Mishra was also picked up from Faridabad, gunned down and later found positive for the novel coronavirus. Police officers said Mishra was killed in Panki as he tried to evade police custody by attempting to snatch a cop’s service weapon.
Site of aide Bauwa’s encounter in Etawah (Photo Credits: PTI)
Bauwa, a key aide of Vikas Dubey with a reward of Rs 50,000 on his head was also killed in an encounter with UP Police in Etawah district.
Political slugfest over arrest
While MP CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan and state Home Minister Narottam Mishra commended the Madhya Pradesh Police for nabbing Vikas Dubey, opposition leaders alleged that Dubey was caught in the final act of a ‘staged surrender’.
Congress leaders Kamal Nath and Digvijay Singh, both former Madhya Pradesh chief ministers, demanded a CBI inquiry into events leading up to Vikas Dubey’s arrest. They even claimed that a senior minister in the MP government facilitated Dubey’s surrender.
This is how the dreaded gangster Vikas Dubey was “arrested” by MP Police for which Shivraj is taking credit. The credit should go to the Pvt Security Agency owned by BJP MP in Rajya Sabha, engaged at Mahakal temple in Ujjain. pic.twitter.com/WLHglXH1wF
— digvijaya singh (@digvijaya_28) July 9, 2020
Back home, opposition leaders in Uttar Pradesh targeted Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath at the state police’s failure to nab Vikas Dubey and the manner in which he was finally caught.
Former UP CM and Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav said on Twitter, “It is reported that the main culprit of the Kanpur encounter is in the custody of the police. If this is true, then the government should clarify whether it is surrender or arrest”. Yadav also demanded that Dubey’s call detail records (CDR) be made public.
‘-’ . . CDR .
— Akhilesh Yadav (@yadavakhilesh) July 9, 2020
Chief of Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee (UPCC), Ajay Kumar Lallu also echoed the demand for a CBI inquiry into how Dubey managed to sneak past border police in UP, MP and Haryana.
UP Police likely to face the heat
Sources have hinted that UP CM Yogi Adityanath is unhappy with the fact that neither the state police nor the STF could nab Vikas Dubey. Action against senior policemen in Kanpur range is likely in the coming days.
Uttar PradeshAdditional Director General (ADG), law and order, Prashant Kumar told reporters in the wake of Vikas Dubey’s arrest, “We are bringing him from Madhya Pradesh for interrogation and further probe. Raids are also being conducted to arrest other criminals, his henchmen who killed eight brave cops. We will not rest until all criminals are caught.”
(With inputs from Nelanshu Shukla and Shivendra Srivastava)