New Delhi: The Uttar Pradesh police today, September 22, shot dead one person – Aneesh Khan – and injured two others in an alleged exchange of fire that took place while it was trying to arrest them for brutally assaulting a woman head constable in a train in Ayodhya three weeks ago.
The two injured suspects were both shot in the right leg near the knee and were identified as Azad and Vishwambhar Dayal Dubey.
The two successive alleged ‘encounter’ shootings in two different police station areas come after an extensive operation launched by the state police to crack the case of the attack on the head constable on the intervening night of August 30 and 31.
The 47-year woman head constable Sumitra Patel was found lying unconscious in a pool of blood under a seat of the Saryu Express while she was travelling to attend duty in Ayodhya.
The brutal attack on her had left authorities puzzled as they struggled to trace the culprits or a motive behind the attack. A few days after the attack, Allahabad high court Chief Justice Pritinker Diwaker even took suo motu cognisance of the incident and asked the state government to provide details of the investigation.
On September 16, the UP police announced a reward of Rs 1 lakh to anyone who would provide information about the culprits. On September 22, Senior Superintendent of Police Ayodhya Raj Karan Nayyar said during investigation that the victim had recognised one of the suspects whose photograph was shown to her by the UP Police’s Special Task Force team.
Based on these inputs, the district police and the STF conducted a raid in Inayat Nagar area of Ayodhya to arrest the accused, said Nayyar. “The accused fired at the police team which fired back in self-defence. Police arrested two accused persons who were injured,” said Nayyar.
The officer said that a third suspect, identified as Aneesh Khan, had escaped from the ‘encounter’ site while firing at the police. A search operation was launched to arrest him and he was soon located in an area falling under police station Pura Kalandar.
The person was asked to surrender, said Nayyar. Khan allegedly fired at the police who shot him while firing in self-defence, according to Nayyar.
Khan, a resident of Haiderganj, was taken to the district hospital where he was declared dead.
Ratan Sharma, the station house officer of Pura Kalandar was also injured in the ‘encounter’, said police, but did not reveal the nature of his injury.
Uttar Pradesh police, especially in the last six years of the Adityanath government, has been known to kill those accused in serious crimes through alleged encounters. In March, a report had analysed district-wise data to note that 178 accused were killed during Adityanath’s tenure, in as many as 10,713 encounters across the state.
The police claimed that the two suspects who were arrested had confessed to attacking the head constable. However, it is yet to reveal the alleged motive behind the attack.
The attack on the constable
The woman head constable is recovering in a government hospital in Lucknow.
Posted in a police station in Sultanpur district, on the night of August 30 and 31 she was aboard the Saryu Express on her way to duty at the Hanuman Gadi Sawan Mela in Ayodhya. Due to some reasons, she missed her stop and reached the final destination, Mankapur railway station, from where she took the train back towards Ayodhya. However, between these two stations, she was assaulted by some unknown person(s) with sharp objects, leaving her badly injured, bleeding and unconscious under a berth in one of the coaches. On her brother’s complaint, an FIR was lodged at the Government Railway Police, Cantonment police station, in Ayodhya against unknown persons under charges including attempt to murder and assault or use of criminal force to woman with the intent to disrobe her.
Police had ruled out sexual assault as the medico-legal test and forensic investigation did not confirm it.
On September 4, UP DGP Vijay Kumar and special DG law and order Prashant Kumar both said the case would be solved soon and the real culprits would be arrested. Officer Prashant Kumar along with principal secretary (home) Sanjay Prasad visited the injured woman constable at the trauma centre of the King George’s Medical University in Lucknow. UP police along with railway officials even conducted a scene recreation exercise of the incident on September 5.
On September 3, HC Chief Justice Pritinker Diwaker and Justice Ashutosh Srivastava took suo motu cognisance of the “gruesome incident” and directed the court registry to register the matter as a criminal public interest litigation. The court issued notices to the Union government as well as the state. The case was brought to CJ Diwaker’s attention by a WhatsApp message he received from an advocate Ram Kaushik at around 3.35 pm on Sunday, September 3, following which the CJ constituted a bench at 8 pm at his residence to hear the matter.
In his letter petition, advocate Kaushik said the “Railway Authorities have completely failed to implement the various safety measures involving fundamental rights of the women. The present incident clearly shows the utter violation of the certain provisions of the Indian Railways Act.”
The Railway Protection Force also “completely failed in discharge of their duties and responsibilities in giving effect to the rules and regulations formulated for the protection of passengers,” Diwaker further said.
The court summoned the investigation officer of the case to appear before it on September 4 with the case diary. Superintendent of Police (GRP), Pooja Yadav appeared in court and informed the judges that five teams of the rank of circle officer and deputy SP had been formed to solve the case.
Injuries were inflicted upon Sumitra’s face and upper body parts with a sharp-edged weapon, presumably a chopper, said Yadav. The court took note of the progress in the investigation and said it had “no doubt that the investigation is proceeding in the right track and would bring results fast.