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UP Police Kills Muslim Man in 'Encounter' After He 'Tried to Flee From Custody'

The chain of events according to the UP Police – including how the police vehicle lost balance to avoid stray cattle – is eerily familiar to the state's narrative around the Vikas Dubey encounter.

New Delhi: A young man in Uttar Pradesh accused of murder was shot dead by the police on the evening of September 19 after he allegedly fled from police custody when the vehicle he was being escorted in lost balance and came to a halt to avoid hitting stray cattle on the road.

The sequence of events in the alleged exchange of fire bring back chilling imageries of the killing of Kanpur gangster Vikas Dubey, who along with his aides had been accused of shooting dead eight policemen in an ambush in Bikru village in July 2020.

The latest incident happened in Shahjahanpur district of UP. On Tuesday (September 19) morning, some miscreants entered the house of one Alok Gupta, a trader and assistant professor, in Katra area of the city with the intent to carry out a robbery, said police.

When the Gupta family resisted, the suspects stabbed them with knives, said Shahjahanpur Superintendent of Police Ashok Kumar Meena.

The injured family members were sent for medical treatment to neighbouring Bareilly district where Alok Gupta succumbed to his injuries. The other family members are still receiving treatment.

The murder caused huge anger among locals, in particular the trading community who turned up at the Gupta residence in large numbers and demanded action from the police. The local traders’ union threatened to shut all the shops in the kasba. The Inspector General of Police, Bareilly, Rakesh Singh, too reached the site of the crime and promised the strictest action against those who committed the murder.

SP Meena said an FIR was lodged against two named accused and other unknown persons on the complaint of the Gupta family.

Also read: US Law Firm Seeks Action Against Adityanath, UP Top Cops for ‘Encounter’ Killings

Following this, police said they arrested one suspect Shahbaz, a resident of mohalla sarai in Katra. The murder weapon was also recovered on his cue, said Meena.

Shahbaz was being escorted to be produced in court after medical examination in the evening, when “some pashu” (stray animal) came in front of the police jeep on a highway near Batlaiya village causing it to lose balance, said Meena.

“…the jeep became disbalanced and came to a halt. Making use of the situation, he snatched a pistol from the police inspector and jumped out [of the vehicle]. He ran into the fields and started firing at the police from there,” said Meena.

Police reinforcements were called in and repeated warnings were issued to Shahbaz asking him to surrender but he continued to fire at the police, said Meena.

The police also fired back in self-defence and retaliation, in which Shahbaz got injured, said the SP. Shahbaz was taken to a community health centre where doctors declared him brought dead, said police.

The SP also announced that the team, which was led by a circle officer, that carried out this “sarahaniya karya” (commendable work) would receive a reward of Rs 25,000 from the district police and Rs 50,000 from the state government.

On the morning of July 10, 2020, a day after he was arrested near a temple in Ujjain, Vikas Dubey was gunned down by the police while allegedly trying to flee from custody after an accident as he was being taken from the Madhya Pradesh city to Kanpur. This was days after Dubey’s men gunned down eight policemen, including a deputy SP-rank officer, and left seven others injured when a police team had gone to the village to conduct a raid.

Also read: Encouraging Police ‘Encounters’ Will Lead to Arbitrary State Action: Former SC Judge

Police shot Dubey after he allegedly fired at them with a pistol he had snatched from a police officer who was injured when the vehicle carrying them “overturned”. The UP Special Task Force had then said that the vehicle carrying Dubey lost control and overturned when the driver, who was tired after a long journey, turned sharply to avoid a herd of cattle that suddenly ran on to the road.

Dubey took advantage of the accident and tried to flee towards a kutcha road after snatching a pistol from an injured policeman, police had said. Dubey was surrounded from all four sides and was asked to surrender but he fired at the police which fired back in self-defence, the UP police had said then.

The police version was questioned by several quarters and the controversial killing was termed a “fake encounter,” a phrase popularly used to describe extra-judicial staged executions by police. The matter of the “encounter” killings of Dubey and his aides even reached the Supreme Court.

The state government, in a 58-page counter-affidavit filed in the apex court, denied the allegation that Dubey was killed in a “fake encounter”. A three-member panel approved by the apex court to investigate the killings gave a clean chit to the UP police, saying that no suspicion arose from the police version of the events.