UJJAIN/INDORE: Dodging police in four states, fugitive UP gangster

Vikas Dubey

on Thursday surfaced unarmed at Ujjain’s famed Mahakaal temple and did a darshan along with other unsuspecting devotees before he was spotted on CCTV, “identified” by a man selling puja items and arrested by MP police to end a six-day hunt following the killing of eight UP police personnel in a Maoist-style ambush by his gang.

In the evening, the UP Special Task Force took custody of Dubey from MP police without producing him in court for transit remand. Ujjain SP Manoj Kumar Singh said the UP police had left the city with Dubey and would produce him in court there within 24 hours. “We have provided a police escort to the team after exchanging custody.”

For a most-wanted man with a reward of Rs 5 lakh on his head, Dubey seemingly didn’t try too hard to conceal his identity. He turned up at the temple with face mask pulled down, asked for directions and bought a VIP ticket at the counter, prompting the Congress to allege it was a case of “shelter and surrender”.

Fugitive UP gangster Vikas Dubey defied the mobile phone ban to take a selfie-video of him doing aarti and readily gave his phone number to a policeman after he was identified and challenged. Ujjain SP Manoj Kumar Singh told reporters that Dubey was first identified by a man selling puja items outside the shrine.

“Shopkeeper Suresh Mali had seen Vikas Dubey’s face on TV channels over the last few days. He informed the private security guards at the temple, who, in turn, alerted the police,” he said.

Constable Vijay Rathore was the first cop to arrive — at 8.45am. He grappled with Dubey and pinned him down until reinforcements arrived, the police said. As the don was being led to a police vehicle, he shouted out to passers-by: “Mein Vikas Dubey hun, Kanpur wala (I am Vikas Dubey of Kanpur).” Rathore slapped him on the head and screamed: “Shut up.” A video of this has since gone viral.

Around 10am, MP home minister Narottam Mishra announced the arrest. “We have caught Vikas, and he is in our custody. He is a cruel killer. What he did was reprehensible. We have informed UP Police. It’s a big achievement for MP police.”

UP CM Yogi Adityanath spoke with his MP counterpart Shivraj Singh Chouhan after the arrest. “The legal formalities will be done and Dubey will be handed over to UP police,” Chouhan tweeted, adding: “Those who think that they can wash away their sins by visiting Mahakaal don’t know anything about Mahakaal. MP police won’t spare any criminal.”

A few hours before Dubey was caught, two more of his aides were shot dead. His right-hand man and nephew Amar Dubey, had been gunned down in the Bundelkhand region bordering MP on Wednesday.

Sources said Dubey would have realised that he was running out of hiding places and time, prompting him to head for Mahakaal because he knew there wouldn’t be an encounter inside a temple.

After his arrest, the gangster’s mother said he would visit the Mahakaal temple every year. If that were true, why did he go around asking shopkeepers and priests about directions to the temple, and where he could buy a ticket? Also, if he was a regular, he would have known that mobiles are banned inside the temple and that he would be noticed on CCTV if he took a video of the aarti.

Curiously, Mahakal police station in-charge inspector Prakash Waskale and the temple police checkpost’s incharge, inspector Asha Solanki, had been transferred and replaced by two other officers on Wednesday evening. Senior officers called it a routine transfer.

Police sources said Vikas reached Ujjain two days ago and checked into a hotel using fake documents. Police have detained six members of a family in the Nagjhiri area. They are believed to be related to the don and have been living in Ujjain for 15 years.

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