It has been more than 48 hours since gangster Vikas Dubey went missing after killing eight police personnel in an ambush in Kanpur, but the state police still have no clue about the whereabouts of the criminal.
All his phones, those of his associates and his relatives have been put under surveillance, but the gangster has not used any communication tool so far.
The Kanpur police on Sunday morning, after a brief encounter, arrested a member of Vikas Dubey gang, who was one of the those who killed eight Uttar Pradesh policemen. According to SSP Kanpur Dinesh Kumar, Daya Shankar Agnihotri (42) was intercepted by the police around 4.40 a.m. in Kalyanpur area.
"He tried to escape and the police team shot at his leg. He has been arrested," the SSP said. A country made firearm and cartridges have been recovered from his possession. The police said that Agnihotri will be interrogated by various agencies probing the Friday incident and could provide vital clues in the case.
The Yogi Adityanath government, on Saturday night, increased the reward on Vikas to Rs one lakh. A reward of Rs 25,000 each has been announced for his 18 accomplices.
Sixty police teams are frantically searching for the man, who is now 'most wanted' in Uttar Pradesh. "Most of the villagers have said that he (Dubey) grabbed people's land using muscle power, and built his house. He used to extort money from people," he said.
On Saturday, the police razed the house of Vikas in Bikru village where he had killed the policemen in the early hours of Friday. Two SUVs and two tractors parked in the premises were also trampled upon by the same earthmover that had been used to block the police team's path when the incident took place.
"It was a hub of crime," Inspector General of Police Kanpur Mohit Agarwal told PTI when asked about the razing of the house. "Most of the villagers have said that he (Dubey) grabbed people's land using muscle power, and built his house. He used to extort money from people," he said.
The station house officer of Chaubeypur police station, Vinay Tiwari, was suspended on Saturday after a 12-hour grilling at the Special Task Force. Tiwari was found to have fled from the site when the encounter began. He is also suspected to have tipped-off Vikas about police action.
Ram Kumar Dubey, father of Vikas, who was interrogated by the STF till late on Saturday night, maintained that his son was not present in the village when the incident took place.
"My son is innocent and I will fight for him right up to the Supreme Court. He is being framed for political reasons," the father told reporters.
It has also been found that a phone call was allegedly made from the Chaubeypur police station to the local power substation, asking them to disconnect the power supply in the village. The police team could not find an escape route when Vikas and his men fired at them because the area was plunged into darkness.
Two personnel of the sub-station have been detained for interrogation.
Meanwhile, in a related development, the police seized two cars and a motorcycle from Vikas's Lucknow residence in Krishna Nagar area. An ambassador car seized from the house is said to belong to the UP Estate department and was earlier allotted to a principal secretary. Vikas' family claimed that it had purchased the vehicle in an auction but could not produce the papers to substantiate its claim.
The Lucknow Development Authority (LDA) is preparing to serve a notice to Deep Prakash, brother of Vikas who lives in Krishna Nagar and is presently absconding. LDA officials said that the map of the house was not passed as per records and if the owner failed to produce the relevant documents, the house would be razed.
Meanwhile, sources said that there was a strong possibility that Vikas had fled to Nepal or to some other state and would surrender in court when the furore over the incident subsides.
The state police have stepped up vigil around the courts to pre-empt any move by Vikas to surrender in court.