The accused were fleeing after stealing cattle and were nabbed after a five-km chase

A young man allegedly involved in a dozen criminal cases succumbed to a gunshot injury while four of his accomplices were arrested following a fierce gun-battle with the police in Outer Delhi in the early hours of Saturday during which a constable also sustained a bullet injury. The accused, three of whom are now on the run, were fleeing after stealing cattle when they were intercepted by police teams after a five-km-long chase.

The man killed in the encounter has been identified as Yakub (27), a resident of neighbouring Ghaziabad in Uttar Pradesh. His accomplices named Sanwar (25), Khalid (22), Ankur (22) and Anwar (20), who sustained a bullet injury in the thigh, have been arrested. The gang comprising criminals from Ghaziabad was into cattle theft. The police said Yakub, who was shot in the face, had opened fire at the police during an encounter in Kanjhawala two years ago.

While it is not clear how many bullets were fired by the accused persons, it is learnt that the police fired over two dozen rounds during the encounter.

The hot pursuit that led to a face-off commenced following a distress call around 2 a.m. on Saturday about firing and theft of cattle in an area under the jurisdiction of the K. N. Katju Marg police station. Incidentally, all assistant commissioners of police and station house officers in Outer Delhi were on a joint patrol. All patrol teams were sounded and pickets set up to intercept the criminals who were fleeing in a mini-truck.

Stones pelted

“A message was also conveyed to the other districts’ police and counterparts in the neighbouring States. Thorough searches for the vehicle in question were carried out on all possible escape routes and hiding places,” said Joint Commissioner of Police Tejinder Luthra.

A team led by Assistant Commissioner of Police Rajiv Ranjan Singh spotted the cattle-laden vehicle moving at high speed and tried to wave it down. However, the mini-truck driver pressed the accelerator instead, jumping traffic signals on Outer Ring Road. “Those travelling at the rear of the vehicle opened fire at the policemen and pelted stones at their vehicle,” said Mr. Luthra. The other police teams comprising Assistant Commissioner of Police Jasmeet Singh and Sub-Inspector Mukesh Antil were also sounded and they soon joined the pursuit in two other vehicles.

Tyres punctured

“During the chase, the suspects continued firing at the policemen who then opened fire in retaliation. The mini-truck, being driven at high speed, broke through several barricades on its way putting the lives of the policemen in danger,” said Mr. Luthra.

The police finally managed to bring the vehicle to a halt near Lok Vihar in Pitampura as its rear tyres were punctured in the firing. “Five suspects were overpowered and since two of them had sustained injuries, they all were taken to the nearest hospital. One of them (Yakub) succumbed to his injuries at the hospital.” Anwar was later discharged after treatment. Constable Balkar Singh, driver of a police vehicle, also sustained a bullet injury in the shoulder.

“Two police vehicles were damaged in the firing by the criminals. During interrogation, the accused disclosed that their three other accomplices had escaped. Raids are being mounted at their possible hideouts,” said Mr. Luthra, adding that a case has been registered against the gang members at the Subhash Place police station. Two country-made pistols and a long-barrel country-made firearm were seized, the get-away vehicle impounded and stolen cattle recovered. “The cattle are slaughtered and sold.”

Similar incident

A similar incident was reported in the early hours of Wednesday when another gang transporting stolen cattle in a mini-truck fired at a police team, pelted stones injuring two policemen and damaged a PCR van at Narela in Outer Delhi. The criminals finally abandoned the vehicle and fled away under the cover of darkness.

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