Hours after gangster Vikas Dubey was shot dead in what the Uttar Pradesh police said an escape attempt after an accident, the Special Task Force gave its version of the incident that has raised several questions.
Vikas Dubey, wanted for the murder of eight policemen a week ago, was being taken to his hometown Kanpur when the car he was in overturned on the wet highway, the UP Special Task Force (STF) said.
The car flipped when the driver, "tired after a long journey" swerved to avoid a herd of cattle that had suddenly appeared on the road, said the STF statement.
Five policemen were seriously injured and dazed by the accident. "The brazen criminal Vikas Dubey took advantage of the situation and snatched a gun from inspector Ramakant Pachauri and ran towards the kachcha road," the STF said.
Dubey bolted with a 9 MM gun, it claimed.
Policemen in the other cars, after speaking to the injured cops in the SUV, ran after the criminal, who, "with the intention of killing policemen fired the gun". The STF said to ensure that Dubey was caught alive, the policemen closed in on Dubey but he fired indiscriminately at the police.
"The police team had no choice but to fire back in self-defence. Dubey was injured and fell. After first-aid, the police took him to a government hospital where he was declared dead by doctors," the STF said.
Two policemen, Shivendra Singh Sengar and Vimal Yadav, injured in firing by Dubey, are still in hospital, said the statement.
According to the post-mortem, Dubey had three bullet wounds to the chest and one to his arm. The policemen were reportedly grazed by bullets.
The statement does not address several questions.
Hours before the encounter, a video at a toll plaza at 4 AM showed Dubey in a different car, not the one that overturned.
The media, which had been following the police convoy overnight, was stopped 2 km from the site where the incident took place.
It is not clear why a dangerous criminal charged in 60 cases including murder was not handcuffed. According to the police, he managed to steal a gun, climb out of an overturned car and run.
A petition filed last night at the Supreme Court had asked for protection of Dubey and a CBI investigation into recent encounter killings of several of his associates.