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Eight policemen in Uttar Pradesh were shot dead late Thursday night at a village in Kanpur where they had gone to arrest a criminal wanted for murder. The policemen arrived to indiscriminate firing from all sides by the criminal and his associates.

A Deputy Superintendent of Police, Divendra Kumar Mishra, three sub-inspectors and four constables were killed in Dikru village, which is 150 km from state capital Lucknow. Two of the shooters were killed by the police.

Teams from three police stations had gone to the village in search of a politically-connected, wanted gangster – Vikas Dubey – charged in 60 criminal cases including murder, kidnapping, extortion and rioting. A raid was planned at his village after he was accused in a fresh attempt to murder case.

According to a statement by UP Director General of Police HC Awasthi, Vikas Dubey and other men had put up road blocks on the routes that lead to the village. A bulldozer blocking the road indicated an organized ambush. Once the cops removed the blocks and managed to get to the village, they were fired at from rooftops by shooters who were ready for them.

Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has condoled the deaths and asked for a report on the incident amid questions about lack of proper planning by the police teams who went after Vikas Dubey. The UP police chief has been directed to take strict action against criminals, said a statement from the Chief Minister’s office.

Vikas Dubey has a long history of crime, including an alleged role in the 2001 murder of a BJP politician who was chased and shot dead inside a police station. However later, he was acquitted in that case. Dubey, who is in his 40s, was also named in the murder of Siddheshwar Pandey, the principal and assistant manager of Tarachand Inter College, in 2000. He had joined the Bahujan Samaj Party and was elected as a member of the nagar panchayat.

He is also an accused in the murder of cable businessman Dinesh Dubey in the year 2004. In 2018, he carried out a deadly attack on his cousin Anurag and had plotted the entire plan from within the premises of Mati jail. Anurag’s wife had named four people including Vikas Dubey in the attack. While he was lodged in the jail, he won the Shivrajpur Nagar Panchayat election.

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