A dreaded dacoit, who had held a strong posse of 400 Uttar Pradesh policemen on tenterhooks for over 52 hours, was today shot dead at Chitrakoot, but not before police lost four of its men.
Ghanshyam Kewat, carrying a reward of Rs 50,000 on his head and had been a terror in the area dotted by forests on the Uttar Pradesh-Madhya Pradesh border, had fled from a house in Jamuali village from where he was firing indiscriminately at the police, but was surrounded by the force and gunned down.
Several policemen were also injured in the encounter in which men of the special task force were also involved. IG V K Gupta and DIG S K Singh, who headed the operation, were among those injured.
"Ghanshyam Kewat has been shot dead by the UP police," State Police Chief Vikram Singh said but did not rule out the possibility of more dacoits having helped him.
He said though Kewat was has been killed in a gunbattle outside the village, the encounter has not ended as there may be more dacoits hiding at the place in Rajapur area, 120 kms from Allahabad.
Singh said that the efforts of the Uttar Pradesh police has paid dividends as the dacoit was liquidated by securitymen, who adopted a three-pronged strategy -- to ensure no civilian casualty, minimum police casualty and minimum loss to property of civilians.
Kewat was wanted by the police in connection with 11 criminal cases, including a few murders and abductions. He was declared 'most wanted' after he killed a policeman last year.
The dacoit, who had let loose a reign of terror, had a fire power of 350 rifles of .303 calibre, 12 bore guns and hand grenades which he used at the police personnel during the fierce encounter.
As the news of his killing spread, villagers rushed to the spot where the blood-stained body of the dacoit lay on the ground.
Earlier TV channels showed pictures of the dacoit, wearing a black vest and wielding a rifle, jumping from the roof of a building in which he was hiding.
However, police cornered the dacoit as he could not run too far because of fatigue after challenging the securitymen for over 52 hours. The operation, which began on June 16, had to be suspended last night because of darkness, and was resumed this morning when it was discovered that the dacoit has fled from the village to a nearby forest.
The four policemen killed included Company Commander of Provincial Armed Constabulary Beni Madhav Singh.
The condition of Gupta and Singh, who were admitted to hospital in Lucknow, was stated to be out of danger.