Six meetings in 24 hours in UP: Pratapgarh don fired shots

LUCKNOW: In one day, the launching of his biggest battle after a break before the vote, Pratapgarh don, who carried a reward of Rs 1 lakh in the head and dodged the arrest for a year, was shot dead in a meeting Thursday. While the Special Task Force fired at the elusive don at dawn, the police launched another five encounters against criminals in Kanpur, Barabanki and Azamgarh.

The six-game count on Thursday is the highest this year, with a similar record in March 2018. Hafiz, 28, was wanted in more than 12 cases, including three murders and one assassination attempt. He was famous for extorting money from merchants and doctors through calls to avoid surveillance. He shot those who refused to cough money. Supposedly he had shot dead the Pratapgarh merchant Ashok Kumar on March 9 and before, on January 23, he killed the marble merchant Rajesh Singh in a similar manner.

Hafiz had also shot dead a prison guard, Hari Narayan Trivedi, on December 27, 2018. He was the alleged mastermind of the robbery of the Baroda Bank, which took place on September 14 last year. Several other cases were registered against him in different parts of the state, police said.

IG (STF) Amitabh Yash told TOI that the force was tasked with catching the gift after an avalanche of extortion complaints last month. Around 3 am on Thursday, information was received about the presence of Hafiz in the Kotwali Thana area and a team led by the SSF of STF was mobilized.

The gift was intercepted for the first time near the Antu police station, but he managed to escape on his bicycle. On the outskirts of Antu, he fired several rounds at the team chasing him. He was killed in retaliatory fire. The STF fired three rounds and he received two bullets. The gift was taken to the Pratapgarh district hospital, where he was pronounced dead, IG Yash said.

In Hafiz, two 32-gauge pistols, 10 9-mm pistol loaders and one carbine were found, as well as four mobile phones. His bicycle has also been seized, Yash said, adding that the STF would now look for the don's aides in Mumbai and Delhi, where he had hiding places.