Slain bandit Thokia was among India’s most wanted (Second Lead)

August 4th, 2008 - 11:07 pm ICT by IANS  

Lucknow, Aug 4 (IANS) With a reward of more than half a million rupees on his head, bandit Ambika Prasad Patel alias Thokia, who was gunned down by the Special Task Force (STF) of the Uttar Pradesh police in a fierce gunbattle in the forests of Chitrakoot district early Monday, was among the country’s most wanted bandits. Thokia carried a cash reward of Rs.500,000 on his head in Uttar Pradesh and an additional Rs.100,000 in Madhya Pradesh.

“Perhaps, this is the highest reward that any dacoit in the country was carrying at present,” Uttar Pradesh Director General of Police Vikram Singh told IANS.

Singh visited the spot at Chilkhori village, about 300 km from here, where the gunbattle between Patel’s gang and the police squad took place.

According to Singh, as many as 60 criminal cases were registered against him since he took to arms in 2001. Most of these cases related to murders, attempts to murder, extortion, loot and kidnapping.

His name spelt terror in a large area spread across eight districts along the Uttar pradesh-Madhya Pradesh border, widely known as Bundelkhand.

The 36-year-old bandit managed to elude police all these years, not merely because of the power of his gun, but also on account of his alleged close nexus with several influential politicians.

His mother Piyari Devi contested the last Uttar Pradesh assembly election as a candidate of the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) led by Ajit Singh, the son of well known farmer leader and former prime minister Charan Singh.

One of his aunts, Lotwa, was head of the Lokhariya village council. Another aunt Savita Devi was an elected member of a district council, and yet another aunt Sarita Devi was the head of a development block.

“No sooner our informers gave a tip-off on Thokia’s movements in the Chillkhori forests, our STF got into action. A 24-member STF team, that had earlier been detailed to track down this bandit, was already present in the neighbourhood, so they instantly took positions following which an encounter ensued,” Singh said.

“And it was only after a nearly four-hour long fierce exchange of fire that our cops succeeded in bringing him down,” said Singh.

“Even though other members of his gang managed to escape, we have launched a hot chase and I am sure we will get them soon.”

Besides an AK series Russian made assault rifle, STF recovered a 12-bore double-barrel shotgun, a single-barrel shotgun and a large number of live and used cartridges from the scene of the gunbattle.

“some of his gang members were also injured in the ambush and we are searching for them,” sub-inspector H.S. Yadav of Bharatkoop police station told IANS by telephone from Karvi, about 30 km from here.

Refuting reports that the slain bandit was not Thokia, Singh, who visited the spot, asserted: “We will have a DNA test carried out to ward off such rumours and to further confirm his identity.”

According to police records, Thokia became an outlaw in 2001 when he joined a gang led by Sant Khairwar. Locals in Karvi say his entry into the world of crime followed the rape of his younger sister by an affluent and powerful upper caste villager. After avenging the sister’s rape by killing the rapist, the young Ambika acquired the title of Thokia, never to look back.

With Khairwar’s death in a gunbattle with police, Thokia assumed the gang leader’s position, but shortly thereafter merged his gang with that of then most dreaded bandit Shiv Kumar, better known as Dadua.

Known as a ham-headed, ruthless gangster, he once walked away from the Dadua gang in 2006, only to return to the same gang about a year later, shortly before Dadua was killed in a gunbattle with the police in July 2007.

He was quick to avenge Dadua’s killing, by laying an ambush on the convoy of the STF commandos, returning from the gunbattle to their camp. While six STF personnel were killed on the spot along with the police informer, four policemen were left badly wounded.

It was the gruesome killing of the commandos that provoked STF chief Brij Lal to launch a relentless mission against him, until the bandit fell to their bullets Monday morning.

A class 12 passout, Thokia was also tech-savvy and besides keeping latest weapons, he also used to carry latest mobile phones.

According to STF sources, besides a tip-off by an informer, it was also through mobile surveillance that the cops were successful in tracking him.

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