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|September 23, 1998||
Kalyan Singh's would-be assassin bumped off
Feared hitman Sriprakash Shukla, who had allegedly been given a Rs 60 million contract to kill Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Kalyan Singh, was gunned down in an encounter with a joint team of the Uttar Pradesh and Delhi police forces yesterday.
Delhi Police Commissioner V N Singh and Uttar Pradesh Additional Director General of Police Ajay Raj Sharma said two of Shukla's associates -- Anuj Pratap Singh and Sudhir Tripathi -- were also killed in the encounter.
Addressing a joint press conference in New Delhi, the police officers said the encounter took place at 1400 hours IST at the Noida-Mohan Meakins intersection at Ghaziabad in Uttar Pradesh. Two .38 revolvers and some cartridges were recovered from the slain men along with Rs 50,000 in cash.
Sharma said that besides the Uttar Pradesh chief minister, Shukla wanted to kill several other important persons. But the officer did not disclose their names.
Following a revelation in a recent television programme that Shukla had accepted supari (literally betelnut -- an underworld contract is popularly believed to be sealed with a betelnut being handed over to the hitman) to kill Kalyan Singh, the police approached the producer for his source of information. The producer told them he had been given the information by Sakshi Maharaj, member of Parliament from Farrukhabad. Sakshi Maharaj stood by his statement, but declined to reveal his source of information.
Shukla had killed a Gorakhpur MLA and indulged in several sensational kidnappings for huge ransom. He had kidnapped the son of a pharmaceutical company owner and killed the father at "almost point-blank" range when he tried to save the boy. The son was held captive for 36 days and released only when a ransom variously estimated at between Rs 10 million and Rs 30 million was paid.
Giving details of the encounter, Sharma and Singh said a trap was laid on a tip-off that the three gangsters were coming from Noida to Delhi in a blue Cielo car (HR-26 G-7305). On spotting the car, the police tried to stop it, but Shukla and his men turned towards nearby Vasundara. The police team intercepted them there and in an exchange of fire, the three men were injured. They were taken to hospital where they were declared dead on arrival.
A reward of Rs 200,000 had been announced for Shukla's capture. His associates carried a reward of Rs 20,000 each.
"It is a typical example of a young man who wanted to become rich overnight," Sharma said. The 27-year-old Shukla began his criminal career in 1993 and soon became Uttar Pradesh's most feared criminal. He was associated with Suraj Bhan, a feared criminal of neighbouring Bihar, who used to supply him arms.
Shukla's main business was to interfere in the granting of railway tenders. He killed those who did not co-operate. On September 9, 1997, he was involved in an encounter with the police near Darul Shafa in which he killed a sub-inspector.
He also recently killed Brij Bihari, a minister in Bihar, and former Uttar Pradesh legislator Virendra Pratap Shahi. There were at least 26 major cases registered against him in Uttar Pradesh alone.
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