Uttar Pradesh's dreaded gangster Vikas Dubey, who has had a thing for Bollywood, on Thursday 'surrendered' over a thousand kilometres away from what could be his swan song of a criminal life in the Mahakaal temple premises of Madhya Pradesh's Ujjain as he announced in Sanjay Dutt's "Khalnayak" style: "Mein hun Vikas Dubey, Kanpur wala".
Dubey has been on the run for almost a week, ever since the ambush and killing of eight police personnel in Kanpur. As police searched for him in Haryana, Delhi, and kept a close watch on Indo-Nepal border, the Kanpur boy who had launched himself into crime in the 1990s in the image of Sunny Deol's "Arjun Pandit" and loved the sound of being addressed to as "Pandit" in political and police circles, managed to dodge the bullet as he was nabbed in the safe grounds of the temple complex.
According to sources, Vikas reached the temple around 8.a.m and then informed the security men about his identity and asked them to inform the police.
In a photograph that has gone viral, shows Dubey sitting comfortably on a sofa inside the temple complex.
Uttar Pradesh Police officially confirmed the arrest of Vikas Dubey. Madhya Pradesh Home Minister Narottam Mishra spoke to the media minutes after Dubey was whisked away to an unidentified location for medical examination and questioning. Mishra said: "Hamari police kisi ko nahin chhodti. Hamare jaanbaaz police jawanon ne usey dhar dabocha (Our police never lets any criminal go scott free. They have nabbed him)."
Mishra said the details of his arrest and related process would be made public by the police later. Mishra said Dubey has been known to be "cruel and crafty" from childhood. The police had to be extra cautious.
Mishra said the police were alerted by the intelligence agencies. Video clips released by various channels showed Vikas Dubey being held by the scruff of his collar by the police, shouting, "Haan main Vikas Dubey hoon Kanpur wala (Yes, I am the Vikas Dubey from Kanpur)".
Everything points to Vikas having travelled all the way from Faridabad to the high security zone of Mahakaal to avoid a death in police encounter. In the secure premises of Mahakaal temple he could avoid extra judicial justice. Two of his alleged gang members were also said to have been arrested.
The Madhya Pradesh police have taken the gangster away to the Mahakaal police station and the UP police will now seek transit remand and bring him to Kanpur.
The police theory of the arrest, meanwhile, has several loopholes.
Temple officials admit on condition of anonymity, that Vikas Dubey disclosed his name at the counter where he was giving money for donation and then asked them to inform the police.
Dubey apparently did not use any disguise to evade the police and neither did he have any arms since weapons are prohibited in the temple complex.
"This is a pre-planned surrender because it seems too simple to be true. Vikas had successfully eluded the police in three states for one week and it is rather unusual that he would enter a temple without a mask and get arrested. He knew that he would be shot dead if he gave himself up to UP police," said a retired DGP.
Another senior police official admitted that the arrest/surrender seems extremely well planned.
"The gangster wanted to surrender in a 'safe state'. He did not go to court because of police presence and, therefore, chose the temple. Unless the police decide to make another mistake, Vikas Dubey will not be harmed physically now," he said.
Dubey had been eluding the police since the past one week and though four dozen teams of Special Task Force and state police were chasing him, they could not nab him.
Five associates of Vikas Dubey have been shot dead in UP after the killing of eight policemen last week.
Two of his associates, Prem Prakash Pandey and Atul Dubey were shot dead on Friday, hours after the massacre. Amar Dubey was shot dead on Wednesday in Hamirpur and Prabhat and Bauan Dubey were shot dead in Kanpur and Etawah respectively on Thursday morning.
All of them were reportedly involved in the shootout.
Dubey's arrest is a major setback to the UP Special Task Force that failed to nail the gangster. The STF, which had been claiming till late on Wednesday that Dubey was hiding in Delhi-NCR, was blissfully unaware that he had moved across to Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh. There is a distance of 773 kilometres from Faridabad where Dubey was reportedly seen last on Tuesday and Ujjain where he finally 'surrendered'.
The STF which has killed five accomplices of Vikas Dubey in the past seven days, has put out a strikingly similar theory for all the encounters - "we tried to stop them, they opened fire and were killed in retaliatory firing".