Farrukhabad: Man who took 23 kids hostage is killed, wife beaten to death by mob

Avaneesh Mishra
Farrukhabad: Man who took 23 kids hostage is killed, wife beaten to death by mob

Batham was shot by police.

A NINE-HOUR hostage crisis in a village in UP’s Farrukhabad, where 23 children were held overnight by a 40-year-old man identified as a murder convict out on bail, ended with his killing by police. His wife died later in hospital early Friday after she was assaulted by a mob of local residents, police said.

None of the children held hostage suffered any physical injury, police said. But two policemen were injured as Batham detonated an explosive placed among a heap of bricks outside his house, police said. Batham also shot and injured a local resident, who tried to negotiate with him. Another policemen was injured in firing. The condition of the injured is stable, police said.

The crisis and the lynching played out in front of a large contingent of police, including IG (Kanpur Range) and SP Farrukhabad. The main accused, Subhash Batham, was also assaulted by the mob and later shot by police while trying to escape from the crowd around 1 am. Batham’s wife Ruby succumbed to injuries while being shifted to the Saifai Medical College facility.

Read | Invited for b’day, 20 children held hostage in UP village, ATS at spot

According to police, Anjali Kashyap, a 15-year-old who was the eldest among the hostages, played a key role in ending the crisis. She calmed the terrified children, and locked the door of the basement where they were being held to block the accused from entering when police launched the rescue.

A Bomb Disposal Squad from Moradabad confirmed that Batham had enough explosives to destroy the house. Police also recovered a rifle, a countrymade pistol, four crude bombs and around 50 smaller bombs from the house. In addition, they found a small gas cylinder filled with explosives in the basement that was heavily wired from all sides.

Asked about the assault of the accused in the presence of police, Mohit Agarwal, IG (Kanpur Range), denied that the woman had sustained multiple injuries. “The crowd was very angry at what the couple had done and started pelting stones as soon as the two came out. Before police could rescue her, she was hit by a stone that proved fatal,” he said.

Around 20 policemen were part of the rescue operation inside the house while around 200 were present at the village. According to police, Batham had lured the children inside his house in Karthiya village on the pretext of celebrating his daughter’s birthday, and locked them in the basement around 4 pm. Police said he then made several demands, including the quashing of all cases against him and Rs 1 crore in exchange for each child released.

“Around 2 pm Thursday, he put a sound system outside his house and started playing songs. He was dancing and distributing candies to kids saying it was his daughter’s second birthday. Around two dozen kids gathered, and he asked them to come inside. Around half-an-hour later, I went to his house to take my kids back. But he did not open the door and shooed me away,” said Subhash’s neighbour Babli Devi, 25.

“Soon, more villagers came asking about their children. That was when he told us that he had a gun and would shoot the children. He asked us to call the police, who reached the village around 4 pm. Subhash was demanding a meeting with Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” she said.

Babli’s three children — Sonam (9), Luv (6), and Shabnam (9 months) — were among those held hostage. During the crisis, Batham agreed to release Shabnam and placed her outside the back door of his house.

Farrukhabad Additional SP Tribhuvan Singh said that police, officials, and local residents and politicians tried to convince Batham to release the other children but in vain. Officials even promised him a toilet, a house and land.

In between, said a police officer, Batham fired a shot from a small gap between the metal door and the floor and injured a local negotiator in the leg. “A little later, there was a blast from a heap of bricks placed outside his house. It was a massive explosion, injuring two policemen including the local inspector. He had an explosive connected to a wire placed among the bricks,” said the officer.

“At one point, he said that if we called more police officers, he would start killing the children. Soon we heard two gunshots from inside and he shouted that he had killed two children. It increased the urgency and we decided that we had to enter the house,” said IG Agarwal.

“A team of 6-7 policemen, including me and the SSP, got on the roof to enter the house through a gap. But when we noticed another heavy door inside, we decided to distract the couple by getting another group, including locals, to attack the front door with stones. The plan worked and in the din, we broke the door leading to the room he was in,” Agarwal said.

“When we entered, he fired at us but missed. Then, the two of them opened the front gate in a bid to escape. But as soon as they came out, the public attacked them with stones. While the woman was surrounded, Subhash turned back and ran towards the basement door, firing. The police team fired back, killing him on the spot,” IG said.

Asked about the involvement of Ruby, Agarwal said: “She was the one demanding Rs 1 crore. While we tried to convince Subhash to release the younger children, she persuaded not to, saying each child was worth Rs 1 crore. She was an equal partner in the crime.”

Asked if the explosives recovered indicated his knowledge in bomb-making, the IG said: “It is possible that he came across someone in jail who taught him everything and gave him this idea. He started planning this crime soon after coming out of jail.” Batham had been jailed for the murder in 2001 of another resident of the village following a dispute, and was released on bail in 2018.

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