Farrukhabad (UP), Jan 31 (PTI) Local residents claim there was a method to the madness of Subhash Batham, the man who held 23 children hostage for hours before the episode ended with police shooting him down and a mob lynching his wife.
Villagers said the hostage-taking appeared to have been planned. Batham, who was out on bail for a year and a half in a 2001 murder case, had invited the children for his daughter's birthday party.
Kanpur Inspector General Mohit Agarwal, who led the police team in the rescue operation, said Batham had accumulated some weapons and country-made bombs and may have planned to blow up the house.
The hostage drama started before 6 pm on Thursday and ended well past midnight.
Batham apparently kept the children confined to the basement of his home till police and local residents barged in.
As local people and policemen laid siege to the house in Kasaria village, the 40-year-old initially demanded that the cases against him be dropped.
'Batham was demanding withdrawal of a murder case and we assured that we will talk about it. When we told him that he would be provided a government house, his wife Ruby shouted back,`give Rs 1 crore for each child and only then they will be released’,' Agarwal said.
During the siege, Batham also sent out a letter addressed to the district magistrate, local people said.
In the letter, he reportedly complained that he was not allowed to make use of government schemes for housing and building toilets at home. He also alleged that he was being troubled by the Special Operation Group of police.
In 2001, he had allegedly stabbed another villager, Meghnad, to death in a dispute over a drain. He was also accused in three robbery cases.
According to local people, Batham had sold off his four-bigha piece of land and had no regular income.
Though they accepted the invitation to the birthday party for their children, the villagers described Batham as mentally unstable and claimed that people generally kept away from him.
Around 1 am, police barged into Batham's house. Villagers claimed that they too went in around the same time.
While Batham was shot dead by police, local people caught hold of his wife, thrashing her and pelting stones at her, police said.
Superintendent of Police Anil Kumar Misra said she was initially rushed to a local hospital and later referred to Lohia hospital. She succumbed to her injuries there.
All children were rescued safely from the basement, police said.
The 23 children are aged between six months and 15 years. PTI SAB SMI ASH ASH