Villagers lynch hostage-taker’s wife as cops kill him to rescue 23 kids

Farrukhabad (UP), Jan 31 (PTI) Angry villagers lynched the wife of a man who took 23 children hostage, keeping them confined in the basement of his house here for eight hours before being shot dead by police, officials said on Friday.

Eight policemen and a villager were injured when Subhash Batham, 40, opened fire during the siege in Farrukhabad’s Kasaria village, police said.

They said Ruby Katheriya was attacked by the villagers as she tried to escape from the house after a police team broke in from another door.

She died in hospital late Thursday night.

'The accused had invited the children for his daughter’s birthday party and held them hostage,” Director General of Police O P Singh said.

“It started about 5.45 pm on January 30 and continued for about eight hours,' the Uttar Pradesh DGP said. The crisis continued past midnight.

Police said Batham, who was a murder accused and appeared mentally unstable, initially released a six-month-old girl by handing her over to a neighbour from a balcony.

They said Batham, who was out on bail, had demanded the withdrawal of a murder case against him.

'The accused was killed and there were about 23 children who were rescued safely,' Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Awanish Awasthi told reporters at a hurriedly called press conference at 1.20 am on Friday.

The children are aged between six months and 15 years.

Batham’s wife had tried to escape from the spot, but was caught by angry parents who thrashed her and pelted stones at her, Kanpur Inspector General Mohit Agarwal said.

She suffered a head injury in the attack, but the exact cause of death would be known after post-mortem, he said.

The children were confined to the basement of the house.

Agarwal said Batham wanted to talk to the local MLA, but refused to speak to him when he arrived, Agarwal said.

Police recovered a country-made gun, a rifle, about two dozen cartridges and two dozen country-made bombs. The IG said this indicated that he could have kept the children hostage for days, and perhaps planned to blow up the house.

When Batham demanded the withdrawal of the murder case against him, police assured him that they would consider it. They also talked about offering a government house to him.

His wife allegedly sought Rs 1 crore for each child as ransom for their release.

While this conversation was going on, a police team entered the house by breaking open the back door. Batham fired two bullets to scare them away.

“We thought he had fired at the children and stopped midway,” Agarwal said.

His wife then tried to escape from the front door but the children’s parents who had collected there attacked her.

Agarwal said she was seriously injured before police could rescue her.

Sensing that he was surrounded from all sides, Batham opened fire, injuring four policemen. He was killed when police retaliated, the IG said.

Four other policemen were injured when Batham had fired earlier from the terrace and a villager shot in the leg when he was sent to negotiate with the hostage-taker.

In a tweet, Union Home Minister Amit Shah congratulated the Uttar Pradesh Police and Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.

'It is laudable to get all the children held hostage in Farrukhabad in Uttar Pradesh safely rescued through the efficient strategy and planning by the police,” he said.

Earlier, Adityanath had called a meeting of the state’s crisis management committee and monitored the situation from capital Lucknow, about 200 km away, an official said.

The CM announced an award of Rs 10 lakh for the police team that carried out the rescue operation. PTI ABN SAB NES SMI SMN AAR ASH ASH