Shafaque Alam & Vandana Keelor
The ambush, by planting spikes on the road to deflate the Eeco’s tyres, had a chilling similarity with last July’s attack on a Ghaziabad-based family in Bulandshahr in which a woman and her tee naged daughter were gangraped, allegedly by the Bawariya gang. The place where that happened, Dostpur village, is barely 40km from the spot of Thursday’s attack. The family was going to Bulandshahr to visit a re lative who had given birth. The spikes punctured both right tyres of the Eeco, which came to a halt around half a km ahead on a stretch of Sikandrabad-Jewar road in Sabota Mustfabad village, just off the Yamuna expressway in Jewar. The gang, apparently a group of robbers, had scattered the spikes and were hiding in the fields when the Eeco carrying the scrap dealer, his five family members, and the driver and his wife (32) drove past around 1.30am.
Within minutes, the gang had surrounded them. The scrap dealer, his brother-in-law (40), nephew (25) and the driver were overpowered and dragged into the fields along with the women. They were rescued by a police team nearly two hours later. The cops were alerted by Haneef, whose Eeco the scrap dealer had hired. He had managed to call Haneef to in form him of the breakdown before the robbers got to him.
The family left their house, in Jewar village, around 1am.“We were about 200 metres into Sabota village when we felt something strike the wheels of the car and heard a loud sound,“ the scrap dealer’s brother-in-law later told TOI. “We wanted to get off and check but the driver did not stop and kept going for about half a km. Then he stopped as both right tyres were punctured. We called Haneef for a spare tyre,“ he added.
The brother-in-law said they were surrounded by six men, who were armed with guns, knives and rods. “They dragged us deep inside the fields in the dark and fired in the air to scare us. They snatched our phones, purses and whatever jewellery the women had on them. When they started groping the women, we resisted. My brother-in-law (the scrap dealer) put up resistance.The criminals first fired a bullet into the ground and then shot him in the chest. They we re cruel and heartless,“ he said.
The scrap dealer’s nephew said once the gang had tied them with the women’s dupattas, they took the women deeper into the field and raped them. They then tied up the women and left.
Haneef said when he failed to contact the family , he called the police. The police team was finally able to locate the victims around 3.30am. Since the robbers did not wear masks, the victims were able to clearly describe the men to the cops.
The state home department said a special task force has been put on the job to crack the case. A team from Noida visited the crime scene on Thursday. The team is also checking dossiers of criminal gangs who have been implicated in similar incidents. Noida police chief Love Kumar said a case of gangrape, dacoity and murder had been registered.
District magistrate B N Singh and IG Ram Kumar also visited the crime spot for investigation.
Uttar Pradesh has the longest network of highways among all states, according to National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) data. National Crime Records Bureau’s data for 2014 show the state also accounts for the highest number of highway crimes — 80% of the 84,000 cases of dacoity and thefts on highways across the country were recorded in Uttar Pradesh.
“The victim’s family is from Jewar. They were travelling in Eeco car and going to Bulandshahr. The criminals threw something on the tyre and it got punctured. However, the driver of the car didn’t stop and drove for quite a distance and stopped near a hut,” Jewar MLA Thakur Dhirendra Singh said.