Rakesh Pandey is a co-accused in the 2005 murder of then BJP MLA Krishnanand Rai.
The Uttar Pradesh police shot dead an aide of jailed MLA Mukhtar Ansari from Mau in an alleged exchange of fire after the SUV he was said to have been travelling in along with four other suspects crashed into a tree in the early hours of Sunday in Lucknow.
The family of the deceased Rakesh Pandey alias Hanuman Pandey, however, accused the police of picking him up from home in Lucknow and then killing him.
Pandey had been a co-accused in the 2005 murder of then BJP MLA Krishnanand Rai. However, in 2019 he along with Mr. Ansari and six others was acquitted by a special CBI court in Delhi.
At around 4:20 a.m. on Sunday, the SUV was intercepted and followed near the Shaheed Path in Lucknow by the STF teams from Varanasi and Lucknow on a tip-off that Pandey was collecting weapons to execute a crime, the police said.
During the chase, the SUV crashed into a tree following which the suspects had fired at the police team, said SSP STF Sudhir Singh. “One accused was hit in the shootout,” Mr. Singh told reporters. Rakesh Pandey was declared “brought dead” at a hospital. However, in a statement issued later the STF said an injured Pandey was rushed to the CHC Sarojini Nagar where he died during treatment.
Bounty of ₹50,000
Mr. Singh said Pandey was a “dreaded shooter of Mukhtar Ansari”. The STF said he carried a bounty of ₹50,000 in a case of attempt to murder in Prayagraj.
The other four suspects fled taking cover of a drain, said Mr. Singh. In the STF press statement, however, the police said they took advantage of the darkness. They also did not state how many persons were in the car.
The STF said Pandey had been accused in 12 criminal cases and was out on bail in a case. The police accused him of managing the criminal and land-related activities for Mr. Ansari after alleged gangster Prem Prakash Singh alias Munna Bajrangi was shot dead in the Baghpat jail by another inmate in 2018.
Baldutt Pandey, Rakesh Pandey’s father, alleged that his son was pulled out of his residence by the police in Lucknow at around 3 a.m. Since Rakesh’s mother was unwell and was being treated at a Lucknow hospital, he had been in the city to take care of her. She was discharged only a couple of days ago, he said.
He said his son had no [pending] cases. He also said he had never heard about any bounty declared on his son.
Police are lying, says son
Mr. Baldutt wanted to know why his son was shot dead all of a sudden. “Was he killed because of some personal animosity or personal inheritance,” asked Mr. Baldutt talking to reporters.
Rakesh’s son claimed that his father had been in Lucknow for a month and was picked by an STF team from Varanasi. “The police are lying,” he alleged.
A 9 mm pistol was recovered from Pandey and a 30 bore loaded pistol from the SUV, the STF claimed.