By Quaid Najmi
Solapur (Maharashtra), Jan 8 (IANS) Resembling a scene in Hollywood or Bollywood films, a huge mob of villagers attacked a police van and ‘rescued’ a prisoner from custody, rattling the state police set-up, officials said here.
The incident occurred around 11 am when a Solapur Crime Branch team reached Barloni village in Madha taluka to pick up a notorious robber, evading arrest since long, said Satish B. Shinde, a police official.
As per a tip-off, the fugitive robber – identified as one Shankar Gunjal – wanted for several robberies, thefts, dacoities, bag-lifting and other crimes, was reportedly hiding somewhere in the village.
After making proper inquiries, the police team managed to flush him out of his lair, he was bundled inside the waiting police van to be taken to the Solapur lockup for completing other formalities like arrest and court appearance, Shinde informed.
However, on learning of the detention, a huge crowd of villagers, ostensibly belonging to a particular community, rushed out of their homes and marched towards the police van which was preparing to start for Solapur.
They shouted anti-police slogans, claimed Gunjal was innocent and demanded his immediate release, but the police team refused to oblige them.
The crowds, estimated to be around 50-60 persons, mostly men, menacingly surrounded the police van from all sides and started pelting stones on the vehicle, smashing its front and back glass window panes.
Caught virtually unprepared by the crowd’s violent reaction, the police attempted to fight them off, but the angry villagers somehow succeeded in climbing into the van.
They daringly managed to ‘release’ Gunjal from the police van, hopped off and within minutes the entire crowd decamped from there.
“We have launched a hunt for the accused and the others involved in the incident Road blocks have been put up at all entry-exit points in the district and we shall nab the culprits soon,” Solapur Superintendent of Police Tejasvini Satpute told IANS.
Reinforcements were rushed to Barloni village led by Additional SP Atul Zende and other officials, who have launched a massive combing operation in the hamlet and surrounding villages to trace out the attackers and the accused still believed to be holed up somewhere.
Shinde said that at least 3 policemen suffered minor injuries in the incident and were given medical aid.
Meanwhile, the top police brass and home department are understood to have sought a report on this unprecedented incident.
(Quaid Najmi can be contacted at: [email protected])