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Gangster killed in court shooting

Patna, Sept. 20: Assailants today gunned down under- trial prisoner Harivansh Rai “Pehelwan” (34) and wounded five, including two advocates, on the civil court premises here.

Three scooter-borne assailants pumped bullets in Pehelwan (34), who died on the spot, and fired at undertrial prisoner Lallan Paswan, wounding his leg. The incident took place around 12.15pm.

Witnesses said a prison van had brought Pehelwan and Paswan (among others) from the high-security Beur central jail. Pehelwan, a gangster, was facing numerous charges in murder, abduction and dacoity cases. Lallan and two constables were accompanying him to the civil court.

Patna inspector-general of police Rajya Vardhan Sharma, who was there at the time of the incident, said: “Pehalwan was a dreaded criminal who was arrested by Ranchi police in connection with the murder of two at Gaurichakon Patna’s outskirts on October 2, 2006.”

Sharma labelled the murder “a fallout of gang war” and stressed that supporters of Anil Yadav, another gangster who was allegedly shot dead by Pehalwan in the Kankarbagh area around two years ago, might have killed Pehalwan.

The three armed assailants, who were hiding behind a tree near the court premises, swiftly closed in when Pehelwan got down to buy cigarettes. They fired at Pehalwan from close range. A stray bullet hit Paswan on his leg but he was not the main target, the police added.

On hearing the gunshot, a police inspector on duty fired in the air. The assailants threw bombs, injuring four and scattering the crowd. Subsequently, they fled on their scooter.

Those injured in the bombing include Ajit Kumar and Parashuram Singh (advocates), Kamlesh Sharma and Akhilesh Prasad (court clerks). The injured have been admitted to Patna Medical College and Hospital where they are stated to be out of danger.

Panic gripped the court campus after the attack, as lawyers scurried for cover after hearing the sounds of the explosion and the firing. The court stopped its day’s duties after the incident.

Patna senior superintendent of police Kundan Krishnan, who is leading the investigation, said: “Raids are on to nab the assailants.”

However, the police have not made any arrests.

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