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One hurt in Unit-IV cop-goon gun battle

Bhubaneswar, April 19: A 26-year-old man, suspected to be part of a gang of illegal gun runners, was injured in an exchange of fire between police and goons outside a hotel at Unit-IV this afternoon.

The police quick action team has picked up eight persons, including a driver, suspected to be part of the gang.

They have also seized a US-made sophisticated 9mm semi-automatic pistol and seven rounds of live bullets from the group.

A car, two motorcycles and nine mobile phones have also been seized.

The injured, identified as Jitendra Swain, was rushed to Capital Hospital and later shifted to SCB Medical College and Hospital in Cuttack.

Following a tip-off that a gang of illegal arms dealers from Ganjam had checked into a hotel at Unit-IV, a nine-member police team in civil clothes reached near the hotel. Suspecting them to be security personnel, Swain, who was keeping guard outside the hotel, allegedly opened fire at one of the cops. He missed and the other cops fired at him. Swain suffered two bullet wounds — one in each leg.

The police team also managed to overpower another man keeping guard. The cops entered the hotel and took five persons into custody from a first-floor room. The police have detained the driver of the Indica car used by the gang members. The arrested persons are being interrogated.

Police commissioner R.P. Sharma said the cops had got the information that a gang of gunrunners was coming to the city to sell four pistols. “Though we arrested these people, we suspect that two others managed to flee from the spot with the weapons. We are conducting raids and hope to arrest the others and seize the arms,” said Sharma.

The accused persons, except one, are all below 30 years of age and belong to various areas in Ganjam district where arms-dealing is rampant. The senior most member of the gang, Mrutyunjay Swain, 49, has over 50 criminal cases, including murder and dacoity, pending against him, said the police.

“We are interrogating those arrested,” said Sharma.

A hotel employee said these people had booked the room in the name of one Uttam Jena of Cuttack and provided an identity proof. An eight-year-old girl was also with them. “The firing and raid happened 15 minutes after they checked in,” said a woman, who works at the hotel.

The police commissioner said they were also verifying the identity of the girl and why she was with them.

A number of people, especially local traders, are quite shaken by the incident.

“We could not understand what was going on. We saw some people scuffling and then we heard the sound of gunshots. Later, we got to know that the police had fired at the goons. If such criminals can roam freely in the city and attack the police, something is certainly very wrong around here,” said Raghu Sahoo, a trader.