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Goon used daughter as shield: cops

Bhubaneswar, April 20: The eight-year-old girl found at the encounter spot at Unit-IV yesterday was the daughter of one of the criminals who used her as a shield to avoid suspicion.

The police stumbled upon this startling information during interrogation of the criminals arrested following the encounter yesterday.

Police said that the girl was the daughter of Mrutyunjay Sahu, who was the mastermind of the gang. Sources in the police also said that Sahu’s wife also had cases pending against her in police stations in Ganjam. Sahu had brought his daughter along with him yesterday only to avoid suspicion. He is allegedly a dreaded criminal in Ganjam district and the police found his involvement in several cases that include dacoity, loot, robbery, murder and illegal arms possession and dealing.

The quick action team of the police had arrested eight members of the gunrunning gang from a hotel at the centre of the city very close to the state secretariat and Assembly on Saturday afternoon following an exchange of fire between both the sides. The police said that the gang members had come to sell guns here when they raided on the hotel within few minutes of their checking in.

An officer said that the gang members used to procure guns from Kanker in Chhattisgarh and were planning to sell the firearms in Bhubaneswar. They had purchased 9mm semi-automatic pistols at Rs 10,000 for each gun, which they were planning to sell at Rs 50,000 a piece in Bhubaneswar.

An official said that though the guns had a “Made in USA” tag, they are made in India by experts who have proper knowledge of gun making.

“We are checking all aspects of illegal arms smuggling. The arrest of these people will lead us to many information,” said the officer.

While quizzing them, the police found that most of them had criminal cases pending against them. While Sahu was a history sheeter, the injured goon, Jitendra Swain, also had several such cases. Besides, another gang member, Bulu Patra, 30, was also involved in around eight cases, including robbery, murder and arms trade. “We are verifying their criminal antecedents from other police stations as well,” said police commissioner R.P. Sharma. He added that this gang had been operating in Ganjam for the last ten years.

Sharma said that though they had information of the gang having four such pistols with them, they could manage to seize only one from the injured criminal while two other gang members managed to escape from the spot with three weapons. Despite checking at many places, including all exit routes of the city, the police could not arrest them.

Sources said that the gang members stayed in that particular hotel on at least three occasions whenever they came to the city. In the last four months, the gang members have sold at least 12 guns in Bhubaneswar.

The twin city police have seized at least 30 guns from criminals from Cuttack and Bhubaneswar in the last six months. Of this, 20 guns have been seized from Bhubaneswar.