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Highway don shot at, held

The kingpin of a highway gang of robbers, who had Maoist links too, was shot at and captured near Jamshedpur in the small hours of Sunday.

The encounter took place at Palastand, along NH-33, in Chowka, Seraikela-Kharsawan district, 30km from the steel city around 3am when Dubraj Mahto (28) and key aide Vikas Das (27) were trying to sneak in through a checkpoint. While Chowka’s Jurgu village resident Mahto was temporarily incapacitated by a bullet on his right thigh, Das managed to escape under cover of darkness.

Police found a pistol and two live cartridges on the arrested mastermind of more than a dozen cases of loot and robbery in Chowka, Chandil and Tamar (Ranchi). In fact, the two were en route to their next crime destination in Tamar when they were intercepted in Chowka. An injured Mahto has been admitted to MGM Medical College and Hospital.

Chandil circle inspector Rajeev Singh said two days ago Mahto and his gang of 12 were involved in a dacoity at the residence-cum-shop of a jeweller in Chowka, which triggered the manhunt.

“Around Saturday midnight, we received a tip off that Dubraj Mahto and his associate Vikas Das will cross Chowka on their way to Tamar on a motorcycle. We set up a checkpoint on NH-33. When they were stopped, the criminals started firing, which led to retaliation by police in which Mahto was hit,” Singh said.

According to the police officer, Mahto had links with rebel squads active in Chowka while he was himself wanted for loot, robbery and dacoity. A month ago, he and his gang had cleaned out Rs 13 lakh from the Chowka post office. Again, two days ago, gold ornaments worth over Rs 5 lakh and a bike were looted from the residence-cum-shop of Jaidev Verma.

“The Dubraj Mahto gang mainly targeted heavy vehicles passing through the Chowka-Chandil-Kandra stretch of NH-33. In the past six months, it must have looted over 10 trucks,” circle inspector Singh added.

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