LUCKNOW: In a high voltage drama, a private bus with 34 passengers on board was hijacked by a person named Pradeep Gupta and his accomplices, posing as recovery agents of a finance company, in Agra district of Uttar Pradesh on early Wednesday morning. The hijacked bus was later spotted at the Balrai police station area of Etawah on Wednesday afternoon.
All the passengers of the bus had safely reached their respective destinations without any harassment by the hijackers. However, a manhunt was on to nab the main culprit, claimed the official sources.
Additional Chief Secretary, Home, Awanish Awasthi said that the bus driver, staff and passengers were safe.
"A group of men posing as that of a finance company had illegally seized the bus. The driver, staff, and passengers are safe. The bus owner died yesterday (Tuesday) and his son is conducting the last rites," he said in a statement.
The ACS claimed that Agra District Magistrate and SSP were asked to present a comprehensive report about the incident.
As per the police sources, a group of men took over a private bus belonging to Gwalior-based Kalpana Travels while it was heading to Madhya Pradesh's Panna district from Gurugram on Tuesday night.
The registration number of the sleeper bus was UP75M 3516 (Etawah in UP) but it is owned by a private operator in Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh, according to the police.
The incident took place in the Thana Malpura area of Agra district in the wee hours of Wednesday. The bus had left Gurugram on Tuesday at 5 pm. According to Agra SSP Babloo Kumar, the episode started around 10:30 pm on Tuesday when the bus was near Raibha toll plaza at Dakshin bypass as eight-nine young men in two SUVs intercepted it.
These men claimed that they were from a finance company and asked the bus driver to get down. Initially, the driver ignored them. "The men in SUVs then chased the bus and overtook it at Malpura area. They got into the bus and forcibly brought the driver and the conductor down. They also told the passengers to not scream and assured them that no harm will be done to them," he added. They even took the ticket money collected by the conductor and returned it to the passengers.
Later, four of these men boarded the bus and sped it away on the Delhi-Kanpur highway, Kumar said.
The SSP said the driver and the conductor of the bus were taken in one of the SUVs and dropped off in the Kuberpur area on the highway around 4 am after which they approached the local police for help.
The miscreants, led by Pradeep Gupta, posed as recovery agents of Shree Ram Finance took the bus to Gwalior and made the passengers board a Jhansi-bound bus, said the sources.
However, later in the day, it surfaced that the miscreants, who had hijacked the bus did not belong to any finance company and that they had concocted a false story. In fact, Pradeep Gupta, the brian behind the incident was an acqauntance of the private bus own Ashok Arora who had died on Tuesday night.
Both Gupta and Arora had a dispute over money. Both of them belonged to Firozabad.
As per the police sources, the identity of Pradeep Gupta was established after he was seen in the CCTV footage of Fatehabad toll plaza. The footage was shown to Pawan Arora, the son of bus owner Ashok Arora. Pawan recognised Gupta as his father’s acquaintance who had some money dispute with him.
The sources claimed that the Agra Police were taken for a ride by the hijackers who posed as the recovery agents and were taking the bus away to recover the EMI of the bus on behalf of Shri Ram Finance. However, later it emerged that no finance company was involved in the incident.
The police sources also claimed that the main accused Pradeep Gupta, now absconding, had been living in Etmadpur locality of Agra for some time.
According to Jhansi SSP Dinesh Kumar P, the passengers of the hijacked bus had left Jhansi for their respective destinations. On the other, the manhunt for Pradeep Gupta was on and the borders of Agra and other adjoining districts were sealed.