40 yrs of UP STF and its fight against one gangster
Lucknow, May 4 (IANS) The Uttar Pradesh STF, which was set up on May 4, 1998 to eliminate dreaded gangster Shri Prakash Shukla, who had unleashed terror in Uttar Pradesh, has completed 40 years.
The story of how the STF was born is not only unusual but also interesting.
Shri Prakash Shukla, a young man from Gorakhpur, had hit the headlines in 1997 when he shot dead another mafia don Virendra Pratap Shahi in Lucknow.
This was followed by a series of high-profile kidnappings, extortions and killings over railway contracts in Uttar Pradesh.
Shukla was known to be ruthless and brutal and his terror increased when he shot dead a police official in an encounter in Lucknow.
Finally, the then Kalyan Singh government decided to set up a dedicated task force to deal with Shukla and the mafia. A team of 50 police personnel was set up and the Special Task Force (STF) was born.
The STF was tasked with the collection of Intelligence about mafia gangs and Intelligence based action against such gangs, preparation of action plan and its execution, action against listed gangs in coordination with the district police, effective action against gang of dacoits, especially inter-district gangs, action against inter-district gangs of organised criminals.
Meanwhile, Shukla was getting bolder. He gunned down Bihar minister Brij Bihari Prasad in Patna.
Intelligence reports indicated that he had taken a contract to eliminate the then Chief Minister Kalyan Singh. The input created panic and the STF used all available technology to track down Shukla.
Shukla, sources said, had a penchant for using mobile phones which had then been launched.
The STF used electronic surveillance to track down the gangster and the then STF chief Arun Kumar led his team to Delhi where Shukla was hiding.
The gangster was finally cornered on September 23, 1998 and shot dead in a fierce encounter.
After Shukla's death, there were talks of disbanding the STF but the state government decided to further empower the task force.
Since then, the STF has been known for its crackdown on organised crime and mafia and is now one of the most feared agencies in the state.
"It has been a glorious journey. For the first time, there was a force where there was no political interference and we were given full freedom to act. We worked as a close-knit team, determined to eliminate the most feared gangster of that time. I am proud to have been a part of that journey," said one of the IPS officers who has now retired.