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31 Jan, 2020 02:18

Birthday bash turns to horror: Armed man holds 23 children hostage in basement for 9 hours in Indian village

Birthday bash turns to horror: Armed man holds 23 children hostage in basement for 9 hours in Indian village

In a birthday celebration-turned-nightmare, a convicted murderer in India took dozens of children hostage at gunpoint in a lengthy standoff with police, firing shots at officers and even hurling a makeshift bomb at bystanders.

Subhash Batham, a murder convict freed on bail in a village in Uttar Pradesh, hosted more than 20 local children – aged between 6 months and 15 years old – at his house on Thursday afternoon for his daughter’s birthday party, but when the kids didn’t return home and parents came looking for their little ones, events quickly came to a head.

“When parents banged on the door, [Batham] started abusing them and opened fire,” said district police superintendent Tribhuwan Singh, noting that one villager was hit in the leg in the initial shooting.

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The horrific encounter extended late into the evening, during which the children were held in the man’s basement. Two others sustained injuries after Batham pelted them with stones, while the man also threw a “crude bomb” at those gathered outside the house, according to police, though it is unclear if the device detonated.

Locals told the Times of India the man appeared to be “heavily drunk,” while police suggested he could be mentally ill.

At one point during the standoff, Batham made a number of demands for the children’s release, namely asking to speak with a local BJP official about his living conditions and government benefits, but the gunman fired again from inside the house when the lawmaker arrived, missing the official.

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It took a team of counter-terrorism commandos and a number of police officers for the 9-hour standoff to finally come to an end in a SWAT-style raid that left Batham shot dead. No others were injured in the operation and all of the children, as well as the man’s wife, were evacuated to safety. A sizable cache of weapons and ammunition were reportedly found inside the man’s home.

After the children were freed, however, Batham’s wife was attacked and severely beaten by villagers and parents, some wielding stones. She died in the hospital of her injuries hours later.

Photos and videos of the rescue operation emerged on social media on Thursday night following the protracted hostage crisis.

In addition to murder, the 38-year-old convict had been implicated in other four criminal cases, including armed robbery. His last stint in jail ended just about a month ago.

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