Indian villagers beat wife of hostage-taker to death

A man who held about two dozen children hostage at his daughter’s fake birthday party was shot dead by police in northern Uttar Pradesh state before villagers beat his wife to death as she tried to escape, authorities said on Friday.

All 23 children – the youngest aged six months – were rescued as anxious parents gathered outside the house in Kasaria village in Farrukhabad district – about 300km (186 miles) southwest of Lucknow, the state capital.

The man, identified as Subhash Batham, 40, was out on bail in a murder case.

Anil Kumar Mishra, the superintendent of police of Farrukhabad, said angry villagers, whose children had been taken hostage for more than 10 hours, assaulted the wife of the accused with stones and bricks as she tried to run away.

Batham, who has a criminal background, had on Thursday invited children to his house on the pretext of celebrating his one-year-old daughter’s birthday.

“There was no birthday party at all. On the pretext of a birthday party, he had assembled all these children from the village at his home and took them hostage,” Mishra told Al Jazeera.

Batham demanded a ransom of 10 million rupees ($140,100) for each child and the murder charge against him be dropped, the officer said.

Earlier, a policeman told the AFP news agency that Batham fired shots from inside the house.

“We tried to negotiate with him but to no avail. Concerned over safety of the children, we eventually broke open the rear door of the house and shot him,” Mishra said.

Local media reports in Farrukhabad district said commandos had been flown in and were kept on standby.

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