UPENDRA SINGH, one of the three persons detained in the murder of Hindustan daily’s Siwan bureau chief Rajdev Ranjan, is an RJD worker who is said to be close to jailed party leader and former Siwan MP Mohammed Shahabuddin. Police on Sunday questioned district RJD president Parmatna Ram, who confirmed that Singh is an active RJD member.
Meanwhile, Ranjan’s wife, Asha, told The Indian Express today that he had received threat calls from Singh. “He would often talk about Upendra Singh calling him up and offering bricks — Singh is a brick kiln owner. Singh would also issue veiled threats to him for writing too much on the Siwan strongman (Shahabuddin). But he would ignore such threats and took it as part of his profession,” said Asha.
Alleging political patronage, she also pointed out that Singh enjoyed clout in Siwan. Singh was named as one of the conspirators in last year’s killing of Srikant Bharati, the press advisor of BJP Siwan MP Om Prakash Yadav.
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However, he has not been named in the FIR filed in the Ranjan murder case.
In a related development, police have also detained an engineer who had installed the CCTV camera at Phal Mandi, the area where Ranjan was shot dead on Friday evening. The CCTV footage is “not available since May 11”.
“We are asking the engineer if someone asked him to erase the footage after May 11. We have already sent the CCTV records to the forensic laboratory to find out if it was tampered with,” said police sources.
Another person, identified as Munshi Mian from Pratappur, has also been detained. Police said Munshi could be one of seven persons who had information about Ranjan’s murder. Siwan SP Saurav Kumar Sah said they had obtained names of other possible suspects, but declined to divulge any details.
Meanwhile, BJP MP Om Prakash Yadav said he had alerted Ranjan after the Special Branch SP wrote to Siwan’s district magistrate and superintendent of police on December 7, 2014, informing them that 23 people were on Shahabuddin’s “hit list”.
“I remember having told Ranjan that the list may have his name too. Though nobody knows all the names on the list, we apprehended that some journalists could be targeted, especially after Rajiv Roshan — an eyewitness and brother of acid attack victims, Girish, Satish and Srikant Bharati who were killed — was attacked,” said Yadav, who defeated Shahabuddin’s wife Hina Shahab in the 2009 and 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
BJP legislature party leader Sushil Kumar Modi said the only name mentioned in the list was BYJM regional in-charge Ravindra Yadav alias Gabbar Yadav.
In his first remarks on the issue, Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Prasad Yadav seemed to defend Shahabuddin. “Family of Rajdev Ranjan should trust police and should not press for CBI investigation for now. Sushil Kumar Modi has been trying to link the journalist’s killing with RJD. How can he make such allegations… Will he apologise if Shahabuddin’s involvement is not established,” he said.