Three weeks after naming Bajrang Dal activist Yogesh Raj as the prime suspect in the killing of Inspector Subodh Kumar Singh in mob violence in Bulandshahr on December 3, the Uttar Pradesh police Thursday arrested a Delhi taxi driver, Prashant Natt, for the crime.
Police said Raj — who is on the run — is still an accused in the case and that Natt (30), who was not named in the FIR registered, was arrested after he was seen in videos of the incident, which was corroborated with testimonies of other accused and technical evidence.
Inspector Singh and a local youth, Sumit Kumar, were killed on December 3 in mob violence near Siyana village during protests against alleged cow slaughter.
According to the police, Singh fired at a growing crowd near Siyana village in self-defence killing a local Sumit Kumar, who had thrown stones at Singh. “Prashant and other protesters, identified as Rahul, David and Johnny, cornered Subodh in the fields and attacked him with stones. He fired in self-defence. The bullet hit Sumit… By this time, Subodh was grievously injured and had little energy left to defend himself,” Bulandshahr SSP Prabhakar Chaudhary told The Indian Express.
“Prashant took Subodh’s service revolver and shot him in the head. His confession has been corroborated by other accused who submitted surrender pleas in the last week.”
Police said that while Natt was the shooter, the other accused aided the murder by restricting Singh’s movement. The police have also obtained a photograph from the crime scene in which the five accused are seen talking to each other during the riot.
Natt has told the police that he worked as a taxi driver in Delhi and that he has been unemployed for the last six months and stayed with his wife and children in Chingrawati. Sources said that Natt also allegedly had a criminal background and that his involvement in Arms Act and liquor smuggling cases are being probed.
Police also said that the testimony of two key eyewitnesses to Singh’s killing and technical evidence including call detail records were crucial in identifying Natt as the main accused. Chaudhary also said that Yogesh Raj continues to remain an accused. “He has been declared a proclaimed offender by the court. If he does not surrender soon requisite action will be taken against him,” said Chaudhary.
Natt was arrested by the UP Police from the Noida-Bulandshahr border and will be sent to judicial custody. Chaudhary said: “In the last few days, as more people were arrested, Prashant Natt’s name was being mentioned by several co-accused. We received certain eye-witness testimonies that also fit the description of Prashant. We kept this part of the investigation secret to prevent information from being leaked to him. He was evading arrest since the clashes in Chingrawati and his family has also left the village. After looking for him for weeks, we took him in after a tip-off.”
Sources also said that the police took Natt to the spot where Inspector Singh was killed where Natt “recreated” the sequence of events that led to the Singh’s death. Police said Natt and three other accused first attacked Singh with an axe and then threw stones at him as he ran across the field for cover.