Nagpur rural police claimed to have solved a series of highway murders with the arrest of 55-year-old Phulchand Rajput. A native of Haryana, Rajput was arrested from Kalmeshwar, around 20 km from here on June 28.
Police said Rajput has been involved in at least eight murders, four of which were committed in a span of 40 days. Police also claimed that Rajput was planning to kill his ninth victim.
Investigators suspect Rajput may have committed other murders in the past and have alerted police in the neighbouring Madhya Pradesh.
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Investigation into the murders of a truck driver and a cleaner about two months ago led police to Rajput.
Led by Superintendent of Police Aarti Singh, they used CCTV footage from a toll booth to finally zero in on Rajput, who had allegedly killed driver Gorelal Gurjar and cleaner Sanjay Singh, residents of Guna and Morena districts of Madhya Pradesh. The two were found dead near Gumgaon in Nagpur’s Hingna tehsil on May 2.
“We checked CCTV footage at Jam toll booth along National Highway 7 and found that the truck Rajput had waylaid was being driven by him and not by the deceased driver Gorelal,” Aarti Singh told The Indian Express.
“We then checked along all possible places including dhabas, to find out if anybody had seen the man in the footage. At a dhaba near Patansawangi near Nagpur, we could finally get confirmation. The dhaba owner, Ramesh Chaurasia, had known Phulchand for some time as the latter had been frequenting the dhaba,” she added.
The police team, led by Inspector Deepak Wankhede took Chaurasia’s help to zero in on Rajput’s probable locations. “We had his mobile numbers that were being tracked. He used to change SIMs often to remain untraceable,” said Wankhede.
“Rajput was absconding for the past about three years after being released on bail by the Madhya Pradesh High Court in a murder case of a truck driver in 2003 for which he was convicted by a lower court and sentenced for life. He had challenged the lower court’s verdict in high court and had already spent eight years in jail,” Aarti Singh said.