A day after two youths were arrested in connection with the death of Dhanbad judge Uttam Anand, Chief Judicial Magistrate Arjun Shaw on Friday sent them to five days of police custody.
In their remand application, the police had sought 10-day custody of Lakhan Verma, 22, and Rahul Verma, 21, for “interrogation and collection of evidence”. They said in the application that cellphone location of the accused confirmed their presence at the spot where Additional Sessions Judge Anand was knocked down by an autorickshaw while on a morning jog on Wednesday.
The police suspect it to be a premeditated hit-and-run incident as the autorickshaw had veered sharply towards ASJ Anand, 50, on an empty road. Both accused were arrested on Thursday and the autorickshaw, allegedly stolen by the two, was seized.
According to sources in the police, the accused have allegedly told investigators that they were drunk at the time of the incident. “We have sent their blood and urine samples for tests to get it on record. We are yet to ascertain any motive behind the incident,” said a source. “One of them, Lakhan Verma, is a hardened criminal and it will take time to get information out of them.”
Family members have said they were unaware of any threat to the judge. A Special Investigation Team headed by Jharkhand ADG Operations Sanjay Anand Latkar questioned the accused and formed teams to ascertain their criminal antecedents among other aspects.
This came on a day Chief Minister Hemant Soren met family members of ASJ Anand and assured them of justice. He told them the state government is serious in bringing the accused to book. The judge is survived by wife Kritee Sinha, and three school-going children.
Meanwhile, family members of one of the accused, Rahul, claimed that Lakhan had earlier this month stolen their autorickshaw, following which the two had a spat. They said they were surprised when they found from police that Rahul was a suspect along with Lakhan for involvement in the judge’s death.
“Two weeks ago, we fought with Lakhan after he stole our auto, parked outside our house, on July 5. We alerted the police, but no FIR was registered. My wife spotted him in the market area so we alerted the police again, and the auto was recovered… There was an argument between my son and Lakhan and it got very ugly…When I see news now I am surprised that my son patched up with Lakhan and roamed around in another stolen auto,” said Naresh Shaw, Rahul’s father.
Shaw, an autorickshaw driver, lives in Digbadih area of Dhanbad city along with his wife and five other children. Accused Lakhan’s house is 500 metres away from his.
According to Shaw, on Wednesday night, several hours after the death of the judge, Rahul came home and asked for Rs 500. “He took the money and said he was going to Gobindpur [15 km from Dhanbad]. Next day, we hear about his involvement in the crime,” he said.
Neighbours alleged that both Rahul and Lakhan have been involved in petty crimes in the past.
A shopkeeper, who did not wish to be named, said, “Rahul was a cellphone thief and Lakhan used to steal vehicles and also indulged in street fights.” Shaw admitted that Rahul had earlier been to juvenile homes for stealing cellphones.