Opposition parties in Dhanbad have given a bandh call on Thursday to protest the murder of Neeraj Singh, the former Congress deputy mayor who was shot dead along with three aides on Tuesday evening. Resentment brews in the Neeraj’s camp and senior police officers have landed there to prevent any flare-up. “We are waiting for a formal complaint, which is likely to be received by late tonight. Meanwhile, we have initiated our investigation,” said Dhanbad Senior Superintendent of Police Manoj Ratan Chothe. Forensic teams carried out a detailed inspection of the spot as well as the Fortuner that was riddled with bullets. Fifteen bullets were found to have pierced Neeraj’s body.
The Congress leader’s last rites were performed at the Mohalbani cremation ground in Jharia where thousands of his supporters participated.
Neeraj’s younger brother Eklavya Singh, who is the deputy mayor of Dhanbad, refused to speak to the media.
Senior Congress leader Mannan Malik, who attended Neeraj’s funeral, said: “Neeraj had made great inroads among the people and was becoming popular. Obviously somebody who did not like his popularity is behind it. Also, we condemn the administration for failing to arrest the culprits. Neeraj was known for his gentle behaviour among his supporters and was completely different from what his family has been known for.”
His son, Suban Malik, also a Congress leader, accused the BJP government of being hand-in-glove with the perpetrators. “Those who got rid of Suresh Singh (also a Congress leader) in 2011 are behind this incident also. Suresh was getting popular and these people did not like it. So, they got rid of him. In this case too, they were not happy with Neeraj’s popularity. So they got rid of him,” he said.
While the gang war in the coalfields of Dhanbad have been stuff of movies such as Gangs of Wasseypur, the murders yesterday have come at a time of a tussle in the clan of Surya Deo Singh, a coal mafioso who died in 1991.
Surya Deo’s three surviving brothers — Vikram Singh, Ramadhir Singh and Bachcha Singh and their off-springs — are feuding to claim control of family interests in the coal business.
Neeraj, a nephew of Surya Deo, was in a running feud with Suryadeo’s son Sanjeev Singh, who is the BJP MLA from Jharia.
Neeraj was pitted against Sanjeev in the 2014 Assembly elections and lost to his cousin.
In February, Sanjeev’s close aide Ranjay Singh was shot dead. Ranjay’s brother had accused Neeraj of the murder. The police are understood to be probing if Ranjay’s killing had something to do with Tuesday’s murders.