THE police are searching for a local gangster in the attack on businessman Indra Kant Tripathi a week ago, for which the then Mahoba superintendent of police is among those booked.
The police said the gangster, Ashu Bhadoria, now missing, had called up a close relative of Tripathi enquiring about his whereabouts three hours before he was shot at by unidentified assailants on September 8. Tripathi, 44, died of his injuries on Sunday night.
Late Monday the government announced an SIT to be headed by Inspector General, Varanasi Range, Vijay Singh Meena to probe the incident and submit a report in seven days.
Tripathi’s family has provided the police an audio clip where Bhadoria purportedly is asking Tripathi’s brother-in-law Brijesh Shukla about his whereabouts, around noon on September 8. When Shukla says Tripathi had been untraceable since the day before, with both his cellphones switched off, the caller believed to be Bhadoria tells him to find Tripathi as soon as possible, adding, “Raja saheb naaraz ho rahe hain (Raja saheb is annoyed)… Find out where he is… one can talk to each other… Agar nahin pata karoge toh phir samajh rahe ho baat ko (If you don’t… you know what I mean).”
Tripathi’s elder brother Ravi Kant Tripathi said they had asked the police to look into the call.
Newly appointed Mahoba SP Arun Kumar Srivastava said Bhadoria had four criminal cases against him. After the police invoked the Goonda Act against him, he had shifted base to Madhya Pradesh but kept visiting Mahoba, sources said.
“We are working on several leads, including the audio clip,” Srivastava said. An officer said it was only after Bhadoria’s arrest would they know who the “Raja sahib” he was referring to was.
Srivastava said the police were also looking into Tripathi’s post on social media hours before the attack that he would hold a press conference the next day on the harassment he was facing from Mahoba SP Mani Lal Patidar.
With Tripathi’s death, the charges would now be altered to murder, Additional Director General, Prayagraj, Prem Prakash said.
On Monday, as the body of Tripathi was brought home, family members and locals held a protest demanding arrest of the accused named in the case. The family held his last rites only after the police promised swift action.
In a video recorded before the attack, Tripathi had accused SP Patidar of criminal intimidation and of trying to extort money from him. A stone crusher who also supplied explosives for mining, Tripathi had suffered business losses recently.
Patidar and Devendra Shukla, the SHO of Kabrai Police Station under whose jurisdiction the attack happened, have both been booked in the case and placed under suspension. The two others named in the FIR are local businessmen Suresh Soni and Brahmdutt.
On Monday, the police questioned Tripathi’s business partners Purushotam Soni and Bal Kishore. Questioning this, Ravi Kant said, “We are hurt that the police are targeting people close to us than the real culprits. Purushotam and Bal Kishore are like our family friends.”
He said Patidar and his associates had threatened to ruin Tripathi’s life, even kill him, if he did not pay up extortion money.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines