The murder plot of BSP leader-cum-tycoon Deepak Bhardwaj has started resembling a delicately synchronised relay race. The police say the contract, or the 'serial supari' in this case, involved at least 10 people.
The conspiracy to kill the 62-year-old was apparently hatched in January.
The police believe the instruction could have gone out from two of his relatives to an employee in the family business, who contacted a local politician of northwest Delhi, who got in touch with a godman or 'Swamiji'.
It then passed on to a commercial pilot, a local arms supplier, the owner of a Skoda car, and finally two contract killers who pumped bullets into Bhardwaj at his Rajokri farmhouse on March 26 morning.
More than Rs. 1 crore changed hands, people being paid at each stage.
All this is emerging from the interrogation of the two alleged killers, Purushottam Rana and Sunil Mann, the police said on Tuesday.
The cops believe that behind the smokescreen of this complicated plot hides the real mastermind. They suspect that person to be one or more of Bhardwaj's influential political rivals.
Rana, the man who had planned and executed the hit, was paid Rs. 2 lakh by the Swamiji who promised more money, said an officer.
"We believe there are at least 10 people involved in the entire conspiracy, with this godman being the closest link to the main conspirator," he said.
Rana has confessed to having worked as a driver for 'Swamiji' for at least six years before taking to a life of crime.
On Tuesday, the police asked one of Bhardwaj's close aides, Swami Anand Maharaj, to cooperate in the investigation.
He apparently has a murder case registered against him.
Rana and Mann had apparently purchased a pair of SIM cards from northwest Delhi's Samaypur Badli on Saturday - three days before the incident - and had admitted to having disposed of their weapons in a lake minutes after fleeing to Haryana.
"Sunil and Purushottam had bought their weapons - a pistol and a country-made gun - from one Raju who we are looking for. After the incident, they had thrown these into a drain in Rohtak," said the officer.
The police said none of Bhardwaj's family members were off the suspects' list.