Nineteen years after five members of a family were sentenced to life imprisonment for murdering a resident of their village in Bihar, Uma Singh alias Gopal Das, it now transpires the latter is very much alive and kicking and heads a cult, no less.
Thanks to a tipoff from one of his “followers”, only now have the convicts - all natives of Shakarpura village in Nawada district - got to know the man who they were accused of killing has been leading a quiet life for close to two decades in a temple in Kheelan village in Lalru, located in an area bordering Haryana.
The man who blew the whistle, Sushil Kumar, said about ten years ago Uma took a few of his “followers” along with him to a temple in Patna but soon “disappeared” after “abandoning” them.
“When they went around enquiring about his whereabouts some locals told them he had been murdered in 1995. Smelling a rat, I returned to Lalru and contacted the local police. However, they didn’t take me seriously. When I confronted Uma later, he prevaricated when I asked him questions.”
Nonetheless, Kumar persevered in his efforts to dig deeper into the mystery, eventually meeting up with the convicts and informed them Uma was still walking the earth.
Parveen Rana, a ‘panch’ in Kheelan village, confirmed Uma had been residing in the village for over 19 years and was “priest” in a local Hindu temple. “After the previous priest, Hari Das, died villagers proposed Uma’s name as his successor as he claimed to be Das’ nephew,” he added.
Krishan, a village resident, said Uma had been living there with his two grandsons, Vikas, 14, and Subash, 22.
Meanwhile, Dera Bassi SP Anil Kumar said after receiving the production warrant against Uma the police verified his identity and questioned him, following which he broke down and narrated the entire sequence of events leading up to his “murder”. “After Uma confessed we promptly informed the Bihar police, which took him into custody and produced him before a court in Bihar on November 1”.
Naresh Singh and his three brothers, Indradev, Surendra and Chhotan, together with their nephew Lalan were arrested for kidnapping and murdering Uma in 1995 following a complaint filed by the latter’s son, Vijay Singh. Five years later a local court in Nawada district sentenced the five men to life imprisonment.