Accused of raping a former Congress minister’s daughter, then a minor, he had been on the run since December 22, 2016. But luck ran out for him at the end of 80 days on Tuesday.
The Uttarkhand police, checking for outsiders in Chila locality under Lakshman Jhoola police station early Tuesday, found a gleaming Audi car on the roads in Pauri Garhwal. They stopped it for a routine bonafide check. Two men emerged from it.
Pauri Garhwal SSP, Mukhtar Mohsin wracked his brains. Hadn’t he seen them somewhere?
It made him do a Google search. And at the end of it, he knew who he was looking at.
Nikhil Priyadarshi, a big-time Patna motor businessman and his father Krishna Bihari Prasad, a retired IAS officer, stood before him.
He phoned his batchmate and Patna counterpart. “Manu, I have big news for you. I have two men you are on the lookout for,” he said.
The catch came as a Holi gift for the beleaguered Patna police, which had been at the end of some stick for its inability to land Nikhil Priyadarshi, the main accused in the case of an alleged rape of a minor, the daughter of an ex-Congress minister, last year.
Nikhil had been on the run, ever since the girl picked up courage to lodge a case with the Patna police on December 22 that left the state shocked and aghast.
The special investigation team (SIT) of the Bihar police heaved a sigh of relief at the detention, for the pressure on it to act, and act immediately, had been too much to bear.
Pauri-Garhwal SSP Mukhtar Mohsin told HT that the Audi car, bearing a Haryana registration number (HR-51AK-2222), was stopped during a routine check on outsiders as the vehicle seemed to be from outside the state. The occupants tensed up and their nervousness showed, which aroused suspicion.
“During interrogation the replies of the inmates raised further suspicion. The papers of the vehicle showed the name of Priyadarshi, about whom I did not know much. But the nervousness of Priyadarshi raised my curiosity and I checked his name on Google. That was enough. His entire history showed up immediately. I knew, we had picked a real catch for Bihar police,” said the SSP, while talking to HT on phone.
Mohsin said he came across plenty of details about Priyadarshi and also his father, including the sexual exploitation case, and decided to contact Patna SSP Manu Maharaaj.
“Patna police informed me about the two cases, including the one lodged on March 8 with Buddha Colony police station in which Priyadarshi’s father, brother Manish Priyadarshi, a Congress leader Brajesh Pandey and two others are named accused,” Mohsin said. All of them are accused of making the victim’s identity public.
Uttarakhand ADG, law and order, Ram Singh Meena, said: “The two possessed no identity card but were looking for a hotel to stay, when the police noticed them. Their behaviour was completely unnatural.”
Patna SSP Manu Maharaj said that the SIT team has been sent with an arrest warrant to seek remand of Nikhil Priyadarshi and his father. “He will be brought to Patna on transit remand after production in the Pauri court on Wednesday,” he added.
Maharaaj said that Priyadarshi was dodging the police and not using his mobile phone to avoid tracking.
The police had on Saturday arrested Priyadarshi’s brother Manish and three others — Prakash Raj, Gaurav and Prem Pandey — from the Patna airport premises .
With the arrest of Priyadarshi, the police hope to elicit valuable information from him and get to the bottom of the case. “The victim has charged Priyadarshi with running a sex racket,” said a police officer.
As soon as the news of Priyadarshi’s detention spread, there was curiosity among the people known to him to get details. “It remains to be seen what he speaks and who all he involves,” said the officer.
A senior Congress leader Brajesh Pandey is also an accused in the Buddha Colony police station case and is absconding. Pandey was vice-president of Bihar Congress, but had to resign from his post after allegations were levelled on him for molesting the victim.
The rape victim had lodged two separate cases against Priyadarshi and others with SC/ST police station under several IPC sections, besides one under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act. Another case has been registered under sections of 3/4 (Indecent Representation of Women, Prohibition) and other sections at the Buddha Colony police station in Patna.