Bihar police arrested five people in connection with the murder of senior journalist Rajdeo Ranjan, claiming a major breakthrough in the case on Wednesday.
Among the five, police identified one Rohit Kumar as the main culprit who the additional director general of police (ADG), headquarters, said confessed to the crime.
Ranjan was shot dead on May 13 near the Siwan railway station. The 42-year-old was the bureau chief of Hindi daily Hindustan, a sister concern of Hindustan Times.
Chief minister Nitish Kumar is facing criticism over the slide in law and order in the state, with political rivals claiming this was a return of the 90s ‘jungle raj’ lawlessness. The issue has also caused public fissures in the grand alliance, with some Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leaders taking on Kumar.
Former RJD MP, Mohammad Shahabuddin, has also caused issues for the Kumar administration with connections emerging between the former legislator and Ranjan’s murder. Shahabuddin, who has been in jail for the past 12 years, is believed to still hold much political clout in Siwan.
Police also arrested Vijay Kumar, Rajesh Kumar, Vishnu Kumar and Sonu Kumar Gupta. All five, incidentally, are in the 20-25 age group. None of them have any history of crime, police said.
“The arrests were made from different parts of Siwan on Wednesday morning and a country-made pistol of 7.65 mm bore and two live cartridges were recovered from the arrested youths,” ADG Sunil Kumar said.
The recovered pistol matched the bullets recovered from the crime scene, he added. Three motorcycles were also recovered from their possession and will be sent for forensic tests.
Rohit was allegedly hired by Ladan Mian, who police initially suspected as one of the shooters. Ladan Mian was released from Siwan jail just 15 days before Rajdeo’s murder. Two hours after the crime, he fled from Siwan with his family.
ADG Kumar said the police was still trying to ascertain if anybody else was involved in the murder. “We are also trying to find out who were involved in conspiracy and the motive behind the killing.”
Earlier on May 14, four suspects were detained in connection with the case.
As the issue gained media attention, CM Kumar consented to a CBI investigation in the case.
PK Thakur, director general of police, however, confirmed that the state police would continue its investigation till the top agency took up the case. “The CBI took a copy of FIR on Tuesday, but is still to take up the case,” he said on May 16.