Investigators into the killing of Rajdeo Ranjan, the 42-year-old bureau chief of Hindustan Hindi daily, saw a conspiracy and said his elimination was “ordered”.
A sharpshooter close to former Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) MP, Mohammad Shahabuddin, is the main suspect, especially after the discovery that he went into hiding with his entire family within two hours of the killing. The shooter was released from Siwan jail around 15 days back.
Police on Monday claimed that it had picked up 15 persons on suspicion of being linked to the murder. Eight of them are believed to be sharpshooters of the ex-MP, and two of them were recently released on bail. Police sources said that four of the apprehended even celebrated the journalist’s killing. One of them, Upendra Singh is a local RJD leader.
PK Thakur, Bihar director general of police, said, “They are under suspicion for links since they had celebrated the killing. All of them have a criminal past and were associated with local politics.”
Police sources have zeroed in on the fact that the murder was the sequel of a leaked photograph of Bihar minister, Abdul Ghafoor, feasting with Shahahbuddin. It was alleged that Ranjan passed on the picture to media houses. After it went viral, an uproar in Bihar assembly led to the suspension of the then Siwan district jail superintendent and the subsequent withdrawal of facilities to the incarcerated MP.
On the missing sharpshooter, Thakur said, “His mobile location was found close to the site on the same day and time that Rajdeo was killed.”
He said that all persons jailed or detained are professional shooters and some of them hail from UP and Jharkhand. Thakur said, “The political murders in Siwan area of the past were mostly carried out by sharpshooters recruited from UP. The motive behind Rajdeo’s murder and as to who financed the killings and movements of criminals would only be known once the missing shooter is arrested. His arrest is also important to secure the weapon used in the murder.”