Police on Sunday claimed to have made a breakthrough in the case of journalist Rajdeo Ranjan’s murder.
Rajdeo Ranjan, 42, the head of Hindi daily Hindustan in Siwan, was shot dead by unidentified men on Friday.
“We have cracked the case, almost so,” said director general of police PK Thakur. “There is just the need to tie evidence by way of recovering and matching of weapons used. Once the weapons are recovered, the case would be concluded.”
Two suspects, Upendra Kumar Singh and Shahzad Alam, were arrested for their involvement in the murder and remanded to 14-day judicial custody under the Excise Act on Sunday. Both are known associates of Mohammad Shahabuddin, a former RJD MP serving a life sentence for the murder of two brothers.
Ten others — including Munshi Mian of Pratappur, Shahabuddin’s native village, and Parmatma Ram, the RJD district president — have been questioned.
However, no eyewitnesses have been located and the CCTV installed in the shop closest to murder spot stopped working just three days before the attack.
Siwan police superintendent Sourabh Kumar said the engineer, identified as Radheshyam, who installed the CCTV camera was being questioned. “We see no involvement of shopkeepers who had installed these CCTV cameras,” he said. “One of four operational CCTVs on the same road picked up traffic but its angle covers just half the road.”
Forensic and ballistics reports are awaited.
Police have zeroed in on a few phone numbers used to call the deceased, and are in the process of identifying their owners. The last call Ranjan received was discovered to have been made from a SIM purchased on a fake ID.
It is believed that the killers first stopped Ranjan and asked for his identity card before gunning him down. Police findings suggest he might have been shot five times.
The attackers allegedly remained at the spot to confirm he was dead, police said, indicating it might be a contract murder. Investigators believe that the busy locality was chosen to help mask the attackers’ identity and to facilitate their escape.
This has strengthened the suspicions of a conspiracy behind the murder.
“We have a fix on some people who were used in recce of the area, which Rajdeo visited or used to take on his way to office and home,” said a top police official, refusing to share more details about the investigation.
“We have found that leads that appeared in the press have been tampered with,” the official said. “There seems to be a deliberate attempt to erase markers that can be linked to the crime.”
Police are also looking into the case’s similarities with other high-profile murders that took place in crowded areas of Siwan, possibly to create terror.
The Bihar government has constituted a special investigation team of two deputy superintendents of police, three inspectors and five sub-inspectors to identify the killers.