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CBI begins poet probe

New Delhi, June 24: A Central Bureau of Investigation team will leave for Lucknow tomorrow to launch a probe in the murder of poet Madhumita Shukla.

The CBI today registered a first information report, five days after Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mayavati transferred the Madhumita murder case to the agency to avoid pressure from Opposition parties, which have been accusing the government of shielding the culprit.

Her rivals alleged that former BSP minister Amarmani Tripathi was involved in the murder. Tripathi resigned, but said he was not involved in the crime.

A case was registered under Section 302 (murder) of the Indian Penal Code after the CBI received a notification from the Centre, agency sources said. The team headed for Lucknow is led by deputy inspector-general Lok Nath Behera.

The sleuths, who have gone through the case files handed over by the state police, are expected to question Madhumita’s mother and sister. They have had informal talks with police officers who handled the case, including suspended CB-CID top officials.

Given the high political stakes in the case, CBI officials doubt whether any evidence remains intact. The case has changed hands twice. First, it was being investigated by Lucknow police. Subsequently, Mayavati transferred it to the CB-CID for a fairer probe.

Finally, on June 17, she recommended the case to the CBI for a thorough probe after suspending the CB-CID director-general and some other officials on the case, saying they had shown laxity in investigation.

Madhumita, who was three months pregnant, was shot dead by two assailants in her Paper Mill Colony residence on May 9.

Tripathi and the poet were said to share a close relationship — they were in constant touch over the phone and had been found travelling together and staying in hotels outside Lucknow.

Asked if the former minister would be grilled, the agency sources said the team would question him if needed.

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