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Slowdown whiff in Munda CBI move

Ranchi, Oct. 12: Chief minister Arjun Munda appears to have succumbed to political pressure in recommending a CBI probe in the Pramod Singh murder case.

This is the first case recommended for a bureau inquiry by the state since its formation, though Munda had all along maintained that Dhanbad police were looking into the October 3 murder of the coal trader.

He was said to be under pressure from state urban development minister Bachcha Singh of the Samata Party, whose name figures in an FIR related to the case. He allegedly prevented police from doing their duty and tried to shield the accused, Rajiv Ranjan Singh of the BJP and Ramadhir Singh.

Rajiv is the son of late coal don Suryadeo Singh; Bachcha and Ramadhir are the don’s brothers.

The minister, along with some senior NDA functionaries, had been urging Munda for a CBI or a CID probe, accusing police of victimising his family. Bachcha even met him at the airport last evening just before the chief minister left for Delhi.

Home secretary J.B. Tubid said he formally requested the Union home ministry for a CBI probe after he received an order from the chief minister’s office today. If the request is accepted, the Centre will order a bureau investigation.

A senior official said the decision to recommend a CBI probe was taken in view of the “political nature” of the case as it involved the urban development minister’s relatives.

Sources, however, said the decision was taken under mounting pressure from some BJP and Samata leaders, who want to bail out the minister’s family by slowing down the investigation. A prominent BJP leader, too, had been backing the demand, they said.

“The district police had enough evidence to pin down (Bachcha) Singh and his family. But before they could act against the minister, he was successful in making the chief minister recommend the CBI probe. Recommending such a probe is a step to cool off the raging issue,” an official said.

Sources said the government succumbed for two reasons: first, it did not wish to rub the ruling NDA’s non-BJP partners the wrong way and second, a powerful lobby had been pushing the demand.

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