The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Madhumita ‘trigger-puller’ held

Lucknow/New Delhi, Nov. 10: The CBI today arrested the second of the two suspected killers of Madhumita Shukla, a day after her domestic help identified the other.

Prakash Chander Pandey of Gorakhpur was produced before a CBI court here and sent to judicial custody for 14 days. Bureau officials said domestic help Desraj would be taken to Barabanki jail for Pandey’s identification parade tomorrow.

Pandey, CBI sources said, was arrested after sustained interrogation of Rohit Chaturvedi and Santosh Kumar Rai following their arrest on November 6. With a number of criminal cases pending against him, Pandey was on the run ever since the CBI began investigating the murder.

Desraj yesterday identified Rai as Satya Prakash, one of the two men who had visited Madhumita at her Paper Mill Colony flat in Lucknow on May 9 before she was found murdered, at Barabanki jail.

Pandey, sources said, has informally accepted that he fired once at Madhumita from a .38 country revolver, killing her on the spot.

The CBI had found two bullets, one from Madhumita’s body and another live one in her bedroom, the scene of the crime. The bureau is now trying to find out if the live bullet came from Pandey’s revolver or if Rai, too, was armed.

Now that the alleged killers are in the net, the CBI is looking for Madhumani, former minister Amarmani Tripathi’s wife, who is said to be on the run.

The arrested duo, bureau sources claimed, has confirmed that Chaturvedi, who is Tripathi’s cousin, paid them for the job at the instance of Madhumani.

“We will be ready to arrest Madhumani once we have interrogated both Rai and Pandey and recovered the murder weapon from them,” a CBI official said.

A Lucknow court had earlier directed the bureau to arrest Madhumani only after obtaining concrete evidence of her involvement.

The CBI, which is not averse to bringing the accused to Delhi for further interrogation but is yet to decide, plans to take both Rai and Pandey into its custody to tie up the case once Pandey’s identification is over.

CBI director P.C. Sharma, due to retire early next month, said he is “very happy we have managed to nab the killer in this case, especially since several high-profile persons were involved in it”. “It was a clueless case and we had to face all sorts of challenges before we nabbed the killer.”

The CBI court today allowed Tripathi, lodged in Lucknow jail, to attend the Assembly sessions, that began today, provided he is taken there every morning and brought back after the day’s business and also makes himself available for questioning when required. The CBI counsel’s objection that he might influence witnesses was rejected.

Bureau officials, unhappy at the state agencies’ attitude toward the case, have written to their headquarters. “Tripathi’s attempt to seek services of some officials to tamper with the foetus samples and the alleged attempts of the state government to restrict (the) CBI team from probing this aspect, finally prompted us to draw the attention of our seniors,” a CBI official said.

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