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Financial gang war in Patna

Patna, March 5: The early morning murder of a local businessman, an incident in which a bank official was seriously injured after being shot at, has brought into focus yet another “gang war” being waged stealthily in the city.

Rarely, as today, does such rivalry — rooted mostly in shady financial deals — erupt on to the streets.

Ashish Jain, who used to run a bookshop in the city, was driving a car that was targeted by a group of unidentified persons near Patna Museum. He was shot in the chest and rushed to the hospital, where he died.

S.P. Singh, an auditor with the Buddha Colony branch of Punjab National Bank, is nursing his wounds at a private clinic in Rajendra Nagar, where he was shifted from the government-run Patna Medical College and Hospital.

Doctors said his condition is stable.

Police said the duo was coming out of White House apartments near Patna Museum when the attackers made Jain stop the vehicle before spraying bullets on them.

They used to live in different flats in the same building block.

“As Jain was shot, Singh managed to run from the spot. It seems the target was Singh, not Jain. An FIR, naming one Anil Sharma, has been filed,” deputy police superintendent (law and order) Shashi Bhushan Sharma said.

“It looks like some dispute related with the bank. The FIR has been lodged on the basis of a statement given by the bank official,” according to another police officer.

“According to Singh’s statement, Anil Sharma had taken some Rs 60-lakh bank loan, allegedly on the basis of fake papers. Singh claimed that Sharma had been threatening him for quite some time,” the officer added.

Singh, a well-known face in the political circles of the capital, had figured in the controversial Gautam-Shilpi murder case.

Gautam and Shilpi were found dead inside a car in a garage and the case had generated much political heat in the state where the crime graph has soared over the last few months.

Magadh hospital, where Singh was later admitted, was today thronged by politicians, contractors and businessmen. Many of them were carrying guns and moving around with heavily armed bodyguards.

Singh’s colleagues at the bank were tightlipped about the incident. After repeated attempts, one of them said: “Singh’s is a rags-to-riches story. He has worked with different branches of PNB in Patna for nearly 20 years. He came to our branch recently and his work does not involve granting loans.”

“Singh has extremely good political connections and is said to be close to two very prominent and powerful young politicians. You can understand who they are.”

Bank officials and employees generally avoid him because he moves in high-heeled circles of politicians and businessmen. You can realise what that means in a city like Patna,” the bank official said.

Sources at the hospital said they had been issued “strict orders” to take good care of Singh and the instructions had come from “very powerful political quarters”.

A large number of police officials were also seen talking with Singh’s family members and associates in hushed tones.

“We all know who S.P. Singh is. Don’t we'” a police official asked.

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