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Road robbery twist to Dubey murder

New Delhi, June 7: Whistleblower IITian Satyendra Kumar Dubey was just another victim of the spurt in crime in Bihar, the CBI has been told.

Four men arrested for his murder have told the bureau that Dubey was killed when he resisted a roadside robbery in Gaya. They have been brought to Delhi and are likely to be put through a lie-detector test tomorrow.

The CBI has to recover the weapon used to kill Dubey, find the fifth accomplice who took the IIT engineer’s briefcase and locate rickshaw-puller Pradeep Kumar, the witness to the murder, to see the case through the courts, a bureau officer said. Pradeep had disappeared after recording his statement at the CBI headquarters in December 2003.

Dubey’s murder was initially believed to have been linked to his complaints to the Prime Minister’s Office regarding irregularities in the Golden Quadrilateral highway project. The then PMO allegedly did not ensure that the whistleblower remained anonymous.

A project officer of the National Highways Authority of India, Dubey was shot dead on November 27 last year, raising questions about the absence of government guidelines to keep names of whistleblowers secret. The murder was seen as a deep-rooted conspiracy of the builders entrusted with the work of the national highway in Bihar.

The public outcry against the government for its alleged failure to keep a whistleblower’s name secret had prompted then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to request the CBI to take up the investigation.

On December 14, the bureau registered a case against unknown persons for criminal conspiracy and murder and also slapped charges under various provisions under the Arms Act.

Preliminary interrogation of the four accused — Babloo Mehtar, Uday Mallah, Mantoo Paswan and Tutoo Paswan — however, reveals that the Dubey murder is a case of roadside robbery, a CBI officer said. They appear to be involved in other robberies in the vicinity of railway stations.

Bureau sleuths are now looking for the fifth accomplice of the robbers and the witness. Brought to the CBI headquarters around December 27, Pradeep was there for about five days, during which he gave a statement providing clues to the robbery.

He later left for home but was to return on January 12 for a lie-detector test. He never did. Investigations indicated that Pradeep, a drug addict, had not returned home. He had initially said he could recognise the culprits.

On arriving at Gaya from Varanasi by train on November 27, Dubey hired Pradeep to take him home, according to the rickshaw-puller. On the way home, Dubey was accosted by the assailants and shot dead when he resisted. The five men fled with his wallet, watch and briefcase.

Pradeep later picked up the mobile phone and fled but was tracked down through the mobile.

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