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Tata officer loses battle

Jamshedpur, June 20: After fighting for life for a little over 24 hours, Tata Steel officer and former basketball player P. Ratna Rao “Johnny” succumbed to his injuries this morning at the Tata Main Hospital.

Rao was shot from point-blank range in front of his residence as he was preparing to leave for office yesterday. One of his neighbours and his wife, Chanda, rushed him to the hospital where he was kept under observation in the critical care unit.

Rao breathed his last at 10.30 am. He is survived by his wife, a six-year-old son and twin daughters, about a year and two months old.

Friends and colleagues of Rao gathered in large numbers at the hospital as soon as news of his death spread.

Rao’s father, P. Ramchander Rao, said at the hospital: “The last rites will be performed only after my daughters arrive. They will be reaching the city tomorrow. The cremation will be on Tuesday.”

Later, Rao’s body was taken for post-mortem. “There was just one bullet that was pumped into his head. He died due to haemorrhage and shock,” a source said. Police have not been able to catch the youths who carried out the killing though the alleged main conspirators — Rao’s neighbour Shiv Narayan Yadav and wife Chanda — have been arrested.

Blood-stained clothes of one of the suspects, identified as Mohan Gupta, have been recovered from a house at Chayanagar where the suspected killers were staying on rent. Another suspect has been identified as Raju. Both are residents of Patna.

Yesterday, within hours of the crime, the police focused their investigation on two angles — the recently conducted basketball selections and a possible extra-marital affair.

“The basketball team selection angle was ruled out when the list of those who missed out from making it to the team was scanned. There was nobody among them who could have committed a murder. So we started working on the love affair angle,” said superintendent of police Arun Kumar Oraon.

Later in the day, a breakthrough was achieved with the arrest of Yadav, who was, according to the police, involved in an extra-marital affair with Chanda for the past two-and-a-half years.

The police claimed that Yadav and Chanda had hired the criminals to carry out the murder for Rs 50,000. Both were remanded in judicial custody today. Chanda, however, denied any involvement in the crime.

Late last night, the police stumbled upon the involvement of a fourth youth in the murder. “Initially, there were three suspects — Mohan, Raju and a third unidentified youth. But after investigations, we learnt that there were four of them, of which one was arrested last night. Satranga, the man who had arranged the killers, was arrested from Sakchi area,” said Oraon.

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