The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Lawyer murder breakthrough

Hazaribagh, Oct. 18: Police claim to have solved the murder of crusader lawyer Prashant Sahay, with Sriniwas Sharma ' the policeman arrested in the case ' allegedly naming the brother of a coal-belt don as the main conspirator.

Prashant, the grandson of former Bihar chief minister K.B. Sahay, was gunned down on September 5 in front of a local nursing home.

Sharma allegedly named Upendra Rai, the brother of Dhanbad-based don Manager Rai, in the killing of Prashant who was fighting a case against a senior police officer. Sources said he was fighting to expose the nexus between the coal mafia and officials. The lawyer had even shot off letters about the alleged involvement of the Rai brothers in coal smuggling.

The arrested policeman, who was posted at Jai Prakash Narayan Central Jail, was rounded up on Saturday and interrogated by police superintendent Ashish Batra himself. Sharma allegedly revealed that Upendra had hired the henchmen of Sanjay Singh ' the head of the Pandav Sena who is now in Beur jail in Patna ' to kill Prashant.

Sharma said he was asked by Upendra to arrange an appointment with Singh ' who is the policeman's relative. After meeting Upendra, Singh asked the policeman to help a contract killer Mukesh. Upendra had paid Singh Rs 2 lakh in the last week of August to kill Prashant, he claimed. A few days later, on September 3, Mukesh and another contract killer, Tiwari, arrived in Hazaribagh.

Next day, the two contract killers and Upendra went to Prashant's residence at Guru Gobind Singh Road but were prevented from entering the lawyer's room by German Shepherd dogs.

Later, the trio got an opportunity to shoot at Prashant in front of a nursing home. Mukesh and Tiwari shot the lawyer seven times from point-blank range.

They later dumped the motorcycle they had used and fled in Upendra's Bolero jeep to take shelter in Madhuban in Giridih.

Batra said Sharma was the main link between the killers and Upendra. Call details reveal that the two spoke to each other several times before and after Prashant's murder. Sharma had gone to Koderma station that day to see his son off to Delhi and was informed by Upendra at 12.10 pm that Prashant was gunned down.

Investigations threw up the names of several people as Prashant's enemies, including Manager Rai against whom many cases are pending.

Batra said the senior superintendent of police, Patna, has been urged to raid Beur jail to recover the mobile set from Singh. He said some influential people might be involved with Upendra in the murder of Prashant.

Chief minister Arjun Munda had on Saturday bowed to persistent demands for a CBI inquiry into the case.

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