The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Scanner on minister & top cop

Jan. 17: A day after Mahendra Prasad Singh was shot dead in Giridih, the focus shifted to who could have killed the CPI-ML legislator with his wife naming a state minister and the district's police chief in her complaint.

Shanti Devi, the wife of the CPI-ML leader who was gunned down by unknown assailants yesterday, went to Saria police station in Giridih with an FIR (copy with The Telegraph) in which she named industries minister Ravindra Rai and Giridih superintendent of police Deepak Verma for having a hand in her husband's murder.

Police, however, did not accept the complaint, arguing they had already registered an FIR on the basis of a statement made by a CPI-ML worker, Vijay Singh. This FIR is against unnamed persons.

Vijay, in his statement, is learnt to have given a blow-by-blow account of the incident.

Singh was shot dead by three motorcycle-borne men, dressed as commandos, shortly after he had finished addressing a rally at a village in his constituency of Bagodar. The administration was quick to blame the Naxalites. But the CPI-ML insists their leader was murdered with the connivance of the police and politicians.

Minister Rai scoffed at the allegation levelled by Shanti Devi and the CPI-ML. 'Mahendra Singh was my political rival and not a personal enemy. The Liberation cadre are exploiting the sentiments of his aggrieved family members,' he said.

Giridih SP Verma said the Saria police station officials did not get any such complaint naming him and Rai. But the copies distributed to the press carries the receiving initials of the police station staff.

Verma dismissed the charges brought against him by Shanti Devi. 'I have no problem if an inquiry is conducted by any agency, including the CBI, as demanded by Singh's family. Singh was a politician and because of that he raised many issues, some which related to me. But this does not mean that I am involved in this conspiracy.'

Shanti Devi, in her petition to the Saria police station officer-in-charge, said: 'I believe that Giridih SP Deepak Verma and Ravindra Rai, minister in the Jharkhand government, have a hand in the murder of my husband.'

She further mentioned: 'My husband used to tell me again and again that Deepak Verma, SP, had threatened him since he had raised his voice against the SP in connection with (Hazaribagh lawyer) Prashant Sahay's murder. There was also animosity with minister Ravindra Rai, who publicly threatened him with dire consequences.'

Director-general of police Shivaji Mahan Cairae promised an impartial investigation. 'Prima facie it appears to be an act committed by the Maoists. We are getting the matter investigated on a priority basis. No matter how powerful and influential the accused may be, the law will take its course,' Cairae said.

Singh's son, Vinod Prasad Singh, will try to retain his father's seat. He submitted his papers today from Bagodar, which Singh had won since 1990. 'The work started by my father will continue,' said the 28-year-old, who is a documentary filmmaker. Vinod has a master's degree in geology from Banaras Hindu University.


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