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SP killing case back on track

Bhagalpur, Feb. 13: After a wait of six years, it seems justice is finally knocking at the door of the family of slain former Munger superintendent of police, K.C. Surendra Babu.

The Munger police on February 11, decided to reopen the case of Surendra Babu, who along with his five bodyguards was killed in a landmine explosion triggered by the Maoists on January 5, 2005 inside Bhim Bandh wildlife sanctuary.

The slain SP, a 1997 batch IPS, joined duty on December 13, 2004.

In a recent move, the police filed a fresh chargesheet against 13 persons in the court of chief judicial magistrate (CJM), Munger, Monoj Sinha and requested him to reopen the case.

The Munger police earlier received a major setback when the court of first additional sessions judge, Munger had acquitted all the three persons after five years of trial. In 2010, Raj Kumar Das, Mangal Rai and Bhola Rai were acquitted by the court in session trials (No 331/2007 and 429/2006).

All the eyewitnesses in the case, mostly the police, either turned hostile or failed to establish the involvement of the three persons whom Munger police claimed as “hardcore Maoists” and “masterminds” of the incident.

The zeal of the Munger police to continue its war against rebels was virtually cut into size with the acquittals. But the state police headquarters woke up from its slumber on January 5, 2011 after a report appeared in The Telegraph (6 years on, cops grope in dark) and decided to reopen the case.

“We have decided to reopen the case because we could not punish the killers. The case still has sufficient merit to punish the culprits,” said a top-ranking police official at the headquarters soon after The Telegraph published the story. On condition of anonymity, the official admitted that because of poor investigation, the case has become weak.

The state police headquarters assigned A.K. Ambedkar, inspector-general of police (IG), Bhagalpur range to reopen the case. Ambedkar, who visited Munger recently, supervised the records of the case and appointed K. Chandra, deputy superintendent of police, Haveli Khraghpur at Munger as investigating officer (IO) of the case and also asked him to conduct a fresh inquiry on 45 points related to the case.

Chandra on February 11 called on the CJM, Munger and requested him to reopen the SP murder case under Section 137 (8) of the CrPc.

Chandra has mentioned names of 13 persons in the application before the court, who were made accused in the murder of Surendra Babu along with other five policemen — Rudradeo Kumar Thakur, Md. Islam, Shiv Kumar Ram, Md. Abdul Kalam and Omprakash Gupta.

Surendra Babu, who went on raids jointly with the Jamui police, was returning to Munger when a powerful landmine explosion inside the forest of Bhim Bandh wildlife sanctuary blew up his car.

Chandra said before the CJM, Munger that because of fear, the eyewitnesses turned hostile but he assured the court that they would certainly speak out the truth before the court now.

Earlier, the court of first additional sessions judge, Munger, Prem Darshan Singh Diwakar had acquitted Rajkumar Das on February 2, 2010 and subsequently Mangal Rai and Bhola Rai on May 5, 2010, in the session cases (number 331/2007 and 429/2006) for the offences under sections 302/34 of the IPC, Section 27 of the Arms Act and 3/4 of the Explosive Substance Act for lack of evidence.

The Munger police have again involved Mangal Rai, Bhola Rai and Rajkumar Das in the case.

Ambedkar told that some Maoists who were earlier arrested by the police after the acquittal of the three persons, had confessed to their involvements in the killing episode.

“The leads provided by them would be a vital clue in the new investigation,” he informed.

He said police would seek to remove the lapses in the early investigation that had eluded them so far to put the accused persons involved in the killing behind the bars.

Legal experts, however, expressed doubt over the promptness of Munger police to punish the culprits. “Technically it would not be easy to prove the involvement of the three persons who were termed as masterminds of the incident. Subsequently, the local court had acquitted them after having no evidences against them during the five-year-long legal battle. A person could not be punished twice for a single case,” said a senior Munger-based lawyer, Brajendra Kumar. Many legal experts also echoed Kumar and said it would not be easy for the police to produce the eyewitnesses before the court.

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