Patna, July 21: A railway vendor was today detained in Katihar district in connection with the murder of Pritam Bhattacharjee, six days after the 25-year-old Assam student’s body was found near Kataria railway station.
Sources in police said the vendor, a 30-year-old resident of Bandehra village in Khagaria district, admitted to his involvement in Bhattacharjee’s murder. “We are verifying his statement,” additional director-general of police (rail) Paras Nath Roy said.
The sources added that the vendor told the police that Bhattacharjee was killed because he was carrying Rs 40,000 in cash. “Altogether eight persons had targeted him from Katihar railway station and were keeping a close watch on his activities,” a source in the police quoted the suspect as saying.
Bhattacharjee, who holds a master’s degree in physics and was going to New Delhi by Awadh-Assam Express for a PhD enrolment exam, was traceless since July 9 afternoon when he gave chase to the youths who had snatched his bag as the train had stopped at Naugachia station in Bhagalpur district, about 200km east of Patna. The body of the youth from Silchar in Assam was found under a foot overbridge near Kataria railway station on July 15.
The state police headquarters today constituted two teams to conduct an in-depth investigation into the circumstances leading to the youth’s murder. This comes in the wake of an agitation launched by students of Guwahati University in protest against the murder and some important leads gathered in connection with the murder case.
Roy, who reached Naugachhia today, said two police teams were formed to work on leads gathered in connection with the case. Katihar superintendent of rail police Sukhdeo Paswan said the police were close to cracking the case. “We have gathered some clues and raids are on to arrest the criminals,” he said, adding that the suspect was caught while fleeing with valuables of a former mukhiya, Jai Prakash Mandal.
The sources said Bhattacharjee, who had picked up a fight with members of the gang travelling on the train posing as passengers, could not apprehend that the members of the racket were so well connected and fell in the trap. The gang, which is active on the route, kept him in its captivity for four days before killing him. “Police wale gang ke pichhe pade the (the police were after the gang members),” Singh reportedly told the police.
Though the vendor said Pritam was carrying Rs 40,000 in cash, the youth’s relatives did not agree. “Pritam was carrying Rs 4,000,” said his uncle, K.K. Purkayastha.