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Smugglers’ rivalry whiff in murder
- Police charge prime accused of masterminding crime to maintain dominance in illegal trade

Dec. 19: Police today alleged that transporter Ajit Singh was murdered at the behest of his namesake, who did so in order to maintain his hold over the smuggling of controlled drugs like Phensedyl to Bangladesh and Myanmar through Guwahati.

“During our probe into the murder, we came across information pointing to Singh’s involvement in smuggling of drugs like Phensedyl. He and his namesake used to run the illegal business together but their partnership ended a few years ago and they soon turned rivals. Their rivalry reached such a point that the namesake hired a professional killer to take Singh out of the picture so that he could maintain his hold over the racket,” a city police crime branch source told The Telegraph.

The crime branch today wrote to the customs and directorate of revenue intelligence seeking details of cases registered against the prime accused and his involvement in the racket. “Since cases of Phensedyl smuggling are handled by the two agencies, we have sought their assistance to dig out past records of Singh and his involvement in smuggling,” the source said.

The victim, Ajit Singh, who owned a transport agency, was found dead on the night of November 29 near his office at Beltola Chariali with a bullet injury.

After 20 days of investigation, the additional superintendent of police Amitabh Sinha-led crime branch team arrested the victim’s namesake and one of his employees, Gurpesh Singh, on Monday night and recovered an unlicensed revolver from the former, who owns Assam Delhi Roadways.

The police claimed the prime accused had masterminded the crime and hired Omkar Singh Nalwa, a professional killer, to kill Singh with the help of two others — Gurpesh Singh and Gurmeet Singh. Ajit’s father, Balbir Singh, however, claimed that his son was innocent.

The arrested duo have been booked under Section 302 IPC and under Sections 25 (1) (A)/27 of the Arms Act. Both have been remanded in 10 days’ police custody and a hunt for the professional killer, Nalwa, has been launched.

“According to our information, the accused, Ajit Singh, transports cement, which is legal, and earns a hefty sum smuggling drugs like Phensedyl. He has also acquired property that seems disproportionate to his income and we are trying to get details of these as well. He had started the transport business with one truck in 1999 and now he owns several,” the source said.

According to the police and other intelligence agencies, Guwahati has emerged as a transit route for transporting substances like Phensedyl, Corex and other cough syrups containing high percentages of codeine to neighbouring countries like Bangladesh and Myanmar through Tripura and Manipur. Investigation has also revealed that the cough syrup is transported from Bengal to Agartala from where it is smuggled out to Bangladesh. The police, customs and directorate of revenue intelligence sleuths have seized huge consignments of Phensedyl and other substances while being transported on trucks through the city. DRI sleuths seized 19,000 bottles of Phensedyl on December 6 while being transported to Agartala and Silchar in two Bengal trucks.

The demand for Phensedyl, which contains a high percentage of codeine, is fuelled by fact that drug addicts consume it to get a high and are willing to pay a lot for a bottle. “A 100ml bottle of Phensedyl, which costs around Rs 75, fetches anything between Rs 600 and Rs 700 in Bangladesh,” a customs official said.