A special checking drive prompted by a tip-off netted five criminals at Nimdih level crossing in Seraikela-Kharsawan, about 60km from Jamshedpur, on Wednesday.
Two pistols and six live cartridges were recovered from the five, and the car they were travelling in seized.
Those arrested were identified as Sini resident Sagar Lohar, Rajkishore Mahto of Nimdih, Raju Lohar of Adityapur, Arup Mahto of Rasunia in Chandil and Kamal Kumar Seth, a resident of Kharangajhar in Jamshedpur.
Except Seth, the rest were all history-sheeters who have served jail term. Lohar was wanted in connection with several murder cases.
Seraikela-Kharsawan SP Upendra Kumar said they had a tip off that a gang of armed criminals was moving toward Purulia to commit a murder.
“We set up a special check point at Nimdih level-crossing. The police party was led by sub-inspector Anand Mishra. As they checked all vehicles, they came across the car the five criminals were in,” said Kumar. The SP said the gang was nabbed at 7am. A subsequent search revealed the firearms and ammunition.
During interrogation, the five admitted that they were going to Bagmundi in Purulia district to murder one Mahanand Mahto, who had recently been released on bail from Purulia jail.
“According to those arrested, Mahanand had on August 14 murdered one Kritibas Mahto, following which he was jailed. When he got out on bail recently, Kritibas’s family hired Lohar to avenge the murder by killing Mahanand,” said the senior police officer.
The accused were forwarded to judicial custody on charges of possessing firearms, but they would soon be taken into police remand to ascertain who hired them to kill Mahanand.
The amount that was paid to Lohar and the other four to carry out the killing was also not known.