Mango jeweller Santosh Kumar Verma was bludgeoned beyond recognition on the outskirts of the city last week for Rs 40,000 he was carrying as an advance for a second-hand car, police claimed on Thursday, downplaying a love-honour angle that had come to the fore during preliminary probe.
SSP Amol V. Homkar said that the gruesome murder case had been cracked with the arrest of two of the culprits who had attacked the 27-year-old owner of Alankaran Jewellers at isolated Pakipani in the Bodam police station area of Patamda block on the evening of November 28. A third, believed to be the mastermind, is absconding.
The arrested duo, both in their mid-twenties and acquaintances of the victim, have been identified as Rafi Ahmed and Mohammed Basir. They are residents of Gausnagar in Kapali in adjoining Seraikela-Kharsawan district. Police have seized a countrymade pistol and a mobile phone SIM card.
Key accused Mohammed Arif — a resident of Bagan Sahee in Azadnagar, Mango — is, according to sources, the brother of the girl Santosh had been dating for a while. He was averse to his sister’s relationship with the jeweller, which was the possible motive behind the killing. The SSP did not confirm this.
According to Homkar, Arif had called Santosh to Pardih Kalimandir on that fateful night to fix the deal for a second-hand car the victim wanted to buy.
“Arif asked Santosh to bring Rs 40,000 as advance, but the plan was to rob him. The main accused roped in friends Rafi and Basir to execute it. Soon after Santosh reached the spot, Rafi tried to scare him with the gun. When the jeweller did not part with his wallet containing the cash, he tried to shoot him. The pistol failed to go off,” the SSP told mediapersons.
The trio then dragged Santosh to an isolated place and beat him up. While the other two pinned him down, Basir battered Santosh’s head with a boulder, which was found on the spot during investigations.
Homkar said the three had planned to escape on Santosh’s bike, but lost the key in the chaos. “They fled with the cash on foot. The bike was found intact near the victim. Rafi had hidden the pistol in a bush close to the scene. It has been recovered.”
On whether the money had been found, the SSP said Arif had the wads of cash. “He paid Rs 1,000 each to Rafi and Basir for their help.”
If robbing was the motive, why did the gang leave behind the gold rings and the chain the jeweller was wearing?
Homkar reasoned that it was dark, the culprits were perhaps nervous and they wanted to leave in a hurry.
The SSP also parried questions on the love angle.
“We had thought about this, but the accused have confessed that they committed the crime for money. Other theories are subject to investigation.”
He, however, admitted that Santosh spoke to a girl frequently.
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