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Murder prompts tenant-check drive

Police have decided to speed up the drive of verifying tenants’ credentials in the wake of contractor Rajeev Singh’s murder at his apartment complex.

Singh, an associate of JD(U) MLA from Mokama Anant Kumar Singh, was shot dead on Sunday when he was returning to his flat at Shiv Jishnu Enclave in the upscale Anandpuri area. Assailants, who had hired flat No. 201 in the same apartment based on false credentials, fired 17 bullets at Singh from carbines and 9mm pistols and killed him.

The owner of flat No. 201 (one Praveen Sinha) had told police he had rented out the flat to one Sudhir, who had introduced himself as an employee of a pharmaceutical company.

During police verification, the identity proof submitted to the landlord was found to be fake. The occupants of the flat — four persons according to the apartment’s security guard Sushil Srivastava — were also absconding after the murder, hinting at their involvement in the case.

The security guard said the assailants had threatened him when he refused to open the main gate after the murder. They scaled the apartment’s boundary wall to escape.

Safety of the citizens is a priority, senior superintendent of police (SSP) Manu Maharaj said, adding that the police have yet again appealed to the landlords to verify the credentials of their tenants.

“We have already uploaded the tenant verification forms on the official site of Patna police for the online verification process,” he said. He has also issued instructions to all the station house officers to intensify the drive following Singh’s murder.

“We have decided to seek the help of a non-government organisation for the work because of shortage of personnel at some of the police stations,” he told The Telegraph on Wednesday.

Recently, credentials of around 50,000 people living in rented accommodation in areas falling under the jurisdiction of Patrakar Nagar police station were verified with the help of a non-government organisation.

“Needless to say, many landlords were opposed to the move and even refused to comply with the directive,” the SSP said.

Now, the police are bent on enforcing the directive though.

“If the landlords don’t submit their tenant verification forms, we will initiate disciplinary action against them under Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). After all, we have to ensure safety and security of the citizens,” he said.

Section 188 of IPC refers to disobedience of an order promulgated by a public servant and carries a punishment of simple imprisonment up to a month and a fine, which may extend to Rs 200, or both.

“The police would lodge FIRs, if needed, against those refusing to comply with the directive,” the SSP said.

Last January, a drive for verifying tenants’ credentials was launched in areas falling under the jurisdiction of Agamkuan police station in Patna City.

“The response was tremendous. Once the landlords asked their tenants to furnish their details, several of them abandoned the rented accommodation and shifted,” said Maharaj.

A senior police officer associated with the drive said: “The drive launched last year did not gain momentum, as the police failed to initiate action against the defaulters. Several of the landlords also lived outside the city and the flats or houses concerned were rented out through property dealers.”

Sources said several landlords don’t focus on the quality of the tenants but are concerned about the rent. They allowed local brokers to strike deals with tenants, even dubious ones, on their own.

The officer said an appeal to get the credentials of tenants verified had been made from landlords time and again, but the result was same every time.

“The verification of tenant credentials should be made mandatory for all the landlords to check crime in the city,” he said.