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Mastermind on run, trader killers in net

Four persons, accused of shooting dead betel leaf trader Manoj Chaurasia on the Bihta overbridge almost a month ago, were arrested on Thursday.

Patna senior superintendent of police (SSP) Manu Maharaaj said a close aide of Manoj, whom the police have not identified for now, had given a contract to the killers to bump him off. The conspiracy was hatched almost a month before the assassination.

The arrested were identified as Subodh Kumar, Abhishek Kumar, Anuj Kumar and Ritesh Kumar.

Manoj was shot dead while he was riding towards a bank from his shop in Bihta Market around 11am on December 21.

“Acting on a tip-off, a team was formed under city SP Jayant Kant and the four accused were nabbed yesterday (Thursday). The bike the three of them were riding was seized along with two countrymade pistols and eight live cartridges. When interrogated, the trio confessed to their role in Manoj’s murder and taking away his bag containing Rs 30,000. Manoj was on his way to a bank to deposit the cash. The men split the booty among themselves and threw the bag into a roadside ditch. Based on their information, the police recovered the bag, which contained some documents. The men also claimed to have spent the entire sum of money,” said SSP Maharaaj.

The police refrained from providing details about the person who had given the contract to kill Manoj and the reason behind this.

“The mastermind is on the run. More details would emerge once he is nabbed. The arrested are professional killers and don’t have much information but they would be interrogated further,” another police officer said.

“The fourth man, Ritesh Kumar, an autorickshaw driver, was nabbed from Patna City’s Agamkuan police station area. Another bike, used in the crime, was seized from his possession. A pick-up van was also used in the crime. When Manoj left his shop for the bank on his bike around 10.30am, three of these men kept an eye on him. The trio tipped off two others, who were waiting for Manoj near an ATM kiosk near Bihta railway crossing,” Maharaaj said.

“Another man waited in the pick-up van nearby. As Manoj crossed the railway crossing and drove over the Bihta overbridge, the man in the van started trailing him. The bike-borne men also joined in the trail. The van hit Manoj’s bike, forcing him to fall. The bike-borne assailants shot him, snatched the bag and fled towards Patna,” Maharaaj added.