Jamshedpur, Feb. 23: A special police team today began probing a possible animosity angle between Tata Motors and its supply vendors, a day after a senior company official was gunned down near his home in an elite city neighbourhood. Patrolling has also been stepped up in the area, which was earlier manned by only a thana outpost.
In the afternoon, representatives from the auto major led by plant head A.B. Lall met East Singhbhum SSP Amol V. Homkar to push for quick arrests, seek extra cover for employees and offer help in investigations. A social outfit has, on the other hand, threatened a city shutdown if police failed to nab the culprits in 24 hours.
Brajesh Sahay (40) — an assistant general manager with TML Drivelines, a subsidiary of Tata Motors that manufactures axles and transmissions for commercial vehicles — was fatally shot when he had barely stepped out of his car in front of his 18C Dalma Road bungalow in Nildih, Telco, around 9.30pm yesterday.
The two unidentified men, who pumped four bullets into Sahay’s head, chest and neck before escaping on a bike, are suspected to be hired killers.
The bleeding official was rushed to Tata Motors Hospital, 4km away, where doctors declared him brought dead around 10.10pm. The body was kept in the hospital’s mortuary for the night and taken to MGM Medical College in Dimna for post-mortem this afternoon.
SSP Homkar said he had formed a special team to investigate the case. “The team is being led by city SP Karthik S. and comprises two DSPs and the OCs of Telco, Parsudih and Golmuri police stations. The city SP is camping in Telco. We have got some definite leads,” Homkar said, refusing to reveal more for the sake of investigations.
An officer, closely associated with the high-profile probe, hinted at the auto major’s rift with spares suppliers. He said for the past four-five months, the company was strictly scrutinising credentials of vendors. Only those owning units in Adityapur were being given supply orders.
“Earlier, many vendors procured spares from big cities like Delhi and Pune, and supplied it to the company, saying they came from ailing ancillary units in Adityapur. Brajesh Sahay was one of the key executives who helped implement the new rule of scrutiny that put an end to the malpractice. In the process, he may have earned the wrath of some influential vendors. The manner in which the official was killed with the help of professional shooters hints at vendetta,” the senior officer said, preferring anonymity.
Another theory doing the rounds is the resentment among a section of employees who were forced to seek retirement late last year. It is believed that the murdered executive was among those who were vocal in supporting the VRS scheme in the face of economic crisis.
Police are waiting to question Sahay’s widow, a former employee with a private sector bank who quit working two months ago. Sweta Sahay was admitted to Tata Motors Hospital in the afternoon after she developed health issues.
Sources said the killers had probably done a recce of the area. They knew when Sahay would return and exactly how much time he would take to step out of his car and walk home. They also knew the stretch was deserted in the evenings. The bike was stationed nearly 50 metres towards the western Birsanagar end of Nildih Colony. The assailants briskly walked to their escape bike before they were spotted.
The SSP said Golmuri and Telco police had been directed to intensify patrolling in Nildih and its adjoining areas. “This posh neighbourhood is lined with bungalows and duplexes of executives, but remains deserted after sundown. There is a TOP in the area, but we have decided to beef up security,” he added.
The three-member delegation from Tata Motors, which met Homkar at his office in Sakchi today, comprised company spokesperson Captain P.J. Singh and head of security Nasib Singh Kadian, besides Lall.
“We have expressed our concern over this brutal act of murder and want police to arrest the culprits as soon as possible. We also want them to offer security to our company’s employees in the township and have expressed our willingness to co-ordinate in investigations,” Singh said.
The district unit of Akhil Bharatiya Kayastha Mahasabha too met the SSP this evening and said they would sponsor a bandh in Jamshedpur if Sahay’s killers were not brought to book in a day’s time. The murdered executive belonged to the Kayastha community.