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Tata murder cuffs on warped quartet

Jamshedpur, July 27: A gang of four criminals — led by an apparently psychotic constable who masterminded motiveless gun assaults on motorists including five Tata executives in Jamshedpur — have landed in the dragnet following months of concerted police efforts and one cardinal mistake.

Constable No. 1885 of Golmuri Police Lines Anjan Kumar Shukla, his sharpshooter Manish Pandey and their two other accomplices, Mangal Tiwary and Kanhaiya Jha, were arrested from different parts of the city and its fringes yesterday. While kingpin Shukla was nabbed from Telco, Pandey and Tiwary were netted from Parsudih and Jha held from Burmamines. Apart from Shukla, who is 30 years old, the rest are in their mid-twenties.

The gang is accused of nine grievous instances of murder, assault and extortion (see box) in Jamshedpur, including the fatal attacks on Tata Motors officer Brajesh Sahay and Tata Steel executive Ratnesh Raj. Three firearms, including two automatic 7.65-calibre pistols, a cache of ammunition, a cellphone, a SIM card and two stolen bikes were found from them.

Kolhan DIG Mohammed Nehal announced the breakthrough this afternoon.

“Anjan Shukla masterminded the serial shootings without any apparent reason. He had been suspended from the force last October and that is when we suspect he formed his gang. His shocking actions continued even after he was reinstated in the department in May,” said the senior officer.

The gang’s last subversive attempt — and perhaps the most amateurish one — was as recent as July 21, when it demanded a rangdaari (levy) of Rs 20 lakh from Tata Motors contractor Satish Prasad and threatened him with dire consequences if he failed.

According to DIG Nehal, the call was a mistake because police were already hot on the gang’s trail and technology helped them nail the quartet.

“After a complaint was received, SSP Amol V. Homkar set up a cellphone surveillance team. The district police also procured the crime analyser software that spilled SIM details, which helped the team reach Shukla yesterday. In the interrogation chamber, Shukla named his aides who were then arrested.”

It is being suspected that Shukla has been suffering from psychotic disorder over professional ups and downs.

“During interrogation, he said he was always humiliated by everyone — from seniors to common man, especially motorists. His grievances apparently went unheard. He was also suspended from the force thrice in four years. All this together made him vengeful perhaps,” Nehal said.

According to what Shukla told police, he and his associates would move around the city on two bikes and stop at the sight of any “conceited” motorist. “The four would follow the car and fire on the driver, mostly without any intention to rob the person or steal the vehicle,” the DIG said.

He added that Shukla was being dismissed from service and all four had been forwarded to judicial custody till further legal proceedings.

Nehal lauded senior officers, including SSP Homkar, city SP Karthik S. and DSP (law and order) V.N. Singh, as well as OCs of Bistupur, Sakchi, Golmuri, Parsudih, Sidhgora, Sonari, Jugsalai and Telco police stations for the breakthrough.

EVIL DIARY

July 21: An extortion call, demanding Rs 20 lakh, made to Tata Motors contractor Satish Prasad

June 15: Tata Motors engineers Sharandeep Singh and Gurpreet Singh, travelling in an SUV, shot at and injured

March 10: Tata Steel’s equipment maintenance manager Ratnesh Raj shot at in Ghorabandha while he was getting down from his car. The young executive succumbed to his wounds at a Gurgaon hospital a month later

February 27: Owner of a fast food centre at Gadra in Govindpur thana area shot at

December 22: Tata Motors assistant general manager Brajesh Sahay shot dead near his residence in Nildih in Telco police station area while he was getting out of his car

December 21: A youth, Lakhvinder Singh, shot at and critically injured near Arogya Nursing Home in Sidhgora while he was just sitting in his car

December 15: Former serviceman Lalit Kumar gunned down at Gadra in Parsudih

December 10: An elderly man shot at near Tata Motors Hospital as he sat in his car

November 23: Tata Steel officer Vipul Kumar grievously wounded by bullets near United Club in Bistupur; he survived after prolonged treatment