| Senior superintendent of police Manu Maharaaj with the criminals in Patna on Sunday. Picture by Ranjeet Kumar Dey |
A 15-member gang sedated truck drivers on highways and looted their vehicles to sell the goods in them to wholesalers. Even worse: dreaded gangsters of the state lodged in jails were masterminds behind such heinous acts.
The fact came to the fore during an interrogation of 10 members of an inter-state gang, who were arrested from Gaurichak police station area of Patna rural on Sunday.
Patna senior superintendent of police (SSP) Manu Maharaaj said Birendra Paswan, whose name had earlier figured in the kidnapping of Surat-based businessman’s son Sohail Hingora, was operating from Hajipur divisional jail in Vaishali.
Maharaaj said Paswan, a resident of Mahnar in Vaishali, is lodged in the Hajipur jail. “But he is still carrying out his operation from behind the bars. Paswan is closely associated with the gang headed by Chandan Sonar and Dilip Singh, who had allegedly kidnapped Hingora from Daman for ransom last year,” the SSP said.
Dilip and Chandan formed a 15-member gang, which used to hijack trucks on the highways passing through Bihar and Jharkhand after killing the drivers and the cleaners. “They used to inject sedatives to the drivers and the cleaners after hijacking their goods-laden trucks,” Maharaaj said.
A few weeks ago, the prison directorate had written to jail superintendents asking them to check the activities of some prisoners, who were operating from respective jails through mobile phones. The Patna police had earlier found that some inmates were carrying out their operations from the jail premises. The matter was subsequently brought to the notice of the prison directorate, sources said.
The arrested men confessed their involvement in the hijacking of a truck carrying bags of rice from Bihta in Patna rural a fortnight ago. The driver and the cleaner of the vehicle were injected sedatives following which they fell unconscious and the rice bags were sold to a Jharkhand-based businessman.
According to sources, the looted goods were sold to one Pappu Yadav of Koderma in Jharkhand. Yadav used to deposit money in the bank accounts of Paswan after the goods were disposed of. The gang was active in Bihar, Jharkhand and Bengal, the sources added.
The SSP said the gang was involved in a similar incident reported from the Gaurichak police station area on July 25, 2014. “Over a dozen cases of hijacking of trucks and loot of goods were pending against the arrested persons in Patna, Nalanda, Bhojpur and Rohtas districts,” he told reporters in Patna.
The members used to intercept the vehicles pretending to be transport department personnel on the national and the state highways.
“The drivers and the cleaners used to be taken to roadside motels on the pretext of verification of the documents and subsequently kidnapped. In some cases, the drivers and the cleaners were killed,” the SSP said.