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Twin murders spur NH stir

Ranchi, Aug. 10: Hundreds of Gumla residents, including teachers, today blocked NH-23, the link between state capital Ranchi and its Chhattisgarh counterpart Raipur, to protest the twin murders of a headmaster and his sister.

While teachers of government middle and primary schools threatened to go on an indefinite strike from tomorrow, the CPI-ML (Liberation) gave a bandh call in Gumla on August 14 if the culprits were not arrested immediately. However, the police are still groping in the dark.

Prakash Toppo (40), the headmaster of a middle school at Bansari village, and his elder sister Saroj Toppo, in her 50s, were found dead near Rukighati, Gumla, yesterday.

Prakash was abducted on Wednesday while on his way home. Saroj, also a teacher, went to pay a ransom of Rs 3 lakh to the abductors to ensure her brother’s safe release, but went missing in the small hours of Thursday.

After the police recovered their bodies yesterday, agitated teachers staged demonstrations, forced most government offices across the district to close and ransacked the office of district superintendent of education Sachchidanand Tigga, demanding the immediate removal of Gumla deputy commissioner Veena Shrivastava.

Incidentally, the brother-sister duo were the first cousins of Dhanbad SP Hemant Toppo, but the family members initially kept the police in the dark and informed them on Friday morning only after Saroj went missing.

Gumla SP Bheemsen Tuti argued that the brother-sister duo were killed before the family members reported the kidnap. “The police were informed on Friday morning after Saroj went missing. Everything was over by that time,” he said.

The state director-general of police (DGP) Rajeev Kumar said: “Murder after ransom payment is rather intriguing. Generally, kidnappers set free their hostages after receiving money. We are carefully probing it from different angles.”