Ranjit Singh Kohli, alias Rakibul Hassan, and his mother Kaushalya Rani being produced in a Dwarka court in New Delhi on Wednesday. PTI photo
Ranchi, Aug. 27: Jharkhand rifle shooter Tara Shahdeo’s husband, who she has accused of deceiving her into marriage, forcibly trying to convert her to Islam and tormenting her for over a month, was arrested from Delhi last night, a week after the alleged faith crime hogged national headlines.
The apprehension of an elusive and “influential” Ranjit Singh Kohli (30), alias Rakibul Hassan, took place within four hours of the state furnishing a faxed report, on what Hindu outfits term love jihad, to the home ministry, a bizarre coincidence that has prompted the 23-year-old victim to dub the capture staged.
A court in Delhi today granted Jharkhand Police a three-day transit remand of the accused and his arrested mother who were flown in to Ranchi in the evening. “We will produce him (Kohli) in court tomorrow, seeking police remand,” Ranchi SSP Prabhat Kumar said after the accused was brought to the capital at 7.40pm.
Jharkhand DGP Rajeev Kumar said Kohli and mother Kaushalya Rani were nabbed by a joint police team from the Dwarka area of the national capital around 10.45pm yesterday.
According to state home secretary N.N. Pandey, the report on Tara’s torment was sent to the home ministry around 7pm yesterday. “It contained preliminary information about the case and investigation update,” he said.
Kohli’s mobile phone, a laptop and some documents were seized last night during his arrest. Earlier, Ranchi police had sealed two rented apartments in elite neighbourhoods of the state capital and seized six cars. Kohli’s passport was also impounded.
The DGP, however, claimed that they had found no incriminating evidence yet. “Documents and IDs do not establish him (Kohli) as a convert. We will investigate the angle (of he being a Muslim) now that we have the accused in our custody,” Kumar said.
Asked whether police would try to probe Kohli’s alleged links with top politicians, bureaucrats, cops and even a vigilance registrar of Jharkhand High Court — who the young markswoman said played a crucial role in convincing her family into giving their consent for the wedding — the DGP decided to clam up.
“Let me make one thing very clear. Being the head of state police, I am under no one’s pressure. Police will ensure fair probe. Every angle will be investigated and every suspect grilled. Police will protect the girl,” Kumar said.
Sources in Delhi police, however, said that during interrogation, Kohli had confessed that he had been offering namaz since 2007. He also said that his mother Kaushalya, alias Kauser, was a Muslim by birth, had embraced his father’s religion after marriage and had apparently converted back after his death.
Besides accusing her husband of using force to convert her, Tara has had raised doubts over Kohli’s “dubious businesses” including some that “involved girls”.
Tara has claimed he enjoys political patronage and police protection, and that yesterday’s arrest is a mere ploy to avoid being investigated by national agencies like the CBI or NIA.
“He (Kohli) is no ordinary criminal. He is a cunning liar. After the Centre sought a report from the state, he decided to get arrested by police. He knows this would channel the case to state agencies, where he can use his influence,” Tara said today.
To corroborate her claims, she pointed out that police could not reach Kohli so far while he was easily accessible to the media. “Last night, he was live on national TV over phone, claiming his innocence for an hour. During the interview, he also said that he would appear in person at the right time. Minutes later, news of his arrest broke. Doesn’t it all seem staged?”
According to Tara, police could have arrested Kohli earlier because she had told them he was in Delhi at least three days ago.
“But, not a move was made. They (police) gave him adequate time to tamper with evidence. I suspect, all the information I gave police, were passed on to him so that he could take necessary precautions. Police never worked on the love jihad angle; they kept presenting my case as one of marital dispute. I demand the case be probed by the CBI or NIA,” she added.
The DGP denied the allegations. “We had sent a team to Delhi three days ago and were closely monitoring Kohli’s moves. As soon as we got a confirmation on the man, we nabbed him,” he said.
The medal-winning shooter made more serious allegations against Jharkhand Police.
“Instead of supporting me, DIG (South Chotanagpur) Praveen Kumar Singh asked me to leave the city (Ranchi) for 15 days. He asked me, ‘do you think that by giving statement to the media you will become popular? Go somewhere for 15 days and take rest, and get well soon’,” Tara quoted Singh as saying.
In response, DIG Singh said: “My advice is being misinterpreted. She was giving regular statements to the media and jeopardising her own safety. We were tired of explaining the same to her.”