Lucknow, Sept. 27: The hunt for the killers is on, but it is the cops who are feeling the heat.
The CBI is grilling policemen who it suspects tried to mislead the probe in the Madhumita Shukla murder case before it was handed over to the bureau.
Last night, a CBI team virtually raided two Lucknow police stations to check records and verify statements of two sub-inspectors who helped concoct evidence of Madhumita’s marriage with a Kanpur IIT student to divert attention from former Uttar Pradesh minister Amarmani Tripathi, who fathered the slain poet’s unborn child.
The bureau has established that photographs of Madhumita’s alleged marriage with Anuj Mishra were fabricated and planted at her residence several days after her murder on May 9.
“We are convinced that a sustained effort was made to destroy evidence linking Tripathi to Madhumita and plant fabricated evidence to mislead investigation. We want to know who did it and why,” a CBI official said.
The CBI has shortlisted two dozen policemen — from the rank of inspector-general to head constable — it suspects of being involved in the attempted cover-up.
While Tripathi — arrested last Sunday after his DNA fingerprints matched that of the foetus Madhumita was carrying — is being grilled at the CBI’s Delhi headquarters, another team is quizzing the cops who handled the case before the bureau took over on June 25. Local police had handled investigations for a week before the state CID took over. The CBI was called in when the CID could not complete the inquiry within the one-month deadline fixed by then chief minister Mayavati.
The CBI has interrogated nearly a dozen junior police officials. The senior officials, including Lucknow’s then inspector- general A.K. Jain and senior superintendent of police Anil Agarwal, will be questioned later.
The bureau has been told that a senior officer had asked a sub-inspector to exclude Madhumita’s diary and letters from the recovery memo. Tripathi’s passport, horoscope, letters, railway coupons worth Rs 46,000 and a mobile phone recovered from the murdered poet’s flat were returned to the former minister on orders from higher-ups.
The CBI is also seeking information from state CID officials who investigated the murder.
A bureau official hinted that some state policemen might find themselves charged with abetting the murder as they had tried to obstruct the investigation. “The Madhumita Shukla murder would prove to be a nightmare for some Uttar Pradesh policemen,” he said.
Tripathi’s lawyers today moved the CBI court in Lucknow for bail. His wife, Madhumani, who moved a surrender application in the same court two days ago, today moved the Lucknow bench of Allahabad High Court seeking a directive to the CBI not to arrest her. The applications are likely to be taken up on Monday.