Guwahati, April 27: The CID has busted an inter-state truck-lifting racket after it allegedly stole a truck after killing the owner.
A CID source said they had rounded up three key operatives of the gang, which is suspected to be involved in many such truck thefts from different highways in Assam, Meghalaya and Mizoram.
We have finally been able to piece together this complicated jigsaw puzzle with the help of Cachar and Barpeta police after the arrest of one Niranjan Singh of Manipur from Silchar last evening, the source said.
The other two accused arrested in this case have been identified as Asraf Ali of Nalbari and Liaquat Ali of Barpeta. Asraf Ali was arrested from Pattharquarry and Liaquat Ali from Sijubari here in the second week of this month.
The source said the accused had drugged and then killed one Saheb Singh on December 14 night last year and then sold his truck laden with 450 bags of Food Corporation of India (FCI) rice to one Niranjan Singh at Silchar.
He said on December 22, police received a complaint that Saheb Singh, an ex-army man from Bharatpur district of Rajasthan, was transporting rice bags from the FCI godown at Changsari to Mizoram in his truck when he went missing.
Liaquat Ali, who Singh had hired as a temporary driver after his regular driver fell ill, was driving the truck.
It was a blind case as we only had a mobile number from which Singh made the last call to his family in Rajasthan informing that he had got a new driver and was proceeding to Mizoram on December 14, the source said.
After verifying the mobile number, CID came to know that it belonged to Liaquat and launched a search for him.
Through mobile surveillance, we managed to track down Liaquat and one of his associates, Asraf Ali, in and around Bihu, but kept the news of their arrest under wraps in order to apprehend the other accused, he said.
It took us some time to arrest Liaquat since he was frequently changing his SIM card.
The duo confessed that they had drugged Singh and then strangulated him with a gamocha.
They then dumped the body at a roadside forest at Umsning in Meghalaya and sold the truck along with the rice bags to Niranjan Singh in Silchar on December 18 for Rs 7 lakh, the source said.
We then laid a trap and asked Liaquat to call Niranjan to Silchar to receive another stolen truck. As soon as Niranjan arrived in Silchar from Manipur yesterday, he was arrested, he said.
According to Niranjan, he had delivered Saheb Singhs truck to the kingpin of the racket, Jiten Singh, who is based in Thoubal district of Manipur.
Efforts are on to arrest Jiten Singh, against whom around 30 cases are registered in Cachar district alone, the source said. Following the arrest of Liaquat, a CID team went to Umsning in Meghalaya to recover the body.
Umsning police told us they had recovered an unidentified body in the forest on December 17 but had buried it after preserving it for 48 hours, as no one turned up to claim it, the source said.
We have exhumed the body and sent samples for DNA profiling to confirm that it was of Saheb Singh. After we get the DNA report, the body will be handed over to his family.
At present, the body is preserved at the morgue of Gauhati Medical College and Hospital, he said.
The source said another accused in the case one Muzammil, who had introduced Singh with Liaquat after his regular driver fell ill was killed in an encounter with police at Palashbari in Kamrup district in March when he was trying to flee with a stolen trailer.