The murderer of State Bank of India’s Patliputra branch head cashier was arrested late Tuesday night from Sasaram after he gave police the slip for nearly three months using a pseudonym and fake identity cards.
Unemployed Manoj Pathak was arrested from Raj Guesthouse in Sasaram, around 200km from the state capital. He had shot dead the head cashier, James Michael Dextas, on June 14 because the latter allegedly misbehaved with him after denying him a car loan.
A resident of Arwal, Manoj changed his hairdo, used pseudonym Akshay Kumar Singh and stayed in different places in the state and outside to dodge the police. He procured driving licence, residential certificate, admit card and school leaving certificate of Bihar School Examination Board in the name of Singh to conceal his identity. He also stopped staying in touch with his family members and friends.
“After killing Michael at his bank, Manoj took an autorickshaw and went straight to the residence of his elder brother Ashok Pathak at Digha, where he was living for a year. The police learnt about Manoj’s Digha address from the tag of the bag he had left behind at the spot. Cops raided Ashok’s home, but Manoj had fled by then. Thereafter, arresting him became an uphill task,” Patna senior superintendent of police (SSP) Amrit Raj said.
Besides the bag, two pistols, including a pen pistol, and a pack wires were recovered from the murder spot.
The SSP said: “Manoj stayed in different lodges in different parts of the state during the past three months. He changed his looks and identity. He also stopped staying in touch with his relatives and friends.”
Manoj procured several identification certificates in the name of Akshay Kumar Singh, his pseudonym. He grew beard and moustache to click the photographs embossed on the certificates.
“During interrogations, Manoj said he was under tension while on the run. He consumed sleeping pills and medicines for stomach aches. Some such drugs were recovered from the room he was arrested from. He claimed to have lived in lodges in Jogbani, Jamshedpur, Lucknow, Arwal and Dehri. The police raided these places, but in vain. Acting on a tip-off, the police finally zeroed in on him at Sasaram,” Raj, the SSP, said.
Manoj told the police that he had approached the State Bank of India’s Patliputra branch for a four-wheeler loan. Michael had assured him of the same.
“Manoj was unemployed. He wanted to buy a four-wheeler and rent it out. He went to the bank for a loan and met Michael, who assured him of all possible help. But his loan was never approved. Manoj made desperate calls to Michael, who had started avoiding him. On June 14, he procured the arms and went to the bank on a bike to terrorise Michael. He went straight away to Michael’s chamber and questioned him about the loan. After a brief altercation, Michael asked Manoj to get out of his chamber. This infuriated Pathak and he took out a pistol. Michael tried to snatch it but Manoj fired at him. The lone unarmed guard at the bank tried to intercept Manoj. But he was lucky to dodge him and other bank employees. He went straight away to his elder brother’s place in Digha in an autorickshaw and then fled from there. Manoj’s nephew later collected the bike from the bank,” the senior officer said.
The police would interrogate Manoj further to find out how he procured the arms and the fake certificates.