Rahul Jha at Pradhannagar police station on Sunday. Picture by Kundan Yolmo
Siliguri, Dec.2: The body of a ration shop owner, whose family alleged that he had got threats from land brokers and then went missing 11 days ago, was recovered from a septic tank behind his shop last night.
Police have arrested six men.
According to investigators, 52-year-old Satyaranjan Ghosh was throttled to death on the night of November 19 and dumped in the tank.
The law enforcers said Ghosh had been murdered because he had refused to sell off to land broker Rahul Jha his plot at Pradhannagar, a busy part of Siliguri where the two-and-a-half cottahs owned by the ration dealer could cost over Rs 25 lakh.
Ghosh’s wife Anita today said that those who had murdered her husband should be convicted with exemplary punishments. “My husband was regularly threatened by some people who wanted to grab our plot. I had no clue about them but had found my husband extremely worried for some days before his disappearance,” she said.
“Today, I learnt about the incident and arrests and want arrested persons to be awarded exemplary punishment.”
All the arrested persons — Rahul Jha and Chetan Jha of Tumbajote in Matigara, Satyendra Prasad of Green Park, and Uday Singh, Rakesh Yadav and Sujit Singh of Mallaguri — were remanded in police custody for seven days by the additional chief judicial magistrate’s court here today. The police said like Rahul, Satyendra was also a land broker, and the other four men were their sidekicks.
Ghosh had bought a plot measuring two-and-a-half cottahs from Rahul’s father in 2005 for Rs 1.5 lakh. On this plot, he set up his ration shop.
A. Ravindranath, the additional deputy commissioner of police, said: “Rahul struck a deal with Satyendra recently and both pressured Ghosh to sell the land to Rahul.”
The police officer said “the ration dealer didn’t succumb to their coercion”.
On November 19, Rahul invited Ghosh to his residence at Tumbajote, about 2km from Siliguri, on the pretext of holding discussions with him on the land.
“At Rahul’s house, he and the other five arrested persons strangled Ghosh to death. They dumped his body in a septic tank just behind the ration shop,” said a police source.
Anita lodged a missing-person complaint at Pradhannagar police station on November 20. She filed an FIR on November 28 alleging that her husband had been abducted by unknown criminals. Rahul or the other five were not named in the FIR.
“We formed a team led by Rajiv Bhattacharya, the inspector in charge of Pradhannagar police station,” officer Ravindranath said.
“We got some information based on which Rahul was picked up. He spilled the beans about the murder during interrogation and we caught the other five men also for killing the trader,” he said.
All the arrested are aged between 30 and 35 years.
The police said the six men would be quizzed again to find out if they had similar nefarious plans to obtain land at other places in Siliguri.