Subodh Rai in custody in Patna on Wednesday. Picture by Sachin
The special task force (STF) jawans on Wednesday arrested Subodh Rai, a criminal-turned-politician, from Didarganj in Patna City for his alleged involvement in last year's murder of Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) sympathiser Brijnathi Singh.
Brijnathi was killed with assault rifles on the outskirts of Patna on February 5 in a daring daylight attack that had stunned the city.
Acting on a tip-off, an STF team raided Rai's hideout near Kachchi Dargah under the jurisdiction of Didarganj police station and apprehended Subodh. However, no weapon was seized from Subodh, 56, a resident of Raghopur in neighbouring Vaishali district.
"We cordoned off the area following intelligence inputs that Subodh was hiding at a house in Kachchi Dargah. We took him into custody before he could escape this time," said a police official, who was part of the raiding team. Subodh had managed to dodge the police team last year.
A senior police official said Subodh was immediately taken to Fatuha police station where senior officials quizzed him. Later, he was produced before a local court, which remanded him in judicial custody for 14 days. Subodh, considered close to a senior RJD leader, was absconding ever since Brijnathi's murder on February 5 last year. Brijnathi was attacked at Kachchi Dargah in Patna City when he was returning with his relatives from Patna in a car.
The assailants, equipped with sophisticated weapons, had sprayed bullets on his car killing him on the spot.
On March 10 last year, Sunil Rai, an alleged conspirator, was nabbed from Bengal's Burdwan district. Later his four associates - Gorelal, Bulkan Rai, Roshan Kumar, Amardeep and Satya Prakash - were arrested from their different hideouts.
During interrogation, Subodh reportedly said that the plan to murder Brijnathi was chalked out 10 days before the incident. Accordingly, the shooters started keeping a watch on his movements.
On February 5, as soon as Brijnathi left for Patna from Raghopur, two members of the gang - Munna and Ranvijay - followed him on a motorbike. Munna overtook Brijnathi's sport utility vehicle (SUV) near Rustampur and informed Sunil, who was waiting at Didarganj.
Sunil and his shooters fired at Brijnathi at Didarganj, leading to his death. Two other relatives of Brijnathi also received bullet wounds in the firing. Patna senior superintendent of police (SSP) Manu Maharaaj had earlier said that Brijnathi's murder was the fallout of political rivalry.
On February 29 last year, the police attached Subodh's property as he was evading arrest in the case. Later, a country-made assault rifle, allegedly used in the murder, was recovered from the house of Suresh Rai, an RJD leader whose father Uday Narayan Rai was industries minister in the Lalu cabinet of 1990-95. The bullets were fired from the building owned by Suresh, who pleaded his innocence.
The feud between Subodh's and Brijnathi's families is well-known. Brijnathi was Fatehpur mukhiya (panchayat head) in 2001. Later, his brother Amarnathi's wife was elected mukhiya. But, investigating officials said, Subodh wanted to get his wife elected as mukhiya of the same panchayat.
Brijnathi was killed a few weeks ahead of the panchayat polls held in March last year.