Jamshedpur, March 1 : For the stunned lawyers of the Chaibasa district court, it was a dead man walking in on Saturday morning. Sambhu Gope, who had been allegedly murdered by his neighbours in 1997, appeared before the district and sessions judge on Saturday. The 17-year-old youth, a resident of Jalimara village under the Sonua police station of West Singhbhum, is now in safe custody of the district police. On August 8, 1997, a house in Dhankatta village in West Singhbhum had been burgled. The villagers had accused Sambhu of the crime and severely beat him up. Sambhu somehow managed to get away. But by the time his father Durgacharan Gope had been informed, there was no trace of the youth. At about the same time a body was found floating near the banks of the river Sanjay, which Durgacharan identified as that of his son. Following this, a case, under Sections 302, 201, 342 and 34 of the IPC, was lodged at the Sonua police station. Police investigation was carried out and six persons ? Magdali Banra, Ram Singh Banra, Sadhucharan Banra, Patka Banra, Silai Hembram and Motu Banra ? were arrested. ?After the identification of the body and the post mortem, all the six had been sent to jail, accused of murdering Sambhu. Later, three of them, Magdali, Ram Singh and Sadhucharan were granted bail,? said D.K. Sinha, deputy superintendent of police (headquarters), West Singhbhum. ?On February 26, we got to know that Sambhu was seen near Sonua and sent the Chakradharpur deputy superintendent of police to Jalimara village. We found that Sambhu was alive and had been seen by many villagers. The next day, Sambhu reached Chaibasa court,? added Sinha. Sources in the West Singhbhum police department disclosed that the three who had got out on bail had started their own investigation into the matter. After taking several villagers of Jalimara village into confidence, they had been able to catch hold of Sambhu, who had been on the run ever since. ?Sambhu had fled to Orissa and had stayed in Rourkela for several months before moving to Sonua earlier this year. With the help of some villagers, the self-styled sleuths caught the youth in Bara village on Thursday night,? police sources said.