NIA probe on widow wish list

Former Jamshedpur MP Suman Mahto, waiting for a breakthrough in the decade-old murder case of her husband Sunil Mahto, then Jamshedpur MP, on Sunday rued tardy CBI probe and demanded that National Investigation Agency (NIA), which made two arrests in the 2008 murder of Tamar MLA Ramesh Singh Munda, take over.

By Vijay Deo Jha in Ranchi
  • Published 16.10.17
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Suman Mahto

Ranchi: Former Jamshedpur MP Suman Mahto, waiting for a breakthrough in the decade-old murder case of her husband Sunil Mahto, then Jamshedpur MP, on Sunday rued tardy CBI probe and demanded that National Investigation Agency (NIA), which made two arrests in the 2008 murder of Tamar MLA Ramesh Singh Munda, take over.

Popular JMM MP Mahto was watching a football match in Ghatshila when he was shot allegedly by a Maoist squad led by Ranjit Pal alias Rahul on Holi, March 4, 2007. Two of his bodyguards and a party worker were also killed.

Suman, who won the bypoll after her husband's murder and was an MP till 2009, is upset that the CBI had not questioned Rahul who surrendered before Bengal police this January with wife Anita.

A Naxalite on Jharkhand-Bengal border and wanted in 17 Maoist cases in twin Singhbhums, Rahul was carrying cash prizes of Rs 25 lakh (Jharkhand Police) and Rs 5 lakh (CBI) on his head.

The CBI, which took over the Sunil Mahto murder probe in 2008, in its 2010 chargesheet named Rahul the mastermind.

"Why did CBI not question Rahul? If the CBI can't or won't, I request the government to hand over the case to the NIA," Suman said, adding she had gone to Delhi in May to complain about the CBI probe to Prime Minister Narendra Modi but could not meet him.

"I wrote to him (Modi)," she added. "I want to know why Rahul killed my husband. I read somewhere that he killed my husband as he used to visit villages and meet Gram Suraksha Samiti members. That can't be the reason."

Currently, the ACB of the CBI (Ranchi headquarters) is investigating the Mahto case. Asked, a CBI source told this paper that they sought permission from Bengal to interrogate Rahul twice.

"Rahul is currently at Bankura police lines. Technically, he is neither in police custody nor judicial custody. He is simply living under protection of the Bengal government, which has not even replied to our requests. We are exploring legal options," he said.

A Jharkhand Police team had visited Bengal to question Rahul after his surrender, said an ADG rank officer, but not on the Mahto murder. "Bengal and Jharkhand police have a good coordination on the anti-Naxalite front. But Bengal seems to have an unspoken policy not to allow any agency to interrogate or take on remand a surrendered Maoist," he said.