Identity fear cost Pritam his life

Patna, Feb. 1: Fear of being identified by the young research scholar from Silchar in Assam compelled his abductors to eliminate Pritam Bhattacharjee in July last year.

The revelation was made by one of nine persons arrested by the Naugachia Government Railway Police in connection with the murder case.

Bhattacharjee's mutilated body was recovered from a place adjacent to Kataria railway station in Naugachia police district on July 15, 2012. The 25-year-old student, who was travelling to Delhi on the Awadh-Assam Express, went missing from the Naugachia railway station on July 9 after he gave chase to a group of men who had snatched his bag.

Additional director-general of police (rail) P.N. Roy said the case has now been solved and the chargesheet against seven of the nine accused has been submitted in the court. "It was a blind case and has been solved on the basis of scientific evidence," he told The Telegraph.

One of the alleged abductors told the police that Bhattacharjee was held captive at Naugachia station on the pretext that his bag containing certificates and other valuables would be returned.

Police officials associated with the investigation said the kidnappers had planned to let him off after extracting ransom money from the family. However, mounting police pressure and fear of being identified by the research scholar compelled them to change their strategy and they finally decided to kill him.

The officials said the abductors were divided on whether to let him go. While one section was of the opinion that the youth should be released, another group opposed it, saying they would all "land in trouble" as Bhattacharjee was well educated and would recognise them in a test identification parade.

The alleged abductors, among them Chandan Sah, Nepali Singh and Subhash Singh, had planned to hand over Bhattacharjee to another gang to strike a deal with his family in Silchar. However, no other gang operating in the area, also known as Bihar's "kidnap zone", accepted the offer as the police had intensified raids on suspected criminal hideouts.

The statements of the abductors were corroborated by the polygraph test conducted on them at the state forensic science laboratory in Patna. The investigating officials said of the nine persons arrested, seven have criminal antecedents and were earlier sent to jail in cases of robbery, theft and loot on moving trains.

The investigating officials said the suspects in the case were identified and arrested on the basis of mobile phone conversations. The hand phones of the suspects were under surveillance and the conversations were recorded, which finally led to their arrest.

Investigating officials claimed the criminals involved in Bhattacharjee's kidnap and subsequent murder changed at least 20 SIM cards to fox the police and avoid identification. "As the accused in the case were earlier sent to jail, they were aware of the investigation methods. So they kept changing not only SIM cards but also the mobile handsets," said an investigating officer.

Besides Subash, Chandan and Nepali, the other suspects identified as Rajesh Mandal, Valmiki Rajak, Vijay Mandal, Jeetan Mandal, Chhotu Sahni and Sudhish Singh admitted their involvement in the crime, the police said.

Jeetan Mandal, brother of a people's representative, was the driver of the SUV which was used for carrying Bhattacharjee to the spot where he was killed.

Roy, the ADG (rail), said a special team headed by deputy superintendent of police Alok Kumar (who was posted in Begusarai district) was formed to solve the case. Inspector-general (rail) Vinay Kumar was assigned to monitor the investigation, he added.


Get stories like this on the Yahoo app and discover more every day.
Download it now.