Patna, Feb. 9: A 25-year-old motor mechanic was allegedly burnt alive by criminals involved in illegal mining in Sheikhpura, around 125km northeast of the capital, in the early hours today.
Sanjay Raut, a resident of Bewale village on the outskirts of Sheikhpura district headquarters, was found dead in the Kare hills area. A tractor was also set on fire at the spot.
Police are trying to ascertain if Raut was murdered or died after suffering burn injuries when the tractor met with an accident late on Friday night.
Lalan Kumar, the victim's brother, identified the body by the partially burnt face and the wallet found on it. He alleged that Raut was murdered by mining mafia operating in the town and lodged an FIR at Sheikhpura police station (Bewale falls under its jurisdiction).
He accused a transporter and a driver, Birju, of the murder. Lalan said Raut had a dispute with the transporter, involved in illegal stone quarrying at the Kare hills, and was allegedly threatened with dire consequences.
Lalan also told the police that last night they had started to search for Raut after he did not return home from a garage in the town. When the employees of the garage were asked about Raut, the family was told he had left around 8.30pm after receiving a call on his cellphone.
"The hunt for Sanjay continued for the entire night. Early this morning, we came to know that a youth had been burnt to death on the bypass road. We were shocked to find that it was Sanjay. He had succumbed to his burn injuries. He was called there and murdered as part of a well-planned conspiracy," Lalan said.
Sheikhpura superintendent of police (SP) Meenu Kumari said: "Prima facie, it appears that the deceased came under the wheels of the tractor, which caught fire after meeting with an accident."
The officer added that the police were aware of illegal mining in the area and the quarry being transported at night.
"Last night too, seven tractors were transporting stone chips. One of the drivers, Birju, lost control of the vehicle under the influence of liquor and met with an accident," she said.
The SP, however, said the police were investigating into Raut's death from all possible angles.