The Jharkhand high court on Thursday pulled up the state government over “delay” in filing of the FIR and said this incident and another — the alleged murder of an advocate in the Tamar area of Ranchi recently — were a direct attack on the “justice dispensation system.”
Bar associations of the Supreme Court, the HC and Dhanbad courts demanded a CBI probe into the case.
ADJ Uttam Anand
A CCTV footage of Wednesday’s incident shows Uttam Anand had come out of his Judges’ Colony home for a walk at 5am. Minutes later, an auto-rickshaw sped up from behind and ran over him a few metres away from Randhir Verma Square, an upmarket locality in Dhanbad. A passer-by took the injured judge to hospital, where he was declared “brought dead.”
Police lodged a case of murder on a written complaint by Kriti Sinha, wife of the deceased judge, and arrested two persons, SSP Dhanbad Sanjiv Kumar said. Following orders of the Jharkhand high court, police formed a special investigation team (SIT) to probe the incident. The SIT will be headed by ADGP Sanjay Latekar.
“We have seized the autorickshaw that hit the judge from behind while he was jogging by the roadside on Wednesday morning. The auto rickshaw was traced to Giridih district and two persons, including the driver Lakhan Verma and his accomplice Rahul Verma, who is said to be sitting on the middle seat of the auto, have been arrested. They are both residents of Dhanbad,” said Kumar.
The video strongly suggests that the ‘accident’ was no accident. That the act was carried out in daylight underlines the brazenness of those behind it. The police should not only investigate the man behind the wheel, but also find those behind the ‘killing’, in what seems to be acold, calculated act.
The SSP, however, refused to divulge details of the autopsy report and findings of the investigation so far, saying that scientific investigation of the case by a forensic team was on. When asked whether it was a case of accident or murder, the SSP said they were investigating different angles of the case.
“There is an old case of mobile theft against Lakhan Verma and the police are looking for any criminal antecedents of Rahul,” he added.
Four days earlier, the judge had reportedly rejected the bail petition of Ravi Thakur, lodged in Dhanbad jail on charges of demanding extortion money and hurling a bomb at the house of one Rajesh Gupta, a close associate of Baghmara MLA Dhullu Mahto. Ravi Thakur is said to be a protégé of UP gangster Aman Singh, who is currently lodged in Hotwar jail Ranchi. Aman is the prime accused in Dhanbad deputy mayor Neeraj Singh murder case. Aman has also been named in more than a dozen cases for trying to extort money from persons trading in coal and land in Dhanbad and threatening them with dire consequences.
Besides, Anand was also handling the murder case of one Ranjay Singh, the trial of which was likely to start soon. Ranjay Singh was a close associate of Sanjeev Singh, former Jharia MLA and son of former Dhanbad strongman Suryadeo Singh. Sanjeev is also languishing in jail since 2017 in the murder of Neeraj Singh, who was his cousin.
Neeraj Singh’s wife Purnima Singh contested from the Jharia assembly seat on a Congress ticket and defeated Ragini Singh, wife of Sanjeev Singh.