BJP's Jharia MLA Sanjeev Singh at Saraidhela thana in Dhanbad on Tuesday. Picture by Gautam Dey
Dhanbad, April 11: Jharia MLA Sanjeev Singh was arrested today for plotting the murder of his cousin and Congress leader Niraj Singh last month, steering police investigations towards a logical direction amid growing clamour for a CBI probe into the high-profile coal town killing.
Another person, Dablu Mishra, who had arranged rented accommodation for the four fugitive shooters has also landed in cuffs, taking the total number of arrests in the case to eight.
Sanjeev (31), a BJP leader who had defeated former Dhanbad deputy mayor Niraj to win the Jharia seat in the 2014 Assembly polls, reached Saraidhela police station around 2pm after he heard that the court of chief judicial magistrate had issued an arrest warrant against him in the morning. He was accompanied by more than 100 supporters while a posse of policeman stood guard at his residence, Singh Mansion.
The MLA was arrested in the presence of a high-level team, led by Bokaro DIG Saket Singh and comprising Dhanbad SSP Manoj Ratan Chothe, city SP Anshuman Kumar and DSP (law and order) D.N. Banka, which also grilled him for over two hours. But, the MLA reiterated he was innocent.
Police are likely to seek court permission for a polygraph test.
"The MLA of Jharia has been arrested on the basis of evidence gathered against him. We believe he was involved in the murder conspiracy.
"Call details suggest that others arrested were present at/near the MLA's residence before and after the incident. He has denied involvement and we plan to seek permission for a lie test," DIG Singh told the media in the evening.
Asked if Sanjeev himself held a gun, the DIG said no. "The MLA's role was limited to conspiracy and logistics. There were three types of people involved - plotters, shooters and logistics men. We have arrested another person for arranging accommodation for the shooters."
On the possible motive, the senior officer said Niraj's growing popularity and the murder of Sanjeev's aide Ranjay Singh on January 29, allegedly by Niraj's men, were the possible triggers.
Both Sanjeev and Dablu were forwarded to Dhanbad Divisional Jail in the evening.
A hail of bullets had killed Niraj Singh, his personal assistant, a bodyguard and driver in Saraidhela on March 21 in one of the most shocking murders in the coal capital.
Besides Sanjeev, his younger brother Siddharth Gautam, family friend Jainendra Singh, political adviser Gaya Pratap Singh and legal adviser Mahant Pandey were named as accused in the FIR lodged under various sections of the IPC including 302 (murder) and 120B (criminal conspiracy).
All were quizzed over the past three weeks, but only Jainendra was arrested along with Ranjay's elder brother Sanjay Singh and Sanjeev's trade union loyalist Dhananjay Singh. Three others - Monu Singh, Prashant Singh and Ashok Mahto - were arrested with arms. The shooters are still at large.