The Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of the West Bengal police on Thursday arrested two alleged contract killers, Sujit Kumar Rai and Roshan Yadav, during a raid at Ludhiana in Punjab in connection with the murder of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Manish Shukla on October 4.
Rai and Yadav hail from Bihar, CID officials said. They were brought to Bengal’s North 24 Parganas district, where Shukla was gunned down, and produced before Barrackpore court on Friday afternoon.
CID officers said on condition of anonymity that Rai and Yadav were deployed by Bihar-based gangster Subodh Singh. Singh was lodged at Beur jail in Bihar during the murder. The alleged hitmen returned to Bihar after the murder and later went to Punjab to evade arrest.
CID officers claimed to have found during investigation that Singh contacted Rai and Yadav and even supplied the firearms. The information was given to the probe team by another accused Muhammad Nasir Khan, a resident of North 24 Parganas district, who allegedly approached Singh.
Manish Shukla, 39, an outgoing councillor of the Titagarh municipality in North 24 Parganas district was gunned down by motorcycle-borne hitmen on the night of October 4. Five people were arrested earlier but the CID and state government have so far made no official statement on the investigation. Police have seized some firearms and three motorcycles allegedly used in the crime which took place within 100 metres of Titagarh police station.
Shukla, a former Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader, joined the BJP after the opposition party won 18 of the state’s 42 Lok Sabha seats in 2019. One of these seats is Barrackpore, of which Titagarh is a part.
In Shukla’s murder, nine people have been named in the First Information Report (FIR) on the basis of the complaint lodged by his father Chandra Mani Shukla. The outgoing chairman of Barrackpore municipality, Uttam Das and his counterpart in Titagarh municipality, Prashanta Choudhury, have been named in the FIR.
Barrackpore’s BJP MP Arjun Singh, who also switched camp in 2018, has accused the chairpersons of two civic bodies and TMC lawmaker from Panihati, Nirmal Das, of masterminding the murder with the help of some police officers.
On October 11, Bengal BJP leaders alleged before governor Jagdeep Dhankhar that the state CID is trying to implicate leaders from the party in the murder case. A BJP team, led by national vice-president Mukul Roy, met Dhankhar at the Raj Bhawan and said the CID probe was not moving in the right direction.
Dhankhar raised the issue before the media in Delhi on Thursday after meeting Union home minister Amit Shah.