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Men who killed Dhanbad judge by hitting him with auto wanted to rob him, CBI probe finds

Additional district judge Uttam Anand died after being hit by an autorickshaw in Dhanbad, Jharkhand, on 28 July. CBI took over the probe from local police in August.

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New Delhi: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has found that the two men accused of mowing down additional district judge Uttam Anand with an autorickshaw in Dhanbad on 28 July wanted to “rob the man jogging on the road by hitting him with the auto and making him fall, but aborted the plan when they saw a bike approaching”.

Sources in the CBI told ThePrint that the men had no idea that he was a judge.

The findings are based on one of the forensic tests conducted on the accused by the Directorate of Forensic Services, Gandhinagar, to find the “larger conspiracy”, if any, behind the alleged murder, ThePrint has learnt from CBI sources.

In the past three months, the two accused — Lakhan Verma and Rahul Kumar Verma — have undergone a series of forensic tests, including psychological assessment, statement analysis, polygraph test, layered voice analysis test and DNA profiling, to ascertain the “motive of the crime” and unearth the “larger conspiracy”.

Reports from Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) institutes in Gandhinagar, New Delhi and Ranchi, and opinions from forensic experts from Mumbai too have been included in the charge sheet, said CBI sources.

In addition to this, massive data dumps from communication towers around the crime scene and call detail records have been analysed, but have yielded nothing more than a “robbery bid” as a motive. The investigation, however, is still on, CBI sources said.

“The forensic report has concluded that the accused wanted to snatch and rob the man they saw jogging on the road. The intention was to ram the auto into him, make him fall, snatch all his belongings and flee the spot. They had no idea that he (the victim) was a judge. However, they aborted the plan when they saw a bike approaching, fearing that they might get caught,” a source in the CBI said.

“This is why they never stopped the auto. We are, however, investigating the case further,” the source said.

Judge Anand was out for a walk near his house in Dhanbad around 5 am on 28 July when he was struck by the three-wheeler.

CCTV footage of the incident showed the judge jogging on the deserted edge of a road, and the vehicle veering to the left of the road right behind him before fatally hitting him. The vehicle then moved away from the spot.

The two accused allegedly have a history of being involved in petty thefts. When ThePrint visited their families in August, they acknowledged that the two often took to stealing.

Since their families could not afford a lawyer for the accused, the court had appointed a young lawyer through legal aid. ThePrint could not reach the lawyer till the time this report was published, but will update it once he responds.

Also read: Charge sheet in Dhanbad judge’s death cites forensic reports, but CBI says probe still on

‘Auto was technically fit, no attempts made to apply brakes’

The charge sheet filed in the case last month, which ThePrint has seen, claimed that there is sufficient evidence — oral and documentary — to establish that the accused committed the crime “deliberately and with a common intention”, and were not under the influence of either alcohol or any other psychotropic substances while committing the crime, as allegedly established by a report from the chemistry division of the Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL), after examining the urine and blood samples of both accused.

To establish the intent of the two accused, the charge sheet mentioned that the autorickshaw used in the crime was “technically fit” and the condition of brakes and engine controls were in proper order. The condition of the gear box was fine and the wheels, axis and springs were in order. Hence this, in no way, was an “accident”, concluded the charge sheet.

The charge sheet further mentioned a forensic report which stated that at no point of time did the accused exhibit “any signs of attempting to turn or swerve from the deceased”.

“No attempts at sudden brakes, sudden turning were made. There was no wobbling of the vehicle which indicated that the driver was in full control of the auto. Moreover, he is clearly seen changing the moving auto path from the middle of the road towards the deceased for about 20 meters at an angle of about 20 inches from the midline. This establishes that the hit and run was not accidental but intentional,” the charge sheet stated.

“The auto closely followed Anand, which indicates that the driver along with another person were chasing and looking for the chance to execute the plan,” it added.

Also Read: Dhanbad judge’s death intentional, three-wheeler drivers deliberately hit him, CBI tells HC

Connecting the accused to the crime scene

The CBI in its investigation has cited multiple forensic reports as evidence of the two accused persons’ presence at the crime scene and the auto that has been seized being the one used in the crime.

In one FSL report from Delhi, which has been mentioned in the charge sheet, experts have said that the auto “advanced out of its way on the road, hitting the judge before fleeing from the spot”.

Another report (also referred to in the charge sheet) from the directorate of FSL Ranchi stated that the fiber pieces seized from the crime scene are part of the same auto that was seized in the investigation.

DNA profiling was also conducted on the two accused and a report from FSL Ranchi established the presence of accused Lakhan in the auto as the DNA profile generated from the handkerchief and underwear seized from the auto and blood samples are from the same “human male source”, stated the charge sheet.

Moreover, a report from a forensic medicine expert in Mumbai states that the injury on the left part of the victim’s skull has “probably been caused by the yellow dented edge of the auto” and the same is sufficient to cause death. The injury on the right side of skull has been caused by the impact of Anand hitting the ground after being hit by the auto which was traveling at a speed of 23 km per hour, the charge sheet stated.

The forensic experts have also said that the driver “was in the right frame of mind and in full control of the vehicle”, in the charge sheet.

The CBI had taken over the investigation from the Dhanbad Police in August and filed the charge sheet against the two accused on 20 October. The motive of murder was, however, not mentioned at the time, and the CBI had said that a probe to establish this was on. The Jharkhand High Court had also said last month that it was “disappointed” with the agency’s progress and pace of the investigation in the case.

(Edited by Poulomi Banerjee)

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