Hyderabad: On October 31, 2014, State Bank of India deputy manager M. Brij Mohan, 53, left his Old Malakpet branch at 5.45 pm and boarded an autorickshaw to go home in East Marutinagar. He called up his family to tell them he was on his way.
That is the last they heard from him. When he did not reach home, the family rushed to the Chaderghat police at 8 pm. The police registered a missing case on the morning of November 1. Hours later, Brij Mohan’s body was found at a secluded place at Pahadishareef, his limbs tied and his head smashed in. He was recognised by the tailor's tag on the shirt.
The Chaderghat police believed he was kidnapped and killed and began a hunt for the killer. None has been found so far.
During investigations, the police found that `30,000 had been withdrawn from his debit card at about 10.30 that night. Another transaction was recorded after 12 midnight, as there is a limit of withdrawals. A total of `75,000 was withdrawn from an ATM kiosk at Secunderabad.
The police checked the footage near the ATM booth. Due to the darkness, the faces of the two suspects who made the withdrawals could not be identified. The autorickshaw in which they came was also not identified.
The police also traced two youngsters who were present at the ATM kiosk when the suspects withdrew money using Brij Mohan’s card. The youngsters had made the transactions just before the suspects. The police traced them with their bank details and called them from questioning.
They were engineering students from another town. They told the police that one of the suspects was inside the kiosk withdrawing cash and the other was waiting outside. The suspect inside the kiosk claimed he was a villager and did not how to withdraw money and the students helped him. That was of no use to the police.
In the footage verified by the police, the suspect who was inside the kiosk wore a cap. After withdrawing the money for the first time, he and his associate went to a nearby restaurant at 11.06 pm, had dinner and left after half an hour. The CCTV image was not clear here too.
With the available clues, the police began suspecting a history-sheeter. After a six-month search, they managed to catch him at Aurangabad but his involvement was ruled out. The joint efforts various teams including those of the Task Force did not yield anything.
Brij Mohan’s family claimed that he was murdered by certain people involved in a fraud. The police had initially ruled out the possibility and said that no clue had emerged to support this claim. The family did several rounds of the police station and finally gave up.
Brij Mohan’s brother-in-law, Ranganath, a banker by profession, was in Chennai when he learned of the murder. He moved to the city to support his sister’s family and made strenuous efforts to seek answers from the police.
Mr Ranganath suspects that there was a conspiracy behind Brig Mohan’s murder. “Why would anyone kill a person for money randomly by kidnapping? At most, the robbers may injure and abandon him after taking ‘his money. It was not a case of kidnapping for ransom. They just took him away, robbed and murdered him,” he said.
He alleged that his family was made to run around Kanchanbagh and Chaderghat police stations on the matter of jurisdiction but the policemen at Chaderghat finally took a complaint.
Mr Ranganath said, “After the incident, my elder nephew has gone into depression and asks me why was his father killed. He still is under medication.” He said the police questioned some family members and relatives which created trouble for his sister’s family.
“For almost six months, the cops told they had got some clues. They suspected some history-sheeter. They caught him at Aurangabad and questioned him and then said it was not him. The footage recovered from the ATM kiosk at Secunderabad showed the face of the man who withdrew the money, but the police could not identify them despite having the tools,” he alleged.
Even after five years, Mr Ranganath carries the technical information elicited during the probe in his phone. “I want an answer from the police. Who did it and why did they do it? I met many senior officers including the then Hyderabad police commissioner, who assured me of justice. Now, I have lost hope that the police will catch the accused persons.”
On his suspicion that Brij Mohan’s murder was the outcome of a conspiracy, Mr Ranganath said, “We were told that there was a fire in the bank where my brother-in-law worked. Days before his murder, he received several calls from his former colleagues. Those calls made me suspicious. I requested the police to look at that angle. But they had told me that they could not find anything.”
In 2019, the case file was on the table of senior officials when they were reviewing unsol-ved cases. An inquiry pointed the higher officials to a conspiracy, something that Mr Ranganath had told the police years ago.
“We suspect that Brij Mohan could have been a witness in a scam that took place in another branch,” said Mr M. Ramesh, joint commissioner, East Zone.
The official said that the case was transferred to the Hyderabad detective department's Cen-tral Crime Station on November 11. The CCS as an anti-homicide team which specialises in such cases.
Detective department joint commissioner Avinash Mohanty said, “The case has been transferred after five years. The teams are going through the case thoroughly to check if more clues can be elicited or any identified clues can lead to the apprehension of the accused.”