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Gopalganj priest murder: Arrested accused allege they were tortured to confess, deceased’s brother says there was a land dispute with Muslims, Police deny all claims

Victim's brother allege that the henchman of former RJD MP from Siwan and gangster Shahabuddin, W Khan along with his associates took illegal possession of the entire 10 acres of land.

The horrifying murder case of a caretaker priest whose mutilated body was found in Bihar’s Gopalganj earlier this week has created a stir in the region. Following the incident, Police arrested 3 people including the ex-girlfriend of the priest. While several claims and counter-claims have kicked off a political storm, Police have denied media reports that have cited claims of family members of the accused and victim as baseless.  

As per a report in Dainik Bhaskar, BJP has alleged that the Police are trying to give the case a ‘different angle’ by claiming that the incident was a result of a love affair gone wrong. BJP leaders visited the house of the girl who is an alleged accused in this case. They got her aunt to talk to the in-charge SP Hriday Kant. The official stated that the murder took place because of the love affair gone wrong. According to them, they have recovered the knife, rope, and cloth used in the murder, along with a broken mobile phone.

This is a case of love affair and blackmailing: Police

According to the Police, the alleged accused ex-girlfriend called Manoj Sah using her aunt’s phone. He was then held hostage for 4 days and kept hungry and thirsty at home. His body was mutilated with his eyes gouged out, and tongue and genitals chopped off. Meanwhile, the ex-girlfriend is a married woman and according to the police, the priest had an illicit affair with her and had been threatening to make her obscene video viral which allegedly became the reason for his murder.

Whereas the victim’s family had named the Muslim side in this matter. The girl’s aunt, while talking to ‘Dainik Bhaskar’, has made some shocking allegations.

Police tortured the entire family: Girl’s aunt

According to the girl’s aunt, Bihar Police arrested the entire family and did not even give them a bed to sleep in or food to eat. She adds that her daughter and son-in-law were also picked up and brought from Kateya village. The family was threatened that they would be killed. The family members were tortured and forced to confess, she alleged.

According to the girl’s aunt, the police threatened them to confess to the murder or else they would be chopped and thrown away. They allegedly beat up the girl in the car. As per the family members, the deceased Manoj Sah was like a son to them.

Former BJP Tourism Minister Ram Pravesh Singh has accused the police administration of implicating the wrong people in the murder case of caretaker priest Manoj Sah by giving it the colour of a love affair. According to him, the police administration is trying to hush up the case. 

Addressing the journalists in a press conference at the Circuit House in Gopalganj, the Former Minister said, “Manoj Sah used to perform puja in the Shiv temple and also performed many yagyas. Some people nearby had objections about this. He was murdered by the same people. Manoj Sah went missing on 10th December and he was found dead on 15th December. What were the police doing for five days when the dead body was found? If the police had been active at that time, Manoj Sah would have been alive today.”

He also shared the video of the girl’s aunt’s statements. Crying with folded hands, the accused ex-girlfriend’s aunt claimed that their wards gave a false statement under police pressure. She has alleged that the police tortured the accused to get the confession.  She claimed that their house is such that a dead body cannot be hidden there, anyone can come and see it for themselves.

BJP MLC Rajeev Singh alias Gappu Singh said that the Police have not arrested any individual named in the complaint filed by the deceased’s brother Ashok Sah in the Manjha Police station. Rather, the victim’s family has been arrested on charges of murder by alleging a love affair. 

He said that the zonal officials of Manjha are as guilty as the police. According to him, the Rajput community had donated a piece of land to the temple but people from the Muslim community encroached on it and the same people have committed the murder. 

News published in Gopalganj edition of ‘Prabhat Khabar’

According to a report in ‘Prabhat Khabar’, it is not clear who dumped Manoj Sah’s body near Idgah. Neha Kumari, Sunita Devi, and Amit Kumar have currently been sent to jail by the police. The search is on for Neha’s husband Subhash Sah and cousin Sandeep Kumar.

The BJP alleges that the police station officer, against whom the allegation has been made, has been appointed as the Investigating Officer (IO) in this case and is overseeing the investigation. It is being said that Leader of Opposition Vijay Sinha can also stage a protest in this matter.

OpIndia spoke to the deceased’s brother and former village head Ashok Sah. He told OpIndia that his brother was 26 years old, and he used to do aarti and offer bhog in the temple in the morning and evening. Ashok Sah became the village head in 2016 from Jagannatha Panchayat. 

According to him, the temple is 400 years old, where Swayambhu Mahadev had appeared. He said that a yagya was held here in 2023, whose president was the local MLA and people from 20 panchayats participated in it.

Muslims had problems with the temple, and Shahabuddin’s henchmen captured the land: The Brother of the deceased

He told OpIndia that people of the entire district have faith in this temple. According to him, when the Yagya was held in May 2023, there was enthusiasm among the devotees that if there is a Shiva temple then a Parvati temple should also be built. After this, the local Rajput community donated 6 acres of its 10 acres of land for the temple. 

He alleged that as soon as the paddy was harvested, the henchman of former RJD MP from Siwan and gangster Shahabuddin, W Khan along with his associates took illegal possession of the entire 10 acres of land.

He further explains, “Muslim people are settled around there and the mosque is also nearby. There are a large number of Muslims in the village. W Khan is from Siwan and has connections in Danapur. He is a goon. 100 years ago, there was a Khatian in the Names of Muslims but during British rule, this land had come to the Babu people (Rajput community). I had also gone to the SDO with MLA Rampravesh Singh. The SDO scolded the CO to send the correct report. All the papers were with the Babu people. Because of this the Muslims started threatening us.”

He accused the Muslims of hurling abuses at him and threatening to kill him and his brother. He added that his brother had brought the puja items at night and they had to wash the temple early in the morning. As soon as he came out after locking the door at night, the goons kidnapped him. During this, he took the name of Bihar Chief Secretary Aamir Subhani and said that the police station in-charge Shahid Akhtar is from his village. Alleging that his family was being targeted, he said that the girl’s brother used to work at the temple.

According to him, the girl’s brother had made a phone call to his deceased brother which the police are claiming to be a phone call made by the girl to the deceased from her aunt’s phone. He alleged that 18 members of the family were tortured.

An attempt to divert the investigation: DIG

DIG (Range) Vikas Sharma addressed a press conference on this matter. Talking about the investigation results, he said that Manoj Kumar Sah had an illicit relationship with a village girl and a love affair was going on. The girl was married somewhere else and after this Manoj was blackmailing her. He threatened her to make her photo video viral and give it to her husband.

He says that in retaliation the girl, with the help of her brother and some other acquaintances, took him hostage and then murdered him. He said that the video of Manoj Sah leaving the temple at 10 pm on 10th December is in the CCTV footage. The houses of the boy and the girl are next to each other. He has also said that mobile phones have been recovered. According to the Police, Manoj Kumar Sah was not the priest but the caretaker of the temple. He added that after the marriage of the girl, he started staying in the temple regularly.

He claimed that some people have tried to divert the police investigation by spreading false rumours and all the claims have been found to be baseless. The DIG said that the team formed by the Superintendent of Police has investigated the case. According to IPS officer Vikas Sharma, those policemen will also be rewarded. He said that the forensic team will also investigate, all the facts will be presented in the court and action will be taken. He said that the accused had been identified through CCTV, and in this case, it is completely established that this is a case of murder after a love affair and blackmailing.

Meanwhile, Bajrang Dal activist from Gopalganj Ranjit told Opindia that tomorrow all Hindu outfits will demand a fair investigation in this matter and it will be a joint call of all outfits including local BJP leaders.  

He told us that the victim’s family had been getting threats from local Muslim people for a long time. Many times, they complained to the local administration but authorities ignored them. 

The horrific murder

The caretaker priest (Pujari) of a Shiv Temple, named Manoj Kumar Sah who had been missing for five days, was brutally murdered earlier this week. The incident occurred in Danapur village which falls in the Manjhagarh police station area. The mutilated body of the victim, with his eyes gouged out, and tongue and genitals chopped off, was recovered in the bushes near a dairy shop on Saturday (16th December).

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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