A special investigating team of the UP Police probing the death of a businessman from the state's Mahoba district earlier this month has claimed they've not been able to question IPS officer and former Mahoba police chief Manilal Patidar, who was suspended and was named as the accused in the murder case, because "he is not taking calls".
In a late-night press conference on Friday, Prem Prakash, a top UP police official, said the police had not managed to trace the officer. "His lawyer has submitted a report saying he is corona positive. We have called him. He is not picking up the phone and we have not found his location," Mr. Prakash said.
Indra Kant Tripathi, a prominent businessman involved in mining in Mahoba, 230 km from state capital Lucknow, was rushed to hospital on September 8 after being found in his Audi car on a highway near the town with a bullet in his neck. Mr Tripathi died a few days later.
Days before his death, the businessman, who dealt in explosives, had issued a video statement on social media accusing IPS officer Manilal Patidar of corruption and intimidation. He said that if he were to die in any manner, the police officer should be blamed.
This video was widely shared on social media.
After Mr Tripathi was admitted to hospital, the UP government suspended the cop and a murder case was filed against him. The officer has been missing since then.
The UP Chief Minister's office also ordered the setting up of a Special Investigation Team of the UP police to probe the case in a time bound manner.
Despite not even being able to question the IPS officer in the case, senior officials of the UP police now claim they have found no evidence of murder so far.
"So far in the investigations, we have no proof of murder but the circumstances of the death will continue to be investigated. A ballistic examination has revealed that the bullet was fired from the licensee pistol of Mr Tripathi. The bullet was found in the back of the seat and the wounds suggested the exit wound had a lot of blood loss, which means shots were fired was from the front. The entry would has blackening suggesting the fire was from a close range. We have no proof right now that there was any other person seen," senior police official Prem Prakash told the reporters on Friday.
"So far the investigations point to the fact that Mr Tripathi had a feeling of deep insecurity. A video showing Mr Tripathi gambling went viral on September 8, and that led Mr Tripathi to the verge of a breakdown. On August 9, there was a gambling case registered at a police station but Mr Tripathi's name did not come up."
"Later, his name was inserted into the FIR (first information report) and this seems to have been with the complicity of the local police. On September 8, a local portal ran a video that purportedly showed Mr Tripathi gambling - there are claims this video was made viral at the behest of the then SP Mr Patidar," Mr Prakash added when asked about a possible motive for death by suicide.