‘Psycho’ killer, kin convicted in journalist murder case

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A district court on Thursday convicted Ram Niranjan alias Raja Kalander (50) and his brother-in-law Bachchraj for killing journalist Dhirendra Singh, who worked with Hindi daily "Aaj". The conviction comes nearly 12 years after Niranjan's nefarious activities — including killing people on the slightest pretext, dismembering their bodies and keeping their skulls in his house —- came to light in 2000.

Niranjan and Bachchraj have been in jail since their arrest on December 18, 2000.

Additional District Judge-II Mehtab Ahmed found the two guilty on charges under Sections 302 (murder), 201 (destruction of evidence) and 404 (misappropriation of property, which is in possession of the person at the time of his death) of the Indian Penal Code. However, the court acquitted the duo of the charges of kidnapping. The quantum of punishment is likely to be pronounced on Friday.

Niranjan had admitted to killing at least 11 other people following his arrest, including two persons from Lucknow. However, with the police not being able to recover the bodies and sufficient evidence, some of the cases have been disposed of, while the trial is languishing in others. Cases related to the two Lucknow-based victims are going on in lower court in the state capital.

The horrific activities of Niranjan, a low-level employee at the Central Ordinance Depot (COD) in Naini, had come to light when the police began investigation in connection with Singh's disappearance. The journalist had gone missing from his house in Kydganj area of the city on December 14, 2000. Three days later, his brother lodged a complaint, following which the police registered a case of kidnapping. Scrutiny of call details revealed that Singh had made the last call on the mobile phone of Phoolan Devi, who was Niranjan's wife. When the police reached his house in Chhinwki village, close to the COD, they found Singh's motorcycle, along with his mobile phone and charger.

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