PATNA: Former Jharkhand minister Raja Peter had masterminded the murder of his political rival and former minister Ramesh Singh Munda of JD(U) in collusion with the Maoists in 2008, according to the charge-sheet filed by National Investigation Agency (NIA).
The 55-year-old Peter, whose official name is Gopal Krishna Patar, was arrested on October 9, 2017 following revelations made by former Maoist commander Kundan Pahan before the central anti-terrorism probe agency. Peter, lodged in jail since then, had asked Jharkhand’s top Maoist leadership to carry out the murder of Munda, then a sitting MLA of JD(U) in Tamar constituency in Ranchi district, said the charge-sheet filed before a special NIA court in Ranchi on Monday.
Peter had also promised to pay the Maoists Rs 5 crore, an AK-47 rifle and 200 rounds of bullets for carrying out the murder, according to the charge-sheet. Peter and the Maoists had used Sheshnath Singh, a personal security officer for Munda, for the murder. Singh was unhurt in the firing during a school function on July 9, 2008, in which Munda, his two other bodyguards, a party colleague and a student were killed.
Fourteen other accused named in the charge-sheet include CPI(Maoist) leader Prashanta Bose, who carries a bounty of Rs 1 crore, Patiram Manjhi, who carries a Rs 25-lakh bounty, Kundan Pahan, who surrendered before Jharkhand police in May 2017, and the slain politician’s PSO Sheshnath Singh. Seven of the 15 accused are currently in jail and others are absconding, said NIA sources.
Ramesh Singh Munda, who was a minister in Jharkhand’s NDA government led by Arjun Munda, and Raja Peter had been bitter political rivals for years. Peter was defeated by Munda in Tamar in both 2000 and 2005 Assembly polls. After Munda’s murder, Peter won the bypoll in January 2009 as a Jharkhand Peoples Party (JPP) candidate by defeating then sitting chief minister and JMM chief Sibu Soren, forcing him to resign. This gave Peter the epithet of “giant killer” and led to his inclusion in the Arjun Munda-led NDA government that followed.
Peter later joined JD(U) and was appointed the party’s state president in May 2013. He joined BJP the next year, but was denied a party ticket to contest the Assembly polls in Tamar constituency. He contested as an independent and lost to Ramesh Singh Munda’s son Vikas Kumar Munda of AJSU.