22 Feb, 2007 TIMES NEWS NETWORK
VADODARA: The city police picked up Jashu Maharaj, the priest of the temple at Jodhpur village in Panchmahal district,which is near to the spot where triple murders were committed.
Preliminary interrogation of the priest has revealed that he saw dead bodies at the murder spot and escaped because of fear.
The priest had become an important factor in the investigations of the case as the five assailants roped in by Jayanti Pateliya to kill Darshan Thacker, his brother Mihir and Balkrishna Patel had spent time at the temple.
The assailants had sung hymns at the temple along with Jashu, on the night of December 6, till they received a call from Pateliya, asking them to remain ready as he was coming with the trio that were to be bumped off.
Since the murders took place very near the temple, the police suspected Jashu, thinking that he must have seen or heard something.
The priest admitted that he saw two bodies at the murder spot and then escaped out of fear. "The priest was nabbed on Tuesday, when he came to the temple for evening prayers.
He is being brought to the city for further questioning,"said police inspector Y A Sheikh who is investigating the case.
Meanwhile, another person closely associated with the case Omprakash Sharma has gone missing. Pateliya had asked Sharma, a resident of Ratlam in Madhya Pradesh, to move his belongings to a safe place. Sharma took Pateliya's belongings and kept them at his residence.
Sharma was questioned in phases for around three weeks after the FIR regarding the abduction of the Thacker brothers was filed on December 15.
Pateliya has now claimed that he had spoken to Sharma about 15 days after the murder and had told him that the trio of Darshan, Mihir and Patel were no more. Sharma had not mentioned anything like this during his questioning.
Sheikh said that the fact was still being verified as Pateliya's claims needed to be taken with a pinch of salt.
The police is also probing the role of a CID (crime) sleuth from Rajasthan who had gone to Jaipur along with Pateliya and others to get the ruby tested. Teams have been sent to Rajasthan to locate the sleuth.
Some more belongings believed to be of the victims were also recovered on Tuesday. These include two pairs of shoes that were hidden by the accused. Police also recovered a stick that was used to kill the victims along with clothes worn by the accused at the time of the murder.