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Why this college warden may have been murdered in Varanasi's high security area

By Rosamma Thomas*

Vibhuti Bhushan Singh, 42, warden of a private college in Varanasi, was killed in what was allegedly an accident on February 10, 2022. His brother Kirti, who works in the UK, says it was no accident – his brother had earlier received threats to his life, and this was murder. The car he was riding that day was hit from the front, and the car that hit it had moved across two lanes to hit the vehicle his brother was in. This was premeditated murder, Kirti Bhushan Singh says.
On February 11, 2022, Singh got a complaint registered at the Varanasi Cantonment Police Station. He has named the manager of a college Ajay Kumar Singh, his brother Vinod, wife Seema Singh and two others including a cousin and a servant of the family in the FIR lodged in this case.
The FIR mentions that the family faces a threat to its life and property – Vibhuti, who ran a college established in memory of his late father who worked as a schoolteacher, would say that he was being stalked, and had earlier been threatened. A police complaint had been filed after the threat was received in October 2021, but no action was taken.
The First Information Report has been lodged under Sections 302 (murder) of the Indian Penal Code, and also Sections 120 B (criminal conspiracy) and 506 (criminal intimidation).
The vehicle that caused the accident was registered in Bihar. There was no CCTV footage of the accident, even though Police Lines, where the accident occurred, is the area where the Prime Minister and the Union home minister have all landed in helicopters.
After the accident, Vibhuti Singh was taken in an autorickshaw to a government hospital – and he was refused treatment there because it had been declared a Covid-only hospital earlier. He was taken to another government hospital later, and then to a third hospital by ambulance after the family intervened.
“There are about four big hospitals in the area. How come the police did not know that the first hospital was a Covid hospital? Is that not fishy? Were deliberate delaying tactics employed? When I asked the investigation office of the progress in investigations a fortnight after the so-called accident, he told me no progress was made. No arrests, no follow-up, a whole fortnight later. And he said I was not the investigation officer, so I should not ply him with questions,” said Kirti Bhushan Singh.
Kirti says there is cause to fear for the lives of other members in the family too, given that the accused were targeting his brother over a conflict over land. Vibhuti Singh had been pursuing the land dispute case on behalf of his uncle.
A college has been constructed on the land his uncle owns, and the matter is in court; that college produced a forged revenue document while getting approval for its BEd programme, and the forged document was made available through a Right to Information application. A criminal case was then registered in this matter.
National Crime Records Bureau data from 2019 shows that there were over 37,000 road accidents in the state that year; over 27,000 people lost their lives in road accidents that year.
In UP there are precedents where murders have occurred in the guise of an accident. In 2019, then BJP MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar was among those accused of attempting to murder through staging an accident, when the car that the Unnao rape survivor was riding met with an accident, killing two. The woman and her lawyer were injured. The woman, who alleged that she had been kidnapped and raped by Sengar in 2017 when she was a minor, had earlier written to the Chief Justice of India apprehending a threat to her life.
On October 3, 2021, Ashish Mishra, the son of Union minister Ajay Mishra Teni, was alleged to have rammed his vehicle through protesters, leaving four protesting farmers and a journalist dead.
Inspector Ajay Kumar Singh, station house officer in charge of the police station where this FIR was filed, refused to offer comments to this reporter: “I cannot offer comments on the progress with this case over the phone. I do not speak with news reporters that I do not personally know.”
---
Freelance journalist based in Kerala

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