The Inside Story
PATNA: In a climax that evoked extreme feelings of pain and pleasure simultaneously across the state, Madhubani schoolboy Prashant Jha, whose purported murder led to the loss of at least two lives in a bloody battle between police and people of the district, was spotted and detained along with his girlfriend Preeti Choudhary by the police in Mehrauli near New Delhi on Monday.

“I spoke to the couple to ascertain their identity as well as inspector Jarnail Singh of the Mehrauli police station where they have been kept. They said they want to live and die together,” DGP Abhayanand said and added the boy and the girl would be brought back to the state after their production in a juvenile court in Delhi.

Prashant, son of grocery shop owner Rajiv Kumar Jha, is a resident of Arer village in Madhubani district. Preeti is a native of Mahishi in Saharsa district, but was living in Madhubani where her father Jagatpati Choudhary was the district programme officer. They were Class X students of Madhubani’s Indian Public School.

Police said the boy and the girl escaped from their respective houses on September 7 following which the boy’s family lodged a ‘missing’ complaint the same day with the police while the girl’s father lodged an FIR on September 11, accusing Prashant of kidnapping his daughter. Acting on the FIR, police even arrested Prashant’s grandfather.

Amid allegations that the police were harsh against the Jhas as the girl happened to be related to Darbhanga IG R K Mishra, the police recovered a headless body on October 3 and the Jhas recognized it as Prashant’s. However, the police refused to hand over the body to them saying it was of a 25-year-old while Prashant was not that old.

With the boy’s mother and grandmother sitting on hunger strike against “police excesses”, the situation turned worse as the Jhas’ sympathizers, including Prashant’s friends, resorted to violence and vandalism. Several government vehicles and buildings were set afire. The police had to open fire on October 12 and 13, and two people were killed in the firing. A worried state government transferred the DM, SP and the district programme officer.

Under pressure from all quarters, the police also handed over the beheaded body to the Jhas who cremated it. Ironically, the state’s opposition parties were enforcing a statewide bandh against the police firing and Prashant’s father was on way to Gaya to perform cremation rituals on Monday when reports came in that Prashant along with Preeti was shopping in a readymade garment shop in Mehrauli.
“On the basis of the mobile call details of the boy, the Madhubani police had initially tracked their location near a cellphone shop in Muzaffarpur,” the DGP said. After questioning the shopkeeper, the police came to know that Prashant had sold his mobile for Rs 320 and then the duo had boarded a train.
Their interrogation over phone revealed they travelled from Muzaffarpur to Ranchi, Jammu & Kashmir and Darjeeling and then to Delhi. When an old man from Bihar, who had read about the Madhubani incident, spotted them at a garment shop on Monday, he questioned them and dialled 100. Soon a Mehrauli police team reached the spot and took them under custody. They could do all the travelling because the girl had been reportedly carrying Rs 3 lakh with her.

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