|Main accused Birbal Soren in police custody in Jamshedpur on Friday. Picture by Animesh Sengupta|
Kumud Jenamani, TT, Jamshedpur, July 29: Two inmates of Bethany House, 60km from here, were arrested on charges of murder and sodomy today, a month after a 10-year-old inmate of the private hostel in Ghatshila was found battered to death on the terrace of the building.
One among the duo is a 12-year-old while the other has been identified as Birbal Soren (19), a native of Bagjata village in Ghurabandha, 40km from the hostel. Both accused are students of Irvine Adventist School, where victim Ram Chandra Giri studied in Class III. While main accused Birbal is a tenth grader, his minor accomplice is a student of Class V.
East Singhbhum SSP Anoop T. Mathew said Ram had spotted Birbal indulging in “unnatural sex” with the other minor boy when he woke up in the small hours of June 27 to go to the toilet.
“The moment the youth saw Ram, he dragged the boy to the terrace of the double-storey hostel with the help of his minor accomplice. Ram was pinned down and Birbal hit him on the head repeatedly with a brick till he stopped struggling. The two them then returned to their room on the ground floor and went off to sleep. Other inmates spotted Ram’s body three hours later,” Mathew said.
The SSP added that they would arrest Bethany House owners Masih and Sarita Minz for ignoring complaints of sodomy against Birbal who was abusing at least five other minor boys. Police are probing if the accused targeted girls at the hostel as well.
On how they cracked the case, Mathew said police suspected insider role from the very beginning irrespective of claims of intruders made by some of the 36-odd children.
“We had found strands of hair in Ram’s clutched fist and bloodstained fingerprints on the terrace wall. We took DNA samples of 15 inmates and also fingerprint of the main accused. Interrogation of some of the kids led us to Birbal who hurriedly left for home on June 27 as soon as Bethany House was sealed. We came to know he was indulging in unnatural sex with as many as five other boys, all aged between 10 and 12 years,” the SSP said.
Police detained the youth for interrogation a week ago. Subjected to intensive grilling, Birbal broke down and confessed to his crime. He also led police to a crucial evidence.
“Birbal had wiped his blood-soaked hands with a gamchha and discarded it outside the hostel premises. We recovered the evidence from an undergrowth following his confession,” the SSP said.
Mathew said they would arrest hostel warden Sarita and her husband Mashi. “The two knew what was going on because Birbal had been targeting younger boys for at least a couple of years, and some of them had complained to the warden. Had they taken action against him, a murder would not have taken place,” the SSP added.
Ram was the only son of Pankaj Giri, a resident of Khejuria village in Chakulia. His death had triggered a statewide uproar with local JMM MLA Kunal Sarangi staging a roadblock on NH-33 on July 10 and raising the murder case in the Assembly on July 27.