Narayan Pandey alias Pushpendra Pandey, a Kanpur native, is a diehard follower of the controversial godman, said police officials. He was arrested by Shahjahanpur police in December last year for allegedly stalking the victim’s family members. However, he was released on bail shortly afterwards.
The attention of investigators was drawn to him once more after it came to light that he was present at the spot when Kripal Singh was shot dead by motorcycle-borne attackers on July 10 this year.
Moreover Pandey’s mobile phone records also indicated his regular presence in the city during this period. After corroborating all these facts, Pandey was picked up from Jodhpur and brought to Shahjahanpur where, during sustained interrogation he admitted his role in the killing of Singh.
He told police officials that he had visited the city more than seven times over the past few months and arranged a telephonic conversation between Kripal Singh and Asaram, who is in jail, via another close aide named Sanjay.
During this period, he had tried every possible trick in his bag including bribe offers and threats to Kripal in order to dissuade him from testifying against Asaram in court. After failing in these efforts, Pandey and other close aides of Asaram decided to eliminate the witness.
“Pandey told us that he came to Shahjahanpur from Jodhpur via Delhi on July 10 and stayed at Rudrapur, Uttarakhand,” said Sadar Bazar police station inspector J P Tiwari, talking to TOI. “In the evening he returned to Shajahanpur and supervised the attack on Kripal Singh,” Tiwari added.
Pandey was produced in the court of the chief judicial magistrate (CJM) from where he was sent to 14 days judicial custody.