in a rare incident a Bihar man allegedly kidnapped and murdered 20 years ago has been found alive in Punjab as a priest in a temple, while five accused were sentenced to life term back home and on bail awaiting higher court verdict.
Punjab Police arrested and produced him in a Bihar court on Monday upon learning about his whereabouts, and appealed in court for justice, police said on Tuesday.
Uma Singh of Sakarpura village in Nawada district went missing in 1995 and his son Vinay lodged a kidnap-cum-murder FIR. Police investigated the case but failed to trace him and filed a chargesheet against the five named as accused.
The district court found them guilty and sentenced them to life imprisonment. The case is still pending in the Patna High Court after the five were granted bail.
Uma’s family conducted his shradh (rituals for the dead) and his wife has been living like a widow since then. According to police, Uma, an accused in a 1983 murder case in which a local court sentenced him to life imprisonment, fled his village to escape arrest. Subsequently, his son lodged the FIR.
Uma was living in Punjab’s Mohali for the past several years and working as a priest at Handsar-based Narsingh temple. Police said he had changed his name to Baba Mohandas.
However, dispute over the temple land brought bad luck to him. Uma’s opponents visited his native village to inquire about him and were surprised upon knowing his real name.
District police officials said: “When news spread in the village that Uma is alive and living in Punjab as a temple priest, his alleged kidnappers approached the court, which ordered the Punjab Police to arrest and produce him before it.”