Man held for 2013 VK murder of BSP leader
After 4 Years On The Run, Pratibhanand Ran Into Police Trap At Ghaziabad Railway Station
Ghaziabad: Swami Pratibhanand, an accused in the murder of Delhi-based businessman Deepak Bhardwaj inside a Vasant Kunj farmhouse in 2013, was taken off a train while on his way to Haridwar and arrested at Ghaziabad railway station late on Friday.
Pratibhanand (49) is accused of conspiring with Bhardwaj’s estranged son Nitesh and hiring hitmen to gun down 62-year-old Bhardwaj, who had contested the 2009 Lok Sabha election on a BSP ticket from West Delhi. Police said Pratibhanand was pro- mised Rs 5 crore by Nitesh.
Nitesh and others accused in the case were arrested within days of the murder but Pratibhanand dodged police for four years by changing hideouts and disguising himself before his luck ran out. “We had received tip-off that Pratibhanand alias Machhendranath will be halting at Ghaziabad station while on his way to Haridwar from Mathura. We laid a trap and arrested him soon after he boarded the train.” said Ghaziabad police chief Hari Narayan Singh. “He was on the run for four years and Delhi Police had announced a reward of Rs 1 lakh on his ar- rest. We have informed our Delhi counterparts,” added Singh. A pistol was found on Pratibhanand when he was arrested, police said.
Pratibhanand, who was on Saturday produced before news reporters, made no attempt to defend himself. Instead, he said, “Deepak Bhardwaj’s son Nitesh and his lawyer friend Baljeet Sherawat wanted him killed because they feared they will get nothing from his huge property.” He also refuted the police version he was offered Rs 5 crore by Nitesh. “In fact, I was promised Rs 10 crore to carry out the killing, of which I received Rs 12.5 lakh,” he said. “I wanted to set up my own ashram and I needed money for that.”
Pratibhanand, who is originally from Beed in Maha- rashtra, allegedly hired Purushottam Rana alias Monu and Sunil Mann to kill the businessman. “Both shooters were his disciples and on March 26, 2013, they shot Deepak Bhardwaj in his farmhouse after two failed attempts,” said Singh. “He was a master of disguise and shifted base frequently between Haridwar, Himachal Pradesh, Mathura and Maharasthra, which made it difficult for the police to trace him.”
Bhardwaj, a wealthy businessman, was the richest candidate in Delhi to contest from Delhi in 2009, having declared assets worth Rs 600 crore.
Pratibhanand is accused of plotting the murder of Deepak Bhardwaj and hiring hitmen