By Rosamma Thomas*
Vibhuti Bhushan Singh, 42, principal of a private college in Varanasi, was killed in what was believed to be an accident on February 10, 2022. His brother Kirti, who works in the UK, says it was not a accident – his brother had already received threats to his life, and it was murder. The car he was driving that day was struck from the front, and the car that struck him traveled two lanes to hit the vehicle his brother was in. It was premeditated murder, says Kirti Bhushan Singh.
On February 11, 2022, Singh received a registered complaint at Varanasi Cantonment Police Station. He named the principal of a college Ajay Kumar Singh, his brother Vinod, his wife Seema Singh and two others including a cousin and a servant of the FIR family lodged in this case.
The FIR mentions that the family faces a threat to their life and property – Vibhuti, who ran a college established in memory of his late father who worked as a schoolteacher, is said to have been harassed and had already been threatens. A police complaint was filed after the threat was received in October 2021, but no action was taken.
The first information report was filed under Sections 302 (murder) of the Indian Penal Code, as well as Sections 120 B (criminal association) and 506 (criminal intimidation).
The vehicle that caused the accident was registered in Bihar. There has been no CCTV footage of the accident, although Police Lines, where the accident happened, is the area where the Prime Minister and Union Home Secretary have all landed by helicopter.
After the crash, Vibhuti Singh was taken in an autorickshaw to a government hospital – and was denied treatment there because he had been declared a Covid-only hospital earlier. He was then taken to another public hospital and then to a third hospital by ambulance after the family intervened.
“There are about four major hospitals in the region. How come the police didn’t know the first hospital was a Covid hospital? Isn’t that fishy? Were deliberate delaying tactics employed? When I asked the investigation office for the progress of the investigations fifteen days after the so-called accident, he replied that there had been no progress. No arrests, no follow-ups, a full fifteen days later. And he said I was not the investigator so I shouldn’t ask him questions,” Kirti Bhushan Singh said.
Kirti says there is also reason to fear for the lives of other family members, given that the defendant was targeting his brother over a land dispute. Vibhuti Singh had pursued the land dispute case on behalf of his uncle.
A college has been built on land owned by his uncle, and the case is before the courts; this college produced a false income document while obtaining approval for its BEd program, and the false document was made available via a right to information application. A criminal case was then registered in this case.
National Crime Records Bureau data from 2019 shows there were more than 37,000 traffic accidents in the state that year; more than 27,000 people lost their lives in road accidents that year.
In UP, there are precedents where murders have taken place under the guise of an accident. In 2019, BJP MP Kuldeep Singh Sengar was among those charged with attempting to kill by staging an accident, when the car the Unnao rape survivor was driving crashed, killing two people. The woman and her lawyer were injured. The woman, who alleged she was kidnapped and raped by Sengar in 2017 when she was a minor, had previously written to India’s Chief Justice fearing a threat to her life.
On October 3, 2021, Ashish Mishra, the son of Union Minister Ajay Mishra Teni, reportedly rammed protesters with his vehicle, killing four protesting farmers and a journalist.
Inspector Ajay Kumar Singh, officer in charge of the police station where this FIR was filed, declined to comment to this reporter: “I cannot comment on the development of this case over the phone. I don’t speak with journalists that I don’t know personally.
Freelance journalist based in Kerala
By Rosamma Thomas*