India: Death of a preacher in Jharkhand may take political hue


RANCHI: January 24, 2007. The recovery of the body of a man believed to be a Christian preacher from the Church of North India graveyard near Kantatoli on January 12 has all the signs of becoming a political hot potato

The autopsy report has established his death as being due to poison. The police also claim they have evidence linking the deceased to Jharkhand Deputy Chief Minister Stephen Marandi. Identifying the dead man as Suresh Thakre, purportedly a preacher with the CNI, the police said that he had recently bought a flat at Tapovan Apartments in the city. Among the papers recovered from the flat on January 18 were receipt books and letterheads of a charitable trust, Grace Ministry of India. A probe is on to ascertain details about the trust and its members. The BJP led by Arjun Munda has demanded a CBI probe into the death of Thakre, aged in his 30s. "The state police has its limitations. Let the premier investigative agency find out how the preacher died, and if he committed suicide, what prompted him to," said Munda. The police have recovered a photograph showing Thakre flanked by two unidentified women and Jharkhand's deputy chief minister. The police also said Marandi's personal secretary Mukesh was present at the funeral of Thakre. Since the autopsy report had attributed Thakre's death to intake of poison, the police suspect this to be a case of suicide. "We recovered a bottle from near the graveyard where his body was found," Ranchi SSP N.P. Singh said. "He was married, hailed from Gujarat and was baptised recently," said Singh, who also disclosed that Thakre seemed to be living without his wife, believed to be still in Gujarat. Marandi said he did not know anything about the cause of the preacher's death. "He was close to my family as a preacher. The pundits and pujaris of different religions maintained relations with us," Marandi said.

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