A chief engineer at Bihar’s Water Resources Department in Gopalganj district and three others were booked late on Thursday for allegedly killing a contractor, The Indian Express reported.

The contractor was allegedly killed when he had gone to the engineer’s official residence in Gandak Colony to demand a payment of Rs 85 lakh for construction work by the water resources department.

The deceased, 53-year-old Ramashankar Singh, was the managing director of Ashiana Contracts Private Limited, which had constructed the engineer Murlidhar Singh’s residence. The victim’s family alleged that the chief engineer, who is currently on the run, had asked for a bribe of Rs 15 lakh from him.

Police said that Ramashankar Singh had gone to the engineer’s house in the evening to demand the pending payment, which led to an argument. The contractor died on the way to Gorakhpur due to severe burns, the Hindustan Times reported. However, there is no clarity on how the contractor was set on fire and police have not ruled out murder or suicide.

“The chief engineer had not been clearing my father’s long-pending dues,” the victim’s son, Rana Singh, who filed the complaint said. “He had demanded a bribe of Rs 15 lakh to clear the bill.”

Gopalganj Circle Officer Vijay Kumar Singh also confirmed that the contractor had gone to collect pending dues for construction work. “After the incident, he was referred to a city hospital for treatment,” the officer told ANI.

Police said a team of forensic experts had reached the spot after getting information and sealed Murlidhar Singh’s home in the presence of a magistrate. A half-burnt bed, a pair of jeans and a T-shirt were also recovered from the spot.

“We have got many things through the statements of the locals and family members but as of now, everything is under verification,” Hindustan Times quoted Superintendent of Police Rashid Zaman as saying. “It is too early to reach any conclusion. The body was sent for a post-mortem examination. We are probing into various angles into the case.” District Magistrate Animesh Parashar also ordered an investigation in the case.

News of the contractor’s death led to tension in the district as markets shut shop to protest against the alleged murder. Local residents also blocked National Highway-28 near Yadavpur and demanded immediate arrest of those guilty.

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