The police in Uttar Pradesh’s Balram district on Monday arrested three people in connection with the murder of a 35-year-old journalist and his friend, PTI reported.

Balrampur Superintendent of Police Devranjan Verma said that Lalit Mishra, Keshvanand Mishra and Akram Ali confessed to killing journalist Rakesh Singh and his friend Mithlesh Sahu. Verma said that Singh had exposed corruption under the village head, who is Keshvanand Mishra’s mother.

He said that the accused went to the journalist’s house over the pretext of talking about something, made the victims drink alcohol and then killed them. Verma said that the accused then used alcohol-based hand sanitiser to burn down Singh’s house to make it look like an accident. “To burn the house using the chemical, Lalit Mishra and Keshvanand Mishra took the help of Akram Ali alias Abdul Qadir, who is an expert in executing incidents like these,” the police officer added.

The police also denied explosives were used for the fire, according to The Indian Express. “The gas cylinder in the kitchen did not explode,” Verma said. “Singh’s room is small and everything made of glass should have shattered with the impact of an explosion. The screens of two computers in the room were completely intact.”

The journalist’s wife and his two daughters were at a relative’s house during the incident. Both Singh and Sahu had sustained serious burn injuries. While Sahu died at the spot, Singh, who suffered 90% burn injuries, succumbed at the hospital.

Ramashankar Singh, the station house officer of Kotwali Dehat police station, said that Singh had accused the village head, Sushila Devi, of corruption in the installation of solar panels and the construction of roads and sewage. Unidentified police officials also said that the journalist’s wife, Vibha, was planning to contest against the village head in the Zilla Panchayat polls.

The police also said that more people could be arrested in the case. Verma said that Singh’s brother had in a video message accused Keshvanand Mishra’s brother Babu. The police were yet to question Babu, who suffers from a heart disease, as he was admitted to a hospital at the time of the incident.

Earlier on Sunday, the Balrampur district administration had given a cheque of Rs 5 lakh to the wife of the journalist. The management of Balrampur Chini Mills has also assured the district administration that they will provide employment to Vibha. The administration said it will also ensure that the journalist’s daughters get free education.