Six men are in custody as the probe into the kidnapping and murder of businessman Rajendra Singh continues and the police have denied receiving a tip that the man was being held in an abandoned Goedverwagting house and didn’t act on it speedily.
“The police have acted professionally, and are continuing to do so, in keeping with its operational procedures, in the investigations into the kidnap and murder of businessman Rajendra Singh,” the police said in a statement responding to a Sunday Stabroek article headlined `Police told where kidnap victim held; did not search house until too late.’
The article reported that the police had received a tip that Singh was being held in an abandoned house at Goedverwagting, East Coast Demerara but ranks only visited the location hours later when he had already been removed by his kidnappers. Singh was kidnapped on March 5 from his business place at Foulis, East Coast Dem-erara. He was found dead on Wednesday.
In a statement yesterday, the police denied receiving at any time during the course of the ongoing investigations, any information from any source that Singh was being held at any time in an abandoned house at Goedverwagting.
“The Guyana Police Force wishes to categorically deny that at any time during the course of the ongoing investigations into the kidnap and murder of businessman Rajendra Singh, has any information been received from any source that he was being held at any time in an abandoned house at Goedverwagting.
“In responding to the report received, Rajendra Singh’s motor vehicle was recovered on the railway embankment at Goedverwagting on the very night of his kidnapping. As a result, intensive patrols comprising police ranks and community policing personnel were mounted in the Goedverwagting area, but no useful information was obtained nor was anything suspicious seen or found,” the police said.
In detailing their actions subsequent to the kidnapping, the police said that the following day, Sunday, the patrols continued and were extended to Plaisance and Sparendaam, including the squatting areas. Based on information received a house at Bel Air, George-town, and one at Yarrow-kabra on the Soesdyke/ Linden Highway were searched. A woman was arrested at Yarrowkabra and subsequently released.
On Monday April 7, after receiving some information, the police searched four houses of the relatives of a family at Plaisance but nothing of evidential value was found.
The police said that on Tuesday, further searches were conducted on the same four homes in addition to a fifth home belonging to another family member, also at Plaisance, but again nothing suspicious was found. “On the very Tuesday the police received information that the kidnap victim was in a house in the Goedverwagting Squatting area and searches were conducted on the target house and two others in the squatting area, as well as an abandoned ice factory at Claybrick Road, Goedverwagting. However, nothing of evidential value was found,” the statement said.
The police asserted that “at no time was information received about Rajendra Singh being held in an abandoned house at Goedverwagting, nor about him being removed from the location in a white mini-bus.”
“The well-placed sources who allegedly have given the information about the abandoned house at Goedverwagting to the Stabroek News did not pass such information to the police,” the statement said.
It asserted that the police have acted professionally, and are continuing to do so, in keeping with its operational procedures. “Six men are in police custody and we have applied for and received an extension of their time in custody until Wednesday, in order to continue with the investigations,” the police disclosed.
Friends of the family had told the media that Singh and his wife were closing their business when two men jumped out of a bus and walked into the business establishment posing as customers. They eventually brandished weapons and proceeded to assault Singh and his wife.
The men then reportedly took the day’s earnings, demanded the keys to one of the couple’s vehicles, put Singh in the trunk, and drove off with him. One family friend said that the man’s wife rushed for another vehicle and tried to follow her husband’s captors, but did not locate them.
Police gave a different version of events, stating that investigations indicated that Singh was in his motor vehicle PFF 982 in front of his business place when his wife observed two men entering the vehicle which then drove off. Shortly after the kidnapping, Singh’s wife was contacted and a demand for $50 million for his release was made. The kidnappers made contact with the woman on several occasions and the ransom demand was later reduced to $25 million.
This newspaper was told that the man’s family had difficulty coming up with the money. Based on reports the last contact was made with the man’s wife last Tuesday morning around 5 am.
Last Wednesday, Singh was found dead in the Le Repentir cemetery with gunshot wounds to the head and his hands bound. It was a city council worker who made the discovery and the police were later contacted. Singh was clad in his underwear and a t-shirt. Reports are that there were visible signs that the businessman had been tortured before he was killed.
Residents did not recall hearing any gunshots and it is suspected that given this and because of the fresh state of the body, Singh was shot a few hours before at another location and his body dumped in the cemetery. An autopsy revealed that he died of multiple gunshots to the head.