Umaria (MP): Madhya Pradesh Police's Special Task Force (STF) on Friday said here that journalist Chandrika Rai, who, along with his wife and children, was murdered earlier this month, was blackmailing the gang responsible for a recent kidnapping.

Six persons have been arrested in the case.

"Chandrika Rai knew the kidnappers who had recently kidnapped the son of PWD engineer Hemant Jharia...he started blackmailing them which resulted in the murders," said district Superintendent of Police, Manohar Singh Jhamra.

Amit, one of the kidnappers, worked under Jharia as a daily labourer. He and others kidnapped Jharia's son Anant on February 15, and demanded a ransom of Rs five crore.

The amount was later reduced to Rs 5.5 lakh. However, as pressure on the kidnappers increased with police carrying out searches at several places, they released Anant at Beohari railway station in Shahdol district, the SP said, claiming that no ransom had been paid.

One of the kidnappers, Home Guard member Vidhyaniwas Tiwari, was Rai's neighbour. According to Jharia, Rai learnt who the kidnappers were, and started blackmailing them.

The kidnappers came to Rai's house on February 17 around midnight, and asked him to let them in as they wanted to discuss certain things. Once inside, they killed Rai, his wife Durga, son Jalaj and daughter Nisha, before locking the door from outside and fleeing, said the SP.

Police suspected from the beginning that murders were connected to the kidnapping. Amit's involvement came to light from his mobile phone records. He broke during questioning, and revealed the names of others: Tiwari, Sunil, Manish Kori, Harendra Singh and Raj.

All of them were arrested, while three others, yet to be identified, were still absconding, the SP said.

(Agencies)