A packet containing white powder was found in the socks of Shukla while he was entering the Central Jail yesterday, officials said today, adding the powder turned out to be sulphur-based poisonous material after investigations at a laboratory. The prison authorities promptly announced a probe to find out where did Shukla, who was sent on a judicial custody last evening, procure the powder.
The recovery of the powder has raised an alarm making authorities think whether he was planning to commit suicide in jail in a repeat of a previous incident. Shukla was arrested on Sunday evening after intense questioning by CBI and was charged with allegedly being a part of conspiracy in the murder of former CMO Vinod K Arya in October 2010. He is also under the scanner in the murder of another CMO BP Singh in April last year and the killings are allegedly linked to misappropriation of funds in the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM), official sources said.
The CBI, in whose custody Shukla was, said he had been thoroughly searched and checked before being handed over to the prison authorities at Lucknow hospital where the accused had been taken for a medical check up, a routine procedure. The police and the CBI now plan to question the doctors and para-medical staff which had examined Shukla during his medical check up, the sources said.
Shukla has since been shifted to a separate barrack and a close vigil was being kept on him. The recovery of the powder was made amid continuing mystery over the series of killings and suicides involving Medical officers in Uttar Pradesh. Besides the murder of Arya and Singh, CBI is also probing the death of Deputy Chief Medical Officer YS Sachan.
The agency claimed evidence indicating that Sachan, whose death inside the jail created a sensation, was also alleged to be a co-conspirator in the murder of Arya, the sources said, adding there were indications that Sachan might have committed suicide.