Pune Court Acquits 2 Gangsters in Murder Case of Suspected Indian Mujahideen Operative
Giving the benefit of doubt to gangsters, Additional Sessions Judge S H Gwalani acquitted both of them, public prosecutor Vilas Ghogare Patil said.
Pune: A court here on Wednesday acquitted gangsters Sharad Mohol and Alok Bhalerao in the murder case of suspected Indian Mujahideen (IM) operative Mohammad Qateel Siddiqui, giving them benefit of doubt.
Siddiqui, a suspect in terror cases in Delhi, Bengaluru and Pune, was found strangled to death inside a cell of Yerawada Central Jail and Mohol and Bhalerao were arrested for allegedly killing him using a string of a pyjama.
Giving the benefit of doubt to Mohol and Bhalerao, Additional Sessions Judge S H Gwalani acquitted both of them, public prosecutor Vilas Ghogare Patil said.
In the order, the judge observed that when the prosecution's case is based on the circumstantial evidence, the prosecution has to prove the motive behind the accused's action.
"In the present case, circumstances disclose that the prosecution has not proved the motive of the crime," the judge said.
During the trial, five witnesses, of whom some were undertrials, turned hostile and did not support the prosecution's theory.
The judge also pointed out that according to the cross-examination of a doctor from the jail, if a person is trying to kill someone, there is a possibility of a scuffle between them and if it happens, there is a possibility of injury on the body of the assailant.
"After the incident, the accused were sent to Sassoon General Hospital for a medical examination. The hospital gave its opinion, in which a doctor has clearly stated that he has not found any external injury marks on the hands and other body parts of the accused," the judge observed.
The court also said that another report indicated that the deceased had consumed liquor prior to his death.
"Then the question arises how did alcohol or liquor come into the high-security area of the jail and this also clearly creates doubt to the story of the prosecution," the judge observed in the order.
He said that it also indicates negligence on the part of the jail authorities in providing safety and security to the prisoners.
The judge also said that extra-judicial confession made by the accused was found to entirely "unreliable and not worthy of credence".
"Considering the chain of circumstantial evidence relied upon by the prosecution to prove the charge is visibly incomplete and incoherent to permit the conviction of the accused," the judge said.
Defence lawyer Prakash Suryawanshi said, "The extra- judicial confession of Mohol, which was taken in front of the jailer, was disbelieved by the court. By stating that the circumstantial evidence was not reliable, the court acquitted Mohol and Bhalerao."
The prosecution's case was that the duo had used a string of pyjama to strangulate Siddiqui. However, the prosecution could not recover the string, the defence lawyer said.
"There were several discrepancies in the case and even the fellow under-trials from the jail did not support the prosecution's case as nobody had witnessed the alleged act," he added.
The defence counsel said that the prosecution's entire case was standing on the extra-judicial statement, but there was no corroboration to it.
According to the defence, since there are already cases, including that of abduction pending against Mohol, he is unlikely to walk out of jail any time soon.
The court examined 16 witnesses in the case.
Mohol has several other cases, including that of murder and dacoity, registered against him.
In 2016, a local court had awarded life imprisonment to seven persons, including Mohol, for the 2010 murder of a member of a rival gang in Pune.
Mohol and Bhalerao are currently lodged in Taloja Jail.
Qateel was accused of attempting to plant a bomb outside the Shrimant Dagadusheth Halwai Ganapati temple in Pune on February 13, 2010, the same day when a bomb blast took place at German Bakery in Koregaon Park.
According to a police officer, who was part of the probe, Qateel's bid to plant a bomb outside the temple failed as the flower shop owner did not let him keep the bag near his stall.
Qateel then travelled to Mumbai, where he disposed the explosives into the sea.
The officer said that IM mastermind Yasin Bhatkal had tasked Qateel to plant the bomb outside temple whereas Bhatkal himself planted a bomb at German Bakery, in which 17 people died and several others got injured on February 13, 2010.
A case against Qateel and Bhatkal in regards to the Dagadusehth temple case was registered in Mumbai's ATS police station then.
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