Many questions are being raised about a man who identified himself as Ishaq Ahmad – a truck driver from Labhera village in Bareilly – while surrendering before a Ghaziabad court last week in connection with an Audi-auto rickshaw accident that claimed four lives in the area on January 27.
An HT team found that the tall, moustachioed man who gave himself up in court on January 31, and later obtained bail under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code, may have been different from the person he identified himself as in the surrender application the previous day.
The role of the Indirapuram police, who forwarded a report in the case to the court without verifying Ahmad’s credentials, has also come under the scanner.
A woman techie and two of her friends were among the four people killed when the speeding Audi rammed into their auto-rickshaw at Hindon canal road in Ghaziabad on the night of January 27.
When the HT team visited the address mentioned in the surrender application and the report filed by the Indirapuram police, it found that the actual Ahmad was a 32-year-old driver who claimed to have nothing to do with the incident in question. “I have never been the driver of any Dr Manish Rawat, and I certainly haven’t driven an Audi. I drive canter trucks, and on the night of January 30, I had just returned to my village from a Gujarat trip,” he said over the phone from Guwahati, where he has gone on a trucking assignment.
The truck driver was shocked to hear that he was the prime accused in the Ghaziabad accident. “I wonder how my name got mired in this incident. Once I return, I will try to find out who impersonated me in court. There are others called Ishaq in my village, but none of them have fathers who go by the name Jameel,” he said.
Ahmad said he was in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, at the time of the accident. “I left for Ahmedabad from my village on January 9. After spending over 20 days loading goods, I set off from there around midnight on January 27 and reached Bareilly at 2 am on January 30,” he added.
The Bareilly resident claimed his father had called him up to say that some policemen had come to their residence with a notice. “I think it is in connection with the same incident. I am heading home now, and once I reach, I will try to find out who impersonated me in court. Only then will my worries end.”
According to Ahmad, he had set off on another trip to Guwahati from Bareilly on the night of January 31. And yet, earlier that day, a man claiming to be him had stood before the Ghaziabad court – located nearly 250 km away – to dutifully confess his involvement in the crime.
“Our village has two people called Ishaq. While one is a driver whose father’s name is Jameel, the other is a mason whose father is called something else,” said Liaqat Khan, pradhan of Labhera village.
In his surrender application, the alleged impersonator claimed he was driving the Audi Q7 car – bearing the registration number DL11CA-3420 – involved in the accident. He expressed his wish to give himself up and apply for bail from the court.
Investigating officer Sanat Kumar Mishra denied any irresponsibility on the part of the Indirapuram police. “The report was forwarded on the basis of what the court sought. The individuals who submitted the surety will be held responsible if the person who appeared before the court and obtained bail is different from the one mentioned in the document. We have sent a notice to Ishaq Ahmad at his address, asking him to submit his statement,” he said.
The written report, a copy of which is with HT, clearly states that “Ishaq Ahmad, son of Jameel, resident of village Labhera alias Buland Nagar, police station – Hafizganj, Bareilly, is wanted in connection with the case registered at Indirapuram under IPC sections 279, 304a and 427”.
Nazakat Chaudhary, the lawyer who represented the alleged impersonator, said he was innocent of any wrongdoing. “The individual was referred to me by a previous client. He told me his name and address, and showed me his driving licence. We only put up his surrender application,” he added.
Police are yet to locate car owner Manish Rawat, a medical professional with Safdarjung hospital, and his phone has been switched off since the night of the accident. Two people were reportedly present in the car when it suffered a head-on collision with the auto rickshaw.