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Munde suspects someone poisoned Rahul Mahajan

Meanwhile, the last of four youths, Sahil Zarru, surrendered in a TV studio in Srinagar, saying he tasted 'something'.

india Updated: Jun 03, 2006 21:11 IST
Agencies

A young man suspected of bringing cocaine to a party that killed a close aide of the late Pramod Mahajan dramatically surrendered to the police at a TV studio in Srinagar on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Rahul Mahajan's condition improved in New Delhi, with doctors declaring they had found no drug in his body.

But former Maharashtra deputy Chief Minister Gopinath Munde, Rahul's uncle, asserted that the latter was never into drugs and that there had been an attempt to poison the late Pramod Mahajan's son at the Thursday night wild party at Mahajan's Safdarjung Road bungalow in New Delhi.

Sahil pleads innocence

Even as Delhi Police said they were looking for Sahil Zarru, the last of four youths who were at the party, the 21-year-old landed at the Aaj Tak studio in Srinagar after flying in from New Delhi to say he had no role in the death of Vivek Moitra, the Man Friday of Pramod Mahajan, or the party itself.

"There is no conspiracy. I myself have been a victim of it," Sahil told a stunned television audience. But he admitted that he had tasted 'something' that was on the table at the house and soon lost consciousness.

"I have no idea what was happening (at the party). They were consuming something. I did taste it. Within two seconds I lost consciousness. I had no idea where I was, I was puking throughout the way," he said.

His lawyer Aslam Goni said Sahil would surrender to the police. Even as Sahil continued to speak, Jammu and Kashmir police officers appeared at the studio and took him away.

Goni said, "Friendship with biggies has caused my client much trouble. He is not involved in any way with the tragedy. He was not the supplier (of cocaine). He has surrendered and he is ready to cooperate with the investigation."

Rahul tastes negative

Although doctors at the Apollo hospital said they found no cocaine in Rahul Mahajan's blood or urine, his uncle Gopinath Munde said, "I have known Rahul for years. He was never into drugs and I suspect he has been poisoned."

Anupam Sibal, medical director of the Apollo Hospital, told reporters, "We (doctors) can't say what toxin it was that caused his unconscious state when he was brought in to the hospital. We did mandatory tests on 14 to 15 drugs and all of them proved negative.

"At this moment we are unable to identify what caused his multi-system dysfunction. But we do not know what the forensic tests will reveal."

Probe intensifies

But despite the doctor's statement, the police stepped up their investigations into the drug angle.

After an eight-hour grilling of the other three men who were present at the party -- Rahul, Karan and Tishay -- who turned themselves in at the Mandir Marg police station late on Friday, the police said they had launched all round efforts to pick up Sahil who went missing early on Friday.

Police on Saturday questioned Sahil's father Ghulam Mohammed, a businessman based in New Delhi.

Rahul, Karan and Sahil reportedly came to the Mahajan house, within walking distance of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's residence, before midnight on Thursday and were greeted by Moitra.

According to the version given to the police by the three men, Sahil allegedly bought cocaine for Rs 15,000 from a peddler in the posh area of Vasant Vihar in south Delhi. Moitra, the youths said, provided the money.

"Vivek gave Sahil Rs 15,000 to get the cocaine. These three youths are completely innocent. They were just at the wrong place at the wrong time," their advocate Ranvir Singh Kundu said.

According to the three, after meeting Vivek and Rahul, Sahil went into the house with them as the others waited outside.

Sahil then emerged after some time, reportedly exclaiming, "These guys have gone mad. They want the stuff."

They further told the police it was Sahil who took them to the Mahajan bungalow and they were never a party to the drug deal.

Rahul better

Meanwhile, Rahul Mahajan was taken off the ventilator as his condition improved on Saturday, a day after he was hospitalised for suspected drug overdose.

Rahul, along with Moitra, was taken to the Apollo hospital early on Friday after they were found unconscious at their Safdarjung Road residence. Moitra was declared dead by the hospital on arrival.

According to the hospital, Rahul's condition has "improved gradually over the last 12 hours" and all his "vital parameters" were improving. "He has been taken out of ventilator but (is) under close observation."

Police officials said Rahul, Moitra and four other men drank champagne and might have consumed drugs. A certain white substance was also found at the residence.

Pramod Mahajan, who was the BJP general secretary, died on May 3, 2006, after being shot at his Mumbai residence by his brother Pravin. He succumbed to his bullet wounds after a 12-day fight for survival at the Hinduja hospital.

In the meantime, the BJP distanced itself from Rahul.

"This is a family matter and this can happen to anyone. The party has nothing to say on this," said party leader Sushma Swaraj after the top brass met at the New Delhi residence of senior colleague LK Advani.

"Party leaders have been conveyed the message that no one would make any personal or official comment on this episode to the media," a BJP leader said.

Moitra's autopsy report

A source at AIIMS, where the autopsy on Moitra was done, said the postmortem report was "suggestive of poisoning".

"There are traces of poison and we have sent the viscera to Central Forensic Sciences Laboratory (CFSL) to determine the type of poison," the source said.

But a top doctor at Apollo hospital, where Rahul was admitted in a critical condition in the wee hours on Friday, said that doctors were unable to ascertain the cause of his condition.