“I have spent Rs20 lakh and now my shooters will be acquitted,” Abu Salem had told Sunil Jain (in pic), the brother of Andheri-based builder Pradeep Jain, who was killed by Salem and his associates in 1995.
Over a telephonic interview with Hindustan Times, Jain recollected the horror he and his family went through.
“That very same day Salem’s shooters were acquitted,” said Jain. “The reason given by the judge was that the weapons used in the crime were not chemically analysed. I couldn’t believe my ears when I heard the judgment.”
There were clear evidence and statements to prove the guilt of the alleged shooters, but only because the weapons were not chemically analysed, they were acquitted, Jain said.
“I still remember the day when six people came to our office, of which two stood outside, two came inside the compound and two into the office. The duo who came inside asked who Pradeep Jain was. Pradeep responded, and they started shooting; I was in a state of shock but soon jumped on one of the shooters, after which they fired six rounds at me. One bullet went through my arm under the shoulder.”
“On the thirteenth day of my brother’s death, Salem called up my sister-in-law, and laughing, asked: ‘Kaisa lag raha hai [how are you feeling].’” Jain said.
“I put both my own as well as my family’s life at stake for the case. On the first day, when my statement was being recorded, Salem called up my brother Ashok and asked: ‘Ghar mein ek maut ho gayi toh bahut nahi hai kya’ [Is one death in your family not sufficient] . That night, he threatened to kill my family if I gave a statement before the court,” Jain said.
“Salem gave Ashok the mobile number of an advocate who was appearing for his shooters, and said if we don’t understand what he [Salem] was saying, the advocate should be contacted,” said Jain. Jain alleges the advocate told him to turn hostile in the case.
“I was scared and turned hostile in court. The next day, police came to arrest me on charges of tampering with evidence. Only then could I tell the judge everything,” Jain said.
He said, “After the shooters were acquitted, my police protection was withdrawn. That time, I would feel that when the police needs you, they will be with you but when they do not, they just neglect you.”
“We were under tremendous pressure once the shooters were at large. Our house was trespassed several times but my personal guards ensured nothing major happened. Within 5-10 minutes of the protection being withdrawn, I got a call from Salem: “‘Kya kar liya police protection lekar, abhi paisa dega ya tujhe bhi mar dalu? [What difference did the police protection make, now give me the money or I will kill you too.”] I again paid him Rs20 lakh” Jain said.
After Salem’s arrest, Jain was asked to become a witness in the case. “But this time I refused, because I no longer trusted the police. I was then promised by the then home minister [RR Patil] that I would get protection till the time I wanted. From 2010, police started charging me for the security. The bill came to approximately Rs47 lakh till 2014,” Jain said.
“I again decided not to give evidence in court. I shared my grievances with the judge, who ordered security be given to me.
I have fought a long war to get justice for my brother, but during this time I understood one thing – Salem had good contacts in the police force that time. I am still worried for my life because one of the shooters is still at large,” he added.