The Special Investigating Team (SIT) probing the alleged ‘fake encounter’ of Ramnarayan Gupta alias Lakhan Bhaiya involving encounter specialist Pradeep Sharma, recorded statements of more than 70 persons.
SIT chief K.M.M Prasanna confirmed the recording of the statements but refused to divulge any further information.
Sources in the SIT told Hindustan Times on Sunday that there were 30 mediapersons among the 70, whose statements were recorded.
The mediapersons had reportedly received information about the encounter from one of the accused in the fake encounter, minutes after it took place in Andheri on November 11, 2006.
The accused informed the media about the alleged exchange of fire between Gupta and a police team from D N Nagar police station, headed by Police Inspector Pradeep Suryavanshi.
Although there is nothing new in policemen informing the media about any encounter, those who informed the media following the Andheri encounter were in no way connected to the team that had carried out the operation.
The SIT has questioned the mediapersons to find out how the accused was able to pass on such information, if he was not involved with the encounter.
The caller had given details about the place of exchange of fire and had also provided information about Gupta’s antecedents.
Sources said that apart from the mediapersons, statements of most of the 17 accused were also recorded to establish the veracity of the said encounter.
A building watchman, who was on duty near the encounter spot at Nana Nani park, is said to have disclosed many incriminating facts that could nail those accused of this extra judicial killing.
The developer from Navi Mumbai who is alleged to have given the supari (contract) for the fake encounter has already been grilled and his statement was recorded last week
The SIT is investigating about the exact amount of money that changed hands for the conspiracy and the identity of the conspirators.
Last week, Sharma, a former ace encounter specialist of the Mumbai police, was arrested by the SIT along with five others for the alleged fake encounter. Sources in the SIT on Sunday hinted at half a dozen more arrests to follow this week.