Ayub Abdul Aziz Khan Pathan, the prime witness in the 2007 murder of his business partner, would have been alive had he not mistaken his murderers for the plain-clothed policemen who had picked him up for questioning twice.
Pathan, a vegetable vendor, was heading to his Mira Road home on the night of January 7, riding pillion on his assistant, Yogesh Prajapati’s, two-wheeler. Around 9.45pm, a silver Qualis waylaid them.
Gopal Shetty alias Shettyar, accused in the murder case in which Pathan was a witness, and three other people present in the Qualis allegedly abducted the duo, tied their limbs and assaulted them. They strangled Pathan in a forest in Virar. Shetty is absconding.
Pathan’s family said he was never given protection although he was a witness in the murder case.
“The police, instead of providing him with security, had picked him up twice for questioning in some fake cases,” said Pathan’s older brother, Hamid Khan.
“Both times, they were in plain clothes and took him in a Qualis. His killers used the same method and he got into the Quails not realising that he was walking into a trap.”
Khan alleged that Shetty had threatened his brother. “We had lodged several complaints but he was never given security,” Khan said.
He alleged that men from Unit 3 of the crime branch had accosted Pathan at least twice in the past one-and-a-half years ever since Shettyar was released on bail.
Pathan was a witness in the murder of his partner, Shankar alias Bunty Jain, who Shetty had allegedly killed.
Shetty, after being released on bail, had allegedly threatened Pathan and tried extorting money from him.
“The trial in the murder case was about to begin in a few days so Shetty must have plotted to kill my brother,” Khan said.
Khan alleged that some police officers had helped Shetty.
“He must have had some one supporting him. How else could he have been threatening my brother with so much impunity and how could have police trusted a murderer’s word over my brother’s who was clean simple man?” he asked.
Pathan’s wife, Shamima, said he had no enemies. “He never used to bring his worries home,” she said. “Had the police protected him, he would have been alive.”