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More trouble for accused in fake encounter case

mumbai Updated: Jan 12, 2010 01:23 IST
Debasish Panigrahi
Debasish Panigrahi
Hindustan Times
Chhota Rajan aide

There is more trouble in store for those accused in the alleged fake encounter of Ramnarayan Gupta alias Lakhan Bhaiya, said to be a Chhota Rajan aide, in November 2006.

The crime branch has recommended that a first information report (FIR) be lodged against Senior Police Inspector Pradeep Suryavanshi for allegedly threatening a metropolitan magistrate who had probed Lakhan’s killing. Suryavanshi, who had led the encounter team, is one of the accused.

Sources in the crime branch told Hindustan Times that the recommendation, submitted in May-June 2009, is lying in the police commissioner’s office. Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) Rakesh Maria refused to comment.

The Bombay High Court, in 2007, had ordered a judicial probe into the encounter after Lakhan’s brother Ramprasad alleged that the encounter was fake.

Metropolitan Magistrate R. K. Sheikh had accordingly conducted the probe and submitted a report to the high court in 2008 stating that the encounter had been staged.

After the report was submitted, Suryavanshi, who was then senior inspector of Andheri police station, allegedly threatened Sheikh.

Sheikh wrote to the chief metropolitan magistrate about the threat. The letter was forwarded to the high court, which directed the police commissioner to investigate the matter.

After the crime branch submitted its report, the commissioner asked for clarifications. The crime branch answered the queries, again pressing for an FIR against Suryavanshi.

The FIR is yet to be lodged.

Two other accused in the case, Aqueel Khan alias Bobby and Hitesh Solanki, could also face more trouble. The duo was in possession of licensed firearms despite their criminal antecedents.

Rules do not allow a person with a criminal background to be issued a firearm licence unless there is an extraordinary consideration like a threat to his or her life.

SIT chief KMM Prasanna said that investigations into this would be conducted later as the present focus of the investigation was solely the fake encounter.

Bobby, a pickpocket, had been chosen by Sharma for gathering criminal intelligence. He was Sharma’s driver-cum-bodyguard. Solanki was also Sharma’s informer.

The local police give a no-objection certificate (NoC) for issuing a licence while the commissioner of police is the issuing authority.

The licence application is processed through the office of the deputy commissioner of police (headquarters II) only after the police station gives the NoC. The duo’s background makes it unlikely that NoCs were issued to them.

Deputy Commissioner of Police (Headquarters II) Vijaysingh Jadhav said that his branch would submit a report [on how the firearms were procured] if directed by the SIT.