Salim Abdul Razak Baig (39), the man who murdered Sudhakar Lone (a close aide of Arun Gawli) in 1998, will have to spend his life behind bars after the Bombay High Court rejected his appeal challenging his conviction. A division bench of Justice D.D. Sinha and Justice A.R. Joshi dismissed the appeal filed by Baig challenging the life imprisonment awarded to him by the Sessions court in October 2003.
“The substantive evidence given by the prosecution is trustworthy and consistent with the material particulars of the case,” observed the bench while upholding Baig’s life sentence.
On December 16, 1998, Byculla police received a telephonic message that firing had taken place in Hospital Lane, D’lima Street, Mazgaon.
On reaching the spot, the police found a man with bullet injuries inside a taxi. He was taken to the hospital where he was declared dead. Police later learnt that the man’s identity –Sudhakar Lone, one of Arun Gawli’s right-hand men. Lone’s wife, Suvarna, informed the police that he (Lone) had left the house with one Abubakar Mehboob Khan.
During interrogation, Mehboob named Baig as one of the co-accused. Baig was arrested on December 24, 1998. On searching him, police recovered a pistol with cartridges.
It was revealed that on the date of the incident Lone, Baig, Abubakar Khan and one Nasim alias Neha Fakhruddin Saifee Khan had gone to meet film directors Niraj Pathak and Madan Jain at 1.30 p.m. at Andheri. They had discussed making on Gawli’s life.
Lone, Baig, Abubakar Khan and Naseem Khan took a taxi back home. Lone was sitting next to the driver.
Additional public prosecutor Y.S. Shinde argued that on reaching Hospital Lane, Baig shot at Lone. Four bullets were fired from close range and the trio fled from the scene, Shinde added.
Shinde argued that Pathak and Jain identified the trio who had visited them with Lone. Besides, the bullet injuries on Lone and the bullets from pistol found on Baig matched, Shinde added.
On October 18, 2003, the sessions court convicted Baig and acquitted the others.