A special Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) court acquitted four men and convicted three others for their involvement in the Pakmodia Street firing in 2011 on Friday.
In a blow to the crime branch, gangster Chhota Rajan’s lieutenants Umed Ishrat Sheikh, DK Rao and Aasid Jaan Mohammed Shaikh and Umed’s cousin Adnan Idayat Sayyed were acquitted for want of evidence. The court convicted the underworld don’s henchmen and assailants Sayyed Bilal Mustafa Ali and Indra Bahadur Khatri along with Abdul Rashad Abdul Rashid Sheikh on the basis of eyewitness accounts and Forensic Science Laboratory Reports (FSL) reports.
The court examined 53 witnesses, of which four key witnesses turned hostile. Also, four other accused — Qayoom Sheikh, Ahmed Munshi, Sajid Parvar Khan and Paulson Joseph — were discharged before the trial commenced.
Following the shootout on May 17, the shooters Sayyed Bilal Mustafa Ali, 29, from Mumbra and Indra Bahadur Khatri, 27, from Nepal were caught by locals and handed over to the police. Hindustan Times was the first to report about Umed Ishrat Sheikh, a henchman of Chhota Rajan, being the mastermind on May 18.
Umed was instrumental in giving the shooters the photographs of Iqbal and Arif and also making them familiar with Pakmodia Street and its adjoining areas.
Investigations led the anti-terrorism squad (ATS) to four suspects — Qayoom Sheikh, Ahmed Munshi, Sajid Parvar Khan and Adnan Idayat Sayyed. They were handed over to the crime branch. The crime branch also arrested Abdul Rashad Sheikh for his alleged involvement.
The prosecution had booked a close aide of Chhota Rajan, Umed, his cousin Adnan and DK Rao for hatching the conspiracy and alleged the attack was planned to prove their supremacy over other gangs.
The court will now hear the argument on the quantum of sentence to those convicted on August 19, where the prosecution has sought capital punishment for the three accused.