He was just a few years older than Altaf Sheikh. He too was the sole breadwinner for his family.
But over six years after 26-year-old software engineer Khwaja Yunus disappeared without a trace, the case against four Mumbai policemen remains stuck in limbo.
And one of the main reasons is the fact that Yunus’s body — unlike Sheikh’s — was never found. Yunus was allegedly involved in a bomb blast on a BEST bus outside Ghatkopar station on December 2, 2002.
Arrested by the Crime Branch three weeks later near his home in Parbhani, 500 km from Mumbai, he was brought to the city and held for questioning for over a month.
The police claim he escaped in the wee hours of January 7, when their jeep was overturned in an accident as they were transporting him to Aurangabad for further questioning. He was never found; neither was his body — a fact his mother Aasiya has been unable to reconcile herself.
In January 2008, she initially refused Rs 3 lakh in compensation offered by the Mumbai police, saying she would not “bargain with the government for a good price for my son’s body”. “I don’t want this money,” she had said. “The main culprits behind Khwaja’s death have been spared.”
Those alleged culprits are assistant police inspector Sachin Vaze and constables Rajendra Tiwari, Rajaram Nikam and Sunil Desai, all booked for their alleged role in the custodial death of Yunus.
And while the force has maintained he escaped, that is not the story of co-accused Dr Abdul Mateen.
Mateen, who was being held in the cell next to Yunus’s, claims he saw the young man being beaten and kicked in the chest by the police officers.
Mateen has testified that he saw Yunus vomit blood a few hours before the missing person’s case was filed.
As the controversial case changed hands — from the Crime Branch to the Criminal Investigation Department, which finally sought permission to form a Special Investigation Team to probe the case — it was hampered by the fact that there was no body and therefore no hard evidence.
“In Yunus’s case, no body was found,” Mihir Desai, Asiya’s advocate, told HT on Friday. “For years, there was a dispute over whether he was even dead. That said, the pace of the investigation has not been what it should have been.”
The last development in the case was in November 2008.
The CID filed a chargesheet before the metropolitan magistrate at Vikhroli, but no date has yet been set for trial.