THE SUPREME Court Friday ordered a CBI probe into the murder of BSP leader Raju Pal in 2005. A bench comprising Justices Pinaki Chandra Ghose and Amitava Roy, while allowing the plea filed by Pooja Pal, Allahabad West MLA and wife of the slain leader, asked the probe agency to conclude the investigation in the case preferably within six months.
Significantly, Pooja had been struggling to get the investigation transferred to the premier agency on grounds that she never relied on the police probe after her husband’s body, too, wasn’t allegedly handed over to the family in 2005.
Former MP and mafia don Atique Ahmed and his brother Mohammad Ashraf, whom both Pooja and her husband had defeated in the elections, are the main accused in the murder and currently out on bail, along with 15 other accused. “After the murder, police sent the body for postmortem and then said in the records that they had handed over the body to his cousin. Actually, no one from our family received the body,” Pooja, the two-time MLA, alleged.
On January 25, 2006, Raju Pal (then 28) was shot dead in Dhoomanganj police station limits in Allahabad. Six of his supporters were also injured in the attack.
The prime motive was said to be the assembly bypoll in which he had defeated Ashraf from Allahabad West. The seat became vacant after Atique won the Lok Sabha seat from Allahabad in 2004 elections.
Pooja had then filed an FIR naming 11 people, which included the brother-duo and their supporters. When the state government transferred the investigation to UP’s Crime Branch-CID, six more were made accused in the supplementary chargesheet that was filed. Ashraf, who remained absconding with a state-announced reward of Rs one lakh on his head, was arrested in 2011. All 17 accused are currently out on bail.
In 2006, Pooja filed a petition in the Allahabad High Court, seeking CBI investigation into the case. A year later, the then Mayawati government recommended so but the CBI did not take up the case. In 2014, the HC dismissed the plea after which Pooja moved the Supreme Court, which stayed the proceedings of trial in December that year.
Pooja’s lawyer Manisha Bhandari said, “We brought before the court the fact that out of the 34 witnesses, 13 have been examined so far and many of them have been declared hostile. Among those hostile witnesses, some of them have even filed FIR against Atique and others on charges of kidnapping and harassment. In those cases, police have filed chargesheet as well and trial in these cases are pending.”