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Acid attack suspect can appear for exam

Pawankumar Gahalon,the arrested suspect in the Bandra Terminus acid attack

Written by Srinath Rao | Mumbai | Published: July 31, 2013 1:18 am

Pawankumar Gahalon,the arrested suspect in the Bandra Terminus acid attack,has got permission from the Bombay High Court on Friday to Haryana to appear for his final year B.Tech exam on August 1.

The 24-year-old was arrested on May 8,a week after a masked man flung acid on aspiring nurse Preeti Rathi minutes after she alighted from the Garib Rath. She died on June 1 of severe internal burns at Bombay Hospital. Pawankumar,a student of Bhiwani Institute of Technology and Science,became acquainted with the Rathis as his aunt lived in the same neighbourhood in Narela,Delhi.

Police initially suspected that he may have had a role in the attack after he called Preeti’s sister Tanu to inquire about her (Preeti’s) health. Police also claim Preeti told them she saw Pawankumar at Nizamuddin railway station the day she left Delhi. According to the police,his face also resembles that of the attacker whose escape was captured on the lone CCTV camera on platform two of Bandra terminus. The footage,however,is grainy and captured the incident from several hundred feet away.

Pawankumar has one paper remaining to clear his degree and will leave for Haryana with his family on Wednesday. The police,however,objected to him being sent without their supervision. “The judge asked us on Friday if we had any objection to Pawankumar being allowed to travel to Haryana. Earlier this month,when he travelled to Haryana to fill his application to appear for the exam,he was under our supervision. This time,however,the court has decided that he will be taken to and brought back from Haryana by his family. He should been taken under our supervision this time as well,” said D D Wadmare,senior inspector,GRP Crime Branch.

Pawankumar’s father said the court’s decision meant he (Pawankumar) would be able to meet his mother for the first time since he was arrested. “His mother has been in a bad state for the past three months. She fell unconscious when the police took Pawan away. Seeing him will bring her some relief,” said Azadsingh Gahalon. He added,“I gave him his textbooks when I visited him in June. I cannot say if he has been able to prepare for the exam,” he said.

Azadsingh said Pawankumar also nursed ambitions of joining Prasar Bharti once he graduated. “He had applied for the entrance exam for the post of junior engineer,which was held on July 21. But as he has been in jail for the past three months,he could not appear for it,” he said.

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