A local court Wednesday acquitted three persons accused of killing a 52-year-old man, Vasant Zhota, whose body was found at his office in Dharavi on February 19, 2012.
Zhota, who was reportedly a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) worker, worked as grain manager and had a rationing office in Dharavi. The police had said a 19-year-old girl, who was allegedly sexually abused by Zhota, had instigated her neighbour Mohammad Khalil Abdul Rasul Sheikh (33) and his friend Mohammad Talah to commit the crime. The girl told the police that Zhota demanded favours from her in return for including her name in ration card.
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On February 19, the police said, Zhota allegedly assaulted the girl and her sister after which Khalil and Talah reached his house. Khalil allegedly stabbed Jhota thrice before fleeing with his mobile phone and Rs 10,200 cash.
The court examined 22 witnesses, including the girl’s sister who was later declared hostile. She was initially named as an accused in the case. The girl, however, told the court that she was forced by the police to depose against her sister and become an eyewitness in the case.
“The judge observed that there was lack of evidence against the accused and the chain of circumstances was not consistent,” said defence lawyer Shagufta Quazi. The police had not collected fingerprints on the knife either, said Quazi.
The girl’s lawyer V K Singh argued no motive was proved for her to kill Jhota as her sister’s statement claiming sexual abuse was disproved by the defence in the court.