Signed testimonies of three witnesses which led to arrests, and a 13-year jail term for at least one of the accused, in three separate narcotics cases filed by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) have been questioned by forensics who believe that the three statements were “all written by one and the same person”.
The DRI’s Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances cases date back to 2001, 2009 and 2010. In the 2001 case, two men were sentenced to 13 and 10 years in jail while three others are under trial for their alleged roles in the 2009 and 2010 cases. In each case, the DRI attached a handwritten and signed statement of the witness as “corroborative evidence”.
But now a report by the Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) in Rohini, Delhi raises serious questions about the three witnesses named by the DRI.
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The FSL report dated July 28, which has been submitted in the Saket court of Special Judge M K Nagpal, states that the statements of the three “independent witnesses” confirming the arrest and seizure was written by “one and the same person”.
The DRI had claimed that in each case, an independent witness was picked up from the road near the DRI office in IP Estate and asked to be an eyewitness to the arrest.
The FSL, however, had a different view. “The aforesaid similarities in the writing habits are significant and sufficient and cannot be attributed to accidental coincidence and when considered collectively they lead me to the opinion that the red enclosed Hindi writings signatures… were all written by one and the same person,” stated the report prepared by Dr Jiju P V, Senior Scientific Officer (Documents), Forensic Science Laboratory, Delhi.
Last Wednesday, The Indian Express mailed a detailed questionnaire to the DRI director general, seeking a response to the FSL findings. Responding to the email, an additional director of the DRI called to say: “The matter is sub judice. We do not know which way the court will decide. We cannot comment at the moment.”
According to DRI documents submitted in court, the three witnesses are:
* Ashok Kumar (27), resident of D-212, Lalita Park, Laxmi Nagar in Delhi. He was witness to the arrest of Vimal Behl and one another, allegedly caught with 17 kg of heroin on April 17, 2001;
* Ashok Kumar (33) of C-56A, Mandwali Fazalpur in Delhi. He was witness to the arrest of Nigerian Sampson Chukwudi, allegedly caught with 33 kg of heroin on March 30, 2009;
* Raju (35) of C-56A, Mandwali Fazalpur in Delhi. He was witness to the arrest of Kenyan Samson Ongera Omoro, allegedly caught with 10.2 kg of heroin on July 29, 2010.
The three witnesses never appeared in court and their statements were attached as corroborative evidence.
In their statements, witnesses Ashok Kumar of the 2009 case and Raju of 2010 case said they were brothers. But there are discrepancies in the information they provided. The name of their father does not match though they have given the same house address at Mandwali Fazalpur in Delhi.
While Ashok has named Ram Kumar as his father, Raju wrote his father’s name as Raj Kumar. Both claim to be from Jugso village in Bihar — Ashok says the village is in Samastipur district, Raju says Jugso is in Darbhanga. Ashok said he had seven brothers, Raju said he had four brothers and a sister.
The Indian Express checked the home addresses of the three witnesses. The house at C-56A, Mandwali Fazalpur — the common address of Ashok and Raju — is a temple with four shops. Shopkeepers there said they had never heard of Ashok and Raju.
The building at D-212, Lalita Park in Laxmi Nagar — it was the address provided by eyewitness Ashok Kumar in the 2001 case — is in Gali No. 10 and not Gali No. 12 as mentioned in the statement to the court. Residents of D-212 too said they had no idea who Ashok Kumar was.]
This is what the DRI said in statements submitted in court to back its cases:
* Vimal Behl and another person were arrested from National Highway 8 (Delhi-Gurgaon road) around 9.30 am on April 17, 2001. Ashok Kumar of Lalita Park, in his statement to DRI the same day, said he was a fruit seller at IP Estate near IP Bhawan which houses the DRI office. Ashok wrote he was making a statement without coming under pressure or duress and this should be treated as a true statement. He said he was aware that his statement could be used against him or anyone else in any legal proceeding.
* The DRI said Sampson Chukwudi, a Nigerian national, was arrested along with a woman from the GT Karnal Road bypass on March 30, 2009. In his statement recorded the next day, Ashok said he ran a clothes shop in Delhi and had seven brothers, including two who lived with him. He said he was standing at the ITO bus stop with his brother Vinod around 4.30 am on March 30 when DRI officials came and asked them to join a raid.
* Kenyan national Samson Ongera Omoro was arrested from the Nirankari Sarovar bus stop, near the traffic signal on the Outer Ring Road, on July 29, 2010. In his statement, Raju said had four brothers, including Ashok, and a sister. This contradicted Ashok’s 2009 statement in which he said he had seven brothers. Ashok also did not mention any sister. As in the 2009 case, Raju too said he was at the ITO Ring Road when DRI officials approached him and asked him to be a witness.